Kagami Pseudo-Route [Updated 7/6]

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CaptainFalcon
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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/12]

Post by CaptainFalcon » Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:12 am

A wild Rika appears! I'm liking your inclusion of her, I have always found her to be quite fascinating. Or rather I found her to be quite fascinating in Rikabro's portrayal of her. Either way another fantastic chapter as per usual and I look forward to the next one!

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/12]

Post by CptSalsa » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:28 am

Foot in mouth award for Hisao Nakai.
Whenever I log on to this forum it's usually in the dead of night and on a mobile phone. Hooray for technologically-induced insomnia!


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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/12]

Post by Magnet » Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:05 pm

One of my very favourite routes. I am no expert on works of prose, but this one seems particularly well-written to me, and it is very much enjoyable to read - and Kagami is at the peak of the quality OC ladder. A great job on it all!

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/12]

Post by Sperance » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:24 am

Well, I really like this. End of the statement, back to lurking now

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by forgetmenot » Fri Apr 26, 2013 3:41 pm

Aaaaaaand, after two weeks, I'm back! Sorry about the lack of consistent updates. I'm taking more time with the chapters as we gear up for Act 3, which is coming up rather quickly! I want to make sure I don't mess anything up story-wise. Enjoy! Also, in case anyone's curious, this chapter officially puts me over the 50,000 word mark for the story. Didn't think I could ever stick with a story that long. *fist pump*

Scene 16: Midnight Memory

"And that goes for you too, Hisao."

"Hm?" I say as I'm shaken out of my daydream—er, rather, mid-evening dream—by a now irritated Nurse.

"I said that these pills," Nurse frowns as he shakes a small orange bottle in my face, "should prevent any more incidents like the one you both had this afternoon. Please let me know if you have any more complications." He then slips the bottle into my large plastic bag of pills, which now contains one total bottle less.

As I take the bag from Nurse's outstretched hand, I nod vigorously in an attempt to reassure him that I've been listening, even though I haven't. He glances sideways, apparently unconvinced. Rika simply rolls her eyes as she pushes the rolling chair she's in from Nurse's desk back to the window, staring out into the night.

Nurse sighs loudly. Considering our illicit foray onto the school's roof not a half-hour ago, apparently Rika gives him quite a bit of trouble. He clears his throat vehemently in her direction, and then continues. "Now, then. Since the both of you have remained without incident for the past few hours, I'll go ahead and release you back to your rooms." He stares daggers at Rika as he finishes. "Please try to rest tonight. Don't do anything strenuous."

Rika raises her hand to her forehead, flattening it, while stiffening her arm in a mock salute. Now it's Nurse's turn to roll his eyes.

I take this as my cue to leave the office, sliding from the table and making my way towards the door. These two can duke it out by themselves, although I doubt Rika will ever follow the letter of the law.

...letter of the law...

...letter...

I pause in the hallway for a moment, scratching my chin. Wasn't there something to do with letters that was pretty important? Or maybe just a singular letter? It had something to do with Shizune...

I snap my fingers as it comes to me. Iwanako's letter! Of course! I can't believe I completely forgot about it, although I suppose nearly falling off the roof will do that to you. I suppose Nurse's summons had me more concerned than I originally thought; the letter completely slipped my mind until just now.

I make my way back to my room, pills in hand. I wonder what Iwanako could have written me about? To be honest, she's only crossed my mind two or three times ever since I've arrived at Yamaku—certainly not enough to warrant sending a handwritten letter. The only other reason I can think of for sending something out of the blue like this is that Iwanako is seeking closure of some sort. Maybe forgiveness for ceasing her visits to my hospital room?

Whatever the reason, I suppose I'll find out soon enough.

I open my door, tossing my pills lazily onto my bed. I'll re-sort them on the counter soon enough. But now, I've something more pressing to attend to. I turn towards the dresser and pick up the- wait, where is it? I could have sworn I left it right here on top of the dresser, I'm sure of it. However, as I check behind the dresser, on the desk and nightstand, under the bed, and even in the lampshade for some reason, it becomes very apparent that the letter is not in my room. I begin to feel a nervous heat swelling from under my collar. What could have happened to it? I'm pretty sure I locked my door before I left... did I? I'm pretty sure someone wouldn't just steal a piece of mail from someone else's room. Would they? I wonder if Kenji saw anyone com-

Hm. Would Kenji...? I mean, berating your hallmate with crazy conspiracy theories and smelling a little too much like garlic... and cherries... is one thing, but taking someone's mail is a pretty different animal. I'm pretty sure Kenji wouldn't do that. But at the very least, I should ask him if he saw anyone come in. Just in case.

"Kenji?" I shout as I knock on his door. There's no light on underneath the doorframe, but that doesn't necessarily mean he's not in. However, as I continue to knock, it becomes clear that nobody's home. Dammit. I suppose the mystery of Iwanako's disappearing letter will have to wait until Kenji gets home... whenever that is. He certainly keeps a strange waking schedule. I can often hear him at some ungodly hour of the night, coming back to his room from doing... whatever it is he does.

I fall back into my room, mentally exhausted. I've been building myself up to read Iwanako's letter, and now that's it's mysteriously disappeared... I guess I'm disappointed more than anything else. Curiosity can be a cruel mistress.

The next few days pass without much happening. Mornings with Emi are getting easier and easier, even though we don't talk as much these days. Emi seems to be focused on something important—something personal. While we're probably good enough friends that I could ask what's going on, Emi doesn't seem like the type that would want my help with anything important. So we run our laps in relative silence, which is fine with me.

Mutou is starting to gear up for exams, reminding us that they start in a little more than two weeks. Misha starts to bug me for not studying with her like I promised, but I reassure her that we have plenty of time to prepare. She lets out a small "wahaha~" before Shizune glares at us and shushes us as loudly as a deaf-mute person can. I guess she can still see us talking, even if she can't hear it.

The day ends, and I find myself once again at Kenji's door, knocking with increased urgency. This marks the second or third day I haven't been able to catch him. I wonder if he's purposely avoiding me... or perhaps he's setting up some sort of doomsday device underneath the school. I give up my knocking and return to my room, albeit with more than a little consternation.

I fall back onto my bed with a large flop. I'm at a loss for what to do. I finished all my homework hours ago, and I don't feel much like studying. Asking Misha to study would probably just get me roped into more student council business anyhow. The sun set a while ago, so going outside is out; I'm pretty sure curfew is in effect by now.

My thoughts wander to a certain person that I haven't talked to for a few days. We left things in a pretty bad state... I should at least text her and find out what she's doing.

However, as I reach for my phone, the small red light on top is already flashing, indicating a new message has arrived. I flip it open and quickly enter the unlock code. The displayed message instantly brings a smile to my face. It's from Kagami.

"Hey! What are you up to tonight?"

I briefly check the time. The message only arrived about fifteen minutes ago. With any luck, she's still there. I start to type a reply, but I decide a phone call is probably more appropriate for some reason. The phone rings softly in my ear for a few seconds before Kagami answers.

"Hello? Hisao?"

I smile. I'd almost forgotten how good it is to hear her voice. It's strangely comforting, even after everything that happened a few days ago.

"Hey Kagami. I got your text. What's up?"

"Oh, nothing. I..." She pauses. It's obvious from her voice that she's smiling just as widely as I am, but her tone is also laced with an undercurrent of seriousness.

"...I wanted to apologize, again, for what happened the other day."

I chuckle slightly. "It's not your fault."

"But it is, though. I feel really bad about the whole thing," she says, the gravitas in her voice strengthening.

"No, really, it's not. Actually, I was in Nurse's office for the majority of that afternoon after class. Apparently there was something wrong with my medication. Some kind of harmful drug interaction, I guess," I respond, attempting to reassure her.

"Oh, really? Are you ok?" she asks, concern growing in her voice.

"I'm fine. Nurse had some pills that'll fix it for now. There's nothing to worry about, really."

"Good," she says, the relief saturating her voice. "In that case, you should come hang out with me."

Come hang out? I briefly check the time again. "Uh, right now? It's after nine-thirty."

"Oh, come on Hisao. It's barely after curfew. Plus, I've got this tin of ice cream that won't finish itself. Er, rather, it might, but I'd be grateful if someone were to prevent me from eating all of it," she says, laughing.

