Developments (Post-Lilly NE) [Complete, 2015-08-11]

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dewelar
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Re: Developments, Chapter 58 (Part 2)

Post by dewelar » Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:19 pm

Blasphemy wrote:
dewelar wrote:
Blasphemy wrote:And here we are with Hanako deciding to initiate a conversation with a slightly isolated classmate. A wonderful development truly.
Indeed. It's funny, but despite being the one writing this story, I feel a little bit of pride in Hanako for making it to this point. I'm not entirely sure what to make of that :|.
As long as you're a good enough critic of your own work i'd certainly look at it in a positive light to empathize strongly with the characters despite being the author, even if you are 'continuing' a character like Hanako instead of creating it entirely.
*nods* A lot of it is because of my "let the plot flow naturally" method of writing, which took things in unexpected directions in my own head. It's one of those "Oh, so this is how Hanako's life path goes? Cool!" moments.
You succeeded at the latter too though, looking at Noriko, for instance, down to even just Yoshi, who's part in this story I'm liking quite a lot, even though he doesn't get a lot of 'screen time'.

Whether it ends up happening or not, the above two are certainly worth getting explored some more in potential spin-offs / continuations, though that goes for most characters really.
Thanks. Yoshi was originally intended to have a larger role for reasons I can't really mention just yet, but it's always good to hear that one's OC's are being received well :).
I should also mention that it was ill-adviced of me to start this anime-recommendation in this thread. I got a pm from Silentcook who rightfully expected derailment and will do some culling if required, so sorry for that and let's continue that in another thread actually suited for that. :oops:
Yeah, no worries. I doubt 'Cook would allow such a thread, though -- IIRC, even the "Recommend a VN" thread was considered borderline. I'd be highly interested in participating in such a discussion, though, whether it be on the board or via PM. As a final note, I will mention that I have My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU on my manga watchlist, so I agree with that being a good one :).
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments, Chapter 58 (Part 2)

Post by Silentcook » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:06 pm

Blasphemy wrote:let's continue that in another thread actually suited for that. :oops:
Yeah, no thread suited for that can exist.
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by Blasphemy » Mon Apr 27, 2015 6:13 pm

...on another website I meant, of course!

Alright, alright. I somewhat forgot there isn't an actual off-topic section here and I recalled the VN recommendations thread, which, of course, has more relevance.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by Leaty » Sun May 17, 2015 11:03 pm

Okay, so let's do the thing. We'll go character-by-character this time around, since that seems like the best way to demarcate things.

Image (I never have an excuse to use Plantin Semibold Condensed.)
dewelar wrote:After putting my physical burdens in the trunk of Ms. Hakamichi's car, I find myself sitting in the front seat so that Shizune and Misha can sit next to each other. In the taxi on the way here, I'd noticed the two of them gesturing occasionally, but this morning they don't seem to be communicating at all for some reason. Shizune is staring out the window, looking unhappy, while next to her Misha is sitting with her hands in her lap, staring downwards. Every so often, Misha glances over at her companion, only to immediately return to the same position. Shizune's mother is doing something similar, glancing in the rear-view mirror periodically with a slightly sad expression on her face. In this atmosphere, I can't do anything other than keep silent while watching everyone.
I think I missed it the first time around, but now this paragraph gives me such an odd sense of déjà vu. What is it with –anakos and awkward Student Council car rides?

There's a sense of disappointment I feel where Mayoi's dialogue in this chapter is concerned—I've given this chapter a few go-overs and I know Mayoi is well-mannered, and doesn't know Hanako well, but it felt almost like her and Yumi were bleeding together. The effect seemed even more egregious due to the fact that they occupy the same character niche—the counselor or mediator archetype—so there was an awkward feeling of redundancy, reading this. Being introspective, I'll admit that maybe the reason I feel this way because our earliest glimpses of Mayoi as a character was in her scenes with Shizune and Lilly, with whom she's obviously much more familiar, and that's the Mayoi I became fond of, so her coldness just... doesn't feel good to read, I guess?

I did like Mayoi's observation here—that Lilly's maternal impulses are practically omnidirectional, and almost unyielding—and I think things might have gone better if somebody had pointed that out sooner. It's insightful in not only in the interior narrative but also as a comment by you as the author. (And, you know, it makes me wonder: what is the deal with Lilly's motherly impulses? In canon she never really expresses any particular interest in creating a family unit of her own, and we aren't aware of any interactions she's had with children, soooo... is it just a side effect of having lived alone with Akira?)

Anyway, on Mayoi's behalf, I'm really happy that she's going to get married and everything, but really sad she'll be moving away. I knew this arc wasn't going to bring resolution to that particular drama—what we see in this story is just a small part in what is a much broader saga—but it's upsetting (textually, not metatextually) that we're going to leave off with that barrier between them perhaps stronger than ever.

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Okay, so, first off, this plot arc totally justifies the intentional vagueness about Noriko's condition.

I really enjoyed seeing how Noriko's cavalier, apathetic persona cracks in this chapter. You could probably write an entire fic about her personal crisis—it's not one as esoteric as the circumstances would imply. When expectations for the future wind up breaking down, it can throw one's life completely into upheaval, and not as often for the better as some stories would imply. This is why We Were the Potters is maybe my favorite HP fanfic ever—it explores how heartbreaking it can be when the things you were told you'd be getting just... never come to fruition. Some people die alone. Some people get their dreams stolen away at the last second. And even when one's expectations are something "bad"—e.g., death—it still hurts to have that certainty yanked out from under you. Noriko is somebody whose acceptance of death was so advanced that, in a way, it's comfortable for her—it's a reassurance that nothing matters. There's a sense of invincibility in the idea, and from there it's not hard to romanticize the idea of death, as Noriko has done.

Of course, once death goes away (for the time being, anyway), how could anybody feel like they weren't absolutely fucked? Noriko's academic marks are almost certainly terrible, she probably doesn't know a lot about sustainable relationships (as opposed to hookups), she might not be good at much of anything... Christ. That's terrifying.
dewelar wrote:Noriko looks at me with her head cocked to one side, laughing softly. "You know, you're the first person who's ever bothered to look around here. So, sit down already."
Well, I can think of two people who would have looked around, but they're both blind as cave crayfish, soooo...

Anyway, this was probably the best individual element of the whole chapter. Noriko's emotional breakdown (probably not the right term for it, but I'm tired) was genuinely heartbreaking, and it was sweet both to see her open up to Hanako and to see that Hanako has progressed enough that she can actually, well, do this. Considering how frosty their relationship has been since the beginning (Hell, it's plenty frosty in the VN), it's nice to see them thaw it out like this, even if it Noriko had to get hurt in order for them to close the distance. I'm going to echo the sentiment that Noriko's sessions with Miss Yumi classic would probably be pretty interesting. Speaking of...

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Okay, so, honestly, Miss Yumi is basically just furniture in this scene (which is probably for the best.) Most of the stuff in this section of the chapter will get covered when I get to the Hanako comments. I do think this scene was important though, for the sake of closing out Hanako's arc—it serves as a good book end, given Yumi's role much earlier in the story.

Honestly, though, I think this chapter has vindicated my decision not to write Yumi (or a similar type of character) into my own story, other than as a MacGuffin namedrop to irritate my protagonist—like I mentioned above, the "counselor" character can be damn near anyone, and I don't think it necessarily has to be anyone with a doctorate unless the person who needs counsel legitimately has some sort of mental illness.

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Okay, so at some point, your Rin got the better of me, and now I think I'm missing out on a lot of subtle nuances. Like, I think I get the point of the painting—that, with time, Hanako is breaking through the grey, making new friends and living more vividly, with or without Hisao—but I can't figure out what "butterscotch" in particular refers to, or why Emi is a butterfly and Hanako is a lizard. Or the turning-it-westward thing. The metaphors overpowered me.

Anyway, she was fun here. All of the Hanako/Rin scenes have been pretty pleasant.

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It's interesting that the title of the fic finally became something a little less than vestigial—you actually delivered on the dormant Hanako-does-photography plot point. I certainly don't blame Hanako for not wanting to engage Misaki immediately, though, given that she's kind of a pill. (I think Momomi called the Photography Club "a collective of social rejects.")

Anyway, without pinning anything down specifically, it's really, well, wonderful to see that we've gotten to the point that Hanako really is growing up and involving herself in the world a little more. The kind of interactions she has in this chapter are, I think, fairly scarce in KS fanfiction—most of them don't go far enough down the timeline for her character development to make it that far, and I think, in general, it's kind of hard to justify her getting to this point even this early in the school year—as part of a triad with Lilly and Hisao, I don't think it happens as fast. It really kind of "took a village" to help Hanako work through some of her shit, and we see that pretty often throughout the story.
dewelar wrote:I've got to go do something.
Wow, four passes through the chapter and I'm only now realizing this is a clever spin on her catchphrase.

As I mentioned above, Hanako reaching out to Noriko is really kind of a groundbreaking moment for her, particularly because it's in Hanako's nature to avoid acerbic girls. Personally, I'm glad it happened—I'll certainly friendShip it.

