Direction (post Rin neutral ending)(complete)

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Mader Levap
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Mader Levap » Fri Jan 11, 2013 9:10 pm

Muphrid wrote:"So, Nakai, I heard you blew something up. Congratulations. You're a real scientist now."
This made my day. :)
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nemz
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by nemz » Sat Jan 12, 2013 2:02 am

I'm really enjoying this. The way you keep finding ways to talk about problems by talking about something completely unrelated is quite well done.

Mirage is right, however... this particular call out of the blue, while entertaining, makes no sense for several reasons. Not the least of which is that the last time she and Hisao were involved in a plan to help someone by asking another party to talk to them it blew up in both their faces and she's still dealing with the fallout.
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Muphrid » Sat Jan 12, 2013 5:26 pm

Yeah, what I had imagined was that Sumi went looking for Hisao and found out he blew something up and that's why he might not be around. And then because he was asleep, she wasn't able to reach him, so she thought he was avoiding her calls and asked Mutou to talk to him instead.

I'm considering the following revision of the passage to make some of that more explicit (and less dependent on what all Sumi finds out).
[...]

"A friend of yours called the school. I think Aoki was her name. She was fairly persistent, urging me to get in touch with you. Seems you weren't taking her calls, so she thought you might take mine instead."

Sumi? She must've gone looking for me when I didn't show up for class. Well, that's a relief. There's someone looking out for me after all. She must've called while I was asleep.

"I wasn't avoiding Sumi," I explain. "I just nodded off."

"Ah, so I can go back to my lunch? That's good. If I don't finish, my mind will be on lunch instead, and I fear I'd give my next lecture on the physics of why some rice sticks together while other kinds don't."

I sigh. "Well, it can't hurt to get some advice. I screwed up today. I turned on a low-pressure fan too early and left it a smoking heap."

"You blew something up? That's nothing to be sad about. You should be proud, Nakai. You're a real scientist now."
[...]

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Jan 12, 2013 7:04 pm

Would be an improvement imo.
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Wyko
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Wyko » Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:59 am

Any idea how many chapters are left until you complete it? Alternatively, how much time until you finish it? I'd like to read it all at once.

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Muphrid
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Muphrid » Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:35 am

All parts have been written. The only constraint is how fast I can edit them. There are five or six parts left to edit and post (depending on how I split them).

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by griffon8 » Tue Jan 15, 2013 9:51 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:Would be an improvement imo.
I agree.

This is really good stuff. I took lots of physics as an undergrad, but never took it as far as Hisao is here. Obviously you have a lot of knowledge of physics. I think you're pretty good at explaining it to non-physicists.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Wyko » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:08 am

Muphrid wrote:All parts have been written. The only constraint is how fast I can edit them. There are five or six parts left to edit and post (depending on how I split them).
Edit faster! :D

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Muphrid » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:48 pm

griffon8 wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:Would be an improvement imo.
I agree.

This is really good stuff. I took lots of physics as an undergrad, but never took it as far as Hisao is here. Obviously you have a lot of knowledge of physics. I think you're pretty good at explaining it to non-physicists.
Thanks; I'm a physicist by trade myself, so a lot of Hisao's experiences here draw on my own. Ultimately, though, I do general relativity, and Hisao won't end up touching anything like that. While there's a good bit of advanced physics jargon sprinkled in, I'm not going to make anyone labor through the process of solving the Schrodinger equation for a particle in a box or anything like that. It's tedious for me, probably downright unreadable for anyone else.
Wyko wrote:
Muphrid wrote:All parts have been written. The only constraint is how fast I can edit them. There are five or six parts left to edit and post (depending on how I split them).
Edit faster! :D
Heh, will try. I'm trying to maintain some momentum on my current writing project--The Coming of the First Ones, a Neon Genesis Evangelion story--while editing the remaining parts every now and then. Hopefully I can get this wrapped up pretty well with MLK Day coming up.

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Muphrid » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:16 am

Deluge
Chapter Four

Thanks to a map from a friendly bus driver, it's not hard for me to make my way back to toward Toudai, but I'm not ready to go home, not just yet. Mutou urged me to tackle one problem at a time and break it down, and I'm doing that.

My first stop is Rin's school. In a lot of ways, she's the most difficult to unravel, so I want to tackle the mystery of her inner self first. I admit I still don't understand what she said yesterday, about her paintings of us not meaning anything to her, but I know she's not trying to confuse me on purpose. I don't think she's capable of such a thing. She has so much difficulty being understood that trying not to be would be anathema to her. I feel pretty good about my choice to step back before I got too angry or frustrated over it, too. Getting angry with Rin serves no purpose. You can't accuse her of not trying. She wants that wall between her and the world to go down as much as anyone. If you think you're frustrated talking to her, just look at it from her eyes, when she sees people getting antsy and angry and she can't understand it, or can't figure out how to fix it.