I pause briefly. On one hand, going to Kagami's room after hours is definitely against the rules. Especially considering the way I feel about her...

I quickly quell whatever ideas come to mind. Bad Hisao. That's inappropriate.

"Please~" she croons.

On the other hand, some ice cream and the company of a friend might be exactly what I need. Considering the pseudo-near-death experience I had with Rika, breaking curfew doesn't seem like that much of a risk.

"Sure," I say, a large grin breaking across my face once more. I don't know how puts me at ease so readily, but I definitely don't mind it.

"Great. It's room 228, second floor. See you soon?"

"See you soon," I respond.

"Good. Hurry, too. I don't think this ice cream will last much longer. I need smaller spoons," she says nonchalantly. I chuckle, and end the call.

Going to a girl's room after hours? What would the student council say? I shake the thought from my head as I pull on a jacket and collect my phone and keys from my dresser. It's just ice cream and hanging out... as much as certain parts of my brain would like to think otherwise.

Whatever thoughts may have been entertaining themselves in the back of my mind quickly dissipate as I sneak across the breezeway and attempt to keep to the shadows. There's no sign of the night guard, but a little caution never killed anyone. I can feel my heart gradually speeding up as I make my way to the entrance of the girls' dormitory. Checking over my shoulder one last time, I slip inside.

The girls' dorm is strikingly similar to the boys'. The few differences include a different shade of wall color, softer lighting, and the noted absence of a peculiar mold-like smell. Other than that, they're laid out exactly the same, and I'm able to find my way to Kagami's room with little to no difficulty. I also manage to remain unseen, which I'm incredibly thankful for.

I give three small knocks on the door to room 228, so as to not disturb Kagami's hallmates. A few seconds pass, then the door cracks open as Kagami peers out through the sliver of light. She breaks into a wide smile.

"Hey. Come in!" she says, opening the door wider. I quickly slip into her room and close the door behind me.

The first thing- er, things I notice are the hundreds of post-its littering her walls, mirror, and door. All brightly neon-colored, there appears to be little organization in their placement. It gives the room a very schizophrenic feel. Adding to the scattered feel of the room are the random piles of sheet music smattered across her desk and dresser, upon one of which sits her violin. However, the floor is relatively clear, with nothing but a bright green shag carpet in the center, which makes me think there's some kind of method to the madness that surrounds me.

"Hisao?" Kagami asks, apparently noticing my slight bewilderment.

"Sorry, I just..." I say, pointing to the walls when I can't seem to find the appropriate words to describe the situation.

I continue to stare at the girl in the center of the room. She's dressed casually, in small black athletic shorts and a dark grey pullover sweatshirt, her dark auburn hair out of her traditional braid and falling over her shoulders like a crimson waterfall.

She twists her hands nervously. "Sorry, I know it's a little crazy-looking in here."

"It's f-fine," I say, stumbling on my words a bit. "It's just... you have a lot of post-its."

And the award for most obvious statement of the year goes to Hisao Nakai.

Kagami blushes slightly. "Yeah, it's a system. Helps me not be such a moron sometimes. That wall's divided up into seven parts, for each day of the week. That wall's for stuff that's happening this month, that wall's for people I run into a lot..." she says as she points to various areas of the room, circling with her index finger. The wall for people she knows has ten or so pictures hung up at regular intervals, each plastered with its own smattering of post-its. I spy the picture of Kagami and me from the carnival far to the right of said wall, but I refrain from asking about what any of the post-its say.

"...and each post-it is color-coded depending on what's written on it," she finishes, looking at me for my reaction.

"Wow," I say with a tinge of bewilderment in my voice. "I'm impressed. It's very... complex."

"It's easy when you have the key," she says, waving a pink spiral-bound notebook through the air. Has she been reading from that the whole time? "Without this, I'd be completely lost."

"So, you do this every morning?" I ask.

"Yep," she responds, taking a seat on the carpet next to a rather large tin of cookie dough ice cream. She pats the carpet next to her, indicating I should sit. As I take my position, she hands me a comically oversized spoon. She chuckles.

"Sorry, the convenience store was all out of normal spoons today. I had to settle for these monstrosities instead," she says as she scoops a large hunk of ice cream from the tin with her own gargantuan spoon. I follow suit, trying to refrain from taking too much ice cream in one bite but failing somewhat handily.

"So, anyhow, yeah, I basically do this for an hour every morning. Without it..." She pauses, scooping a generous amount of ice cream into her mouth. "Well, without it, I'd be kind of a wreck," she mumbles through a mouthful of ice cream.

I can't think of anything else to say, so I awkwardly shovel another scoop of cookie dough into my mouth. It's surprisingly good, and it helps me forget the awkward conversation for a moment. Kagami fidgets nervously, her bare toes digging into the carpet.

"So... what have you been up to? You said you were in the nurse's office a few days ago?"

"Yeah. Drug interactions can be pretty nasty if you don't catch them."

"Was that the first... time that you had something happen? After your heart attack?"

"Second time. The first was when I was out on the track with Emi," I say, thinking back to that day. "Actually, that was the day I met you. If I wasn't in Nurse's office, we wouldn't have run into each other."

Kagami laughs nervously. "I suppose it wasn't all bad, then."

I shrug. "I suppose not, no."

She smiles a little more earnestly. Every time she smiles, I'm a little more enraptured. Which also adds to my frustration. I take another shovelful of ice cream and hastily shove it into my mouth.

"Anything else interesting happen?"

Nothing much, if you don't count an illicit foray onto the roof and the possibility of a letter-pilfering hallmate.

"Nothing really. Went to the roof and almost fell off," I add casually.

Kagami looks shocked. "W-why would you do that?"

I shrug. "Honestly, I'm still not entirely sure. I think it had something to do with facing my imminent doom." That sounds like something Rika would say.

"Hisao, you're not making any sense," Kagami says, a perplexed smile on her face.

"I met a girl named Rika in Nurse's office. That's actually the reason I was there—she's got a heart condition as well, and Nurse discovered the drug interaction after she had an incident on the same day as mine."

"Rika, huh?" Kagami says, smiling playfully. "She cuter than me?"

I almost gag on my spoon. I guess that could have sounded bad. "N-no, that's not what I meant... I mean, she's n-not cuter than you..."

Kagami laughs, twirling her spoon between her fingers. "I'm just teasing you, Hisao. You're cute when you blush," she says, rolling her eyes. "But that's good to know that I don't have competition."

I fidget nervously. Ice cream is definitely great for when you need to fill your mouth with something other than words. I gobble another hunk quickly.

"That still doesn't explain why you were on the roof," Kagami says, teasingly poking her spoon in my direction.

I recover from my blush quickly as I explain. "She's got this crazy death wish. Said something about how I needed to face my own demise, and then practically dragged me up to the roof to face my fears or whatever."

"Sounds like she had good intentions," Kagami says. I can't tell if she's serious or not, although knowing what little I do about her, I assume she's not.

"Jury's still out on that one, I think."

"Fair enough," Kagami says as she takes another bite of ice cream.

"So how did your week fare? Any better than mine?" I ask.

"Nothing so crazy as almost jumping off of the roof, no," she says, smiling. "I did, however, almost get hit by a car when I was crossing the street to get ice cream today. So I guess that's all the daredevil you're gonna get out of me."

I laugh heartily. "Good. I prefer my friends alive and not flattened."

Kagami winces at my last statement.

"Something wrong?" I ask nonchalantly through another bite.

She quickly recovers, however. "Nothing. Just... unpleasant memories. I guess I haven't told you yet," she says, almost wistfully.

"Told me what?"

"It's a long and depressing story. Not worth ruining the night over. Maybe some other time."

I want to know what she's thinking, but considering how our lunch went, I decide against pressing her for more information. She'll tell me when she's ready. At least that's what I hope.

"So..." I continue awkwardly, "anything else happen?"

"Nope. I decided to practice here tonight, much to the annoyance of my neighbor across the hall."

"I can't imagine anyone would really be annoyed by your playing," I say reassuringly.

Kagami scoffs. "I know, right? I can't imagine how anyone would get annoyed hearing the same passage repeated fifty times over," she says, rolling her eyes.