I think the most important thing early on in the Miss Yumi session is that Hanako genuinely doesn't really seem to need her, anymore. It's almost like she's just going through the motions. Is she ever going to have a breakdown hardcore enough that she seriously needs her counsel again? I'm just not sure. I think the conclusion that Hanako comes here is the right one: for the longest time, Lilly and Hisao were hiding their flaws from her, and that hamstrung any sort of real connection she might have with either of them. And, yeah, the final observation by Miss Yumi is really the takeaway; for all the turmoil of the past few weeks, it was daring as hell, by Hanako's standards, and in the end she really didn't hurt anything that wasn't already in need of some renovation.

And we see this when Hanako remarks that going back to the tea room would be almost "a step backwards" for her, at this point—she doesn't need to be cloistered that way, anymore. If anything, she needs to work up to eating in the cafeteria—that's the next hurdle she needs to jump, I'd think.

The Ritsu stuff was a pleasant surprise—I've never actually watched K-On, but I like YuruYuri and Azumanga Daioh, so it's probably up my alley, at least in moderation. Though I constantly whine about the cameo characters, I think I'm totally okay with Katawa Shoujo being an AU of K-On (of course, Katawa Shoujo itself is a NYPD Blue fanfic, so that means that both KS and K-On were dreamed up by Tommy Westphall.)

Anyway, the scene was very cute, and a great way to close out the chapter. (Wait, is Ritsu the butterscotch?) Plus, though it hasn't really been brought up, I do think it's important that Hanako have one friend more or less all to herself—she needs to gain some independence from the Newspaper Club and the Hisao Web. I am totally on board for the Hanako/Ritsu friendship.

I'm sure I'm forgetting things, but it's getting late, so we're going to leave it here for now.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by dewelar » Mon May 18, 2015 12:30 am

Leaty wrote:Okay, so let's do the thing.
Forewarning: I didn't respond to a lot of this, because I really think it speaks for itself. A lot of nails were hit on the head in this post, and seeing someone, for lack of a better turn of phrase, get it always gives me the fuzzies. Thanks very much for all the kind words.
We'll go character-by-character this time around, since that seems like the best way to demarcate things.
Sounds good :).
Image (I never have an excuse to use Plantin Semibold Condensed.)
It is pretty cool looking.
What is it with –anakos and awkward Student Council car rides?
I haven't a clue. It certainly wasn't intentional.
There's a sense of disappointment I feel where Mayoi's dialogue in this chapter is concerned—I've given this chapter a few go-overs and I know Mayoi is well-mannered, and doesn't know Hanako well, but it felt almost like her and Yumi were bleeding together. The effect seemed even more egregious due to the fact that they occupy the same character niche—the counselor or mediator archetype—so there was an awkward feeling of redundancy, reading this. Being introspective, I'll admit that maybe the reason I feel this way because our earliest glimpses of Mayoi as a character was in her scenes with Shizune and Lilly, with whom she's obviously much more familiar, and that's the Mayoi I became fond of, so her coldness just... doesn't feel good to read, I guess?
*nods* Writing this made me sad, actually. Since we will not be getting a Mayoi PoV (at least not in Developments), this conversation was very much about Mayoi wanting to reach out to Hanako, but not being sure she could or should since she's gotten pretty much all her information about Hanako from Lilly. Thus, she ends up keeping this awkward half-distance, and everybody comes out feeling unfulfilled. So, yeah, sad.
(And, you know, it makes me wonder: what is the deal with Lilly's motherly impulses? In canon she never really expresses any particular interest in creating a family unit of her own, and we aren't aware of any interactions she's had with children, soooo... is it just a side effect of having lived alone with Akira?)
I chalked it up to her efforts to shoehorn herself into the Yamato Nadeshiko role, combined with her childhood dream to be a teacher. It's one of the few pieces of the archetype that resonated with her original personality, and thus it got amplified exponentially.
Anyway, on Mayoi's behalf, I'm really happy that she's going to get married and everything, but really sad she'll be moving away. I knew this arc wasn't going to bring resolution to that particular drama—what we see in this story is just a small part in what is a much broader saga—but it's upsetting (textually, not metatextually) that we're going to leave off with that barrier between them perhaps stronger than ever.
Maybe...
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Okay, so, first off, this plot arc totally justifies the intentional vagueness about Noriko's condition.
*nods* This was one of the few things I had nailed down about Noriko from the moment she Athena'd from my head. I'm really glad it worked. Thanks very much for all the kind words here.
Miss Yumi classic
*laughs*
Speaking of...

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Okay, so, honestly, Miss Yumi is basically just furniture in this scene (which is probably for the best.)
*nods* And you've touched on one of the reasons why above. I made no bones about my dislike for the direction her character took in NuSisterhood, but I was committed.
Most of the stuff in this section of the chapter will get covered when I get to the Hanako comments. I do think this scene was important though, for the sake of closing out Hanako's arc—it serves as a good book end, given Yumi's role much earlier in the story.
Thanks. If you look carefully at her first scene and this one, you will see just how book-endy they are :).
Honestly, though, I think this chapter has vindicated my decision not to write Yumi (or a similar type of character) into my own story, other than as a MacGuffin namedrop to irritate my protagonist—like I mentioned above, the "counselor" character can be damn near anyone, and I don't think it necessarily has to be anyone with a doctorate unless the person who needs counsel legitimately has some sort of mental illness.
Yeah, I think I've mentioned before that had I been more confident in my character-creation skills, I would have used them here rather than borrow Miss Yumi. Still, at the time it was also at least in part an homage to what was at the time one of my favorite pieces, so I can't really regret the decision too much.
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Okay, so at some point, your Rin got the better of me, and now I think I'm missing out on a lot of subtle nuances. Like, I think I get the point of the painting—that, with time, Hanako is breaking through the grey, making new friends and living more vividly, with or without Hisao—but I can't figure out what "butterscotch" in particular refers to, or why Emi is a butterfly and Hanako is a lizard. Or the turning-it-westward thing. The metaphors overpowered me.
You're partway to my own interpretation, at least :wink:. I'll leave it at that, because explaining everything about Rin would kind of spoil her.
Anyway, she was fun here. All of the Hanako/Rin scenes have been pretty pleasant.
Thanks again.
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It's interesting that the title of the fic finally became something a little less than vestigial—you actually delivered on the dormant Hanako-does-photography plot point.
And it only took 50-odd chapters!
I certainly don't blame Hanako for not wanting to engage Misaki immediately, though, given that she's kind of a pill. (I think Momomi called the Photography Club "a collective of social rejects.")
In my headcanon, Misaki is the only third-year in the club and kind of miscast in the role of president. She just wants to take pictures, and doing paperwork and stuff is beneath her. She has a fair amount in common with my Natsume in that regard, and it's turned them into big-time frenemies -- they both keep thinking they might be able to work together, but they always end up getting in each other's way instead.
Anyway, without pinning anything down specifically, it's really, well, wonderful to see that we've gotten to the point that Hanako really is growing up and involving herself in the world a little more. The kind of interactions she has in this chapter are, I think, fairly scarce in KS fanfiction—most of them don't go far enough down the timeline for her character development to make it that far, and I think, in general, it's kind of hard to justify her getting to this point even this early in the school year—as part of a triad with Lilly and Hisao, I don't think it happens as fast. It really kind of "took a village" to help Hanako work through some of her shit, and we see that pretty often throughout the story.
*happy sigh*
dewelar wrote:I've got to go do something.
Wow, four passes through the chapter and I'm only now realizing this is a clever spin on her catchphrase.
This represents the completion of its natural evolution, on display throughout this presentation. Enjoy the free Continental breakfast, and please take a brochure on your way out. Thank you.

Hanako's evolution, on the other hand, will, of course, be an ongoing one.
The Ritsu stuff was a pleasant surprise—I've never actually watched K-On, but I like YuruYuri and Azumanga Daioh, so it's probably up my alley, at least in moderation.
I may have to look into those...
I am totally on board for the Hanako/Ritsu friendship.
Yeah, I think that one's a keeper.

Quick update for everyone: I'm closing in on the completion of the first draft of Ch.59, so I'm thinking it'll be done in two weeks or so.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by Blank Mage » Mon May 18, 2015 2:40 am

Leaty: Hi Blank, how's it going?
Blank: Pretty good, Leaty! My day has been great!
Leaty: Good to hear! Hey, I found this knife for you to impale yourself on.
Blank: Aaaaaaaaaaghhhhh
And we're back.
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"I wish I could convey to you just how socially inept I am, but I can't."
"I think you just did."
"No, I really, truly haven't."

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by Leaty » Mon May 18, 2015 10:28 am

Well, I do say that.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.58 posted 4/1

Post by Rhodri » Mon May 18, 2015 11:44 am

Blank Mage wrote: Hey, I found this knife for you to impale yourself on.
Oh my. Wow. :cry:
"She also ties you up to a chair. You're gonna like that. Chairs are good. Chairs are your friend."

BeeFhGhost, Jan 15th 2012.

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Developments, Chapter 59 (Part 1)

Post by dewelar » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:21 pm

"Huh, I thought I heard somebody there," Hisao says as he closes the door to the stairwell before sitting back down next to me with a sigh. I've always liked eating up here on the roof at Yamaku because of how open it feels. I used to think it was weird that hardly anyone came up here, until I realized that probably half the school would have trouble getting up here, and anyone who ate with anyone who did wouldn't eat here, either. That meant Rin and I had the place to ourselves a lot, and Rin being Rin kept a few other people away, too.

