Akira Pseudo-Route [Complete!]

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nemz
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by nemz » Mon Dec 17, 2012 12:45 pm

It seems Hisao has already forgotten the fairly obvious candidate for 'the boyfriend'. Besides Hideaki, of course. :lol:
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

Andere
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Andere » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:23 pm

Hisao's gotten pretty far along if Akira's thinking of him as an alternative, even if she dismissed it pretty quickly. Good on him.

I'm looking forward to the dinner scene. It'll be the first time Hisao will be with Akira in a non one-on-one setting, so that should be interesting.

badmanslayer04
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by badmanslayer04 » Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:17 pm

This has definitely become one of my favourite fic. I also like the idea of a possible expansion from your Miki scenes :wink:
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Thanatos02
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Thanatos02 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:28 am

Triscuitable wrote:Just like a good issue of The Walking Dead, the ending makes me realize I read it too fast, and I'm already anticipating the next entry. Damn.
It doesn't help that I'm completely breaking that promise with the whole '3-5 day update schedule' thing. Haven't been able to write things as speedily as of late.
Mader Levap wrote:I don't mind long buildup as long (heh) as buildup is interesting. And it IS interesting.
By the way, this part is wayyy too short... seems like I've been spoiled by double-postings. :(
Well hopefully the pressure to not let the buildup go to waste doesn't crush me in my sleep.
Also, I split the chapters into parts when I feel like I might break the post length limit. When there isn't another chapter on the same page, I just cram it into one post and hope for the best. They all average out at around ~4,500 words, so the length of the chapters isn't actually changing, at least as far as I can tell.
nemz wrote:It seems Hisao has already forgotten the fairly obvious candidate for 'the boyfriend'. Besides Hideaki, of course. :lol:
It's just something that I don't think would have had much of a point if it was mentioned. It's in the back of his head, and I dun'goofed with the foreshadowing and wound up making it the most obvious thing in the world, so the reader wouldn't benefit by having Hisao do a 500-word exposition over it. Just one of another hundred things that could have been handled better, I suppose.
badmanslayer04 wrote:This has definitely become one of my favourite fic. I also like the idea of a possible expansion from your Miki scenes :wink:
Thanks for reading! As for expansion on the Miki scenes, it's not so much a possibility as it was a fleeting thought months and months ago. There's already 3 Miki routes going, and they're all pretty promising, so my drek would just oversaturate the market.

Also, I did a bit of editing with the Kenji conversation in the latest chapter. I went back and paid more attention to Kenji's lines this time. Generally whenever Kenji appears in the game, there's the tiniest bit of character development for him even if it's played with or turned into a joke punchline. Before I did the edits I employed Kenji as what basically amounted to a plot device with a bit of humor. It's fanfiction, but a bit of consistency with the source material goes a long way, even if I'll look like a giant hypocrite by not fixing some of the other much more glaring discrepancies.

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Sev'risk'avina
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Sev'risk'avina » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:52 am

Thanatos02 wrote:even if I'll look like a giant hypocrite by not fixing some of the other much more glaring discrepancies.
Revision is up to you entirely, so I think that calling yourself a hypocrite over what you choose to revise is not being fair to yourself. You could revise just punctuation and grammar errors if you so chose. You could also revise large swathes of text in an endless circle of release and revision that would turn each release into a joke, and each revision into a micro-analyses of your work. It's up to you. That last one is obviously kind of a worst case scenario, but the point is if you revise something and you feel the need to explain the revision beyond "because I damn well felt like it" or "grammar/punct.", then do what you feel you need to do.

If changing Kenji around makes your eye stop twitching, by all means stop the eye twitch. That doesn't mean you have to revise the entirety of the work. It's already out on the internet after all, so let it stand like the cheese. Honestly I think between the users and the subject matter here, we'll get it. There will be people who opine that any revision is a bad revision, and people who opine that what ever you do in your story is just fine (short of midichlorians. srs bns here, don't do that). Calling yourself out serves no actual purpose that I can see, other than generating a post like this, or its opposite calling you out.

As for the actual update, I like where this is heading. Regarding the buildup, a pleasure delayed is a pleasure prolonged. Or something like that.

Andere
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Andere » Fri Dec 21, 2012 12:54 am

I like the changes to the Kenji scene. The ones I noticed, at least! Kenji's generally so odd that I like his moments of relative lucidity all the more.

XanatosPlannedThis86
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by XanatosPlannedThis86 » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:09 am

Just finished reading (funny enough re-reading ) this fic. And I have to say I love your characterization of Akira. Much of Hisaos characterization was spot on. Especially the new spin you placed on it once you've had him interacting and getting close to Mutuo more. My favorite bit was the science conference. I absolutely enjoyed the way Hisao would keep getting lost in his thoughts. As for Akira, As mentioned above the way you write her is superb. Not once did any of her interactions with HIsao felt out of character. Heck,that first little "Date" they had, and the way their conversations played out felt very natural.

I am curious though, are you going to end the fic with Akira going out with Hisao during some climatic moment or are you going to have them go out in one act and have the final act deal with the some of the issues like age gap, Hisao's heart problem ect...

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Thanatos02
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Thanatos02 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:57 pm

Andere wrote:I like the changes to the Kenji scene. The ones I noticed, at least! Kenji's generally so odd that I like his moments of relative lucidity all the more.
That's pretty much what I was going for with the little edits, so mission accomplished. Thanks for reading!
XanatosPlannedThis86 wrote:Just finished reading (funny enough re-reading ) this fic. And I have to say I love your characterization of Akira. Much of Hisaos characterization was spot on. Especially the new spin you placed on it once you've had him interacting and getting close to Mutuo more. My favorite bit was the science conference. I absolutely enjoyed the way Hisao would keep getting lost in his thoughts. As for Akira, As mentioned above the way you write her is superb. Not once did any of her interactions with HIsao felt out of character. Heck,that first little "Date" they had, and the way their conversations played out felt very natural.
I try to make a point of keeping things in character, which is why the stuff I write gets flooded with edits whenever something that isn't congruent to their actual character pops up by accident. I appreciate the compliment.
I am curious though, are you going to end the fic with Akira going out with Hisao during some climatic moment or are you going to have them go out in one act and have the final act deal with the some of the issues like age gap, Hisao's heart problem ect...
It's going to be long enough for everything to be resolved, hopefully. I'm planning to write an act 5 since Akira didn't get an act 1, so take that as you will.


Also, I'm really sorry about falling behind on updates. I've been working and visiting a lot of family, and the idea of a small break to play some vidya for more than a short while was a little too appealing to let slip. I'll try to have 3-7 out soon.

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Thanatos02
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Thanatos02 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:08 am

Hit 10,000 views in my absence. Good golly.
Anyway, here's Akira 3-7. Not sure what else I could say, since my excuse for being gone for so long is probably a total crapshoot. Work, family, christmas, etc. just like everyone else. This chapter turned out rather long, at 10,508 words, so hopefully a lengthy update will kinda-sorta reward everyone who's been waiting patiently. I had a lot of fun developing all the little nuances between Akira and her partner, and I hope everyone enjoys the ride.


Act 3 - Part 7-1: Bad Company
Layers upon layers of white brick stack up to a staggering five stories, radiating now with an intimidating aura, rather than a hopeful one.

I was eager to get to work as fast as I could after class, but now I'm having second thoughts. What if I'm not prepared? The only guidelines I remember are long pants and close-toed shoes, but what if they're the wrong kind? Maybe there's some kind of unwritten rule in this career field where you're only supposed to wear khakis.

The metallic handle feels cold and foreboding against my hand, as if warning me to turn back and never try again. The bus fares are starting to add up against my allowance, however, so I choose to pull the door open and take a step inside.

No welcoming committee, just the same old tiny and empty lobby, although there’s a different man sitting at the desk. Now that I look at it from here, his workstation looks a little too small for him – like a bodybuilder sitting in a school desk meant for a teenager.

“You Nakai?” He asks upon hearing the door click shut.

“Yes, sir.” I answer, freezing in place.

“Nah, don't call me sir. I'm Dan.” He replies, his facial features never moving even the slightest bit. I can feel that he's trying to be friendly, but the way his voice rumbles makes me wonder just how long it'll be before he tries to break me in half over his leg.