I crack a small grin. "Fair enough, I suppose."

The conversation lulls for a bit as we continue to eat ice cream. If it wasn't completely dark outside before, it certainly is now. The weather outside isn't so different from the day of the festival; looking at the girl sitting next to me makes me wish for something like that night again.

I can hope.

"What's the matter?" Kagami asks sweetly.

"Hm?" I ask, snapping out of my daydream. "Oh, nothing's the matter. I was just thinking about the festival."

Her smile warms as she glances at the place on the wall where the picture of us hangs. "Yeah. We had a lot of fun, didn't we?"

"Well, we were drinking, but I think I still would have had fun regardless," I say, stifling a laugh.

"Hm," Kagami says. Her eyes spark like round pieces of flint as an idea pulses through her brain. She rises from her seat and casually ambles towards her desk, from which she produces a small bottle of brown liquid and two small glasses.

"Well, we can recreate at least part of that experience, can't we?" she says, playfully cocking her hips to one side.

I balk visibly at the suggestion. "Uh, it's a school night..."

"So?" she responds flatly. "The festival was too. Besides, we won't drink that much. Just a little bit. It'll be nostalgic, or whatever."

Nostalgic is an interesting word choice. It's probably just for my sake, but it finds a strange expression crossing my face. Kagami frowns.

"Ok, fine. Dumb idea anyway."

"Well, don't be so hasty," I say on impulse.

I'm absolutely, one hundred percent positive this is an awful idea... but is it? Kagami said we wouldn't drink as much as the festival. It might be kind of fun... and there may be an opportunity for another kiss in there somewhere.

Or something more...

I shake the inappropriate thoughts from my head. Not the time, Hisao.

"M-maybe we'll just have a little bit..." I say with some trepidation.

Risky enough for you, Rika?

Kagami lights up. Apparently she really wants to drink with me again. She takes a seat and pours two small measures from the bottle into our glasses before indicating I should pick one up.

"You know, we could get in a lot of trouble for this," I say as I take my glass in hand.

"Well, I'm certainly not going to tell. Can I trust you?" she says playfully, winking.

I smile devilishly. "I'm a guilty party too, remember?"

Kagami and I raise our glasses and down the whiskey with haste. It still burns as much as it did before, but at least I'm expecting it now. After we finish our drinks, we dig into the ice cream once again. It's actually quite a good cure for the burn.

"I wish they made whiskey ice cream," Kagami says through a mouthful.

"Wouldn't it taste... like whiskey? That's not really what I look for in ice cream," I respond.

"Mm, I guess so. Wouldn't be so bad. And it'd get you drunk," she says nonchalantly.

"Actually it wouldn't. All the alcohol would burn off during pasteurization and mixing," I say, proud of my random scientific knowledge.

Kagami's jaw drops. "No. Wait, really? That would happen?"

"Yeah, that's what happens."

"Dammit. And here I thought I'd been cheating the system every time I got rum raisin."

We sit in a tense silence for a second before bursting into raucous laughter.

"So, wait," I say in between guffaws, "you do know there isn't alcohol in rum raisin, right?"

Kagami merely winks and takes another bite of cookie dough. I guess she's just toying with me. I shake my head in disappointment, which causes another laughing fit between us.

I wish this moment wouldn't end.

Almost on cue, Kagami pours another shot into our glasses. "Another so soon?" I ask.

She nods. "Gotta start strong, Hisao. Drink up."

I sigh playfully, and we drink the whiskey in tandem. Our drinking is once again followed by a sprint to the ice cream. After a few hurried bites, I feel a sharp, shooting sensation through the palette of my mouth. I grip my jaw in an attempt to make the pain stop.

"Brainfreeze?" Kagami asks, still scooping mouthfuls of ice cream into her seemingly endless maw.

"I don't understand how you don't get it," I say, still trying to shake the pain from my mouth.

"Mysteries of life, Hisao. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say I haven't had a fair amount of conditioning." She winks and takes another bite.

"Strange..." I say, craning my neck while mock-studying her. "You certainly don't look morbidly obese."

"Wow, what a gentleman. I do believe I'll swoon," Kagami says sarcastically, staring daggers.

"Don't do that. I'd have to take you to Nurse, and then he'd have all sorts of questions about why we were together so late and drinking. It would be bad."

"Nah, he'd probably just try to shove condoms in your face," Kagami says flippantly. I almost gag on my spoon for a second time.

"No, he w-wouldn't... you really think he would?" I ask. I don't really know if Yamaku does much in the way of sex education.

In answer, Kagami scoots over to her dresser and pulls out a small black box from the drawer. "He practically stuffed these down my throat when he found out my ex and I were dating. They're probably past their expiration date, but I like to leave them in there so future me flips out every time she finds them again. Which was me, this morning." As if to further illustrate her point, she retrieves yet another post-it from inside the drawer and waves it around. I assume some sort of explanation about the prophylactics is written on it.

It seems like kind of a cruel joke to play on someone with memory loss, but I suppose if it's yourself... actually, I'm not sure what the protocol is for that. I suppose Kagami would be the most qualified to make that kind of decision. I give a small shrug.

"That seems... impractical. Why not just throw them away? Or get new ones?" I ask, trying not to be too forward. Just my curiosity getting the better of me, I suppose.

"Nah, condoms suck. I'm on the pill. Have been for a while now," she says, winking. I can tell she's trying to make me uncomfortable, and it's working. I could swear this spoon is trying to jump down my throat.

"What's the matter, Hisao? Does sex freak you out?" she asks, edging closer to me.

"N-no, of course not," I answer in a feeble attempt to sound comfortable.

"Ha. That's totally a lie," she says, folding her arms.

Well, she's not wrong, per se.

Kagami puts a hand to her mouth, leaning back on her other hand. She eyes me curiously.

"Y-you're not... are you a virgin, Hisao?"

Oh, dear god. The heat escaping from underneath my collar could probably warm a small home in the winter. I'm sure my nervous expression is probably an answer enough.

"I-I... I'm sorry," Kagami says, turning just as deep a shade of red as I'm sure I am. She gives a small chuckle. "It's none of my business. Forget I asked."

Oh, come on. That's not fair. My face practically screamed it. No way you're getting off scot-free, Kagami. Not this time.

"It's fine. I am," I say coolly. I'd be more distressed about it if I wasn't about to reflect the question. "And you?"

This time it's Kagami's turn to blush, even if it's only for a moment. "Turnabout is fair play, I suppose," she says, before flashing a toothy grin. "I'd tell you, but truthfully I can't remember." She crosses her arms confidently.

"What?" I respond incredulously. "That's a cop-out, and you know it."

"Hisao! I'm shocked that you'd think I'd use my disability like that," she says, winking and taking another bite of ice cream. "But it's rude to ask a lady such forward questions anyhow. Shame on you."

"H-how did this become my fault?" I ask, still a little flustered.

"I'm just teasing, stupid. Although if you truly want my forgiveness..." she pauses for a moment to pour two more shots before holding one up to me.

I roll my eyes. So much for only drinking a little bit.

Kagami and I pass the next half hour or so chatting aimlessly about classes, her music, and her ever-decreasing supply of whiskey. I, for the most part, keep up with her teasing in stride. More than once I catch myself staring longingly at her thin yet supple lips; the alcohol is making it hard not to just swoop in and kiss her again. Would it really be so bad? From how much she's been flirting, I don't think she would mind, either...

"Hisao?" Kagami asks. She's seated on top of her desk with her feet positioned precariously on top of her desk chair. Her windy gaze is directed out the window for the moment.

"Yeah?" I respond from my position against the foot of her bed. The ice cream carton lies like a ravaged animal in the center of the room, completely devoid of any inner contents.

"It looks really nice outside. Wanna go for a walk?"

"Sure. You have anywhere in particular in mind?"

"Not really. I'd just like some fresh air is all," she says as she springs nimbly from the desk and crosses to me, offering me a hand to help me from the floor. As I stand, I can feel the alcohol-induced dizziness catch up to me.

"You good?" Kagami asks, still holding onto my hand.

"Mhmm. I'm good," I respond before releasing my grip on her hand... as much as I'd like not to. Kagami leads the way to the door, peering through the peephole for a few seconds before cracking the door.