It's useless to let those frustrations get the better of you. That doesn't mean it's any easier to keep them in check, but it's the only thing to do. If I'm able to keep cool that way, I think we can make progress. I have to believe that, or all of this is pointless.

I feel at peace with myself, at least, thinking that way. Whether it will stick when Rin comes by is an open question. I get to her studio door, finding it locked, and Professor Adachi is nowhere to be found either. I sit down in the hall to camp out, waiting for Rin. I don't hear anything going on inside, I take that to mean she's out. Or maybe Adachi had her hospitalized, but I hope that's not so.

I take the opportunity to doodle, and today I draw her. My sense of proportion has improved over time, but only slightly. Time has softened some of Rin's harder edges. Her hair is better kept. She keeps focus on objects and people for longer periods of time. She eats better, her recent period of seclusion aside; her cheekbones aren't quite as bony or noticeable. Still, though all these factors put together make her more attractive and easier to relate to, do they speak of her actually finding something comfortable for herself? Or has she just found ways to better emulate normal people, as she did with her smiles and laughter back in high school?

I won't pretend to know either way. I just draw her with her usual blank, inscrutable expression. She does have more range than that, but nothing else seems so much like her.

"Hisao?"

It is, however, not the expression I see when she happens upon me in the hallway, once again lugging a bag of paint cans around her neck and shoulder. Her eyes are a little wider, and there's a hint of surprise in her voice, but soon enough, her gaze wanders again. That seems a little too fast. Maybe it's deliberate?

"Hey," I say, closing my notebook. "I wanted to talk some more. Is that okay?"

"But you're already talking," she says. "Shouldn't you ask before you say anything?"

"How would I do that?"

She presses her lips together, contemplating. "That's a good question. I'll have to think about that."

As I get up, she works the foot-controlled lock of the studio door. She shoves the door open with her toes, and I follow her inside. She slumps over, letting the bag of paint cans fall to the floor. Without further ado, she takes her seat, slips off her sandals, and takes up a paintbrush to slave over her canvas. Gone are the myriad works that littered the floor just yesterday. It's like the studio has been wiped clean of their existence. There are just a few works left, and what Rin works on now is new to me.

It's a bookshelf. A dusty, but otherwise relatively well-kept bookshelf. Rin's technique is so precise that I can read the titles on some of the books' dust jackets. War and Peace sits alongside Tale of Genji, along with modern comics in trade paperback—Naruto, Shaman King, and more. The variety is impressive, but what does it mean?

"It seems to me like a comment on the great breadth of literature," I say. "It's all different but all art of some form nonetheless."

"Bad luck," she intones, "but that works."

"Is that how you feel?" I ask. "That you're just one piece of a larger collection of modern artists?"

"It's an idea," she says, her gaze never wavering from the canvas. "I'm not even that fond of the idea, but it's easy to squeeze, to finger, to—"

"Grasp," I finish.

"Yes. People want easy things to understand. Hard things make people walk away and look at something else."

Sadly, she's probably right about that, as long as we're talking about art. I'm not sure we are anymore, though. "You think people won't pay attention to you because you're too complicated? That's what your paintings are for, aren't they? To give a window into yourself?"

She shakes her head. "Not anymore."

"But yesterday—"

"Yesterday is gone," she says. "You can't go back to days in the past. You can only relive them in your memories, but memory is imperfect. People forget things. I forget things. It's like each time you relive the memory, you make a new copy of it, a new experience of going through it. And when you come back again, you make another copy. And then another, and then another. What happens if you make a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a—"

"Rin," I interrupt.

"Sorry. But do you know what happens when you do that?"

I'm not sure where this is going, but it seems like she's trying to make a point. "It degrades," I say. "Errors creep in. Even DNA makes mistakes copying itself sometimes."

She nods solemnly. "I once thought it would be better not to remember things, so they'd stay perfect in my head, but I'm not that good at remembering things anyway." She frowns, and her foot twitches just a hair's breadth from touching the paintbrush to the canvas. "But I'm also bad at forgetting things I want to forget, as much as I try to make copies of them, so that I don't know which is the original and which is fake."

Instinctively, I follow her gaze to a corner of the studio. There's one painting propped up against the wall, another in the series that captures Rin and me on that stormy day four years ago. This one shows no corruption, though. It is true to life and real. It's the final embrace we shared, the last touch and connection between us, before Rin severed it utterly.