The last couple weeks it's been a lot more fun, since more often than not Hisao has been here. Today, though, it's particularly not fun. Instead, we're both on edge, jumping at every little noise. I'm not sure what exactly is going on in Hisao's head, but I know what my problem is, because it started yesterday, when we were eating lunch just like we are now. We'd promised we'd tell each other what we were thinking, so I told him what happened between me and Mom like I'd promised, and officially asked him to come with me tonight to meet her. I knew he wouldn't back out or anything – although of course he teased me about it – but when he said he'd come and support me, I still felt a little relieved. Unfortunately, it didn't last long, because Hisao went and dropped that bombshell.

"I need to go see Iwanako."

That threw me off-balance, and I haven't gotten it back yet. I mean, it's not usually the kind of thing you tell someone who's only been your girlfriend for a week, is it? It took every ounce of energy I had to keep from using it as an excuse to shut Hisao out again. I mean, the girl almost killed him, then abandoned him in the hospital, then took months to dump him – doing it by snail mail, even – and he still wants to see her? Yeah, he did say he wanted closure, but I didn't think he meant something like that.

It's not that I didn't understand, exactly. I wasn't exactly happy about the idea, but the whole thing about him wanting to have a clean break? Yeah, I get that. I sorta tried to do the same thing to Hisao that he did to Iwanako. I was ready to run away from him without telling him why.

What stopped me from running this time, or from telling Hisao that he could just stuff it, was the fact that I remembered an important bit of information: he invited me along. This was the real reason he was going back to Tokyo tomorrow – yeah, we'll be picking up his stuff, and I'm supposed to meet his parents, but only because he was already going back for this. So, instead of making a false start, I pulled up out of the blocks entirely and told him that I needed some time to think about things. I didn't talk to Hisao after that yesterday, and during our morning run I tried, but couldn't engage my brain to do it right. I was just starting to try again, trying to warm up to it maybe, when he thought he heard something in the stairwell. Now, we're back to just awkward silence.

Well, at least until Hisao's voice cuts through the awkwardness. "Hey, Emi, are you all right?"

Reflexively, I reply, "Yeah, I'm fine."

I feel Hisao's hand take mine, causing me to drop my half-eaten curry bread onto my lap. "Emi," he says, half-teasing and half-reproachful, "you know I know you better than that by now. If you were fine there wouldn't be any of this left." He grabs the curry bread and bites a huge chunk off with a gleam in his eye.

"Heh, yeah, sorry," I say with a giggle. "Force of habit."

Damn him for getting me to laugh again.

Since I know he's going to need it, I pass him my drink box, and he immediately starts to suck on it. Hisao just handed me a chance to clear things up, and this time I'm not going to wait for a second one. "Hisao, I want to apologize again for yesterday...and for this morning too, I guess. I really shouldn't have reacted like that. I guess I'm not used to being the one someone else is hiding stuff from."

"Yeah, I know," Hisao says after polishing off my strawberry milk. I'll make sure he pays me back for that. "I was ready for worse than that, honestly, especially after springing it on you like that. At the same time, I had enough faith that you wouldn't stay away. I wouldn't have asked you about this if I didn't. I'm not going to get another chance to properly end things with Iwanako, and if I wait much longer it won't mean anything to anyone."

I glare at Hisao for a moment and then give him a nice, solid punch in the shoulder. "That's for turning me into the bad guy, Hisao." As he looks at me and rubs the spot where I hit him, I take my finger and put it on Hisao's chin. Turning his face toward me, I give him a light kiss. "And that's for saying what you just said, and to thank you for having that faith, and for wanting me to come with you. I would have understood if you wanted to go alone." At Hisao's 'oh, come on' look, I add, "...eventually," in a pouty voice.

Hisao sighs heavily. "Okay, I get it. I'm sorry, too. I'm still not entirely used to being open myself. I also have to thank you, because without you I never even would have realized that the whole thing with Iwanako was still bothering me."

"What do you mean?"

Hisao leans back, and I prepare myself for a long story. "Remember that letter I told you I got from Iwanako?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"At the time that I got it, I didn't want to remember anything about my old school. It was right around the time we had that English test, and I had that heart flutter on the roof." I wince at that memory, but Hisao's only half-looking at me, so he doesn't notice. "The last thing I needed was another reminder of what put me here in the first place, so I just threw it in the trash. I wanted to forget about my past, and just focus on the present. Then, when you told me about how you were avoiding your own past, and your nightmares about your father and everything, I realized that you weren't the only one running away from something. Just like you needed to face that, I need to face Iwanako – and not just Iwanako, but everyone and everything I shut out while I was in the hospital. They all made an effort, but I didn't, because I was only thinking about myself."

"Yeah, I know how that goes," I reply, and in this case I don't just mean the part about running. "I haven't told you what my time in the hospital was like, have I?"

Hisao leans forward to look at me. "No, you haven't."

Looks like my story's gonna be the longer one today.

"Once I'd recovered enough, people came to see me, too. Not too many, just a few of my friends that I used to run with. I...think you probably see the problem already, Hisao. They all kinda danced around the subject of running, which didn't leave us a whole lot to talk about. With all the stuff I had going on at home, I didn't want to hear about how great their summer break was going, or who they liked, or who liked them back. It just made me feel like they were moving on without me. And you know something? They kinda were."

Hisao is looking at me intently now, because I've started building up a head of steam. I'm not about to cool down just yet, though. "There were a lot of reasons why I worked my ass off to be able to run again. I wanted to run because it was something I shared with Dad, and I did it so Mom didn't have to worry about me, but it was also because I needed to run that much faster than everyone else so that I could catch up to them."

I finally stop to take a breath, and Hisao quickly gets his thought out. "It didn't work, did it?"

He guessed where I was headed, although I suppose it was pretty obvious. I sigh, letting my shoulders sag. "Nope. They all graduated a few months after I came back, and then the next year they were all in middle school, and they'd all moved on for good. I saw them once in a while, but they all had new groups of friends, new clubs to be in, and I was the outsider. It was just another piece of the puzzle for me, another thing that convinced me that it was better not to get close to anyone, because one way or the other, they'd eventually leave you behind. So, I decided I would just keep on running."

Hisao leans back against the wall in a way that looks really comfortable. I take the hint and lean myself, putting my shoulder against his. He smiles slightly, his eyes half-open, and says, "In a way, I guess I should thank them, because I might never have met you if you didn't."

I laugh at that, but it reminds me of something weird. "Hey, Hisao, you know how Rin always talks about Kamisaka – or, well, you know, the 'blind boy in the art club'?"

"Yeah?"

"I heard once that she used to have a similar way of talking about me," I say, nestling myself a little closer to him and putting my head on his shoulder. "When we first met, she had trouble remembering my name, so she'd say 'there is a girl, on the track team; she has no legs'. At first, I kinda liked it, because I liked having that kind of image. I didn't want people to see me as Emi Ibarazaki, because if they did I thought they might get too close to me, you know?"

"Mmm," Hisao mumbles noncommittally. As a result, his shoulder receives a commitment from my fist. "Ow!"

"Pay attention, Hisao! This is important!"

"Okay, okay!" He turns to look at me, and I feel his arm wrap around me, and he begins gently stroking my back. Now it's my turn to have trouble keeping my attention on what I'm saying.

"Hahhhh, so, somewhere along the line, I realized I wasn't just running out on the track. I was pretty much running, period. It's kinda strange, because I would wonder in the back of my mind whether I only ran because Dad ran. At the same time, it was when Dad died that I started running away from everything." I laugh softly and kiss Hisao's cheek. "I guess you could say that you starting to run with me was what got me to stop running."

"You're starting to sound like Rin again," Hisao mumbles. "If you were going to do that, you should've waited until I was wide awake." I start to raise my fist again, and Hisao sits up and starts laughing. "Sorry, I couldn't resist."

Not feeling like expending too much energy right now, I let my arm drop and finish my thought. "The thing is, now I've got another reason to keep running for real."

"Oh? And what's that?" Hisao teases.

I smile wickedly back at him. "How else am I gonna make sure that you keep your promise to stay with me?"

Hisao grins, and then we start kissing again. Unfortunately, before we get too far, he stops and pulls away. "We're...um...not doing anything here, are we?"

Although I wasn't thinking that, it suddenly sounds like a fun idea, so I give him a lewd grin. "Something wrong with that, Hisao?"

"Um, yeah," he says while catching his breath. "I'm not sure how I'll react if we happen to get caught."

Damn it, he's right, isn't he?

My face falls, and I do my best to avoid pouting. I knew going in that this might be tricky like this, so I can't exactly complain. "Still too soon, I guess, huh?" The look on Hisao's face makes me feel even worse, because I can tell he feels bad about it. I quickly grin back at him. "Actually, I should probably go do some packing for tomorrow. I won't have time tonight, after all."

Hisao looks a little surprised at that. "So...you're coming after all?"

"Of course I am!" I shout, probably loud enough for anyone on campus to hear. "I promised, didn't I? Besides," I add with a wink, "you don't think I'd let you go off by yourself now, do you?"

Hisao looks entirely relieved at that. "Yeah, that's true." After a pause, he continues, "You know, I should probably give Lilly a call to make sure Hanako's doing all right."