“Yes sir.”

“And yer Hisao, right? Nice t' meet yah, Hisao.”

The accent accompanying his voice is a little unnerving, in that it fits his form to a T. Are only comedians and body builders born in Kansai?

“Nice to meet you too, sir.”

His eyebrow raises in response to my repeated inability to get his title right, although he doesn't take the time to press me for it. “Awright. You here fer Kenji? He's upstairs, prob'ly.”

Probably? I suppose a general direction is better than a wild hunt, anyway.

I bow my head in thanks and head up the stairs, pacing myself at each landing. This time, however, I'm not so much worried about my health as I am about what lies on the third floor. Part of me is already imagining the Kenji I'm used to, except older – maybe with a long beard, or one of those thin ‘dragon’s whiskers’ mustaches you see in movies so much.

What if he turns out “normal” though? Like the average Japanese salaryman?

My feet speed up as curiosity takes over, unable to make up my mind as to which I'd prefer. The normal, boring route leaves me in an easier position to do my job, but the chance he could be crazy and make every day just a touch more interesting is appealing too. The fact that I'm even considering, much less having a little hope for the second option is a problem in itself.

I touch down on the third floor, glancing left and right to find no one else here. Now that I think about it; the first floor was fairly vacant as well. Besides a few busy men in white coats, there's no one else roaming the building.

The path to his office is easy enough to remember, since all I have to do is turn the corner and look for the nameplate reading 'K. Setou.’ The door itself standing wide open, but the lights are turned off for some odd reason, making me wonder if this is one of those buildings that uses the annoying motion-sensors.

I check inside the room to make sure he isn't about to come back before knocking against the door frame.

“Hey, Mr. Setou?” I call out into the black space.

At this, the lights flick on, illuminating the room. It's the same as last time, naturally, except this time it’s even messier. On the opposite end of the desk is a tall office chair, a single hand laying against the armrest.

The chair revolves around, revealing a male with light hazel eyes and a head clear of any hair save for the messy black mound on top.

“Yes?” He responds.

His voice sounds a little darker than it did over the phone, but his appearance is nothing like what I expected. As far as similarities to Kenji go; the only thing I can match up is the hair. Everything else is incongruous – sharp, piercing eyes unobstructed by glasses, narrow facial features chiseled into place by years of experience, and a strange aura of meticulous focus.

I'll bet his breath doesn't even smell like garlic.

I take a nervous gulp before answering him with “I'm Hisao Nakai, you wanted me to come in for training today?”

He looks me up and down like a hawk, analyzing each inch of my clothing, checking for any manner of flaw or disorder with his pointed, narrow gaze.

Content that everything is in order; his attitude flip-flops entirely, replacing the serious, eagle-eyed glare with a contented smile.

“Hey man, glad you could come in today. I promise it won't take long, just gotta give you the run-down so you don't set the building on fire when you come in next time.”

I nod my head a single time and back out of the doorway as he leaps from his chair and follows me out of the office. The first thing he does is pace over to the closet beside the office and straighten the brass plate, pressing against the duct tape to make sure it won't fall off.

“Alright, so, this is the third-floor maintenance closet. We've got five of these. Well, there's only one third-floor closet, but there's five maintenance closets.” Mr. Setou explains.

“Are there different things in each one?” I ask.

My question is met with a disapproving glare and a stark “of course there are different things in each one. Why would we have five of them if they all had the same contents?”

Unable to meet his response with anything, I nod my head once again and remain silent until he decides to continue his overview.

“The third floor closet has lots of neat stuff, man. The general-purpose lab is here, so there's a general-purpose closet, and this is where you find things like neutralizing floor cleaner, bathroom supplies, ammonia...”

He goes on to list over a dozen different things, making sure to point out that all of the specific-purpose implements like glass and biohazard cleanup kits can be found on the second floor. There's facemasks and gloves in every closet, and even a rack full of hazmat suits on the first floor.

What worries me is not the magnitude of my duties, but my boss' personality. He changes back and forth between strict and easy-going at the drop of a hat. All of his explanations are cordial, but all of the responses to questions are stiff and strict, as if he were annoyed that I didn’t already know the answer.

Sometimes, however, it's backwards.

“This closet is where the bleach can be located. There's no ammonia in here – that's on the third floor. You have to make sure to remember where they go, and that they are not to be stored in the same closet. Do you understand, Nakai?” He asks in a solid tone.

“Yes, sir. Why don't we store them in the same closet?”

At my question, his attitude deflates and he looks off with dejected look in his eye, commenting “Sunohara wasn't a smart guy...” in an off-handed manner.

I understand that the stress of a management position can make someone temperamental, but the way he acts borders on some kind of bipolar disorder. Part of him feels like he'd be more at home cracking a whip over a group of slaves, while the other would rather hop down from the chair and help them along.

Unsure of what else I could add, a simplistic “I see” pops out of my mouth.

He lets out a sigh before gathering himself and guiding me up and down each floor, pointing out facilities, introducing me to any staff that may be there at the time, and stopping to impress the most important details into my mind.

“If anyone calls for you to clean something up, then that takes absolute priority. We have to gather as much accurate data as possible, and an unclean workstation can skew results. Days of work can be destroyed by so much as a patch of mold in the incubator.” He instructs, his razor-sharp eyes switching between me and the cleaning implements in the closet.

“Of course.” I reply.

“Sanitary technicians may be the bottom rung, but they are of vital importance to our operation here. Don't you dare shirk your duties.” Mr. Setou instructs.

Sanitary technician? That's an awfully wordy way of saying 'janitor.' Unless there's some extreme details I missed out on somewhere along the line.

I take another gulp before replying with “understood.”

There’s no way anyone taking a job like this knows what they’re getting into. I just thought I’d be mopping floors and cleaning tabletops, not ensuring the integrity of an entire company.

“You're a quick learner, man. I like that.” He responds, flipping back into 'easy-going' mode.

***********

“Alright, we'll see you on Monday then, kid. Or, well, they will, since I gotta go up to a board meeting in Tokyo.” Mr. Setou states with a smile.

He hands me a folded slip of paper and waves goodbye as I step out of the front door. Or at least, he waves until the receptionist from earlier mentions some paperwork he's been putting off, at which point Mr. Setou snaps and begins to yell something inexplicable about terrible upper management.

I don't get the chance to catch the ensuing action as I make my way to the bus stop as quickly as I can manage. I doubt he has the mindset to physically abuse his subordinates, but I can see him throwing clipboards and the like; when he’s on his serious setting, anyway.

There's a lot to choke down, here. There's a different set of tasks for every experiment that happens, and there's different experiments happening all throughout the building, all on different days. On top of that, the general duties are enough to constitute having their own handbook, which I've already got stashed away under my arm.

And the only thing that makes it better is the fact that there's only one other custodian, and we'll never work on the same days. Just because I know I'll never meet them, I'm going to assume that it's Kenji and he's some sort of a master of disguise. It's a convenient way to explain why he's always out and about once the sun sets.

Opening the slip Mr. Setou gave me reveals a handwritten schedule, or rather, an arrangement of scrawled notes and times. My first day of work will be on Sunday and I'll be running a four-hour shift. In fact, all of these are four hour shifts, starting at 6:00 P.M and ending at 10:00.

There's no problems with that schedule, to be honest. I might miss out on a few hours of sleep, but it’s a small price to pay for an opportunity like this. I just hope there's no overtime involved, since the buses stop running at eleven.

Even though the schedule is favorable, I’m more excited about the fact that my ‘training’ is finally over. Mr. Setou didn’t do a bad job of explaining things, and I wasn’t disinterested or anything, but my other plans tonight are hard not to favor.

I pull my phone out of my pants pocket and flip it open, trying to keep my stomach from doing a little flip as the screen informs me of a message from ‘Akira S.’ It’s not anything like our usual messages, though, so I don’t think I have much reason to celebrate.

[Hey, I told you about the place, right? We’re going to try and be there by 7.]

Dinner with Akira, Hanako, and Lilly tonight at seven. It's already 5:30 PM, and it takes at least half an hour to take the bus between here and the school. It wouldn't be hard to find something to do here for an hour and a half, but I’m going to need a change of clothes to be presentable, especially for three girls.