"I tried really hard," she says, "but I couldn't forget which one was real. I tried so many errors and fabrications—things I wanted, things I didn't want. None of it worked."

That's why they don't mean anything. Individually, no single painting in that series has any significance. They were all attempts—desperate, longing attempts—to put that memory behind her. The memory of that day wounded her so deeply that she did everything in her artistic power to blot it from her mind.

I try to form the next sentence as coolly as I can. "You wanted to forget me that much?"

That gets her attention. She turns her head to look at me from the corner of her eye. "Do you know how to ride a bike, Hisao? I don't, but I've watched people do it. I've thought maybe I could ride a unicycle if I practiced enough, but everybody seems to pay close attention to unicycle riders. I think me watching those people watching me would be very distracting."

I wince. Despair at our lack of mutual understanding tugs at my heart. Rin picks up on it and shakes her head, trying to will herself to make sense.

"Right, I was walking somewhere with that. Where was I walking…? Oh. If you fall off a bike and break a bone, would you want to remember it? Or would you only want to remember that losing your balance is bad, even if you didn't understand why?"

So it is. My inability to understand her back then—or even to just give her hope she could be understood—broke something inside her.

Rin puts down her paintbrush and watches me with both eyes. "You want to forget, too."

"No!" I cry, shaking my head. "It hurts, but I don't want to forget. I think if I did, I wouldn't be capable of learning anything from it."

She picks up the paintbrush again, cool and indifferent. "I've already learned everything I need to learn." She sets her gaze on the bookcase painting and dabs the brush in a bowl. "It was nice of you to say you could understand me, but I think you overestimated yourself. And me, too. Sometimes I say things that make sense, but I have to try really hard. Even then, they don't always come out right. Painting is no different. People don't understand me any better. I have to say things that are simple enough to understand and let the rest stay inside me. It doesn't have anywhere to go, after all." She gestures to the painting with her brush. "This is the only way I can hug people, Hisao—with arms that aren't mine, with ideas that come from me but don't really get at who I am."

"But that's not true at all!" I say. "I've seen your new paintings. The orange and the fruit bowl—you love oranges. You can't tell me that that decayed orange doesn't represent something about you, doesn't mean something about how you feel!"

"It shouldn't," she says. "If it does, then it's me leaking onto the canvas. I shouldn't do that. I don't want to do that. Whenever I do, people only see the paint. They don't see me. I leak out, and what leaks is wasted. People don't like leaking things. That's why they check the faucet if it drips in the sink. I like that sound, but most people don't. Some things are just better shut off."

I've seen Rin at her most desperate. I've seen her cold and half-naked, trying in vain to feel anything at all, but the vision before me now is worse, in a way. It's twisted. Anyone else would say nothing is wrong with this picture. The lights in the studio are pure and white. Rin paints without a moment's hesitation, and the image on the canvas is perfectly ordinary, but it's all a façade. It's fake. It's the fiction she forces on herself. It's enough that other people won't interfere with her longing, her despair.

"Why…?" No, that's the wrong question. "How can you find the strength to keep going, if you think trying to express yourself is so futile?"

"It's easy to keep going, easier than going away." Her voice is flat, and she looks at both her stubby arms in contemplation. "It's easier because unlike other people, I don't have any wrists to slit, Hisao."

I snap. Those words are nothing short of chilling, and I can't stand here and listen to them. I take the paintbrush from Rin's foot and throw it aside. I lift her from her chair by her chest and torso—she's still very light—and make her stand in front of me, so I can look into her eyes.

"Don't say things like that!" I cry.

Her eyes are wide with confusion. "I think about things a lot. I don't do most of them."

"But just hearing that is frightening. It scares me. I don't want you to go away again."

Her expression darkens. "You should've forgotten about me, Hisao."

"Well, I couldn't," I admit. "I couldn't. I care too much about you. Even knowing there will be parts of you I may never understand, I want to keep trying. The parts I do understand make me admire your imagination. They make me want to be there for you so you won't feel alone. They make me look at the world with a new set of eyes, searching for patterns I'd ignored or truths I'd taken for granted. You are unique, and you are wonderful, and if you can be patient with my bumbling, my efforts to understand, then I will be here as your friend, to give whatever support I can."

"You won't be happy," she warns. "I think strange things all the time, and they come out jumbled and muddled and—" Her brow creases in frustration. "The word for eggs. What is that word?"

"Scrambled," I finish.

"Yes. You think I'm a butterfly, Hisao, but maybe I'm just a moth. Did you know there's really no difference between butterflies and moths?"

I'm forced to laugh. This is just so far out there I don't even know what to do anymore. "No, I didn't."

