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

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dewelar
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Developments, Chapter 52 (Part 1)

Post by dewelar » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:58 pm

"Well, then, I guess I'll see you tomorrow, Hisao!" I say before starting off up the hill. I can't resist adding, "Morning talk, don't forget!" I catch a quick, yet satisfying, glimpse of the confused expression on his face before turning around and taking off.

Unfortunately, this puts everything off by another day. It figures that as soon as I'd gotten myself warmed up to talk to Hisao, he would shut me down. I suppose I earned it with all the false starts we've had, but this morning I felt like I had momentum on my side. Then he told me he needed to make things right with Hanako, and I felt like I got punched in the gut. I know I told him he should, and I know I wanted him to do it, but I'd kinda hoped he already had by now. Instead, everything is still up in the air, including me.

And now, after getting a taste of my own medicine, who am I going to see?

"Good morning, sunshine!" Nurse says as I open the door, that maddening grin of his plastered all over his face. "Going to stick around for an examination today, or should I go back to working on my sudoku?"

"Yeah, yeah," I reply, sticking out my tongue at him. "Let's get this over with."

"In more of a rush than usual today, I see," he says as I start to remove my blades. "By the way, is Hisao with you?"

"Nah, he said he was feeling fine, and that you told him he didn't have to come every day anymore." I squint my eyes at him and ask, "You did tell him that, right? He's not just..."

"...doing what you sometimes do and blowing me off? No, I did tell him that." I open my mouth, and he quickly adds, "And no, with your track record I'm not going to let you off like that just yet, especially after the stunt you pulled last week." Almost automatically, I start to pout, and he rolls his eyes. "Tell you what, you're going to keep running with Hisao, right?"

"Yeah, that's the plan."

"If you want to avoid coming in here, I could show him what to look for, and you could have him check you over instead. You think you could handle that?" An image jumps into my head of Hisao's fingers, gently touching my legs. It makes me...tingle juuuust a bit before the Nurse interrupts with, "Hmmm...guess not. Better save that for another time, then." He winks and says, "Unless that was meant for me, in which case..."

"In your dreams and my nightmares, asshole," I growl at him, shooting a glare at his damn grin for good measure.

Nurse just laughs, leaning back in his chair to signal that he's done looking me over. "A bit touchy today, too, I see. Sorry if I got under your skin there. Anyway, you said Hisao seemed fine this morning?"

"Yeah," I say, starting to put on my walking legs. "I didn't see anything wrong with him on the track today, either, but I'll keep keeping my eye on him."

"Hmmm...you say you didn't see anything wrong on the track. Is there something else I should know?"

I sigh heavily, and if there was any good mood left in this morning it's gone now. "I don't know. I don't think so, but...well, did he talk to you about what happened yesterday?"

Nurse nods seriously. "I had a feeling that might be it. Yes, he mentioned it, but I didn't see any ill effects by the time he came in. Good call on getting him to take it easy yesterday, by the way. It's always good to hear that some of what I've been trying to teach you has gotten into that head of yours."

He winks, but I can't keep myself from fidgeting anyway. "Yeah, he seemed fine physically. I just want to know why."

"Why he got drunk? I'm not sure I can help you there."

"Oh," I say, disappointed. "All he told me was that he thought things were falling apart. I'm not sure what he meant, but I thought maybe it was because he'd had an argument with Hanako. I just..." I take a deep breath to steady myself. "If it's about Hanako, then I have to pull back. If he's that broken up about losing her...I just...I don't want him to end up like Mom was."

When I blurt out that last sentence, Nurse's face turns a shade of grey I haven't seen on him in years. He doesn't say anything for a moment, and when he does respond, I almost have to strain to hear him. "How much do you know about that?"

"Nothing really specific," I say, almost as quietly. "I just know she was really depressed for a while, and I remember the smell of the stuff for a while, and...and sometimes I couldn't wake her up in the morning. I know you tried to explain it to me a couple of times, but I only really figured it out later."

Nurse nods. "I knew you would eventually. Of course, that time you broke Hajime's finger trying to get a bottle away from him was kind of a big clue that you knew something, but I couldn't really ask you directly."