It’s not going to be anything serious; just a couple of friends hanging out, and yet there’s still this strange pressure on my chest. I suppose I need to make an impression since it’s been a week since I’ve even seen her.

There's also the package I need to grab while I'm back at the school. There's no doubt at all that I'll get odd or suspicious reactions from Hanako and Lilly, but I don't want to back out on showing a bit of appreciation just because I might make an awkward impression on someone.

Plans dance back and forth in my mind as I make it to the station and take a seat next to one of another dozen people. Time itself seems to slow to a crawl as I glance between my watch and the digital clock next to the sign, unable to keep calm as anxiety rushes through my head.

Before I realize it, we're already moving back towards the small town out in the middle of nowhere, home to Yamaku Academy.

************

The lit sign at the front of the bus reads '6:34 P.M.'

These trips really do start to speed by when you've got your mind on other things. The city I had departed not more than an hour ago rolls back into view, thanks to a hurried trip to the dorm allowing me to make it back to the stop for the next ride.

My attire has changed from that of bland work clothing to something more presentable in public. I have no right to try and impress Akira if she's working things out with someone she already has, but at the same time I can't afford to look like a slob. It's nothing more than a one-sided feeling, but there isn't a man alive who doesn't try to look good for the girl he likes.

A blue plaid sweater-vest was my solution. It's a present I got for Christmas one year, and it's the nicest thing I have aside from the suit, which is on the verge of needing a trip to the cleaners anyway. It's not exactly a fashion statement, especially when one takes the pair of khakis I decided to wear into account, but it should be enough.

The bus brakes to a halt next to the same station, which is about three blocks away from the restaurant I'm supposed to be meeting the others at. I remember walking by it each time I've been into the city, so it should be easy enough to find my way.

I pay the fare as I disembark and touch down on the concrete sidewalk, patting my pockets to make sure everything is in order. The shoe box under my arm remains undamaged, although it's only now that I wish I'd taken the time to wrap it or make it more presentable in some way.

The electronic sign next to the bus station informs me that I only have fifteen minutes until the meeting time arrives. There shouldn't be a punishment for arriving late, but it doesn't hurt to be early; especially when there's three girls waiting for me.

Droves of people roam the sidewalk, preparing for night time as the sun begins to set in the distance. Neon signs light up one by one, eager to get a head start on their business hours. Everyone seems to know where they're going, even if they're standing around waiting for someone else.

Meanwhile, I'm roaming the block hoping to find a restaurant I'd just happened to see before. My heart pounds in anticipation as I glance along the rows of buildings, searching for that familiar head of messy blonde hair. Considering the fact that Lilly is also with her, it shouldn't be too hard to find them.

Or, at least, one would assume such a thing if they weren't surrounded by dozens of people. Every so often I have to stop and stand up on the tips of my toes, trying to pick out the proper faces as I peer over the heads of those rushing past me.

Seconds turn into minutes as I stroll up and down the sidewalk, rounding corners, and trying to pick out the correct sign. I should have asked for directions. It was stupid to act like I already knew where the place w-

“Whoa, there, you're going the wrong way.” A familiar voice calls out, her tone just barely audible over the bustle of the crowd.

I look over to find find all three of the girls; Akira, Lilly, and Hanako sitting down on a bench under an extravagant restaurant sign, unable to believe that I almost missed them.

“Yo.” Akira calls out, one hand hanging in the air as she waves.

Hanako turns away from her conversation with Lilly and gives a meager greeting as well before mentioning something to Lilly.

Without any delay, I run over to the small gathering, barely able to keep my nerves under control. It’s a friendly meeting, but I still feel like there’s a standard I have to meet, otherwise I’ll mess everything up.

“Been a while since I've seen you.” I comment as I step over to the bench.

“Hey now, it's only been a week. It flew by for us.” Akira replies.

Lilly perks up at the sound of my voice, a gentle smile emerging on her lips. Akira, on the other hand, looks as laid-back as always, leaning back in the seat with her legs crossed.

Now that I look at the two of them together, I can't help but wonder how I doubted their relation in the first place. I'll bet if Akira had longer hair and blue eyes, anyone could mistake her for Lilly's twin. It doesn't help that she looks so young for someone who's supposed to be twenty four.

Everything above the neck looks young, anyway. She's decided to go with one of her pinstriped suits for the occasion, rather than dressing in something more ladylike. I can't complain, though, it's something of a charm in its own right on a girl like her.

Lilly and Hanako don't seem to be dressed for a formal event either, with the former wearing a beige long-sleeved shirt than hangs off of her shoulders and a tan ankle-length skirt. Hanako's attire comes as a bit of a surprise, her legs clad in a pair of black pants and her torso in a dress shirt with a denim jacket, all wrapped together with a small bowtie on her collarand a black cabbie atop her head.

“Ah, I wasn't expecting to meet you here, Hisao. How have you been?” Lilly asks, her hands resting in her lap.

“The same old with some new things sprinkled in. How was Scotland?” I reply, looking around for somewhere to sit down. Unfortunately, the only bench in the area is right here, and the three of them are crowded enough as it is.

“It was wonderful.” Lilly chimes. “Things went well with our aunt, and she's on to a speedy recovery. I've had plenty of time to catch up on some reading as well.”

“Sounds like you had a great time relaxing. I've been busy all week.” I return with a groan.

“Busy shopping, it would seem. What's in the box?” Akira comments, a curious smile on her lips as she points at the package under my arm.

The first thought to come to mind is 'it's a present for you because I've missed you over the week and I felt like I should do something to show my appreciation' but I could never actually say something like that.

My mouth opens to babble some random, cryptic excuse, but no other words come to mind. Rather than let my vocal cords spasm in what will no doubt be an awkward or humorous mistake, I just hold out the package towards Akira with both my hands.

The act takes both her and Hanako by surprise, leaving Akira glancing between the unwrapped box and myself with a look of concern.

“What, for me?” She asks, uncrossing her legs and sitting up in the bench.

Before I can doubt myself and try to pass it off as a joke, I nod my head, employing all my self control to keep my facial expressions in check. People don't wince or bite their lip in fear when they're trying to give someone a gift, right?

Without any further comment, she accepts the shoebox from my hands and lays it down in her lap, opening the lid and undoing the newspaper inside, much to Hanako's interest.

“Ohoho, what do we have here?” Akira comments in amusement, her eyes widening and a bright smile emerging on her face.

“Just something that found its way into my hands. It's not like I was gonna do anything with it, you know?” I reply, glancing away as blood begins to rush to my head.

“What is it?” Lilly asks.

“Hisao got me a bottle of wine.” Akira answers as she turns the container around in her hands, analyzing each detail of the foreign label. “Nothing too luxurious. It's not a rare vintage or anything, but I doubt it was cheap. How'd you get a hold of this?”

“Well, I didn't pay for it.” I state.

The reaction isn't exactly what I planned, with Hanako letting out a small gasp, Lilly meeting me with a frown, and Akira veering back in her seat, almost smacking her head against the restaurant window behind her.

“Ah, wait, no, I mean someone gave it to me.” I sputter, waving my arms back and forth in denial.

“Who would give you something like this?” Akira responds.

“A friend. He got in the mail and wanted nothing to do with it.”

She shoots a raised eyebrow at me before glancing over the bottle one more time.

“Heh, not like it matters. I could be your fence if it means you keep bringing me stuff like this.” She says with an amused grin.

“I didn't steal it.” I insist, shrinking away under the disapproving expressions of Lilly and Hanako.

“Yeah, yeah, I'm just playing with you.” Akira replies.

Following her statement, Hanako exhales a relieved sigh and Lilly offers a small giggle, covered by her dainty hand. Their reactions seem to go along with whatever Akira says, so I get the impression that the big sister is the one that calls the shots here.

“Anyway, I'm gonna go ahead and put this up. No point carrying it into the restaurant.” she adds, rising up to her feet and walking off with the box in tow.

“Huh? Isn't your apartment at least a dozen blocks away from here?” I ask.

“I drove, silly.” She calls back, already swallowed up by the evening crowd.

She drove? I guess that makes sense, and a car would be the best place to store something like that for later. I'm still a little curious as to what kind of a vehicle she drives, but my attention is pulled away to more pressing matters.