A few moments later, Kagami and I exit the girls' dorm quietly and enter the warm June evening air. The night guard doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight, so we make our way quickly through the gardens and down to the track. Kagami's gaze is fixed upwards the whole time we walk.

"Hisao, look. You can see thousands of stars out here."

I crane my neck, looking up. She's right. We're far enough away from any big cities that light pollution isn't much of a factor. "It's beautiful," I respond.

We arrive at the small hill next to the track where we first kissed. Kagami opts to take a seat in the center of the slope, lying down in the grass, still staring upward. I wonder if the significance of this place is lost on her. I shake the thought from my head and sit next to her, pulling my arms around my knees.

"Hisao... I... I wanted to say I'm s-sorry. In person. For earlier, when you had your heart... thing."

"Kagami, there's nothing to be sorry for. If anything, well, I wanted to say that I'm the one who's sorry for what happened. It was my fault."

"Hisao, no it's not. Don't apologize for something dumb your body did."

"I know, but I'm still sorry it happened. I really shouldn't have pressed you. You were obviously uncomfortable, and I acted like a jackass."

"Yeah," she says, sitting up. I notice her eyes are downcast. "You did act like a jackass. But I'm not blameless either. In truth, that's kind of why I invited you to come hang out with me tonight. I got really defensive because... w-well it's not a side of myself I like to let people see all that often. My condition."

Folding her hands, she turns her head. Her dark grey eyes stare straight into mine; even in the dark, I can still see them clearly.

"I'm kind of a mess, Hisao. I know I put up a confident front... but I've got a lot of problems of my own. Problems that won't ever solve themselves."

"Kagami," I say, placing my hand beside hers, "you don't have to-"

Kagami waves her hand through the air, cutting me off. "I know I don't have to, Hisao. I want to. This isn't easy for me, but I-I need to do it, ok? You need to understand."

"Understand what?"

She sighs deeply, closing her eyes. "Do you remember the first time you saw the night sky? Something like tonight."

I twist my face, thinking hard for a few moments. "Not particularly. I think it must have been at the beach. When I was younger. Why do you ask?"

Kagami looks back up at me. "But you remember seeing skies like tonight before? You have memories of it, right?"

"Well, yeah, of course I- oh," I say as I immediately realize where she's going with this conversation.

"I grew up in the city. Like you. Even our beach vacations were always closer to some kind of urban center when I was little. I never saw more than a few stars in the sky before..."

I can see a single tear streaming down her cheek in the moonlight.

"...before I ran into the path of that stupid bus and cracked my skull open on the pavement."

Oh.

Kagami turns her back to me and removes her hair from the nape of her neck. "See this scar?"

I can just barely make it out in the moonlight, but it's definitely the same scar that I saw when we first met.

"It runs from the base of my neck all around the top of my head, stopping just where my forehead starts." She traces the vertical circumference of her head with her finger as she says this. "It's from where I hit my head on the edge of the sidewalk, followed by all the surgeries and procedures they had to do to keep me alive after my accident."

She takes my hand and squeezes it tightly.

"I was in a coma for six months, Hisao."

Six months? I had no idea it was that long. I remember from some medical drama I used to watch that the chances of someone waking up from a coma decrease drastically after the first couple of weeks.

Tears are streaming freely down Kagami's face now.

"And since then, everything's been like a dream. I can't remember what's real and what's not, if I did or didn't do something..."

She exhales tremulously and turns her tear-stained visage upwards.

"...or if it's the first time I've truly seen the night sky..."

Then, she lowers her gaze and stares directly at me. Her eyes, while still the same shade of grey, have warmed into an incredible glow.

"...or if it's the first time I've kissed a boy I've grown very fond of."

I can't help but smile at her last statement. Thankfully, she returns my grin with her own.

"I've been holding on to my music for so long. It's really the only thing that I've been able to lean on ever since then. The only thing I can remember. But... but it makes it really easy to put up walls. And I got scared."

"S-scared of what?" I ask.

"Losing you. You're kind of my only friend, in case you haven't noticed."

"Kagami, it was just a silly fight. That's all."

"There's a difference between something silly and something trivial, Hisao. Most people get to choose what affects them... affects their emotions. I... I can't really do that. Any fight, silly or not, I can't remember what it was about the next day. Reading about it isn't the same... the emotion isn't there. It goes away. Every night. Just like the memory of the stars. Or our kiss."

I frown visibly. Even though I know she can't remember our kiss... it still smarts a little to hear her say it.

"Which is why it's so strange that every morning I look at the picture of us and... well, I can feel something. It's not much, but it's there. And it's something I haven't felt in god only knows how long. And I want to hold onto that. I don't want to lose it over something petty."

"A-are you saying you remember me?" I ask, almost in disbelief.

"Not exactly," she responds. "But maybe a little."

I sit in stunned silence for a few seconds, not sure what to think. Even if it's a small feeling, Kagami remembers me?

I look down at our hands, which are now locked tightly together. Kagami takes our collective fist and playfully punches me in the leg.

"Now's the part where you kiss me, dork."

I'm happy to oblige. Our lips meet in the darkness, same as they did during the festival. Even though there aren't any fireworks to punctuate this kiss, it's considerably more passionate than the last one. Kagami wraps her arms around me, pulling herself close to my chest. This causes me to lose my balance, and we fall backwards into the grass, Kagami on top of me. She smiles windily and removes the hair from her eyes before continuing our kiss. I slowly run my fingers through her hair as her tongue gently brushes mine.

We continue kissing for what seems like an hour before she pulls her lips from mine, breathing heavily.

"Wow," I say softly.

"Wow indeed," Kagami says, smiling widely before planting another quick kiss on my lips.

She leans in closely to my ear. I can feel her warm breath envelop my cheek as she whispers.

"Best first kiss ever."

__________

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Last edited by forgetmenot on Thu May 08, 2014 5:53 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by ZtotheT » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:00 pm

I.....this....it's just...wow. Amazing once again. This is quickly becoming my favourite fic.

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by naxxar » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:31 pm

This was a really good chapter, I liked how Kagami actually went into more about her Amnesia affecting her
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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by Wookie » Sat Apr 27, 2013 8:57 pm

forgetmenot wrote:
"Hisao, look. You can thousands of stars out here."
I'm guessing you was suppose to add 'see' into that sentence.


Anyway, awesome chapter.
My recommended fanfic material:
- A pseudo-pseudo Suzu route/Ascent: An Emilogue/Akira Pseudo-Route/Sisterhood (Hanako Epilogue)/One Wish (Hanako, post neutral)/"Can You Open Your Heart?" - a Rika pseudo-route/Closure/Kagami Pseudo-Route/ Tomorrow's Doom - Aiko Kurai (OC)... Damn it people, stop writing awesome fanfic, i'm running out of room in this sig!

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by forgetmenot » Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:40 pm

Wookie wrote:
forgetmenot wrote:
"Hisao, look. You can thousands of stars out here."
I'm guessing you was suppose to add 'see' into that sentence.


Anyway, awesome chapter.
Fix'd. No matter how many times I proofread, there's always one or two things that slip through. :roll:

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by forgetmenot » Sun May 05, 2013 4:54 pm

Hey y'all.

While work is being done on the next few chapters, I must admit that I've been revising how I want some parts of the story to play out. Some of the revisions conflict with information I'd included in past chapters, so I thought I'd say that Scene 7 has been updated, nothing too major, but if you want to read the revised version, click here. Also, scene 9 got some minor tweaks.

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by Comrade » Sun May 12, 2013 2:14 am

how cute
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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by thereanimator02 » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:06 am

Man, I can't wait for the next chapter to come out. I have to tell you, this is one of the BEST KS Fanfics I've had the pleasure of reading. I'm posting this message to let Forgetmenot know how much I appreciate this story, and because I'm sick of looking at the same message on here everytime I check to see if it has been updated. Waiting on new chapters for these things can be so aggravating, but it's worth the wait.

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 4/26]

Post by forgetmenot » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:05 am

Wow, I am absolutely flattered! Sorry updates are coming so slow. I promise it's not deadfic! I'm getting a lot of legwork done so hopefully I can start on a weekly update schedule. Stay tuned!