"So he told you about that, huh?" I ask, a bit embarrassed. "He told me he wasn't going to tell you how it happened, but I should've known you'd weasel it out of him." A thought occurs to me, and I suddenly feel mortified. "You didn't...tell Hisao about any of that, did you?"

He shoots a stern glare at me. "Of course not. You know me better than that. All I told him was that it was a sensitive subject. I didn't say anything about why. As far as Hisao actually becoming an alcoholic, I don't think you need to worry, at least not yet. I can usually read the signs pretty well. I've had my share of experience, after all, and not just with your mother."

"Yeah, but he did say this isn't the first time he's done it. That's why I need to know why he did it this time. If it's because of his problems with Hanako, or...well..."

"...or because of his problems with you?"

I sigh and slump my shoulders. "Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I know why Mom did it now, even if I didn't really understand back then. I just wish I could have helped her more. Maybe she could have bounced back sooner, or..."

Nurse lays a hand on my shoulder. "Don't blame yourself for any of that. What you did at the time helped, even if you didn't know it."

I nod in response. "Yeah, but if Hisao's going to start down that path, I don't want to be the one responsible, especially since..."

I cut myself off a little bit too late, because Nurse asks "Since what?" with a raised eyebrow.

"Never mind, never mind," I say, waving it off. "I just think I might have been able to stop him if I'd been around."

Especially if he really does think that I'm the one he's losing. You're not losing me, Hisao...not anymore.

Nurse frowns at me for a second. "Just don't start blaming yourself for this, either. Hisao already feels bad about doing it. If it's any consolation, he said that knowing you were upset by it was a good reason not to do it again."

Now it's my turn to frown. "Well, I'd rather he was doing it for himself than for me, but I'll take it. He told me he wouldn't do it again, too, but..."

Nurse winks at me. "I know, you're worried about him. You could always try asking him directly."

"Yeah, I could, although then he'd start expecting me to answer his questions, and we all know where that leads." Nurse laughs, although in my own head I know that it really is more of a joke than it used to be. "Besides, he's talking to Hanako about something important today, so I was planning on going home after lunch."

Nurse gives me the eyebrow again. "You know, I hear that when you go home, you're going to have to talk to your mom about Hisao."

"You talked to her yesterday, huh? Yeah, I should've figured. I guess I'm as ready as I'm going to be to face the gallows on that one."

"In that case, I shouldn't keep you here any longer. Let me know how things turn out."

"Yeah, yeah," I say as I head out the door. "See ya tomorrow!"

Well, that didn't help at all.

Whatever's going on with Hisao, I should have known I wouldn't get anything out of him. Since I didn't get anything out of Hisao this morning either, that leaves me waiting until tomorrow. I don't know if I'm ready to be that patient, so as I walk back to the dorm I try to think of other options. The only other people who might know what went on that night are Yoshimura and Kamisaka, and I don't have any idea how to find either of them.

Hmmm...didn't Hisao say he usually sees them in the cafeteria?

While I hate to leave Rin in the lurch again, it's my only option if I want to stop my mind from running around its little track for the next 24 hours. It's bad enough that it's been going like that since yesterday. All I can think about is what he might be saying to Hanako, because she's as much in love with him as I am, and if those two do wind up together...well, then I deserve that, too. Besides, she deserves to be happy at least as much as I do – if that's what Hisao wants.

And I really, really, really hope it's not.

I get back to the dorm, and I see Rin's door is open. I peek inside, and it looks like she's working on something different, something that's all red and orange and yellow and brown. It's like she used up all her green and blue for Hisao and now she's got to use all the other colors. "Hey, Rin," I say quietly in case she's concentrating, "I made your lunch again today. I'm just gonna put it on your desk."

"I still need a haircut."

Ah, shoot, I forgot about that. "Oh, yeah...sorry, can't do it today. Maybe tomorrow?" Rin, not taking her eyes off her canvas, shrugs, which means it's fine. I look a little closer at her painting, and it's definitely more Rin than her last one, but at least the colors are familiar. "A little early for painting autumn leaves, isn't it?"

Rin puts her brush down, then looks back and forth from me to the painting. "I don't think that's what it's supposed to be. I mean, it might be, but probably not."