“How kind of you, Hisao.” Lilly says.

Oh no, this is what I was bracing for. It's going to be rather difficult explaining something like that, especially to someone as sharp as her. There's no doubt in my mind that Hanako is suspicious as well.

“It's just something I wound up with, and I heard she had a thing for wine.” I reply, trying to play it off.

“Oh, that is true.” She responds. “Where did you hear that from?”

How am I supposed to explain that I’ve been texting her sister?! It’s always something that’s sat on the back of my mind, but actually having to explain that I’m friends with a classmate’s older sibling is pretty bewildering.

“I heard it from Akira. Who else would I find out about it from?” I answer, adding a chuckle.

Is guilt really something I should feel right now? It's not exactly wrong or immoral to give a friend something as a welcome-back present, and I doubt Lilly is the sort who would be so petty as to throw a fit about not receiving something as well.

Maybe that's the problem though, it's not just a welcome-back present for a friend. That may be what I tried to rationalize it as when it found its way into my hands, but I know that there was something in me that wanted to impress her.

Is that such a bad thing, though? Can't a guy give a girl a gift just because he wants to see her reaction? You don't have to be harboring ulterior motives to try and make someone smile. And Akira does have an awfully cute smile...

Lilly flashes me one of her own happy expressions as she responds with “oh my, you two have become much better friends than I was expecting. I'm glad to see that you're making acquaintances besides Hanako and myself.”

That... went better than expected.

I was getting ready for Lilly to say something like 'you seem awfully interested in Akira lately,' but it seems that the worst I have to face has already passed.

“So did you happen to find anything I would like?” She adds, her inner thoughts shielded with a noncommittal, almost blank smile.

A pang of guilt assaults my brain, as I knew it would. The impact isn't lessened by my being able to predict it, either.

“No, I'm afraid I didn't. I'll definitely be on the lookout, though. I'm sure I could find something for Hanako as well.” I add, trying to keep from leaving her out of the conversation entirely.

“Y-you don't have to g-get me anything.” Hanako murmurs, her hands fidgeting in her lap as she averts her gaze from mine.

“It's quite alright.” Lilly says with a giggle. “I do appreciate you watching out for my sister, however. That's as much of a gift as I'll accept.”

I give an awkward nod of my head before-

Did I just gesture to a blind person again?

-before relishing in the fact that Akira returns within the next minute.

“So why are we standing around, anyway?” I ask.

“The reservation is at seven. I had plans to take care of some other business once I got here, so the plans were made at the last minute and we got shoved into a busy spot.” Akira replies. “Anyway, it's about that time. I'll go see if it's opened yet.”

The older Satou sister strides past me and disappears between the glass doors of the building.

So why did she suggest we all have dinner together if she already had plans to do other things? I was under the impression that she'd have the rest of the day freed up for other things, since Hanako would no doubt want to spend as much time together as possible after a one-week separation.

A few more moments of silence ensue before she comes back, gesturing for all of us to file in. She helps Lilly onto her feet before offering her arm, guiding Lilly inside while Hanako and I follow suit.

Once through the glass doors, I'm welcomed to a view of a rather high-class italian restaurant, with dozens of tables spread out among the burgundy carpet. Light from the setting sun and the candles inside mix to create a sophisticated environment, which is helped along by all of the patrons clad in high-class suits and dresses of all different fashions.

The air is laced with the general babble of mixed conversation layered on top of music emanating from a group of speakers on every wall. A row of portraits and other hangings helps to establish a sophisticated mood, making it hard to feel like the four of us blend in.

That feeling is only further deterred by the numerous stares we receive from every group of patrons we pass. It's a mistake to say 'we' though, since Lilly and Akira seem to be stealing all the attention. Considering their foreign roots, it's hardly a surprise. I'm sure Hanako appreciates all of the stares being averted to something else, at any rate.

We're seated at a relatively isolated table, its surface covered with a red tablecloth. Akira waves off the waitress as she tries to light the candles, commenting that “we're just here for the food.” She then pulls one chair out and allows Lilly to have a seat before taking her own, flashing a smile at the attendant as she sets off to serve a different table.

Lilly sits across the table from myself, with Hanako on my right and Akira on my left. There's a rather large margin of space between us, since apparently the only free table was one made for seating eight people rather than half of that.

A menu and a set of tableware have already been laid out for the four of us. Hanako unfolds the diagram of italian cuisine without a moment's hesitation, her eyes glossing across its contents with enthusiasm. Beside me, the older of the two Satous picks up her menu and begins reading its contents aloud, gauging each of Lilly's responses.
Last edited by Thanatos02 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Thanatos02
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 12/16]

Post by Thanatos02 » Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:10 am

Act 3 - Part 7-2: Bad Company

“Same old, then?” She asks after Lilly replies with a negative to the fifth suggestion.

“If it's not too much to ask.” The younger sibling replies.

“Alright, alright.” Akira acknowledges. “And how about you, Hanako?”

“I-I'll take the same thing too.”

Akira gives a small sigh before folding up her menu and laying back in the chair, mumbling something to herself.

I can't say I blame either of them for sticking with something safe. For one, everything on this menu is of an exorbitant price, some of which reach into the quintuple digits. On top of that, most of the entries are of questionable appeal to begin with – does anyone actually risk ordering blowfish? And on that note, is stingray even edible?

Are either of those things even considered Italian cuisine?

“So, what are you getting, Hisao? Don't be stingy, I've got it covered.” Akira states with an inviting smile between her cheeks.

I give the menu one last rundown before settling for a plate of spaghetti, which happens to be one of the few things I can actually recognize. I'd love to branch out and try new things, but I'll have to stay in my safe zone for this one.

Akira's brow furrows at the mention of my order, as if a particularly bad memory just surfaced in her mind. I think of changing my mind or even offering to pay for it myself, but the waitress interrupts any objections I may have had.

Our orders are relayed, all of which happens to be in a foreign tongue I can't understand without a visual aid. I think I know what a 'stromboli' is, but a dish like 'arancini' is lost on me if I can't even see what it looks like. I'm sure they're reliable dishes, since both Lilly and Hanako seem to be repeat customers here.

The waitress takes down all of our orders, as well as requested drinks and disappears behind a metal door across the spacious room.

“So I take it all of you come here often?” I ask.

“Yes, every now and then.” Lilly answers in an earnest tone.

“Yep. It's been a while, though. Everyone's busy these days.” Akira replies.

Hanako nods at Akira's statement before adding “i-it's nice here.”

“Any reason to get Hanako's head out of a book.” The older sister remarks with a playful grin, much to the embarrassment of the dark-haired girl across from her.

I give a nervous chuckle as Hanako's face becomes flushed with a dim shade of crimson.

“Same to you, Hisao. Hopefully you'll find time off from work to join us more often.” Akira adds.

“Work?” Lilly asks, a flash of curiosity gleaming in her eye. Hanako also perks up at the mention of such a thing, gazing at me from behind her dark bangs.

Just had to throw the spotlight at me, huh?

“I'd hope so, yeah. They don't have me scheduled too heavily, so I don't see why I wouldn't be able to join every now and then.” I reply. Such an answer doesn't drive away Lilly and Hanako's interest, however.

“My my, that's quite the development. Where are you working?”

“They call it a 'sanitary technician,' but I'm basically a janitor. It's for a research lab across town. I just felt like there was more I could be doing here instead of just studying.” I respond, hoping that it's enough of an answer.

“That's wonderful!” Lilly replies. “I'm glad to hear you've been busy during our absence.”

“C-congratulations.” Hanako adds with a warm smile, her hands clasped together in her lap.

“I see you decided to turn down my offer, then.” Akira says.

“Hm? What do you mean by that?” I ask, tilting my head.

“Heh, you didn't even consider it, huh?” She replies with an amused grin, still laying back in the chair. Hanako and Lilly both look on in confusion, unsure of what she could even be mentioning.

I have to think for a second, just as disoriented as the other two in this conversation. What did Akira offer, and what does it have to do with my managing to find a jo-

Oh, right.

“I'm sure being your coffee boy would be the greatest pleasure in the world, but I'm afraid I must broaden my horizons.” I comment.