"They're really the same. There's no organized way to tell them apart based on the stuff that makes up their cells. But to all of us, butterflies are colorful and beautiful, and moths are plain. Moths follow lights in the darkness, even if it takes them to a bug zapper. Maybe you are the moth, Hisao, and you think I'm the light, but I'm just the zapper. But I'm bug zapper that doesn't want to zap. Isn't that a paradox?"

"I can't promise I'll ever understand you fully," I say, "but I'll keep trying, as hard as I can, to see the light for what it is."

Rin's gaze leaves me, wandering to my hands, which are still grasping her shoulders tightly, as if not to let her go and fall into the abyss. I blush when she notices, and I release her, but her expression becomes curious—even yearning?

"Are you my friend, Hisao?" she asks.

Now isn't the time for hesitation. "Yes, absolutely."

"Would you do me a favor?"

She doesn't—she can't mean that favor again, can she?

"Not that," she corrects herself. "Kiss me."

Oh, Rin, no. I mean, I could, but—I don't know. I know that's not your intent, but I can't turn my feelings on and off like a lightbulb based on your needs. I have limits. I don't know if I can do this and stay the same as I was before.

"Please," she begs me. "I need to know you can feel some of what I feel—if there really is a person like that at all."

So this is the choice she's made. If someone can understand her, or at least a fraction of her, then maybe she'll regain the hope to put herself into her paintings again. If not…

If not, she'll stay the way she is now—despondent and cold, insulating herself in a fiction of normalcy.

I don't know if I'll be the same after this, or if we'll be the same, but I can't deny her this chance, this decision, to go back and choose once again what kind of person she is to be.

I touch her gently on the shoulder, nodding my acceptance, and she closes her eyes. She doesn't pucker her lips or anything cute like that. To tell the truth, they look a little dry, but that doesn't deter me. They still have this unusual heart shape to them, as if they were a window to her soul.

I press my lips to hers, and right away, I feel that she's cold. Not ice cold, but still, markedly colder than I am. It's like she was all alone in the frozen wilderness, wandering for years, and I'm her first respite, her first chance to come in from the isolation.

She starts kissing me back, her tongue poking and prodding at my lips, and I let her inside. I embrace her with one arm and touch my free hand to her cheek, her ear, her hair. Our breaths rush, becoming hurried and chaotic. She doesn't make a peep, though; she just lets me pull her in closer to feel the warmth in her body.

But only for a short while. By the time she ends the kiss, the smell of paint fills my nostrils—it's something I can't take in without thinking of her. She steps back, and the distance between us is resumed.

"Interesting." She sits back down in front of her painting, her gaze distant and far away. "Very interesting."

I have no idea if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

"Hisao, can you take this painting away?" she asks. "And give me a new canvas."

"You're starting something new?"

She nods. "There's something inside of me, and I want to see what comes out."

That's Rin-speak for wanting to work out her feelings. She sounds hopeful, though, and she's willing to wipe away her pessimistic, inert work from before. I smile a little bit as I lug the old canvas away and replace it with a blank slate.

"Thanks," she says. "Can you give me a little time?"

"Sure. Good luck, Rin."

She nods a bit and dabs her paintbrush in a bowl of water, clearing out the pigment to begin anew. I won't pretend to understand all that just happened between us, but the blank canvas gives me hope. I think something inspiring will come out this time, but the only way to know is to wait and see.
Last edited by Muphrid on Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by griffon8 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:07 am

Wonderful chapter! This is probably my favorite Rin story. Definitely my favorite Rin story that doesn't take place after her good end.
Muphrid wrote: The memory of that day wounded her so deeply that she everything in her artistic power to blot it from her mind.
You have a verb missing here.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

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

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Muphrid
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Muphrid » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:40 pm

Fixed, thanks very much!

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by YourFavAnon » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:17 pm

This isn't just good - and believe me, I'm not over-exaggerating when I say this: this is the best story to come out of this community so far. It directs you through a bunch of words with ease, but not only that, it makes you think on a whole other level to sort of grasp and comprehend the true meaning behind it without making you think too hard.

I have no words to describe this last part. It's literally just too good, and that's really all there is to it. Thank you for writing this.
I write things occasionally.

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nemz
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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by nemz » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:48 pm

I don't know if I'd go quite that far (writing quality is subjective afterall, and that Muto scene still bothers me a little), but it's definately one of the best Rin fics around.
Last edited by nemz on Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Re: Direction (post Rin neutral ending)

Post by Ranger296 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:11 pm

I share some sentiments with YourFavAnon, but I agree with nemz, this is the best Rin Fiction around :D. Much appreciation.

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