"Way to ruin the mood, Hisao," I say with a theatrical sigh as I get to my feet. "Geez, Iwanako, Lilly, Hanako...how am I supposed to keep up with all these girls who confessed to you, anyway?" For a moment, Hisao looks at me sheepishly, then I let out a huge laugh to make sure he knows I wasn't serious. He finally lets out a nervous laugh of his own, and I add, "Still worried about her, huh?"

"Well..." he starts, but I interrupt him.

"Eh, I can't really blame you, but she looked fine when I talked to her yesterday. I'm sure she'll be okay eventually."

Hisao sighs, leaning heavily against the wall again. "I hope so. I just hope she's not retreating into herself again. It just felt like she should have taken my rejection a lot harder than she did."

"Ego bruised a little, Hisao?" I ask with a grin.

"Heh, maybe," he replies, blushing and squirming a little.

Keep that up, Hisao, and I'll never be able to stay mad at you.

"In that case, I'll just have to massage it a little later," I say, leering. Hisao chuckles as he finally pushing himself onto his feet, and the two of us start on our way back to the dorms. When we get to the entrance to the boys' dorm, I give him a quick peck on the lips. "See ya later, Hisao!" I say, and take a couple of quick steps before I remember something. Turning around, I ask, "Oh, can I ask you a favor?"

Hisao, his hand on the door handle, replies, "Yeah, what is it?"

"Umm...when you call Lilly, could you ask her...um...ifshecouldstartmytutoringsoon?"

Hisao blinks a couple of times, probably trying to make sense of my blurt. "Didn't you say you had her number already?"

Looking away while dragging my sneaker across the sidewalk, I say, "Well, yeah, but I'm not sure I can just call her out of the blue. She seemed kinda surprised when I brought it up a few days ago, so I'm not sure if she was really okay with the idea. That's why I asked her to call me..." Hisao starts to chuckle as I explain, and I say, "Hey, I did say I was still working on the patience thing!" which only makes him laugh harder. I don't mind, because it means he's not feeling down anymore, so I wait for him to come back before continuing. "So I figured, you know her really well, maybe you could ask for me?" I turn on the full pout and continue, "Besides, if you're going to keep calling your ex-girlfriend, you could at least help me out, too."

Fortunately for me, Hisao hasn't built up too much immunity to that yet, as he looks away with reddening cheeks. "Hahhhh, yeah, okay, I'll ask. But I'm also asking if it's okay for you to call her while I'm at it so you can't use this against me again!"

I switch quickly to a big grin and reply, "Sounds good to me, Hisao! See you down at the bus stop at five!" Hisao mutters something that sounds vaguely positive, so I turn around and run the rest of the way to the girls' dorm. I do feel slightly bad about foisting this off onto Hisao, but I wasn't lying when I told him I wasn't really comfortable calling Lilly myself. Still, she's the only one I know who might be able to help me overcome the head start Hisao has on me so that maybe, just maybe, I'll have a shot at getting into the same school as him.

I've finally got this second chance in my hands, so I need to keep hold of it for as long as I can, right?

I get back to my hallway and I catch sight of Rin's closed door. I've got her lunch in my bag from the cafeteria, but when I check the door it's locked. I'm a little surprised, since she was up most of the night working on her thing for Hanako, but I leave the food by her door and continue up the hall to my room. I reach into my bag again and fish out the new batch of university brochures I picked up, adding them to the pile on the right side of my desk. I need to look into as many of these as I can, because I still don't know where Hisao might be thinking about going. I know I've got no chance at getting into Todai or Tohoku or anything, so if he winds up at one of those, something close enough to see him as much as possible will have to do.

Just as I'm starting to pack for my visit to Hisao's parents' house, my phone rings. I look at the number, and I'm a little shocked to see that Lilly is calling me.

Damn you, Hisao.

A little hesitantly, I answer the call. "Hello?"

"Good afternoon, Emi, it's Lilly."

"Yeah, I saw..." I wince at having said that word, but it's probably better to just keep going. "So, I'm guessing Hisao asked you to call me," I say, not trying to hide the edge in my voice.

Lilly passes it off with a laugh. "No, actually, when he mentioned that you wanted to start studying soon, I decided to call you myself."

That sends a shiver down my spine. She wasn't really serious about the idea, so maybe she wants to call it off? "Yeah, well, I've got a lot of catching up to do," I say, forcing a laugh of my own. "After that English test, I was lucky to avoid supplementary lessons, but, well, I have a reason to be serious now." I've never tried using the pout on Lilly, but it's now or never. "I'd understand if you wanted to say no, but I really hope you won't."

"Actually," she says, sounding extra-formal, "I've decided to accept the position as your tutor."

"Seriously?"

"Yes, seriously," she says, and it sounds like she's smiling.

"That's...well, first of all, thank you!"

"You're quite welcome, Emi. And what might the second of all be?"

"Heh...actually, I hope you don't mind me asking this, but why?"

"Hmmm...I suppose I don't mind telling you. After all, given how close you are to two people I consider to be family, I probably should become...more familiar with you." I chuckle at the pun, and Lilly continues. "I don't know if I've told you this, or if perhaps Hisao has, but ever since I was a young girl I've wanted to be a teacher. Moreover, you could say that it was understood by everyone around me that my becoming a teacher was a foregone conclusion." I hear Lilly take a deep breath before continuing, "However, due to certain recent events, I've lately been having second thoughts about my chosen path. That's why, if you don't mind, I'd like the opportunity to perform a little experiment of my own."

At first I'm distracted by her stealing lines from Hisao, but then it dawns on me. "I'm not su—ohhhhhhh! So, I'd be your guinea pig or something?"

"Well, it doesn't sound quite so innocuous when you put it that way," Lilly says, sounding like she's pouting herself. It makes me wonder if Hisao's actually got a thing for girls who do that. Not that anybody's going to beat me at it, but I might have to keep that in mind. "I just thought it would be polite to let you know in advance that I would have something of an ulterior motive in tutoring you."

"Heh, that's fine. It's not like I've got anyone else that I can count on – and before you say Hisao, I know myself too well not to take the risk of that kind of distraction."

"I understand. After all, you wouldn't be the first girl to be distracted by her tutor." She says that part in a weird voice, but before I can ask about it, she laughs and says, "I'm sorry, but then I also know how distracting Hisao can be." I can't help but groan, but I suppose I asked for that, so I grit my teeth and push out another laugh. "In any case, thank you for being willing to accommodate me. Hisao said that you were impatient to get started, but I was hoping to stay where I am for a bit longer. Would next Saturday be soon enough?"

That's right, Hisao mentioned that Lilly was staying with family nearby. "Yeah, I guess that's fine," I reply. Then another thought strikes me. "Hey, Lilly, if the teaching thing doesn't work out for you, do you have a backup plan?"

"After a fashion," Lilly says, sounding a different kind of weird than before. "After talking to my father, I think I might take a year off to do some traveling."

That's not something I thought I'd hear Lilly say. "Huh, the kind of thing where you go and find yourself or something? Wouldn't that be tough to do on your own?"

"It probably will, which is why I hope I can find someone to come with me. I'd ask my sister if I thought she would do it, but she seems less inclined to be spontaneous these days."

I didn't even know Lilly had a sister until now. I wonder what she's like. I have a feeling I know where she's going with this, though. "Someone to go with you, huh?" I say teasingly. "You aren't by any chance talking about Hanako, are you?"

"My, my, that's quite an impertinent question, Emi," she says, and I can just picture her putting her hand to her mouth and tittering at it. "I think we've strayed a bit too far from the original topic," she says, which is enough to confirm that I was right on the money. "The next thing we need to do is determine what subjects you need help in – besides English, of course." I have to force myself to believe that she didn't say that just to needle me. "What are you considering for your field of study?"

That part, at least, I've been thinking about for a while, even before I met Hisao. "Physical therapy is probably my best shot for a program, or at least so Nurse tells me. If not, maybe something like sports medicine."

"That's a good idea, I think. The demand for physical therapists is only going to increase as Japan's population continues to age, so if you can get a license you should be able to do well. However, since it's a medical field, you're going to have to do particularly well on the science exam, which is not exactly my area of expertise. Are you certain you don't want Hisao to teach you?"

Just thinking about it again gets me fidgeting. "Yeah, I'm definitely sure. It's not just for me, you know – I don't want him to have to think about that stuff when we're together, either, especially since he's going to be stressing out over exams himself pretty soon."

Lilly hums a bit vaguely, then says, "Maybe we should approach this from another direction. If, for some reason, you don't pass the entrance exams, do you think you would have any chance of getting a track scholarship?"

My entire body cringes. "You really know how to hit a girl where it hurts, Lilly."

"I'm not sure I understand."

I take a deep breath, because this is one of those things that I never want to have to say out loud. I'm only doing it now because there's something bigger at stake than my stupid pride. "Okay, I know I say I'm the Fastest Thing on No Legs – which I am – but...well...the truth is...I don't even think I'm the best runner among the girls here at Yamaku. Yeah, I know, I know, I win every event at everything, but that's because I live on the track, and I've worked hard for every damn thing I've won." I sigh again, and in a much smaller voice I say, "Even with all that, I just barely beat Miura. She's got the natural talent for this, but she doesn't put in the work, like, ever! It's so damn frustrating sometimes, that..." Before I start ranting about that again, I stop myself. "Sorry, Lilly. I probably said more than I needed to, huh?"