Lilly and Hanako both cover their mouths in a giggle at my statement. Maybe this is a running joke of some sort I'm just getting in on.

“Damn. Doesn't look like Hanako is going to take me up anytime soon either.” Akira responds.

“I c-couldn't.” The dark haired girl beside me replies.

Akira lets out an exaggerated sigh, “looks like I'll have to keep making my own coffee for now.”

“Hey, at least that way no one else can mess it up.” Another voice chips in from behind me.

It sounds deep, but empty. It's familiar, in a way...

Akira, Hanako, and I all turn to find a man in black, his suit coat buttoned up with a red tie hanging from his collar. A strange sheen glows from his hair, a carefully combed jet-black with no trace of an imperfection on his face.

It only takes a moment for it to click.

“Well hello there!” Akira says with a smile. “What are you doing here?”

That is a very good question. Why is Mr. Shuugetsu here, and even more importantly, how does Akira know him?

“There's some important people I'm supposed to be meeting here, but they won't be in for another hour.” He answers.

A thought sits in the back of my mind, something I'd imagined earlier.

“Oh, so we're not important people, then?” Akira jabs.

He responds with a chuckle before replying with “the answer's obvious, right? I shouldn't even have to say it.”

I knew a time like this would come. Deep down inside, I can't even say I wasn't expecting it.

Akira turns and notices what must be a blank expression before standing up and laying her hand on his shoulder. “Oh, hey, I need to introduce you. Hisao, this is Tetsuo Shuugetsu, my-”

The word hurts. Like a weight were just dropped on my chest.

'Boyfriend.'

It's different from the usual palpitations -- I feel like something just grabbed my heart and squeezed as hard as they could. Really, I should have seen this coming from a million miles away. I knew there would come a day when I saw Akira and Tetsuo together, but I didn't take the time to mentally prepare myself for it.

Maybe this is a punishment. I grew to have feelings for a woman while she was in a jeopardized relationship, even though I wanted to help her succeed. There's no justifying such hypocrisy.

“Oh, and this is Hisao Nakai, he's a friend of mine.” Akira adds.

Our eyes meet. I stow my thoughts for later and meet him face to face, bowing my head as I'm introduced.

“Well, well, well. What are you doing here, Hisao?” He asks whilst pulling the girl beside him into a one-armed hug.

The statement gets an odd reaction from Akira, who shoots both Mr. Shuugetsu and I a curious stare.

“Just having dinner with some friends.” I reply, making sure to keep my emotions in check. “And how about you, Mr. Shuugetsu?”

He waves off the statement, “call me Tetsuo; no need for stuff like that outside of the workplace.”

I give a nod of my head, trying to put together the correct response. He says to skip the formality, but that just doesn't feel right; I'd rather not be pushed into a position of boot-licking, but it just doesn't seem right to refer to my boss in such a friendly way. It'd be like calling my teachers by their first names.

“And I'm just here to kill some time, don't mind me.” He adds, laughing as Akira nudges him in the side.

“So I guess the introduction wasn't needed, then?” The woman beside him remarks, glancing between the two of us.

“Oh, nah, we've already met. Hisao here is the new sanitary technician for the quality testing lab down a couple of blocks from here.” He says with a bit of pride, beaming at me.

Such a friendly demeanor is unnerving. I have no logical right to hate or even dislike him, and yet the feeling is already building up in my head.

“THAT'S where you're working?” Akira turns and asks with a hint of surprise.

“Yep. Small world, huh?” I reply, trying to force a chuckle.

“You're telling me.” Mr. Shuuget-... Tetsuo adds, no doubt feeling just as disoriented by my presence as I am by his.

It's an odd situation. The girl I wound up having feelings for is the sister of one of my classmates, happens to be six years older, and is in a relationship with the guy who hired me onto a job I was really looking forward to.

Like something out of a bad drama.

Before anything more can be said, Lilly cuts in with a cordial “ah, nice to meet you again, Mr. Shuugetsu. How have you been?”

At the sound of another voice, we're all reminded that this is a public restaurant, and that the food we all ordered a few minutes prior should be ready soon. Akira offers her chair to Tetsuo, who has no time to decline before she goes searching for another seat to add to the table.

“Hey, Lilly, mostly the same. Working hard, hardly working, what's the difference?” He replies, chuckling at his own joke.

“I'm glad to hear you've been keeping busy. Are you here on business?” Lilly returns, a blank expression indicating that she's unfazed.

“Kinda-sorta. I had plans to meet a few potential investors, but they had decided to push the time back an hour, probably scared of crowds.” Tetsuo responds.

Their conversation carries on about nothing in particular; Lilly asking standard dime-a-dozen questions and Tetsuo responding with standard dime-a-dozen answers. The blonde girl across the table shows no signs of amusement for any of his repeated attempts at humor, an amicable smile gracing her features.

It's hard to gauge her feelings or opinions over Akira's partner, other than the fact that she hasn't laughed a single time since he got here. She seems more detached than anything, unlike Hanako, who assumes the 'nervous' stance; hiding her hands under the table and avoiding even the smallest semblance of eye contact with the new guest.

“Ah, and who might you be? I don't think we've met yet.” Tetsuo asks, his voice directed at Hanako.

Her eyes meet his, but no vocalizations are made. I suppose Akira and Lilly are the only ones here who know him personally, because this is how Hanako reacted to me the first time I tried to introduce myself. Hell, the fact that he decided to try introducing himself right as I noticed her means there’s more similarities between us than I’d like to admit.

At the lack of a response, he starts with “my name is Tetsuo Shuugetsu. And you?” his mouth formed into a goofy business smile. Hanako's reaction is clear in my memory. She makes no attempt to respond, only staring at the man across from her with a wide-eyed expression, like a deer caught in the headlights.

“I've been in a relationship with your friend, Akira, for a while now. I can't believe we haven't met yet.” He continues, adding a goofy business laugh into the mix.

The exchange makes me cringe on the inside. The feeling is made all the worse when I remember that I was in this exact same position once, trying the exact same thing.

“H...H...Hanako...” she finally answers, her voice covered up by the ambient noise emanating from the other people dining here.

“I'm sorry, could you run that by me one more time?” Tetsuo asks, his expression unchanging.

A glance across the table reveals that Lilly is in the same state of mind as myself; a nervous, almost annoyed frown on her lips. Unlike me, however, she decides to interrupt before Hanako explodes and runs off to the restroom, or somewhere else.

“Her name is Hanako, Mr. Shuugetsu.”

“Ah, alright, nice to meet you, Hanako.” He replies, before adding “oh, and Lilly, you can call me Tetsuo, no need for the formalities.” with a chuckle.

“I'll try, Mr. Shuugetsu.”

His response is crowded out by Akira returning with another chair, slapping it down between Lilly and Tetsuo, which causes everyone to scoot over to make room.

“You would not believe the nonsense I had to go through to get another seat.” She comments.

Hanako gradually calms down thanks to Lilly's interjection and Akira's presence. I can't find myself liking Tetsuo anytime soon, but I can at least feel something of a connection.

“You were away for quite a while. What happened?” Lilly asks.

“They didn't have any empty tables to take a chair from, so I had to follow around a newbie waiter while he looked for a chair in the back rooms. Unbelievable that they don't prepare for this stuff.”

“Well, high-class places like this usually only plan for what they need.” Tetsuo retorts with a shrug.

His off-handed statement is met with resistance from the woman beside him; “maybe they should plan for extra business, too.”

“Why spend the money if they rarely need to exceed their limits?” He argues, one eyebrow raised as if he were trying to comprehend that an opposing opinion exists..

“Why decline the extra income at all? A little spending for a little profit here and there?” She returns, her smile fading away into an annoyed glare.

Why argue over such a minor thing? I remember Akira mentioning something like this a couple of weeks ago, about her boyfriend starting arguments over every minute detail.

This isn't really what I was expecting, though. Aren't couples supposed to try to get along?

“And what if the extra profit doesn't come in often enough to justify the spending? C'mon, this is basic business sense, you shouldn't-”

He cuts himself off mid-sentence as the waitress arrives with a tray of four different glasses, all filled with liquids of various colors. Tea goes to Lilly, a glass of water goes to both Hanako and Akira, and I receive a cup of coffee.