"Uh-huh. So what do you think it is, then?"

"Well, I thought that since I painted that painting for Hisao, and it seemed like maybe that helped, I might try to do something for someone else. I didn't know who it would be, because I didn't know who I wanted to try and talk to, but then yesterday, when I went up to the roof, she was there, although there was no toilet there, which was very disappointing. I thought I might want to talk to her, though, so I started this." She waves a foot vaguely in the direction of her painting. "I'm not sure what she needs to see, though."

"Hang on...what who needs to see?"

"Hanako. She was up there, and she looked like she might have lost something. I just don't know what it is."

"So this is what you paint when you think of Hanako, huh? I mean, I sorta get the red and orange because of the scars, but...well, I thought there might at least be some purple...or some green..."

"Hmmm...no, I definitely get more of a brownish-yellow. Like butterscotch, maybe. But I don't know what she wants..." Rin's eyes widen suddenly. "Didn't you say you thought Hisao was turning purple yesterday? Do you have one of those diseases where you can only see certain colors?"

Ugh...and here I thought I was starting to understand Rin a little...

"But...I...he...um, can we maybe stick to Hanako? Well, except I don't know what colors she likes. I don't know her that well. I know she wears dark colors a lot, but I think that's just so she doesn't stand out. She doesn't like people paying too much attention to her, you know?"

"So, not much different from you. Maybe I need some blue..."

I think my understanding of Rin is now starting to approach negative territory. "Huh?"

"Well, you're more of a butterfly than a lizard, but I think it's the same."

"Rin, I..." I start to say, but then decide I need to get out of here before my head starts to hurt. "Never mind, I'm going to go take my shower, so I'll talk to you tomorrow."

Rin's already back to being focused on her painting, so I walk down the hall to my room, grab the stuff I need, and head to the bathroom. I'm so worked up about everything that I can't even get my tail holders out properly, and I wind up breaking one of them. It isn't just Hisao, either, because I've still got to deal with Mom, too.

When I left the house yesterday morning, I really was intending to come back and talk to her. Ever since she started comparing Hisao and me to her and Dad, a part of me has wanted to know about what they were like when they were in school. After what happened with Hisao yesterday morning, though, I knew it would wind up becoming all about the drinking, and I wasn't ready for that. I'm really hoping today will be different.

I finish up in the bathroom, then head to my room, where I grab a new pair of tail holders – purple ones this time, since Rin seems so interested in it lately. Smiling to myself, I get dressed, grab my lunch and take off for the main building. It's pretty rare that I eat in the cafeteria, but here it is the second day in a row I'll be doing it. At least this time I don't have to eat the food here.

I grab a juice box for myself and find a nice table with a good view of the whole place. It's not hard to do, because it's still pretty empty. Once I open my lunch, I resist the urge to dig in quickly, because today I'm not just here to eat. I sit back, picking at some of the vegetables, watching the entrance for signs of Hisao's drinking partners. I'm hoping to see Yoshimura, since at least I've talked to her before, but instead Kamisaka shows up first.

Well, here goes nothing...

Since I don't want to surprise him while he's carrying a tray, I call out "Kamisaka!" while he's on his way to the counter. He stops swinging his cane and stands still for a moment, and I move as fast as I can without running to catch up to him. "Um...we've only sorta met, but I'm Emi Ibarazaki. I'm a friend of Hisao's, and I wanted to talk to you about him – if you don't mind having lunch with a bombshell beauty, that is."

"I'll take your word for that," Kamisaka says sarcastically. "Yeah, that's fine. I don't have anything going on right now except some work for Madam Presideaf, and the longer I can put that off the better. Where are you sitting?"

I chuckle a little and say, "Well, I was sitting in the far corner to keep an eye on the door, but..."

"Okay, I'll pick up my lunch and meet you back there." He immediately heads to the counter, so I head back to where I was sitting, too. After a couple minutes I see him heading back my way, so I call out to him again. He adjusts his course and quickly finds my table and puts his tray on it, folds up his cane and sits down.

"So, we meet at last," I say jokingly.

"Yep," he says bluntly. "I'm guessing you want to talk about yesterday morning. Like Noriko said, I hope you left him in one piece."