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Re: Kagami Pseudo-Route (OCxHisao) [Updated 6/18]

Post by forgetmenot » Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:19 pm

Hey all! I can't believe it's been two months since the last update... I'm so sorry. Good news is this: I've been doing work on the story on and off, but between starting a new job and helping my SO get ready to move cross-country, it's all been a little haphazard. Thankfully, now, I'm able to start to write in earnest again. I'm hoping to update bi-weekly from here on out, obviously exceeding that goal if I get the chance. Hope you enjoy the chapter!

Scene 17: Open to Interpretation

The rain smacks angrily against the window of the bus. So hard, in fact, that I'm afraid the flimsy glass panes separating me from the deluge won't be enough if the storm decides to up the ante. The drops are large and splash like oversized globules of syrup—if syrup seemed like it could turn into hail at any moment—all over the bus and the road ahead, which is leading us, albeit slowly, to the city.

I survey the few passengers around me. The middle-aged man in the back, who was already riding the bus before I got on, hasn't unstuck his right hand from his phone the whole time, not even when the thunder was pretty intense a few minutes ago. The two old ladies up front, who got on right after the rain started, are still wringing their jackets and sleeves into the aisle, much to the chagrin of the driver, who seems too polite to say anything.

The girl who boarded the bus at the same time I did and is now sitting across from me is dressed in a Yamaku uniform. She looks like an underclassman: short hair in pigtails, an excess of bracelets on her right wrist, and her iPod adorned with cheap plastic jeweled stickers. Her head is steadily bobbing in time with what could be any number of popular J-pop songs. I think about waving, but considering I've changed out of my uniform, an unsolicited greeting would be at best awkward. I let out a small sigh and turn back to my window, pressing my face and nose to the glass.

I watch the rain for a while, feeling the vibrations of each drop through the window as they explode against the exterior of the bus. It's a stark contrast to the weather of the past few days—and even this morning—which have all been sunny and relatively cloudless.

I hope it stops raining before the bus arrives in the city. It figures that today would be the one day I should have listened to Kenji.


"Dude, if you're going into the city, you've gotta remember to take an umbrella at all costs!"

"Why, is it going to rain today?"

"Hell if I know. I'm talking about for protection from the radio waves they transmit from the roofs of the buildings. Gotta keep your head clear, man. Don't want all those preprocessed pro-feminism thoughts clouding up your judgement. Who knows what they'd make you do?"



I briefly considered explaining to him that an umbrella wouldn't do much good as far as protection from radio waves goes... but I was already running late, and on the off chance he had a lead-lined umbrella readily available, I didn't want the conversation to continue for much longer. Looking back on it, how he was able to choose today for that specific tirade is beyond me.

Maybe he's a weather savant as well as a pizza savant.

Now that I think about it, I should have asked him about Iwanako's letter; it still hasn't turned up even though I've done one or two thorough scourings of my room. I silently curse my forgetfulness. I guess it'll have to wait until some other time.

For now, there's just me, the bus and the rest of its passengers, the rain, and the road that's taking me to the city to see Kagami. I'll be honest; I was mildly surprised it wasn't Emi when I received a phone call as early as I did today.


"Mm, hello? Oh, shit, sorry, I totally slept in," I stammer.

"Hisao? What are you talking about? It's Kagami," I hear through the earpiece.

"Hey Kagami. Sorry, forget I said anything. It's a little early for a phone call, don't you think? What are you doing up?" I ask, trying to deflect attention from my gaffe.

"Weirdo," she responds curtly. "Anyhow, it's Saturday, and I was wondering if you'd join me in the city again after my orchestra rehearsal."

I break into a sleepy smile. "That sounds great! Same time as last week?"

"If I said 4:30 last week, then yes. I'm heading into the city early to do some errands, so I wanted to make sure I caught you before I left."

"I'm pretty sure you caught me early enough," I say teasingly, yawning.

"Cut it out, faker. You've got class until afternoon, so morning is the best option for a call, obviously. Besides, I know you were running with Emi today. Don't try to pull one over on me."

I swear I can hear her wink through the phone.

"Actually, that's what I was talking about earlier. I slept in today and missed our run. Emi's gonna be pissed off," I remark.

"Uh-oh. Sorry I kept you up so late last night." Kagami says, seeming genuinely apologetic.

"Not at all your fault. I enjoy talking to you, too."

"Well, as much as we like our late-night talk-a-thons, it's time for you to get ready and go to class."

"Makes it sound like you aren't going," I say.

"I'm not. Like I said, I'm running errands today before rehearsal."

"Do you ever go to class?" I inquire sarcastically.

"I go enough," she huffs.

"Sure," I reply in the same sarcastic tone. "I suppose I do need to get ready, though."

"Ok, go be studious. 4:30, don't forget!"

"I won't. Bye, Kagami."

"See ya later, Hisao."



A particularly loud crack of thunder separates my mind from the memory of this morning and pulls me forcefully into the now. We must be getting closer to the heart of the storm; I subconsciously remember seeing a flash of lightning not a few seconds ago. I watch for more lightning for about half a minute before a vehement sneeze from one of the old women up front makes me give a small jump.

Relaxing back into my seat, I pull out my phone and check my new messages, of which there are none. The conversation with Emi is still in the state it was this morning: a lone unreplied-to apology text hovering next to my name and the word "sent". I wonder why she hasn't responded yet. That's very unlike Emi, who wouldn't miss the chance to immediately razz me for missing our run, and then make me feel terrible about it with that puppy-dog look the next time she sees me.

I'm becoming less susceptible to its influence as time goes on. It's either losing its charm or the morning runs have started doing their trick and somehow improved my mental as well as my physical stamina. I can run almost two miles now without feeling like I want to throw up, so I guess that's progress... however slow it may seem to be coming.

Come to think of it, though, that's how my life's been going recently. I'm becoming more comfortable in my classes—well, except for English—and I seem to be forming a few decent friendships despite only having been here a couple of weeks. To a normal high school kid, those things might not mean that much, but for me... well, it's progress enough to make me feel good about it.

Apparently I'm making progress with Kagami as well. I couldn't believe it when she told me she remembered me a few nights ago. Even if it's only a feeling.

To be honest, I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I'm glad that I'm special to her, but at the same time, I'm not entirely sure what she wants from me. From our discussions—at least the sober ones—she's made it clear she's not quite ready for a relationship. But she certainly isn't afraid to be physical, even when she hasn't been drinking. The last few nights have been full of what could only be described as flirtatious gestures: hands gently placed on knees, that sort of thing.

I guess I'm just as confused as she is.

But for some reason, I can't help but feel a strange sense of positivity about what's to come. It's similar to a feeling I once had in a snowy field on a winter afternoon... even though that seems like it was years ago.

Hell, if I'd have been asked even a few weeks ago whether or not I could ever start to feel like that again, I'm not sure how I would have answered. Now, though...

Progress. I suppose that's the theme of the day.

Apparently, that's not the theme of this bus ride, however. The rain is pouring so heavily that the driver has slowed the bus to a near-crawl along the now four-lane road. Other cars are passing us quickly, some honking in frustration at our speed. This fazes the two elderly ladies in front slightly, but the driver seems undeterred.

But we are getting closer. The dark outlines of buildings have steadily been looming larger and larger, obscured to an almost-black by the torrential downpour. It doesn't look like the rain is going to let up, which means that I'm going to get soaked on the walk over to Kagami's orchestra's rehearsal space. Damn you, Kenji.

We pull into the bus stop, but no one seems to be getting off here except me. Thankfully, I'm able to fashion a makeshift umbrella from free publications sitting near the front of the bus. As I step out into the rain, however, the newspaper becomes quickly soaked, dissolving into a pulpy mess and coating my fingers. The bus driver shoots me a pity-filled glance as I finish my disembarkation onto the sidewalk.

Since I skipped my morning run today, I suppose a brisk jog to Kagami's orchestra rehearsal space can't hurt.

My feet splash wildly amongst the various puddles and streams that are forming stochastically along the streets and sidewalks, soaking my pants and socks up to the ankles. I'm not sure there's a worse feeling than wet socks.