"I understand," Lilly says gently. "I'll forget I ever heard that, then." I sigh in relief. If Miki ever got wind that I said that, I'd never live it down. "Still, since you asked me, I'll also ask you: What will you do if you don't get into a school that meets your criteria?"

"Probably the same thing I was planning before and just find a job that'll start me towards getting a license. On the other hand, I could just be a ronin for a year like you." I can say that playfully because don't really mean it. There are several reasons why it would leave a bad taste – one reason in particular, which I mutter under my breath. "It wouldn't be the first time I had to take a year off, after all."

"Is that so?"

Heh, I should have expected her to have good hearing.

"Yeah," I answer with a heavy sigh. "After the accident where I lost my legs I had to take a year off to get myself back up and running." I'm kinda surprised to even hear myself say that to Lilly. The only other people I've told that are Kenta and Hisao. "Nurse has been working with me ever since then. He's the one who got me interested in helping the track team out with some of their therapy, so I guess you could say that's why I'm interested in it."

"I think I understand. Under the circumstances, perhaps it would be easiest to talk about this further when we meet. I can prepare some worksheets in various subjects to get an idea of where you stand, and then we can take it from there."

"Sounds good," I reply, thankful for the exit route Lilly just gave me. "I don't know about anything else, but you definitely sound like a teacher to me."

Lilly giggles a bit. "Thank you, I think."

"You're welcome!" I say, ignoring her sarcasm. I get ready to end the call, but there's something that's been bugging me since we started talking. "Lilly, I've got another one of those questions you might not want to answer. Why did you decide to have me be the one who helped you figure out what you want to do and not Hanako?"

"You're right, I'd rather not answer that," Lilly says, sounding like she's trying really hard to be firm. "I can only say that, for the time being, it would be best if Hanako was not in the position of being my student." Yeah, now that she says that, it makes a lot of sense. Hanako's got that complex where she thought Lilly treated her like her daughter, and playing student might short-circuit her getting over that. "So, for now, I will be focusing my efforts on you, so be prepared. I won't be going easy on you."

"Yeah, I'll do my best," I reply, at least this one time sincerely. "So, I guess I'll see you on Saturday, then."

Lilly laughs a bit, saying, "Well, it seems there's at least one person who listens when I say not to mind their speech around me." I open my mouth to apologize, then realize that's the opposite of what she just said she wants and close it again. "I believe I'm looking forward to it."

I smile a little and reply, "Sounds good! Later, Lilly!"

"Take care, Emi." After we both hang up, I start to wonder if this might be what it's like to have an older sister. Maybe Lilly's sister is younger than she is? That would probably explain a lot. Still, I'm the older one between the two of us, as far as I know. I just don't think I can picture Lilly being anyone's younger sister.

As I sort that one out in my head, I return to packing. I get about halfway through when I hear someone out in the hall. Pricking my ears up, I recognize the ritual sounds of Rin opening her door. I still haven't told her that I'm going to be gone for a while because even when she's been here lately, she's been ignoring me to work on that weird-looking thing for Hanako. So, I drop my packing and head out into the hall to catch her before she goes into her zone. Seeing that she's left her door open, I call out, "Ri~n," before pushing her door open the rest of the way.

At least she picked up her lunch. That means she's probably not too deep in yet.

When I walk in, the first thing I notice is that Hanako's painting is gone. There's definitely a better chance she'll hear me now. "I wanted to let you know that I'll be gone for the next day or two. I'll be in the city tonight, so if you need anything, you better let me know." Rin doesn't respond to me right away, so I walk over and position myself so that I'm facing her. "Rin?"

She stares back at me with eyes that look a little thoughtful but a little more lost. It's not a particularly unusual Rin expression, but it's one I don't remember seeing lately, so it worries me. I tilt my head, waiting to see if she'll answer me. The eventual answer is, "I'm not sure she understood."

"Um...not sure who understood what?"

"Hanako. Unless she's Mystery Toilet Girl again. I thought she was Hanako, but maybe she isn't after all."

I'm not going to try and figure out anything beyond the first word of that. "Okay, but isn't not understanding pretty much the usual for you? I mean, I didn't think you expected people to understand you anymore."

Rin shrugs, then wanders over to her chair and sits down facing her easel. "Hisao did," she says, picking up a brush and bringing it over to a jar of paint, but then changing her mind and putting it back down. "Mystery Toilet Hanako spent a lot of time around him, so I thought if I went out onto that branch, then maybe it wouldn't break. I'm still not sure it did. Maybe it didn't. Maybe Hisao didn't understand. I can't go out on another one until I am."

Sometimes it's hard to tell what kind of mood Rin is in, but not now. She's definitely frustrated, in a way that she isn't when it's just a matter of not knowing what to paint, like when she did the Yamaku mural. This feels more like when there's something she can't do. "Yeah, okay, but whether Hisao gets it or not, I don't think he can help Hanako, at least not right now."

"I didn't think so," she says, sounding a little hollow. Looking at her closely, she looks washed out, like everything's caught up to her.

"You should probably get some sleep, Rin. You look terrible."

Rin's head jolts up. "No, when I look at you, you're there." I roll my eyes, and then I see Rin nod her head firmly and pick herself up out of her chair. "I think that I need to think about it, but I don't think I can think about thinking here."

Rin walks out the door and starts down the hallway. I have a feeling I know where she's headed, so I just let her go, but I call after her, "Make sure to tell Misaki if you need anything, okay?" Rin pauses momentarily, so at least she heard me. She nods without saying anything or turning around, then she continues off down the hall.

Yep, worry tree.

Closing and locking Rin's door behind me, I start to wonder if she might have the right idea. My own head could stand a little clearing right now, and it's been a while since I did any extra running. Running for the sake of running is something I usually enjoy, but lately it seems like it hasn't done me much good. Maybe it's a side effect of feeling like the universe has my back again, but I think today's going to be different. I've gotta take these feelings when I get 'em, right?

I quickly change into my running gear and head down to the track. It's still early enough to be pretty hot, so I stop by a vending machine and buy a couple of drinks. Since it's been a while, I decide to do a couple of extra warm-up laps. When I finally feel comfortable enough to kick it into high gear, there's something different about the air that's flowing around me. It's almost like, if I closed my eyes, there'd be...

...something familiar running next to me, but somehow different...

Hey?

Dad?

Thanks again for teaching me so much about life, and especially for getting me into running. I finally found someone to run with that I enjoy myself with almost as much as I did with you. You've seen him out here with me, right? I know you're always watching when I run, because if you weren't I might've spent that whole night on this track crying. So, you've met Hisao. I'll bring him to visit you someday, maybe on the next anniversary, but you already know what he means to me.

So, Dad, I'm not just running to remember you anymore. I'm running for myself, and for Hisao. I may not really be the Fastest Thing on No Legs, but Hisao says that inside of me is the power to light up all of Japan. I think that might be even better. So, please, keep watching over me when I run. Watch over Hisao, too, if you can. We might be moving into the future without knowing what we're doing, but I think if you can do that for us, we'll be just fine.

I love you, Dad. Keep on running.


====

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Last edited by dewelar on Fri Jul 10, 2015 3:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Developments, Chapter 59 (Part 2)

Post by dewelar » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:21 pm

I start cooling down, and I don't even know how many laps I did today. I'm drenched in sweat, but I feel really, really good right now, and it's not just the usual runner's high. I let the feeling wash over me for a few laps before reluctantly going over to the bleachers to grab a drink. I don't know exactly how things are going to go with Mom tonight, but at this moment, I feel like nothing's going to stop me. Ever.

Unfortunately, I still have things to do before that, so I have to head back to the dorm. I polish off my drink, sit on the bleachers and take off my running legs. Since I don't have time for another visit to the nurse, I make sure to do a thorough check before putting the other ones on. Everything looks nice and clear, so I finish the switch, pack everything up again and start walking.

Once I get back, I take the fastest shower I can under the circumstances. Even then, by the time I get back to my room it's already four-thirty, so it's a good thing I'm fast even without my running legs. I think about packing them, because I'm pretty sure we both might need a run while we're there, and there's got to be a track somewhere near his house, doesn't there? But I'll need them for our morning run, so I'll just pack them afterwards.

I finish getting dressed, wrangle my hair, and after taking one last look at Rin's door – still locked – I power-walk through the girls' dorm. When I get outside, I break into a run down the path to the main gate. Sure enough, Hisao is already there, and he definitely looks good. He somehow even got his hair to behave, which is almost enough to get me to forgive that sweater-vest of his. It may not be a suit, but it's still worth looking at. "Hey, Hisao!" I call out to him. "Been waiting long?"

"No, I just got here myself." I was expecting the usual teasing for being late, but he sounded serious. That's no good, because I need to keep the mood as light as I can so I don't think about this too much. I was already starting to tense up again after having to rush to get here, so I need to try and turn this around.

"The bus didn't come yet, did it? If it did, we could always run to my house," I say with a wink.

"My heart's overclocking already," Hisao says with a sigh, "so I think I'll pass."

Okay, he doesn't sound any happier, but at least he's trying.

"Nervous, Hisao?"

"A little, yeah," he replies, staring up the road. Probably hoping the bus'll get here soon – that's what I'd be doing if I was him. "Like I said, this is the first time I've met the parents of a girl I was dating. I spoke with Lilly's mother briefly a couple of times, but I never even talked to Iwanako's parents."