"I did. The question is will I be as merciful with the instigator of the whole thing." I almost put on my pirate voice, but part of me wants him to think I'm being serious. "Speaking of Yoshimura, I thought she might be with you today. Any idea where she is?"

"Yeah, actually, she's with one of my classmates, helping her get ready for some date or something. I didn't even know she did that kind of thing, but then I didn't know her until a couple days ago, and...well, I don't know that many of my classmates, really."

I'm a little surprised at that, too, since it doesn't sound like the kind of thing Yoshimura would do, but then I only know her from the rumor mill myself. "That's fine, because I should probably be talking to you anyway, since you know Hisao better than she does, I think. You're right, I do want to ask about yesterday. Mainly, what I want to know is why Hisao went and got himself drunk."

"So, are you asking as his friend, his girlfriend, or his medical assistant?" Kamisaka asks, a small grin on his face. "Because some of those carry more weight than the others."

"What if I said it was all three?"

"After yesterday? I might almost believe you. It doesn't really matter, I guess, since I don't really know anything. I mean, Hisao's got a whole harem chasing him, so how am I supposed to know which of them is driving him to drink?"

"Look, I..." I take a deep breath, because that made about as much sense as the average Rin flurry. Art really must do something to people's heads. "I just want to know if you think it was the fight he had with Hanako. I can take care of it from there."

"Hmmm...he did say he had a fight with her, but he didn't seem all that worried about it. I think he was planning on meeting her yesterday, but that's the last thing I remember him saying. I haven't met with him since you played bouncer yesterday."

Damn it. Damn it damn it damn it. It WAS me.

"Thanks for the information, Kamisaka," I say, resuming my normal eating speed. "I owe you one."

Kamisaka starts to pick up his chopsticks, but then I can feel him focus his attention on me. "Yeah, okay," he says, distractedly. "That's a pretty impressive appetite you've got there, Ibarazaki."

I open my mouth to respond, but instead of words a belch comes out, and he starts to turn red. I chuckle at that – it's not as cute as when Hisao blushes, but it's not bad – and then I get up. "Thanks. I am pretty awesome, after all. I'd give a further demonstration, but I have a bus to catch. Later!" Without waiting for anything else, I grab my tray and quickly walk it over to the trash, then start on my way down to the bus stop. It's raining lightly, but not enough to need an umbrella, so I don't bother grabbing one.

Damn it. I'm sorry, Hisao. Really, really sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you that much.

When I get down to the front gate, I'm still totally restless. I start pacing between the gate and the bus stop, hoping the thing will get here before I get drenched again. It figures today would be the day I have to wait for it. By the time it pulls up, it's coming down a little heavier, so I hurry on and find a seat. After talking to Kamisaka, I'm a little anxious for this meeting, and I catch myself bumping my legs against the seat in time with the windshield wipers.

It was about me after all.

Hisao tried to tell me he didn't want to make things about Hanako, but I did anyway. I guess it's good that he'll get things straight with her first, but now I need to undo more damage that I did. At least I have a chance to do that, because he promised to hear me out tomorrow, but now what I need to say is going to be different. All I can do is hope everything will work out.

Come on, universe. Come on, Orihime and Hikoboshi. Just hang in there with me for another day.

When I get off the bus, the rain has already slowed down to a sprinkle. This is one of those talks that has to happen, whether I want it to or not, so I take my time heading to the house. When I get there, I walk through the door without knocking. Mom is in the kitchen, working on something for dinner. "Okay, Mom," I say as I drop my bag on the floor and sit on one of the stools. "Let's talk about it."

Mom turns to me, wearing that knowing smile of hers, and says, "Hello, dear. Talk about what?"

I resist the urge to bang my head on the countertop. "You know, what you said yesterday."

"Hmmm," she says, clearly enjoying herself way too much, "I must be getting forgetful in my old age, because I don't remember much about yesterday, except that someone didn't come back home. Maybe you could remind me what we were supposed to be talking about."

I raise my hands in defeat. "Okay, fine, you're gonna make me say it, aren't you?" Mom laughs lightly, and she's really getting under my skin now. Through gritted teeth, I say, "I...wanttotalktoyouaboutHisao."