While the thought crosses through my mind, a rather sporty-looking sedan roars past me just as I finish crossing the street, soaking my entire backside with a wake from the particularly large puddle I just vaulted over. The blonde woman inside the car—at least, I think it's a woman; she's got rather short hair—looks back quickly and gives me the same look of pity the bus driver did.

That's right. There is a worse feeling than soaked socks. Namely, soaked underwear.

I arrive at my destination in a rather sorry way: soaked to the bone and with newspaper pulp covering my right hand, the offending publication having been dropped in a wastebasket on the way into the building. Although it probably did more harm than good as an umbrella for the last few minutes of the trip. I quickly peer through the window into the rehearsal space to see... oh good, they're still practicing. Instead of venturing inside, I detour to the bathroom to attempt the rather impossible-seeming task of getting myself to a drier state. Hopefully Kagami has an umbrella that she's willing to share; I don't want to dry off only to get soaked again in ten minutes.

I attempt to contort myself underneath the hand drier for a few minutes before giving up and resigning myself to being damp for the foreseeable future. Whoever thought taking paper towels out of bathrooms was a good idea should be shot, or at least be made to walk around in wet underwear once every few days.

Apparently the orchestra rehearsal finished up while I was inside the bathroom, as the members are all filing out of the rehearsal hall, all pulling on raincoats and readying umbrellas. The students with larger instrument cases in their possession look especially nervous to venture into the storm.

In stark contrast to the rather grim congregation, a trademark red braid comes bobbing through the crowd, not looking sullen in the least. Kagami flashes a large smile in my direction and waves. Her normal black tank top and jeans have been supplemented by a garishly yellow pair of rain boots and an umbrella that looks like it could shelter a small village. She saunters over to my position, gently swaying her violin case back and forth at her side as she walks. As she looks me over, her expression becomes full of an amused concern at my rather soggy state.

"Uh, Hisao? You're all wet," Kagami says, giggling.

"Wait, what?" I respond sarcastically. "I'm w- so I am. Well, this is some news, isn't it?" I stick my tongue out for emphasis.

"Don't be an ass," she responds, winking. "Did you forget an umbrella? Or any rain gear whatsoever?"

"It was sunny when I left Yamaku," I respond halfheartedly. I suppose that's no excuse for not checking the weather, as there are computers and a television in the common area of the boys' dorm.

"Didn't expect a cloudburst during rainy season, huh?" Kagami says slyly. "It's fine. This umbrella is too big not to share anyhow."

"Whew. For a second there, I thought I was gonna get wet," I reply, mock-wringing my sleeve onto the ground.

"You can walk to the bus stop by yourself if you keep that lippiness up, mister," she laughs. "Ready to go? There's this little teahouse around the corner I looked up earl-"

"Takahashi! Hold up!" I hear a slightly familiar voice boom from behind us. Kagami and I both turn to see Ito, her conductor, striding quickly toward us. His long black pea coat flows out behind him, accentuating the white and blue patterned dress shirt and brown corduroy slacks that seem to fit him almost too well. He immediately recognizes me.

"Ah, Nakai! What brings you all the way down here on a Saturday?" he asks, even though his face reveals he knows the answer quite well.

"Just meeting Kagami after rehearsal."

Kagami interjects. "Wait, you two know each other?"

"We talked about it the other- oh, sorry," I say, catching myself mid-gaffe. I blush, as does Kagami.

Ito, thankfully, steps in quickly. "Yes, we met the other day when I was at Yamaku to pick up some music," he says, pausing for a split-second before completely ignoring the rather awkward exchange and continuing. "Now, then. Do you two have any specific plans for the rest of the evening?"

Kagami and I both shake our heads simultaneously.

"Excellent. Then, if you don't mind the intrusion, Nakai, I'd like to go over some additional bowings and stylistic changes with Ms. Takahashi while I'm still in the city. In exchange for your time, I'll buy you both tea. Or coffee, whichever you prefer. There's a small teahouse around the corner that I believe is the perfect venue for such an endeavor."

Kagami stifles a small laugh. Apparently she and Ito have similar tastes in restaurants.

"If you're ok with it, Hisao?" she asks leadingly.

I shrug. "Sure, why not?" I say. Ito doesn't seem to be such a bad guy. And who knows, I might actually learn something about music. And free coffee is free coffee.

"Excellent," Ito says, brimming with excitement. Apparently bowings—whatever those are—really get his engine revved. He clasps his hands together and rubs them expectantly. "Shall we be off, then?"

"Yes sir," Kagami replies, unfastening the small velcro strap on her umbrella. She deftly opens the door with her backside and opens up the large blue-and-white striped canopy, waiting for me to join her under its protective shield. Ito buttons his coat, steps through the adjacent door, and turns his collar up against the rain, which has lessened in intensity somewhat, but still doesn't seem to be showing any signs of letting up completely.

We make our way to the teahouse in less than a minute; I guess it really is right around the corner. It's a small part of a larger building—a skinny navy-blue facade tucked into an otherwise grey concrete behemoth. The small bell dings brightly as the door opens and we step inside. It almost reminds me of the Shanghai. However, the similarities seem to end there. While the Shanghai seems to have a rustic, dated feel, this place seems new and modern.

For one, there are people here. It's acceptably quiet, but the teahouse is most definitely abuzz with pleasant chatter from the patrons.

The room itself has hardwood floors, as well as wood paneling running about a quarter of the way up the walls. The soft azure lighting coming from fluorescent strips built into the paneling gives the room a cooler feel overall, while the minimalist stainless-steel lamps hanging from the ceiling brighten the individual tables. The tables themselves are dressed in neat, white tablecloths, surrounded by sleek-looking chairs, which have wooden seats and stainless steel legs. There's a small amount of luminescence coming from the fish tank over by the coffee bar, where a waitress dressed in a black apron is waving to us.

It looks... expensive. I'm glad Ito is buying.

We approach the bar and Ito places an order for some tea and sandwiches, as well as some coffee. The waitress smiles politely and scurries back to the kitchen, informing us that she'll bring us our order when it's ready. Satisfied with the current situation, Ito excuses himself to the restroom while Kagami and I seat ourselves at a nearby corner table.

"So, what do you think?" Kagami asks quietly, nudging me in the shoulder.

"About?" I respond.

"Ito, dummy. You've met before, so what do you think of him? He's pretty cool, right?"

I falter visibly. Kagami obviously doesn't remember that our argument a few days ago—which ended in rather nasty heart episode—was spurred partly by me spilling the beans about my conversation with Ito. About her.

"Y-yeah. He's great," I say smally.

Kagami giggles and puts her hand on my knee. "Easy, killer. No need to be so forceful." She winks.

I manage a nervous smile. It seems I'm in the clear, although I feel fairly guilty about it.

"Seriously, Hisao, don't freak out. He's not as intense as he seems. Besides, he likes most people—he did just buy you coffee, remember? And I promise this will go quick, ok?"

"It doesn't really have to go quickly," I say, having regained most of my composure. "I planned for us to go to the park today, but that doesn't seem like much of an option now. I'm kind of at a loss for what we'd do otherwise."

"Hm," Kagami says, placing her thumb and forefinger across the bottom of her jaw and scratching gently. "Well, I thought we would hang out here... which is what we're doing anyway, so I guess it all works out anyhow."

"I guess so," I say, chuckling and feeling a little more at ease. Kagami squeezes my leg gently. "So, what is it exactly that you and Ito are going to go over today?"

"Just some bowing stuff. Some of the presto sections have some strange slurs, so we're gonna see about getting them to be a little less awkward while still ending cadences on down bows," Kagami rattles off.

"Um... I understood literally none of that," I say, slightly dumbfounded.

"Ha, sorry. I don't talk to many people about this stuff that haven't ever been around music before," she apologizes. "Presto is a tempo marking—it means you play pretty fast."

"Uh-huh."

Receiving my acknowledgement, she continues excitedly. "Slurs are two notes tied together by a single stroke of the bow—they're used to improve phrasing—and cadences are sort of the end of phrases, but not really, and-"

"Kagami," I interrupt.

"Yeah?"

"I seriously don't understand a word you're saying."

"Really? Dammit," she swears, resting her chin on the palm of her hand and placing her elbow on the table. "I guess I'm not very good at explaining this stuff, am I?"