"Yeah, I guess it's kind of a big deal, isn't it? Hajime never met Mom, either, but that was..." My voice trails off as I think about what might have happened if I had brought Hajime home. Knowing what I know now, I'm glad I never did. Hisao really should get to be my first in something, after all.

Fortunately, the bus comes around the side of the hill to stop me from thinking about that any more. It doesn't stop the nervous feeling that had been building already, though. By the time we get to the bottom of the hill, all the clearing of my head that I did this afternoon has been un-cleared, and I feel even worse now because there's nothing left that I can do about it. I can't stop fidgeting, I keep knocking my legs against the seat in front of us, and I feel like I can't even talk. Next to me Hisao is staring straight out the window, not saying a word either. I can see his eyes reflected in it, and all I see in them is seriousness.

I wonder if tomorrow will be easier or harder than this.

When we get off the bus, I feel like if I don't change the mood, disaster is imminent. As we walk down the street, I force my mouth to start working again. "Don't expect anything fancy, Hisao. Mom doesn't really play hostess very much, so this'll be pretty informal. I mean, at least try to relax?"

"Heh, you should try doing that yourself," he says teasingly, and I elbow him in the ribs lightly. Hisao acting a little more normally takes a little weight off of me, too. "Seriously, my first time meeting my girlfriend's mother, your first time bringing your boyfriend home, and you think I'm going to be calm? I just hope I get out in one piece."

I bite back my retort, because thinking about that is still a little sensitive for me. "Well, I get my brilliant personality from her," I say with an appropriately brilliant grin, "so as long as you can handle two of me you'll be fine!"

Hisao rolls his eyes as we turn off the main road. As we approach my house I put my arm around Hisao's waist and give him a squeeze, as much to reassure both of us as anything. Hisao looks at me and smiles, so I think my effort paid off. I knock on the front door and say, "Hey, Mom! Open up! We're here!"

Mom comes out almost immediately – I expected that, since she was probably standing right there in the kitchen waiting to pounce – and says, "You know, people normally wait for a few minutes before they start shouting at the door."

She winks at me, and out of the corner of my eye I see Hisao looking at Mom. I expected that, too – even at her age, Mom's still a bombshell beauty like her daughter. I give his hand a squeeze to remind him I'm here, then reply, "And most mothers say hello to their daughters instead of scolding them right away."

Mom smiles at that. "Of course. Welcome home, dear. Please, come in, both of you." The three of us go into the kitchen and she closes the door behind us. With the usual teasing out of the way, Mom focuses her attention on my boyfriend. "So, you're Hisao Nakai. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Between my daughter and your school nurse, I almost feel as though I know you already."

Hisao swallows loud enough for me to hear before saying, "It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Mrs. Ibarazaki."

"So, since Emi's been training you, have you picked up her appetite as well?"

Hisao looks a bit embarrassed, and I frown at Mom. However, he bounces back quickly. "Well, I might have, if she wasn't always stealing my food when we have lunch."

Mom laughs as I roll my eyes at him. "I can already see why you like this one, Emi," she says. "If he can run with you and tease you like that, he's definitely boyfriend material."

"Well, yeah, but I didn't need you to tell me that."

Mom laughs again, and then leads us into the dining room. Hisao's eyes pop out again. I can see why, as it's definitely a serious spread. "Wow, you made enough to feed an army here," I comment.

"It sounds like Hisao might need it," Mom says with a giggle. "Emi, could you help me bring out the drinks?"

"Sure, Mom," I say, trying to sound carefree. As expected, she's wasting no time in wanting to talk to me.

Once we're in the kitchen, she asks, "Dear, I just want to ask you one thing: Does Hisao know about what we discussed the other night?"

I lower my head and reply, "Yeah, I talked to him about it. Actually, I've talked to him about a lot of things – even about Dad."

Mom doesn't say anything for a moment, but I can feel the weight of her eyes on me. "In that case, I won't hold anything back tonight. Is that all right with you?"

Reflexively, I almost deny it, and especially after what happened at lunch I hate myself for that a little. "Yeah, it's all right. I wouldn't have brought him here if it wasn't."

Looking back up at Mom, her expression looks a little weird. "In that case, let's not keep your boyfriend waiting." I'm not sure what to make of that, but she picks up one of the two trays on the counter and goes back to the dining room, so I follow her. As she pours our drinks, she says, "I must admit, Hisao, of all the times for Emi to invite you over, I wouldn't have expected it to be tonight."

Hisao sneaks a glance at me as he shifts uncomfortably in his seat. I nod to tell him it's okay. "Under the circumstances, I was a little surprised, too. If you feel like I might be getting in the way of something tonight..."

"Not at all," Mom says smoothly. "If Emi wants you to be here, then I won't argue. Actually, after all this time, it makes me very happy to know that she's finally found someone she feels she can trust."

Hisao relaxes, but only a little. "So am I, Mrs. Ibarazaki. I can say without hesitation that the feeling is mutual."

Mom smiles slightly. "Please, call me Meiko. If my daughter is going to treat you as part of her family already, then I think I can do the same."

I nearly spit out my milk as she says that. At first I think she's moving awfully fast, but when I stop to think about it so am I. After all, I invited Hisao to be here when I'm likely to be having a very personal conversation with my mother. I don't think it was a mistake, exactly, but if Mom starts going off in some weird direction I may decide otherwise.

Finally, Mom sits down, and we start dinner. As we eat, our conversation veers from normal to weird and back again. That has my brain going back and forth, and it makes me wonder, even though I want Hisao here, do I really want him right here when I talk to Mom? So, while we're cleaning up, I pull him aside, taking him out to the walkway in front of the house.

"What's up?" he asks.

Lowering my voice, I say, "Listen, Hisao, I think...I need to talk to Mom by myself after all." Hisao raises an eyebrow, but thankfully doesn't say anything. "This might get pretty ugly on both sides, but for once in my life I don't want to hold anything back from Mom. I don't know if I can do that if you're there, but...knowing you're...um, nearby will help. If you don't want to stick around, I understand, since I kinda roped you into this in the first place, so just tell me."

Hisao sighs heavily. "No, it's okay. Actually, I kind of expected something like this, but I was ready either way." He puts a hand on my shoulder, and I let out a breath. "So, yeah, if you need me, I'll be right here."

I pull myself up and kiss Hisao on the cheek. "I know, and thanks," I say. "I don't want Mom holding anything back from me, either, but if things get too ugly, we may need to beat a hasty retreat."

"I was ready for that, too," he says with a chuckle, "but to where? Back to Yamaku?"

I grin at him. "Hey, I still have some secrets I haven't gotten around to telling you! One of them is the place we'll be going if things go sideways. I was planning to show it to you someday, but I'd kinda rather not have to do it today."

"Heh, understood. In that case, good luck."

"Thanks!" I say, opening the door to the house again. I hope I don't need luck, because I think I might have used all of mine up lately. After one last look back at Hisao, I close the door. I take a couple of deep breaths, ready for whatever course Mom takes with this. As I walk into the dining room, I see her sitting at the table, hands folded in front of her, and I think she's read the mood, so I just charge out of the starting blocks. "Okay, Mom," I say softly. "I'm ready to do this."

"I suppose I am, too," she responds. Mom turns to face me, and she looks sad for some reason. "Before you say anything, dear, there's something I want to tell you." She takes a deep breath before continuing, "I know you think I didn't appreciate what you did for me in the months after you got out of the hospital. I know that what I said the other day probably did nothing to change your mind about that, but please give me the opportunity to do so again."

And here I was, thinking I was going to be the one apologizing.

"Mom, I..." I start to say, but when I see the look on her face I stop. "Okay, go ahead."

Mom straightens up, looking directly at me. "The other day, I said I might not even be here without Goro. What I didn't say was that without you, without knowing that you could take care of yourself, I wouldn't have been able to rely on Goro, either. Knowing that was what allowed me to make sure I took care of myself."

Mom looks up at the ceiling for a moment. "When we lost your father, I felt like I'd lost myself completely. I didn't want to be a burden to my parents, and I couldn't impose on Kenichi's. They lived so far away, and I didn't want to force you to move and lose your life here after...everything you'd already lost. When you got out of the hospital, I saw that you had strength that I didn't." Mom smiles sadly as she says, "To be honest, I was a little envious of that. That was your father's influence within you, and I thought because of that, we could both move on."

"By the time I was myself again, I started..." Tears start to form at the corners of Mom's eyes, so I reach out and take her hand. "I started to see the cost of that strength on you. You were closed off, and you'd stopped letting people get close to you. I could even feel you pulling away from me a little. I wanted so much for you to rely on me, but you wouldn't. For a while, it felt like I'd lost you, too, and I almost gave up entirely." I gasp slightly, but Mom squeezes my hand. "I've never told you this, but shortly after you entered Yamaku, I broke down and bought myself four bottles of sake. I don't know how he knew, but when I got home Goro was standing there in the doorway, waiting for me." Mom sighs, laughing bitterly at the same time. "That was probably the second time he saved my life."

"Mom..."