“Ah, thank you.” Akira replies as the waitress sets the glass down.

“Staying dry tonight, then?” Tetsuo jabs with a grin and a wink; a gesture Akira doesn’t try to return. In fact, she doesn't even hint that she heard the remark as she brings the rim of the cup up to her lips.

His expression evaporates after a moment of silence, at which point he stops the waitress and asks to place his own order.

Coffee and a plate of spaghetti. It's simple, but what bothers me is the idea that he ordered the exact same thing as myself.

“Spaghetti? C’mon, that’s what you order at every restaurant we go to.” Akira remarks.

“Is a man not allowed to have a favorite food?” Tetsuo replies.

“It helps to try new things every now and then.” She argues, stopping to take another sip from her glass.

“Stick to what works. It’s tried and proven for a reason.” He counters, crossing his arms as if to exaggerate how stubborn he is.

“Suit yourself, just don’t start playing around and knock the plate off the table.” She replies.

“Hey, that was one time!” He counters, which only serves to get a chuckle out of Akira.

“Messy eater.” She jabs with a playful smirk.

I get the feeling that there’s a lot more behind the story than what is being implied. Rather than try to turn the argument around, he went on the defense...

“So, how was the trip back? Did the flight go smoothly?” Tetsuo asks as he turns to Akira and Lilly, leaning in on the table with his hands clasped together.

...and then turns the entire conversation around. Akira doesn’t seem to have a problem with letting the subject return to something civil, though.

“It was raining cats and dogs at the airport. We got drenched just trying to get on the plane.” Akira replies, starting to lighten up from her previous annoyance at Tetsuo’s repeated attempts at arguing. “The actual flying part went fine, though. Wasn't so bad for our first time, I say.”

Lilly seems to disagree with the second statement, “the jetlag gets to everyone, I'm afraid.”

“Really? I feel great!” Her sister returns, although Lilly's statement turns out to be true as Akira covers her mouth and lets out a long-winded yawn.

“Heh, 'scuse me.” She states as the entire table lets out a light chuckle.

**************

“Th-thank you.” Hanako mumbles as her meal is placed on the table before her. I can't remember the name of what she ordered, but it looks similar to a cake roll, except the cake is replaced with a rolled up noodle, and the filling is replaced with cheese and tomato sauce. Another plate is laid beside it, containing a salad of rather diverse ingredients.

Akira lays claim to a small plate of lasagna, sitting up with an eager grin as she unravels the napkin from around a knife and fork. Lilly taps around her place with her own silverware, giving her thanks to the waitress as she begins to cut into the first of a pair of looks like breaded rice balls.

Tetsuo and I are both handed identical plates of spaghetti, garnished with chopped tomatoes and a variety of spiced herbs. My cup of coffee is refilled, while his is set down beside his meal, met with a 'thanks' from both of us.

No one beats around the bush when it comes to digging in; forks and knives begin pick to apart each dish of food without restraint, and for good reason. The first bite itself is enough to justify the astronomical prices here, although it doesn't come without the guilt that someone else is picking up the tab.

There's a few things I can't help but notice, though. Lilly's manners are always impeccable, but Akira is usually more laid-back when it comes to posture. Now that food has hit the table, however, they're identical – both sit up with straight backs and proper arm placement, holding their utensils in the same manner. Their silverware moves in almost surgical motions, never letting anything fall out of place.

Tetsuo is similar in this regard as well. Despite having just finished dipping four spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee, he's a little more relaxed as he has a go at his meal. He still maintains good manners to the point that his back doesn't even touch the chair, although he has a habit of leaning his elbow on the table whenever someone else is talking.

“So, what do you have planned for the three-day weekend, Hisao?” Lilly asks as she saws away at her food, a dish called 'Arancini' which is apparently nothing more than baked riceballs stuffed with meat sauce and cheese.

I swallow the chunk of noodles in my mouth before responding with “nothing, really. I've got work on Sunday, but otherwise I'll just be studying or hanging around in the library.”

“Ah, what a shame. Hanako and I had plans to relax in the summerhouse, and wanted to know if you'd like to join us.” She responds with a slight frown.

At the mention of such a thing, Hanako perks up, her eyes jerking over to Lilly as if she wasn't sure about the invitation.

I can't say I don't appreciate the offer, but...

All alone in a summerhouse with two girls? If I had feelings for either of them then I'd pounce on the chance, but as it stands... I'll have to decline. I have trouble thinking of what I'd do on that sort of vacation besides watch TV and sleep, anyway.

“The house up north?” Tetsuo interjects between bites of spaghetti. Careful bites of spaghetti at that, like he were putting in extra effort to keep from spilling anything.

“Yeah, I was thinking they could use a nice break. School gets pretty hectic this time of year.” Akira answers.

“Ah, that sounds nice. They might have to do a little cleaning up, though.” He returns.

“Shhhh. We left that place in perfect condition, remember?” She replies with a laugh.

“Oh- right- of course,” he yammers, “just needs a little dusting off, heh.”

Well, it sounds like they're able to agree on things, at least. It's the first time they've looked like a couple all night, at any rate. The constant back-and-forth arguing doesn't seem like a rare thing, however – Lilly had to break it up twice in the time it took for our food to get here.

“Sounds to me like you're just trying to get them to tidy it up for you.” I comment.

“That may be so.” Lilly replies, and soon Akira is met with the gaze of both Hanako and myself.

“Hey now, that's not the intention at all!” She retorts.

“It would be a nifty bonus though.” Tetsuo adds with a short ‘heh.’

“Even so, I don't like being called lazy.” Akira argues, jabbing Tetsuo in the side with her elbow with a playful grin on her face.

“Really, now? I heard you did nothing but lay around when you were over in Scotland.” He returns, nudging her back with a smile.

“That was a well-earned vacation. I haven't had more than a day off at a time in five months.” She replies. “Sucks that tomorrow is my last day, but eh, gotta earn money somehow.”

Wait, hasn't had more than a day off in five months?! That's an awfully long time to be working in six-day periods, even on the standard eight hours a day. I remember Lilly mentioning that she took her Saturday off quite seriously, and it's now that I understand why.

Hell, the two-hour orientation I had to go through felt like it dragged on forever. I couldn't imagine doing it for eight hours in a day, and then doing it for six days straight on top of that.

Still, there's a holiday coming up, making it a three-day weekend. Is Akira not allowed to take part in that?

“You aren't going with them?” I ask.

“Huh? Nah, we got something of our own planned.” She answers before pointing to Tetsuo with her off hand.

“Ooh, and what would that be?” Lilly asks out of curiosity.

The man beside Akira thinks for a bit before replying with “It's a secret” followed by a short laugh.

“I'd call it a secret if it were a tropical getaway or something.” The older Satou counters. “We're going to a comedy show in Tokyo. Nothing huge, but it's something.”

“Hey, don't just blow away all of the mystique.” He argues.

“What's the point of hiding it, though?” She responds.

“I don't want them thinking I'm taking you out on a cheap date or something.” He retorts.

Akira's smile melts into an annoyed glare as she jabs back with “the tickets were ¥10,000 a pop and the show sold out a day after the offer went online.”

He shrugs before answering with “I just feel like we could have planned something more extravagant. The international wine tour is this weekend as well.”

Both Lilly and Hanako grimace at the sound of his reply, as if they already know what's coming next.

“What are you on about? I'm the one that asked if you'd be okay with checking it out and you turned me down within an instant. Same thing when I suggested giving the jazz club a chance.” She counters, one eyebrow raised at him.

“I don't remember saying no to the tour, since I know how much you love that sort of thing, but you know I can't dance.”

Dancing? At the jazz club? That must have been something I missed when Akira decided to take me in there, unless I was too caught up in getting dominated at multiple games of billiards to notice.

Akira groans and replies with “c'mon, it's not that hard to learn if you'd just...” She stops midsentence and thinks for a bit before responding with “Tetsuo, let's not argue about this while other people are around,” putting her hand up to deter any further conflict.

His mouth opens to form an attempt at a witty reply, but ultimately he just gives a small sigh and goes back to his food with a defeated expression. I hate to describe it in such a way, but it's almost like a child jumping into a game and then becoming sad that it ended right as he got there.