"Well, to be fair, you're explaining it to the least musically-oriented person in the world. It's like... explaining calculus to a kid who's barely learned how to multiply."

"Nice analogy," Kagami pouts. "Well, try to not get too bored with Ito and me when we get into it."

"I'll have my coffee," I say. "You guys do what you need to."

"Okay," she replies, pausing for a moment before adding, "Thanks for coming along, Hisao. I really do enjoy your company."

"Well, it's not like I had a choice. You're the one with an umbrella," I tease.

"Oh, I see how it is. You only like me for my rain gear, is that it? I'm shocked at your audacity," she says, crossing her arms in mock disdain.

"What can I say?" I reply, shrugging. "I love a great pair of... boots."

Kagami immediately breaks up into a laughing fit, causing me to lose my composure and begin guffawing as well.

"Wow, Hisao. I had no idea you were into that."

"Hey," I object with an overzealous wave of my hand. "I appreciate the fine craftsmanship of waterproof footwear. Get your mind out of the gutter."

"Oh, sure, I'm the dirty one," she says, rolling her eyes.

We continue chuckling for a few seconds before Ito approaches the table and takes the seat opposite me, placing a rather thick volume of sheet music in between Kagami and him.

"Now, Nakai. How familiar are you with Shostakovich's 5th symphony?" Ito asks as he pulls his chair in.

I shoot a deer-in-the-headlights look at Kagami. She shrugs and raises her eyebrows.

"It's not a trick question, I promise," Ito says, smiling.

"Ok, I'll bite. I know absolutely nothing about it," I say, wondering what Ito's game is.

"Excellent," the conductor says, clasping his hands together. "Shostakovich is considered one the great, if not the greatest, Russian composers of the 20th century. During his life, however, he constantly butted heads with the relatively new communist government—his music was very political."

"Classical music can be political?" I ask, not really buying Ito's premise.

"This," Ito says, pressing his index finger against the tome in front of him, "is not classical music. At least not in the sense that you're used to. What you consider classical music was long-obsolete by this point in history."

I find myself leaning forward in my seat. There's something about the way Ito talks that naturally makes me want to listen to him.

"This music... this is angry, sad, manic music, meant to be a direct critique of the way the government operated and treated the Russian people. For as you see, in the newly formed United Soviet Socialist Republic, most artists were directly conscripted by the government to create propagandist material. The goal was to mollify the Russian people with music that was hopeful, joyous, and—most importantly—reflected the state in a positive light."

"But Shostakovich didn't do that."

"You're damned right he didn't. Instead, he created music with a double meaning. What he told the government differs drastically from the piece's actual intended interpretation. The first two movements, which contain slow, plodding, heavy undercurrents, punctuated by a manic waltz movement were described to the government as the 'plight of the Russian people before the glorious light of communism'. The third: a slow, sorrowful lamentation, 'the cry of the people for change'. And the fourth, a violent whirlwind, followed by a triumphant fanfare, representing the Russian revolution and 'rejoicing of the people'.

"How could that get misinterpreted?" I ask.

Kagami nudges me in the arm. "He's getting to that," she whispers.

"I am indeed. Now, where is that...?" He flips through the pages of the music in front of him for a few moments. "Ah, here it is. Now, Nakai, tell me what you see here," he says, pointing at a specifically busy patch of music.

"Um... I'm not sure what you mean," I reply, a little overwhelmed at the mass of information on the page in front of me. The strange notations and markings are as foreign to me as English.

"Specifically here, the violin part. See this note right here?"

I stare intently at where Ito's finger is indicating. Looks like that note gets repeated a lot. For quite a while, actually.

"There's an awful lot of that note," I say rather inanely.

"Don't remind me, ugh," Kagami says exhaustedly. "My arm gets tired just thinking about it."

"What Ms. Takahashi means," Ito interrupts, "is that this note is repeated ad nauseum for about two minutes near the end of the symphony. It's a constant, grating layer placed underneath what would be a very triumphant horn fanfare."

"Why would that be in there?"

"Excellent question, Nakai. Most music experts agree that it represents the constant oppression of the state, forcing the Russian people to rejoice at their ruling under pain of... unpleasantness. In fact, there are several more undercurrents within the symphony, indicating that something is very wrong with the picture that's being presented. It turns the entire piece on its head. What once was a standard propaganda piece extolling the virtues of socialism has now been turned on its head to become one of the most subversive and diabolical pieces of social commentary ever."

I pause for a moment, a little speechless. How could one piece of classical—er, not classical—music have such a deep and important meaning? Ito sits back, waiting for my reaction.

"You said 'most experts'. Is this not how you think as well?" I ask, somewhat pleased with my observation.

Ito seems to have prepared for this possibility. "I was hoping you'd pick up on that. I certainly agree that there's a layer of social commentary hidden within this masterpiece. However, I think there's something more raw at the core. Something much more viscerally human."

"Which is?"

"Can't you guess?"

I look over at Kagami for help, but she places her hands up in a defensive pose. "Nope. You're on your own for this one."

Hm. Something 'human'. I wonder...

"It... it wouldn't be about Shostakovich himself, would it?"

Ito smiles widely. "Perceptive, Nakai. I'm surprised you got it that quickly. Most need a helpful nudge in the correct direction," he says, glancing furtively in Kagami's direction. She doesn't seem to notice.

"I believe, at its core, this piece is a cry for help from Shostakovich himself. It's a journey through his grief... his anger at the government for forcing his creative impotence, his deep depression at seeing what's become of his beloved country, and his being forced to write cheerful, triumphant music for the sake of the government, all the while its oppressive breath upon his neck."

Ito sits back into his chair, appearing a little worn out from his explanation.

"In essence, I believe it's something we all go through, although not to the great extent that he did. We all have our own problems, we're frustrated by them, we grieve for our losses, and we're forced to carry on with a smile, sometimes by others, sometimes by ourselves. All the while secretly hurting on the inside. It's part of the human condition."

"Wow," I respond, unable to form a more coherent response.

"Seems like a little heavy of a discussion to be having over afternoon tea, isn't it?" Kagami asks, apparently trying to lighten the mood.

Ito gives a small chuckle. "I suppose you're right. It's probably a little much for you to absorb at once. I've loved this piece for many years, and every time I listen to it I still hear new depths, new intricacies."

The waitress comes to fill the small pause in the conversation, fulfilling our order of coffee, tea, and sandwiches. Seems like Ito ordered a small feast.

As we eat, Ito and Kagami discuss various interpretations of the symphony in front of them. Their discussions veer wildly back and forth between violin parts, percussion parts, the loudness of the whole orchestra, and other topics I don't quite understand. It becomes apparent that Ito trusts Kagami's musical ear very much. They almost seem more like colleagues than teacher and student.

After we finish the sandwiches in an almost embarrassingly short amount of time, Ito and Kagami begin making markings in Ito's book, which Kagami copies over to her own sheet music. I sit back in my chair, sipping my coffee and letting my thoughts wander.

Why did Ito go into such a long-winded explanation about Shostakovich? From what I've seen, he doesn't seem the type to give a soliloquy like that for no reason. I find myself occasionally glancing in his direction, wondering for what reason he wants me here.

After a while, Kagami excuses herself to use the restroom, leaving Ito and me at the table, silently sipping our coffees. The man across from me breaks the silence first.

"Nakai, I was wondering something."

"Okay, shoot," I say, looking up from my cup.

"You and Takahashi seem to have gotten to know each other pretty well since you and I last met."

"I suppose that's true," I reply.

"Has... has she ever talked about her family? Her relationship with her parents?"

I balk for a moment, but I quickly realize that Kagami has told me very little about her parents. Certainly nothing that Ito shouldn't hear.

"No, she hasn't really. She doesn't seem to get along with her father very well. That's about it."

"Hm, curious," Ito says thoughtfully.

I pause for a moment, waiting for him to continue, but he never does. I decide to press the issue. "Why do you ask?"

"I'm not entirely certain. Although..." Ito stops for a moment, forming his next sentence. "I've never seen either of her parents at any one of our concerts. In fact, I've only ever met her uncle, at auditions her first year in the orchestra. I realize we're a little further away from where she grew up, but it's not a ludicrous proposition to assume that at least one of her parents would come."