"I think it was also the time I realized...well, he made sure I knew, without any doubt, that I had reasons to keep going. Maybe it took someone on the outside to see it, but he could tell that sooner or later, you'd come out from behind those walls you'd built around yourself." Mom smiles through her tears, and now there's nothing left of the feelings I had a little while ago. "Sure enough, he was right. Seeing you with Hisao today, it's obvious how you feel about each other. More than anything else, that makes me feel like all the struggles we've been through to get here have been worthwhile. I'm very, very proud of you, Emi – of everything you've done for me, and of everything you've become. No matter how much I might tease you, always remember that."

Something inside me feels both great and lousy after I hear that. "You know, Mom, I've wanted to hear that for seven years. I mean, I always kinda knew you felt that way, but this is the first time you've said something like that out loud. It's just..." I stop talking for a second and laugh bitterly. "It's just that your timing stinks. I was coming here because I wanted to apologize for what I said the other day, because..."

I suddenly feel like Rin, because the words I want to say aren't coming out right for some reason. At least Mom's not being impatient or finishing my sentences thinking she knows what I'm going to say. I take another deep breath, and get a handle on my mouth again. "...because I feel like I'd gotten stuck like I was after the accident. I always talk about wanting to live in the moment, but maybe...maybe that's the moment I was living in all this time instead of the one I'm in, you know? It just took until now to figure it out. But, see, that's the problem! As soon as I start living in the moment I'm supposed to be living in, I start thinking about what's going to happen to you!" I can feel my mouth starting to take off, and I can't stop it. "I mean, I'm not even sure about me and I've been trying to figure out my own future and what's going to happen to me and Hisao and college and life but I don't know how much of that I can do because I might need to help you and—"

"Emi," Mom says quietly, with that half-smile on her face, the maddening one that says she knows something I don't. "It's all right. I'll be fine, so don't worry about me."

"Mom, how can you say that?! I can't help but be worried about you! How are you going to keep this house? You're not going to be able to afford it once I leave, or if I don't then when I'm of age next year! I'm—"

"Dear," she replies, gently but with a slight strain in her voice. "I'm glad you're thinking about that kind of thing, and I'm very happy that you've always been worried about me, through every moment of these last seven years. Just believe me when I say that I'm going to be all right."

"But how can I? Everything you just said is why I need to make sure! I'm not leaving this house until you give me a good reason why I should think you'll be fine on your own!"

Mom sighs, sounding exhausted. "Because, Emi," she says quietly. "I won't be on my own."

"But..." I start, but then my brain engages and stops my mouth. "Wh-what do you mean you won't be on your own? If I'm not here, then..."

"Emi," Mom says sternly, and my mouth snaps shut. She only does this when it's important, and I know better than to not listen. "I didn't want to tell you this yet, because I wasn't sure how you'd take it. I know how much you loved your father, and..."

"Hang on, what's Dad got to do with this?"

Mom half-smiles and says, "You could say he's got everything to do with it. Before I say anything else, I want to confirm something."

"It's okay, Mom. That's what I was saying earlier – Hisao knows about the accident, about Dad, and..." I take a deep breath before finishing that thought. "...and if there's anything he doesn't know about me, that's fine, too. I don't want to run away from things anymore, whether it's with you or with him."

Suddenly, Mom breaks out in a satisfied smile, like someone lifted a huge weight off of her. Well, I guess that's what I just did. "If that's true, then I shouldn't worry about telling you this after all. In fact, why don't you go ahead and invite Hisao back in? I think he might be interested to hear this, too."

Now Mom really has me confused, but also curious. "Okay," I say, getting up and walking quickly over to open the door. Like the gentleman he is, Hisao is still standing out by the street, so I walk out to him. "Hisao, you can come inside now."

Seeing my expression, Hisao raises an eyebrow. "Are you sure it's safe?" he asks, I think at least partially as a joke.

"No, I'm not," I say honestly, "but she said there's something she wants to tell me, and wants you to hear, too."

"I see. Under the circumstances I can't exactly say no, can I?"

"No, that probably wouldn't be a good idea," I say with a nervous smile. Returning to the house, we come back into the dining room and sit down across from Mom. "Okay, Mom," I say, looking her straight in the eyes. "So what's this thing you want to tell us?"

"I hope you'll forgive an old woman's foolishness," Mom starts, which is usually a good sign. She looks back and forth between us, then sighs, "Both of you. Since the accident, I've never seen Emi put as much faith in anyone as she has in you, Hisao." She smiles wryly as she adds, "Not even me. For the second time today, I'm going to have faith in her decision."

I'm still lost, and even Hisao's eyes look like they're going in circles. "I don't know if I'm worthy of all that," he says carefully, "but I'll do my best to live up to it."

"That's a very good answer, Hisao," Mom adds with a light laugh. I don't know what she's thinking, but right now everything seems to be going pretty well, so even I'm not stupid enough to open my mouth. "So, here it is. Emi, I don't know if I'll ever really get over your father's death, but I know that it's well past time for me to move forward with my life. I probably should have done it sooner, but after the mistake I'd made before, I couldn't bring myself to do it until I knew you were moving forward, too." Mom looks directly at Hisao and says, "I have to thank you for the part you played in helping her do that."

"I'm...not sure how much credit I can take for that," Hisao says with a super-serious look on his face. "I really only know how much Emi has done for me, which is a lot. I can only hope I've been good for her, too."

I reach out my hand and squeeze Hisao's, a grin on my own face. "You can go ahead and thank him, Mom. I may never hear the end of it, though."

At my wink, Mom suddenly laughs. "You know, if I didn't think it would insult you, I'd mention how much what you just said reminds me of myself." Remembering how she compared Hisao to Dad, I can't help but groan again, lowering my head until it hits the table. "So, since you've found someone that's gotten you moving forward, then you shouldn't mind if I say that the same thing has happened to me." I lift my head when she says that, and my eyes go wide. My heart starts picking up steam, and I hope like crazy that I know what she's going to say next.

Okay, universe...if I'm right, I owe you ten times over what I already do.

So, make me right, you got it?!


"Actually," Mom continues, getting up and walking toward the hallway, "I really shouldn't say that I found him, so much as he's been around all along, and it just took us a while to figure things out."

This isn't a trick, right, universe? You're not going to snatch the rug out from under me now, right?

Mom leaves the room for a moment, and I hear the sound of a drawer opening and closing. The anticipation gets to me, and I stand up, my eyes glued to the doorway. When she comes back, I can't help but notice something on her finger that wasn't there before. "You see, Goro and I are going to get married."

Even though my legs aren't made for jumping, I don't think I touch the floor before throwing my arms around my mother and hugging the stuffing out of her like I haven't done in ages. Through my tears of joy, I shout what strike me as the most appropriate words: "IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!" I feel Mom hugging me back, and I try to dial back the decibels as I say right next to her ear, "Do you know how long I've been waiting for you two to get together?"

Mom pulls back slightly to look at me. "Waiting? For..."

I smile through my tears. "Come on, Mom – how long has he been a part of our lives now? I already kinda think of him as part of the family. I mean, some of the things we talk about aren't exactly the kind of things a father and daughter talk about, and I probably won't ever really think of him as "Dad" or anything, but I already know you two love each other. So, yeah, waiting! Now marry him already!"

Mom pulls away and throws her hands up in defeat. "Okay, I will!" I suddenly find myself laughing, and then Mom is too, and she hugs me even tighter than before. "Thank you so much, Emi. You don't know how happy this makes me."

Into the middle of all this, I hear a voice from behind me. "Um...excuse me..." says Hisao, sounding lost again. I'd almost forgotten he was here. "Are you talking about...Nurse?"

"Yes, Hisao," Mom says as she catches her breath. "I'm talking about Goro Kaneshiro, Yamaku's head nurse."

Hisao laughs nervously a little. "Um, I...guess I need to congratulate you, then."

Mom's grin gets bigger, and she separates from me and surprises Hisao by hugging him, too. "Thank you, Hisao," she says after letting him go.

Hisao starts getting a little red himself, causing me to start laughing again. "See, Mom? I told you he was a blusher!"

"So you did," Mom says as she finally starts wiping her face with her handkerchief. "Hisao, I'd like to ask you to please not tell anyone at Yamaku about this. I don't want this to cause any problems for Emi, so we weren't planning on telling anyone until after she graduates."

"Especially Hakamichi," I add. "I just know she'd find some way to make my life difficult over this."

Hisao gives me a sour look, then turns to Mom and says, "Don't worry, I won't say anything. That reminds me, we really should be getting back to Yamaku soon."

Mom glances at the clock. "Oh, dear, you're right, it is starting to get late. I don't think you'll miss curfew, but if you're worried you're welcome to sleep on the couch here."

As she says that, I realize that I haven't even told her our plans for tomorrow. This could be where things get ugly. "Um...actually, we need to get back to school and...er...finishpackingforatriptoTokyo."

Mom blinks a couple of times before saying, "Tokyo? Emi, why didn't you tell me about this?"

"Actually, I invited her," Hisao says. "After all, since Emi brought me here to meet you, I really should bring her to meet my parents."

Mom thinks for a moment, then gets a devilish look in her eye. I mentally prepare for the worst. "Oh, I see. In that case, Emi, how soon will I be getting grandchildren?"

"Ugh," I say, "it'll be a long, long time, okay?"