Does he derive some kind of enjoyment out of needless arguments? It's clear that he believes in what he's saying, but does he have to try and force it in such a way? Is it a game to him, or something?

And why does Akira get caught up in it so easily? That was the first time all night she'd actually put her foot down, and even then it was only to say 'let's argue in private, rather than in front of our friends.'

My opinion is rather worthless in this regard, but I think what their problem boils down to is that they don't compromise over anything – it's one way or the other. There's no agreeing to disagree or anything of that nature between them.

Opposites attract, but only to an extent, I suppose. Their personalities are so mismatched; Akira prefers to give everything a chance, while Tetsuo thinks it better to stay in a safe zone. They seem like they get along most of the time and as much as I hate to admit it, they do go pretty well together when they're not bickering over every little thing.

But that's the issue – how long until they do nothing but fight?

****************

“Whoo, that was some good stuff.” Akira remarks as she sets her silverware down and lays back in the chair, a satisfied smile spread cheek to cheek.

“Yes, even better than the last time.” Lilly replies.

Hanako gives a curt nod in agreement with Lilly. Meanwhile, neither Tetsuo or myself have the energy to offer an opinion, content to sit back and savor the feeling of being full for once.

The waitress piles all of the empty dishes onto a large tray, which somehow remains balanced on one hand despite filling up with nearly every glass and plate on the table. Content that everything is back in order, she hauls the load off to the back of the restaurant through a shiny metal door.

“Think you'd wanna come back some time?” Akira turns to me and asks.

“Yeah, I think I could tag along again. I'll probably try to pay for myself next time, though.”

“What, you don't like it when other people spot you?” Akira says.

Well, I just don't feel comfortable letting Akira in particular pay for me. Maybe it's something with girls in general, since I felt strange just thinking about letting the student council cover the bill when they dragged me off to the Shanghai.

“Depends on the person, really.” I respond, shrugging my shoulders.

“Yep, he's the same way.” She replies, pointing to Tetsuo.

Just as she says this, a different waitress comes over and lays a black booklet on the table with a long slip of paper hanging out of its top. As if by practice, both Akira's and Tetsuo's hands fly to the booklet and grip one end of it.

“Don't worry about it.” Tetsuo states.

“What? I can't let you pay for all five of us.” Akira replies.

“Akira, do we have to do this every time? Let me take care of it.” He counters, his lips pursed and his brow narrowed.

Rather than respond to the challenge, Akira looks back to me and comments “see what I mean?” with a short chuckle.

Now here's something I don't understand in the slightest. Isn't it customary for the male to pay for everything? He's a pretty high-ranking professional as well, so I'm sure it wouldn't even make a dent in his wallet to spot everyone at the table.

Of course, I'd feel even worse about letting him pay for me since he's technically my 'opposition.'

Before, there was at least a sign of conflict or genuine disagreement; now it feels like they're arguing simply for the sake of arguing.

“Why don't the two of you split it?” Lilly suggests, a patient smile masking the hint of annoyance in her voice.

Both of them look over to Lilly and then back at each other, locking eyes in some kind of a silent duel of attrition.

Akira and Tetuso both tug at the bill one more time before giving up and letting it fall to the table. Akira pulls a small purse out of the inside of her suit jacket while Tetuso shifts around in his seat and wrestles his wallet out of his pocket. Two ¥5,000 notes are placed in the black book, which is then slapped shut before the other has a chance to oppose the decision.

“There we go.” Lilly comments in satisfaction.

They both give a short 'hmph' as the waitress comes back and takes the bill.

Contrary to expectations, though, the spat appears to have been just one big joke as they both burst out laughing. Other people dining nearby seem to find it an annoyance, as you can spot multiple eyes rolling and then looking away.

“Okay, seriously, did we just make a big deal about that?” Akira remarks between fits of giggling.

“Yeah, that was starting to get a little too out of hand.” He replies, laughing even harder than Akira.

So... it was just a big inside joke between them? Confusion is the only thing on my mind at this point; what kind of a relationship do they even have? A mixture of love and hate is too simple to describe it, but that's the only thing I can think of that fits.

My day has just been filled with all sorts of incongruous things. First a bipolar manager, and now this?

“Geez, we are hopeless.” She responds she says with a sigh, resting her hand on Tetsuo's shoulder.

“I know, right? I mean, seriously, you could have just let me cover it.”

“Yeah, like I'm gonna let you do that.” Akira counters, letting loose another short chuckle.

...Or was it? Are they just treating it like a joke because they don't want to think they had another fight? Even Hanako and Lilly seem to be confused at the display.

“C'mon, you're not even going to let a man take care of his girl?” He replies, nudging her in the side.

A tired expression takes shape on her face for a single second before forming back into an amused smile. “It's not like that at all, Tetsuo. You should know what I think about stuff like this.”

“I'm just saying that maybe you should-”

She cuts him off midsentence, planting one finger over his lips.

“That's enough for one night, don't you think? C'mon, it's getting pretty late.” She states, flashing a smile at the waitress as she lays the receipt on the table.

The two other girls at the table both heave a sigh of relief as Tetsuo agrees to drop the subject for later. Everyone stands up and makes their way out of the restaurant, once again ignoring the various stares from the other customers, some of which weren't here when we entered.

Lilly hooks her arm around Hanako's while Akira and Tetsuo walk side-by-side, both with hands in pockets.

“Well, that's the end of the line for us.” Akira remarks as we step outside. “Do you three need a ride back to the school?”

Lilly declines with a polite “no, we can catch the bus.” before either Hanako or myself can answer.

“Are you sure?” The older Satou asks.

“We'll be fine.” The younger Satou answers, her face carrying that same polite smile as always.

Akira lets out a short sigh before responding with “alright, suit yourself” as if there's nothing she could do to fight the decision.

“It was nice meeting you, Hanako.” Tetsuo states.

Hanako's only reply is a curt nod of her head as she stares back with wide eyes.

Their eyes lock into place for a few moments before he lets out an awkward chuckle and turns to me. “Hisao, you take care of yourself. I'm expecting a lot of good things from you.”

With a bit of hesitation, I bow my head in thanks and decide not to try striking up a conversation. It's getting rather late, and I'm sure Lilly is going to want to head back as soon as possible.

And let's be honest, I doubt I'd have much to say to him right here. There's a few things I'd like to get into the open, but there's no proper manner in which to do so. Not yet, anyway.

“Anyway, I've still got some other business to take care of. Got a little caught up, so they might already be waiting for me.” He remarks with a short 'heh.' “I'll give you a call as soon as I get done with this, alright?” He says to Akira.

“I'll be waiting.” She replies, one hand still in her pocket.

And with that, he steps back into the restaurant. No kiss, no hug, not even a real goodbye.

Akira's gaze follows him as he walks away, a strange, wistful look glowing in her ruby-red eyes. I'm unsure as to what to think about it -- is she sad that she can't go back in with him, or maybe that he can't go back with her? Is she still looking forward to their short vacation, even if her suggestions got turned down?

A small sigh slips out of her mouth before she turns to the three of us. “Well, that's that. I'll see the three of you later.” Akira says as she looks back and raises her hand in a simple wave, walking off in the opposite direction.

With all of our goodbyes exchanged; Hanako, Lilly, and I all make our way to the bus stop a few blocks down the road. I try to ready myself for anything the two of them have to say, since there's no reason for Lilly to turn down Akira's offer.

If they wants to talk to me, then it's not necessarily a bad thing, now that I think about it. There's a couple of questions I need to ask Lilly about, well, everything really. What does she think of Tetsuo, and what's her opinion on their relationship. Is she alright with the way Akira's life seems to be set up?

One thing is certain, though – I can't see myself giving up on Akira. There's something in my gut that just doesn't accept the way things are. Tetsuo isn't the kind of guy I can bring myself to harbor any negative emotions for, but there's no way I can say I'm alright with the current situation.

I have no clue as to where I could even begin with improving it, but Akira deserves better than that.
Last edited by Thanatos02 on Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:07 am, edited 3 times in total.