"What's that?" she says, cupping a hand to her ear. "I don't think I quite caught that."

I bow my head and close my eyes, cursing the fate that gave me such a parent. "I want to talk to you about Hisao."

I hear Mom put something away in the fridge, so I look up. She comes over and leans across the island, looking right at me with one of those looks that make me want to be anywhere else. She's still smiling, but she's being annoyingly quiet all of a sudden. Finally she says, "I'm sorry for teasing you, dear. I just...well, I've wanted to hear something like that for a long time. I really have been worried that you never found someone you liked enough to...well, never mind that right now. Do you want a snack before we talk?"

"Weeeeell, since you asked..." Mom laughs and immediately sets to work again. While she does that, I bring my bag to my room before coming back out to help. If nothing else, having something to eat will settle me down and recharge me all at the same time.

A few minutes later, I've already finished eating. Mom sits across from me, just like she usually does. She seems to be waiting for me to start talking, but I don't really want to do that. After a few boring minutes of staring at each other, she finally sighs and says, "Okay, then, where do you want to start?"

"Heh..." I say, because now that the moment is here I find my mind stuck in the starting block. "I thought...maybe I'd just let you ask me whatever you were going to ask."

"You should probably tell me something about this Hisao Nakai first. Right now, all I know is that you met him back in June, he started running with you a few weeks ago, and that you'd been helping him with getting over an ex-girlfriend. Well, that and the hints Goro's been giving me now and then."

"Yeah, I should have known you'd be talking about it with him," I say, sounding a lot more bitter than I wanted to. "I probably don't need to tell you anything, then."

"You know better than that. Goro would never say anything about your friend to me that he wouldn't say to you." Mom smirks a bit. "If I know him, though, he'd skirt right up to the limit for you. Sometimes I'd swear he talks about you like his own daughter."

"Yeah, that's what worries me," I say under my breath. Mom looks at me for a second, and I think she's about to say something, but then she doesn't. "Anyway, I'm sorry for what I said about Nurse. It's just that sometimes it feels like you're conspiring against me."

"Well, of course we are," Mom says with a wink. "But you're right, I probably shouldn't have brought it up myself. So, go ahead and tell me about Hisao."

I start to think about how to describe Hisao, and the first few things that pop into my head aren't exactly things I want to say right now. "Hmmm...well, he's into science, and reading, and I think he might be starting to get interested in art?"

Mom looks at me, surprised. "That sounds entirely unlike what I expected to hear. This...is the same boy you've been running with, right?"

"Yeah," I say, giggling, and then my mouth takes over. "He really likes running, too, and I don't think it's just because it's with me, or maybe it's mostly because it's with me, or at least that's how it started, but I just feel like I want to spend all my time with him just doing stuff, because I have fun just talking to him and teasing him, or walking to town with him, but really it doesn't matter what we're doing, it's just..."

"Mm-hmm," Mom interrupts, nodding and smiling. "That does sound nice. It's kind of cute how excited you were getting."

"Mo-om," I say, pouting, "you just used up your embarrassment for the day."

Mom's smile gets bigger, and her eyes start to sparkle. "Okay, okay, so keep going. Just...a little slower."

"Sorry, sorry!" I say, still grinning. "But yeah, I never thought I could have fun just talking to a guy like I do with Hisao. I mean, Haji was always so serious about things, and I...well, remember the first time we talked about Hisao? You told me something about when you tell people about yourself, it feels like losing yourself to them?"

Mom nods again, looking a little sad. "I remember."

"Yeah," I say, nodding back to her. "I really didn't understand what you meant, about how when you weren't with the other person, you missed that feeling. I think I'm starting to, though."

Mom smiles at me, but this time it's not smug, or knowing, just...comforting, like only a mom can smile. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised it's happening already. You always were one to get things to happen faster than usual."

"Heh, so you're saying that being the Fastest Thing on No Legs has its drawbacks?"

"That depends," Mom replies in a sing-song voice. "I think it's only a drawback if you think it is. It's worked out pretty well for you these past eight years, after all."

"Yeah, it has," I say, remembering how much I've felt like things have been changing lately. "But sometimes I wonder if I really want to keep going that way. I've been living my life one day at a time since the accident," Mom's eyes widen a little, but I don't stop. "Except lately, things have felt different. I know you'll be shocked by this, but these past few weeks I've actually been thinking about the future."