"Hm," I respond in an equally pensive manner. "Her father's a lawyer, or something in that profession. I can't imagine he can get away from his work very easily. Kagami told me she was always closer to her mother."

"Was?" Ito asks.

I had never stopped to consider the possibility, but now that Ito's mentioned it... Kagami always does speak about her mother in the past tense. However, that could just be a byproduct of her memory loss.

"I suppose that's just because of... well, you know," I say sheepishly.

"Perhaps," Ito says, tracing the edge of his finger around his cup. "Perhaps."

"You think there's more to it?"

"Nakai, were you not listening to anything I was saying? About Shostakovich? There's always more to it. People, events, everything- they're all multifaceted; everything and everyone has their own story, just as rich and colorful and heartbreaking as anyone or anything else's." Ito brings his cup to his lips, but doesn't drink; instead, he sighs and places it back onto its saucer. "And sometimes it's not always obvious."

"You think there's something going on with Kagami's parents?" I ask with a slightly incredulous tone. I find Ito's assumption to be a bit of a stretch.

"I daren't say for sure," Ito responds, sensing the disbelief in my voice. "But I've seen enough to know something isn't right. Just..." He stops short, closing his eyes and furrowing his brow.

Before I have a chance to ask what he means, Kagami comes back from the restroom, and the two continue marking up the music as they did before, leaving me stewing in thought. It's a long while before Kagami addresses me again.

"Hisao, what do you think?" Kagami asks, bringing me out of my introspection.

"Huh? What?" I say stupidly.

"Haha, I was asking you if this section should start up bow or down bow. In order to emphasize the accents on these notes," she says, pointing with her pencil.

"Um..." I say, raising one eyebrow slightly.

Kagami smiles. "Kidding. Just wanted to bring you back from la la land. We're done with the markups."

"Nice," I respond. "That didn't take very long."

Ito glances at his watch. "Per se. This place seems to have a habit of sucking away the hours faster than they seem to pass. It's nearly six-thirty."

"Wow, really?" Kagami asks.

"Really," Ito responds matter-of-factly. "It's actually time for me to be off. I have a dinner date tonight I shouldn't be late for. Before I go, however, I'd like to extend a formal invitation to you, Hisao, to attend our end-of-year concert in... well, I suppose it's in a little more than a month and a half. We'll be playing the Shostakovich, as well as a few others. Also..." he says, reaching into his bag, "we'll be performing something I believe you've heard before."

He gently taps the glossy dark blue booklet in his right hand against the table.

"What's that?" I ask, beginning to fit the pieces together in my mind. I feel like I've seen that booklet somewhere before...

"It's the Bruch Concerto Number One in G Minor..." he pauses, smiling at Kagami, whose eyes are widening by the second, "...for violin."

"Y-you mean..." Kagami stammers.

"I do. Congratulations," Ito says as he smiles warmly.

"Oh my god! Thank you thank you thank you thank you~!" Kagami exclaims as she leaps from her chair to embrace a now-standing Ito. She buries her face into his chest, thanks still pouring out of her mouth.

After several seconds of this, Kagami pulls away and faces me. "Hisao, I won! I won the concerto competition!"

"I gathered. Congratulations, Kagami. You deserve it," I say as Kagami beams with pride.

"The judges finished up their deliberations earlier this week. You blew them away. We'll be starting rehearsal with this in two Saturdays after the long weekend off, so give it some extra prep time this week. We don't have much time to get this up to performance shape. Okay?"

Kagami still seems to be shocked. "O-of course! I'll be ready."

"Good. I have every confidence we'll have an amazing show, then." He looks at Kagami, whose mouth is still gaping open. "Something you need to say, Takahashi?"

"U-uh... I... I'vegottagopee!" Kagami blurts out as she makes a mad dash for the bathroom, no doubt just to regain her composure.

Ito chuckles to himself. "Don't be too shy, now," he says to no one in particular as Kagami quickly moves out of sight.

"Ito," I say, asking the question that's come to the forefront of my mind, "when did you say the judges made their decision?"

"Why do you inquire, Nakai?" Ito says slyly. I think he knows what I'm about to ask.

"That's the same music you ordered from Yuuko, isn't it? The music you picked up a few weeks ago."

Ito raises a hand to his chest in mock indignation. "Why, Nakai, I would never order music for the orchestra unless I was entirely sure that it was needed. To order music for the winner of the concerto competition without knowing the judges' decision would take a very confident man, indeed."

"You didn't answer my question."

"Didn't I?" Ito says, winking.

Kagami comes trotting back from the bathroom, apparently having just splashed some water on her face. Although she could have just stepped outside to do that.

"Ito, thank you so, so much. I really appreciate this."

"Nonsense. You've earned it. Take this," he says, handing her the dark blue booklet. "Consider it a gift from the orchestra. Now, I really must be going. You two enjoy the rest of your evening together."

Ito turns to walk through the door, but stops sharply before digging into his pocket and extracting a few bills from his wallet. "I almost forgot. This should cover for the food. Takahashi, if you would be so kind as to take this up to the register for me, so as to settle our bill, I'd appreciate it."

Kagami salutes, gives a "Yes, sir," and grabs the money from Ito before heading up to the register.

Ito stops at my shoulder as he makes his exit from the restaurant.

"Nakai... about what I said earlier. Take care of her, please," he says quietly.

"U-uh, I'm sorry?"

Ito turns to face me. "The way she looks at you—I've seen her look that way before, but not at anyone else. She's going to need you more than she knows, I think, very soon."

"Is it... what we were talking about before? How do you even know?" I ask, recalling the discussion of her parents.

"Call it intuition, or an educated guess. The result of studying human nature for most of my life."

Ito pauses for a moment, once again turning his visage upon the door.

"Lord knows Shostakovich wasn't the only musical genius that ever hurt, or that needed help. Take care, Nakai."

And without another word from either of us, Yasahiro Ito steps outside into the rain and vanishes into the evening.

Kagami nearly runs back from the register, gripping her new music tightly. "Oh my god, Hisao, can you believe it? I actually won! I didn't think I had a chance; they never pick violinists!"

I smile warmly, attempting to shake what Ito just said to me out of my head. "Congratulations, Kagami. Although I can't say I'm as surprised as you. You probably completely nailed that audition, just like you're gonna nail it at the concert."

"You're gonna come, right?" Kagami asks, expectantly.

"Of course I'll come. Not that I have much of a choice after an invitation like that, but I'd be there regardless."

With that, Kagami near-throws her new music back onto the table and wraps me in a tight embrace, pressing her face against my shoulder.

"Awesome. I can't wait."

"Me neither. I'm sure it'll be an amazing concert."

"It's totally gonna be! We're playing the Shostakovich, and now this, and..." Kagami keeps chattering excitedly about the upcoming concert, telling me about the pieces to be performed and what they're like as we gather ourselves and prepare to head outside into the rain, which has lessened to the point of a steady drizzle.

We decide to just catch an early bus back to Yamaku; seeing as how there's nothing we can do outside and we already ate, it's our best option. The bus arrives shortly after Kagami and I make it to the station, and before I know it, she's asleep on my shoulder, the hum of the bus' engine having lulled her to sleep.

The rain stops about ten or so minutes into the trip. Although it's still cloudy, there are barely a few rays of light peeking through as the sun settles upon the horizon. I think the days are starting to get shorter again. A sigh slinks audibly past my lips, and Kagami stirs for a second before settling back into a slow, steady breathing rhythm.

The rain's gone, but we've got a long way to go before we get around these clouds.

I'm left wondering what Ito could have meant by his last statement. Could Kagami be just as troubled as he says? She seems pretty... together, at least to me. And the matter of her parents... well, I'm not going to assume that I'm in the position to know anything important. Hell, there's a good chance Kagami doesn't even know. In any case, I'm starting to think that long discussion about Shostakovich wasn't just a history lesson. It's possible there's more to this than I—or even Kagami—could know.

I glance down at the girl resting on my shoulder. I think... no matter what may or may not be coming... I want to be there for her.

And for now, that's enough.


End Act 2.

__________

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Last edited by forgetmenot on Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:05 pm, edited 11 times in total.

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