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nemz
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/05]

Post by nemz » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:16 am

Tetsuo isn't the kind of guy I can bring myself to harbor any negative emotions for
He's an asshat. Not worthy of hate, but certainly a healthy dislike.
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Fiandra
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/05]

Post by Fiandra » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:30 am

Yay an update. I liek.
I'm guessing there would be some more Akira and Tetsuo arguing, yes ? :P I'm looking forward for the next update :D
@Ygdrasel wrote:All's fair in poop and war.
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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/05]

Post by Andere » Mon Jan 07, 2013 12:50 am

I like the slight ambiguity near the end when they start laughing. It seems fairly clear that she's still tired of the arguing, but it also shows that there's some degree of real affection there. That's good to see.

It's difficult to write any story where the love interest starts the story paired to someone else; the balance of "can't exaggerate them into a total caricature" and "have to give them a reason to break-up" is tricky, and that's why I tend to avoid it myself. Hats off to you for deciding to brave that rough sea, Thanatos.

Man, though. It is going to be magical and incredibly awkward to watch if Hisao and Akira start dating while he's still working at the lab. Mostly magical.

Here's hoping Hisao tells the story of how he got the wine sometime. Akira actually meeting Kenji after that would make a great brick joke.

On a re-read, the end of this line is strange:
“And how about you, Hisao? Don't be stingy, I've got it covered.” Akira states, her eyes meeting mine with an inviting smile between her cheeks.
I have a feeling this is a joke about how "her eyes meeting mine with a smile" is technically incorrect (since it links 'eyes' and 'smile,' kind of like how saying " "That's fine," he smiled" is wrong) but it mostly just seems strange.

This line is also oddly ambiguous:
All alone in a summerhouse with two girls? If I had feelings for either of them then I'd pounce on the chance, but as it stands; I'd rather not take the risk.
I can guess what he means by "risk," but something more definite would probably be better. (That said, if you do keep it, I'd replace the semi-colon with an ellipsis; an ellipsis in this context would suggest an internal pause and intentional omission of the space in-between "as it stands" and "I'd rather not take the risk," and would make the above ambiguity more clearly intentional.)

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/05]

Post by XanatosPlannedThis86 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:20 am

Once again another excellent chapter. I'm eager for more. Especially when Hisao talks to Lily in private. I'm curious though if Lily has picked up on Hisao's feelings for Akira. I think now that they've all gotten together and once Lily observed both of them interacting she would have sensed something. I'd fine the gift of wine a huge obvious hint to some possible feelings Hisao has.

Interesting thought though; For the Hokkaido trip that occurred in game, I initially thought you were going to have the four of them taking the trip together Akira, Hisao, Lily and Hanako because of the Problems Akira seems to be having with her boyfriend. Thought they were still on a break from the relationship. As for the boyfriend Tetsuo:

For an OC (Or OC stand-in) they way your wrote and developed him is actually well thought out. From other fanfics I've read (I'm talking mostly of the really mediocre or bad ones) many writers initially have hard time integrating their Original characters into the story, Making them seem out of place. You have manged to pull it off though with Tetsuo. I actually like the counter part or foil thing you have going on between him and Hisao what with the similar likes, dislikes, and personalty traits when it comes to approaching certain social situations. I'm curious though: Are you writing as symbol of what Hisao may be like if he makes certain choices in the future? Like in terms on how he deals with Akira?

Anyway, good chapter overall. There are probably a few grammar things that are there here and there. However, I haven't really noticed them and spotting grammar problems is not exactly my forte. I can tell you though that it does read smoothly if that makes any sense..

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Re: Akira Pseudo-Route [Updated as of 1/05]

Post by Thanatos02 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:22 am

nemz wrote:He's an asshat. Not worthy of hate, but certainly a healthy dislike.
I hate to call him an antagonist, but I don't think he's quite worthy of being called an anti-hero. I'd like him to feel like an actual character, instead of someone you're just supposed to oppose for no reason other than make it so the plot can advance. I'm glad he's got enough character to elicit a response, though. Thanks for the input.
Fiandra wrote:Yay an update. I liek.
I'm guessing there would be some more Akira and Tetsuo arguing, yes ? :P I'm looking forward for the next update :D
Glad there's still some interest, heh. The state of their relationship still has a long way to go, I'm not just gonna cut them off shortly after introducing him.
Andere wrote:I like the slight ambiguity near the end when they start laughing. It seems fairly clear that she's still tired of the arguing, but it also shows that there's some degree of real affection there. That's good to see.
It's difficult to write any story where the love interest starts the story paired to someone else; the balance of "can't exaggerate them into a total caricature" and "have to give them a reason to break-up" is tricky, and that's why I tend to avoid it myself. Hats off to you for deciding to brave that rough sea, Thanatos.
The way I reasoned it out is that Tetsuo has to be a puzzle piece. He has to fit in with what's established, and has to be reasonable enough to conform to the things that could have been implied. He has to have enough pros to be an established match for Akira in the first place, but at the same time he has to have enough cons for there to be a chance of success for Hisao that isn't less than 1%. It's a stupidly difficult thing to balance, if I'm totally honest haha.
Man, though. It is going to be magical and incredibly awkward to watch if Hisao and Akira start dating while he's still working at the lab. Mostly magical.
Here's hoping Hisao tells the story of how he got the wine sometime. Akira actually meeting Kenji after that would make a great brick joke.
We're barely 50% of the way done with the story. Don't think I'll go cheaping out on y'all just yet, heh. Also, thanks for the little grammatical corrections. I also went through the rest of the story and fixed a couple of things that felt weird to me. Nothing major, though, just small fixes here and there.
XanatosPlannedThis86 wrote:Once again another excellent chapter. I'm eager for more. Especially when Hisao talks to Lily in private. I'm curious though if Lily has picked up on Hisao's feelings for Akira. I think now that they've all gotten together and once Lily observed both of them interacting she would have sensed something. I'd fine the gift of wine a huge obvious hint to some possible feelings Hisao has.
That's what I've got planned for the next chapter, definitely. Might not be as long as this one was, but I'm gonna try and wrap up Act 3 and throw down a nice lead-in for act 4 (which won't be the end, by the way. There's gonna be an act 5 too.)
Interesting thought though; For the Hokkaido trip that occurred in game, I initially thought you were going to have the four of them taking the trip together Akira, Hisao, Lily and Hanako because of the Problems Akira seems to be having with her boyfriend. Thought they were still on a break from the relationship.
Not quite. They were taking a small break, which lasted the week while Akira was away at Scotland. What I intended to convey with that "foreshadowing" phone call from Tetsuo is that they were talking things out behind the scenes. Akira didn't go with the three of them in Lilly's route, so it doesn't make sense for her to decide to ride along in this one. Akira mentions going on a little vacation with her boyfriend at the airport in Lilly's route, so it makes for it to happen here -- I'm just putting a tiny spin on the premise for the sake of the story.
As for the boyfriend Tetsuo:
For an OC (Or OC stand-in) they way your wrote and developed him is actually well thought out. From other fanfics I've read (I'm talking mostly of the really mediocre or bad ones) many writers initially have hard time integrating their Original characters into the story, Making them seem out of place. You have manged to pull it off though with Tetsuo. I actually like the counter part or foil thing you have going on between him and Hisao what with the similar likes, dislikes, and personalty traits when it comes to approaching certain social situations. I'm curious though: Are you writing as symbol of what Hisao may be like if he makes certain choices in the future? Like in terms on how he deals with Akira?
Mission accomplished. So far, anyway. I'm not trying to build him as that sort of character, though. Hisao is supposed to identify with him on a lot of things, but there's that careful juxtaposition in the places where it matters, which creates just enough of a contrast for them to be 'competing' so to speak. Tetsuo isn't intended to represent an outcome for Hisao if anything, Mutou does a better job of representing the ways things could go wrong for Hisao, if anyone remembers his little story from 2-4.
Anyway, good chapter overall. There are probably a few grammar things that are there here and there. However, I haven't really noticed them and spotting grammar problems is not exactly my forte. I can tell you though that it does read smoothly if that makes any sense..
I do try to strive for coherence and flow, so that's a nice thing to hear, I'm sure my editor would love to hear that as well. I'd love to give him as much credit as I can, but I'm not gonna give any names unless he wants to reveal himself. I'm glad you're still liking it. Every reader counts, so I hope I can keep everyone interested. Thanks for the input once again.

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