"Hold on, grandch—" Hisao starts to say, but then I see Mom wink at him, and he stops for a second. "Um, we...really should wait until we're done with school, after all," Hisao says, now knowingly adding fuel to the fire, "but you know, we don't have to. How many do you think you'll want?"

"Oh, at least half a dozen! You really should get started quickly, then, right?"

"Ohhh, I get it now," I say with a grin, trying to stop this conversation before my head explodes. "You're trying to get a whole year's worth of embarrassing me into one night, right? You just wait until we get back...and you!" I push Hisao playfully, and he almost falls out of his chair laughing. "You're supposed to be on my side here! Maybe we should double your routine tomorrow!"

"All right, all right!" Hisao says, unfortunately ducking away from me before I can inflict any further punishment. "Sorry, Mrs. Iba...Meiko, but I think we'd better get out of here while I'm still in one piece!"

Mom, who's still laughing herself, says, "In that case, Hisao, good luck! Take care on your way back, Emi," she calls after me as I'm pushing him out the door.

"We will! Good night, Mom!" I don't look back to see if she's watching, but I have a feeling she is, because it's what she does. Hisao and I are in high spirits as we make our way to the bus stop, teasing each other until we arrive. Still, there's something nagging at the back of my mind. For whatever reason, I can't quite grab a hold of everything that just happened, and my head is trying to deal with it all at once. Like, now that I've started to let people get close again, all the worrying I should have been doing is catching up with me. It feels like when I push myself a little too hard, and I can't quite catch my breath. It...doesn't feel quite right yet.

Hey, universe? Can you...slow down, just a little? Just for a while?

It's only after we've been on the bus for a few minutes that Hisao's voice pulls me back. "Hey, Emi, are you all right?"

"Um...Hisao? I...I'm not sure if I'm all right or not." Hisao looks at me with concern, and for once it doesn't bother me. "If it's okay with you, can I stay with you tonight? I just need to go back to my room and get some stuff, so..."

Hisao reaches across and puts his arm around my shoulders. "Yeah, of course." I lean into him, trying try to let the tension slip, but the ride just isn't long enough to do the trick. When the bus stops I jump to my feet and scramble off. Hisao quickly follows, asking, "You want me to walk you back to your dorm?"

"Nah, I'll be fine," I say, nudging him with my shoulder as we walk up the path. "I've done my share of walking this way at night, after all."

"I didn't mean that...I just meant, you know, for the company."

I smile despite myself. "It's fine, Hisao. I think I need to move around a little, you know? Besides, I'll be lying next to you before you know it."

"Looking forward to it," he replies, a little uncertainly. I hurry along back to the girls' dorm, and when I get to my room, I notice that Rin's door is still closed. I check, and it's unlocked, so she's at least back. I look over at Misaki's door, which is also closed, and a quick check of the common room tells me she's not there. It's just one more thing keeping me from settling down, but there's nothing I can do right now, so I make a mental note to call Misaki in the morning. I go into my room, grab my bag and my running legs and head for Hisao's room at top speed.

As usual during summer break, security is easily avoidable, so I arrive without any trouble. After a quick but passionate greeting, I set my bag down on the floor. Hisao looks a little uneasy himself, so I ask, "Something on your mind, Hisao?"

"Yeah, kind of," he replies. "Are you really sure you're ready for all this? Meeting my parents, my friends, and the girl who put me in the hospital?"

I stop for a moment to think about that. In a weird way, knowing Hisao is still unsure himself is kinda comforting. I take a deep breath before answering. "Yeah, I think I'm probably ready, at least as much as you were for tonight's dinner. I know I was flaking a little before, and, yeah, having all that in front of me is probably part of it. But you know what else?" I wrap my arms around Hisao's neck. "We faced tonight together, and I'm ready to face tomorrow together, too." Hisao smiles, and we kiss again. Then I add, "But after this, let's try not to spring this kind of thing on each other out of the blue, okay?"

"Agreed," Hisao says, pulling away from me to start unbuttoning his sweater-vest. "I don't think I really have much in the way of skeletons in my closet anymore. If I did, my mother will probably put them on full display about five seconds after we walk in the door."

I laugh a little at that. "You know, Hisao, the more I hear about your Mom, the more I think I'm going to like her."

Hisao finishes undressing and lies down. "Yeah, I think she'll like you, too, at least once she gets over the whole "you're taking my Hisao away" thing."

"Oh, so she's one of those, too, huh?" I say, rolling my eyes. As I remove my legs, I gesture toward the light. "You gonna turn that off?"

"Good idea," he says, rolling over and stretching his arm out to do so. "After all, we might not have the energy to do it after..."

I interrupt him before he finishes that thought. "Um...actually, Hisao, I think we should probably...um...abstain tonight."

Turning to me, he says, "You're not still mad about me wanting to see Iwanako, are you?"

I wave my hand in dismissal of the very suggestion. "Pffft, not at all. Trust me, Hisao, if I was still mad at you, you'd know it. For one thing, I wouldn't be here right now."

Hisao sinks down into his pillow, looking dejected. "Yeah, that's true. So, what did bring on this sudden bout of chastity?"

I can feel him trying to pout at me as I slide into bed next to him. I'm very sympathetic, but I do have a good reason. "With both of us feeling a little off, I don't want to take any chances. The last thing I need when I'm about to face your parents is to be meeting them at the hospital instead of your house."

Hisao's expression immediately switches to an apologetic one. "Yeah, I guess you have a point." He lies down, obviously frustrated, but probably not as much as I am. I can live with that, though, at least for tonight. What I can't live with is not feeling his warmth, so once he settles down I scoot over and nestle up against him, one arm across his chest. I feel him flinch a little as he says, "So, you're going to torture me now?" I stick my tongue out at him, and he surprises me by snatching it with his lips, turning it into a very, very tempting good-night kiss.

If this were any other time...

When we pull apart, I bury my face in his shoulder. "Jerk," I say with a giggle.

"Good night, Emi," he replies teasingly.

"Mmmmm...good night, Hisao," I tease right back. I lay there for a while, listening to his breathing, and to his heart. As I drift off to sleep, I can't help but think that if there was ever a moment I wanted to live in, and keep on living in forever, it might just be this one.

====

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Last edited by dewelar on Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.59 posted 6/1

Post by brythain » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:46 pm

YAY! I am so happy those two got their happiness sorted as well. So very pleased. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.59 posted 6/1

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:02 am

Damn it, you brought up Emi trying to get in the same school as Hisao. I hope you don't end this whole thing without letting us know if she gets in or not. You shouldn't bring more suspense to this, especially since you said you only have a few chapters left. :evil:

Overall though, still loving this. :mrgreen:

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.59 posted 6/1

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jun 02, 2015 12:47 pm

Well, "a few chapters" is relative if they are all as long as this one :-)

Excellent writing as always.
Just in the scene between Emi and Meiko I felt that Emi's self-reflection was a bit too deep, too "not Emi"…
And in the next scene I would not have expected her to have the patience to wait for Meiko to get to the point - first sending her out to get Hisao, then leaving herself to get the ring - when she already suspected the point in the first place.

Two minor things:
there's got to be a track somewhere near his house, doesn't there?
Sounds wrong somehow…
Should probably be "…, hasn't there?" but that doesn't sound much better.
I check, and it's unlocked, so she's at least back. I look over at Misaki's door, which is also closed, and a quick check of the common room tells me she's not there, either.
Why "either"?
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.59 posted 6/1

Post by dewelar » Tue Jun 02, 2015 1:22 pm

As always, thanks to all for the kind words thus far! Breaking from my recent pattern, I want to jump in and respond to Mirage...
Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, "a few chapters" is relative if they are all as long as this one :-)
Yeah, this one came out to nearly 12,000 words. Crazy, I tells ya!
Excellent writing as always.
Thanks.
Just in the scene between Emi and Meiko I felt that Emi's self-reflection was a bit too deep, too "not Emi"…
And in the next scene I would not have expected her to have the patience to wait for Meiko to get to the point - first sending her out to get Hisao, then leaving herself to get the ring - when she already suspected the point in the first place.
*nods* Since this chapter will be the last from Emi's PoV, I wanted to highlight the growth she's undergone over the course of the story. Particularly, this passage:
Emi wrote:I always talk about wanting to live in the moment, but lately I think I've been living in the wrong moment too often. I've been letting what happened eight years ago sit inside of me and eat at me, and it took until now to look beyond that.
This is Emi, herself, recognizing that right here, right now, she's doing something that, in the past, she was never able to do. I hope I've shown over the course of the story the progression that got her here -- and if you don't think I have, then that's cool -- but in this case the fact that this felt "not Emi" (or, more precisely, "not VN!Emi") is actually kind of the point :).
there's got to be a track somewhere near his house, doesn't there?
Sounds wrong somehow…
Should probably be "…, hasn't there?" but that doesn't sound much better.
Ugh, yeah. I'll ponder the wording on this.
I check, and it's unlocked, so she's at least back. I look over at Misaki's door, which is also closed, and a quick check of the common room tells me she's not there, either.
Why "either"?
Fixed, thanks!
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.59 posted 6/1

Post by Blank Mage » Tue Jun 02, 2015 2:02 pm

Now reading, opinions forthcoming. This... this might take a while.
And we're back.
-----------
"I wish I could convey to you just how socially inept I am, but I can't."
"I think you just did."
"No, I really, truly haven't."

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