"You know, normally I'd tease you about that," Mom says with a wink, "but I'll save that for another time. I was wondering why I'd seen college brochures sticking out of your bag the other day. I thought they might just be for show to get me off your back about applying, but...you're serious, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I guess I am," I say sheepishly. "Or at least I'm serious that I'm thinking about it. I mean, Nurse has been teaching me some things about some of the stuff he does, and I've been working with the track team with training and minor injuries and stuff for a while now, but I figured that was for down the road, once I wasn't running competitively anymore. Lately...I've been thinking, maybe I can do both. And maybe even..."

"...maybe even find a school near where Hisao might be going?" Mom interrupts, smiling gently. "Dear, that's natural. I think all couples in high school start thinking that way at some point. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't, but it can't hurt to try, as long as you keep your own future in mind. Whatever you decide, I'll support you."

Something suddenly occurs to me that I hadn't considered, and the good feeling I was starting to have crashes. "Yeah, but will you be okay? I mean, if I leave, that means you'll lose Dad's benefits, right? What's gonna happen to the house?"

Mom reaches out and takes my hand. "Don't worry about that. I've been putting some money aside, and hopefully I'll be able to get more hours next year. Besides, I'd have had to make do without those soon enough."

"Yeah, that's true," I say, still feeling a little down. "I guess we'll just have to work on that when it happens."

"Hmmm," Mom says, looking at me with the knowing smile again. "I think I know someone in this family who's pretty good at doing that. I may have to ask her for some advice someday." We both laugh at that, and a little of that dark mood goes away – that is, until she follows it up with something almost as bad. "So, getting back to yesterday, you didn't answer when I asked if there was something wrong between you and your friend."

"Yeah," I say, sighing deeply because of the answer I have to give. "I wish I knew, Mom. I really do. There's just been a lot going on, and it's got me confused."

Mom takes her hand away and rests her chin in it. "All right, let's see what you've got, then."

"The biggest problem is that I'm not the only one who likes Hisao." Mom tilts her head at me, and I continue, "While I was...um, avoiding him, I know the two of them got closer, and ever since then I feel like I've been getting mixed signals from him. Then a couple days ago they had a fight, and..." I almost mention the aftermath of that, but I know it would kill the conversation right there. "...when we ran yesterday, he was telling me he wanted to spend time with me, and I told him he needed to talk to her first. He kinda got mad at me, so this morning I was going to try and talk to him, but then he said he was going to talk to her this afternoon." I lower my head until it hits the table. "I just don't know what to think anymore."

Mom is quiet for a while, then says, "I can see how that could be confusing. So do you think he likes this other girl in return?"

"I don't know...I don't think so, but I have to be sure about it, because..." I pick my head up to look at Mom again. "Because, well, I've kind of gotten to be friends with Hanako, too. That's the other girl, she's in Hisao's class, and she's a friend of Lilly's, I mean Hisao's ex-girlfriend's...and well, I guess we all kinda know each other, so that makes everything harder, you know? And then Lilly came back from Scotland, and she's still in love with Hisao, but he doesn't love her anymore, and...well...you see what I mean about there being a lot going on?"

Mom looks back at me, her face not showing any emotion. "That's quite the entanglement, isn't it? I'm not really sure I can help you very much as far as being able to sort it all out. I don't know if it will be possible to do it without someone getting hurt, but I know you'll try. It sounds like Hisao is trying, too. The only thing I haven't heard is how he feels about you."

"Yeah," I say with frustration, "and I would probably know that if I'd given him a chance to tell me. I mean, I was kind of a jerk to him for a while, so I wouldn't blame him for hating me, but I don't think that's true."

"So you've been pushing him away, hm? I was afraid that would happen again." My eyes go wide, but she carries on, "Oh, don't act so surprised. You don't think I know you've done it before? I saw it happen with your friends from middle school, and then I saw it again with that boy you were dating last year. I've been so worried that you'd never let anyone get close to you again..."

"Nothing gets past you, does it?" I say, and the bitterness is coming out again. "I've always figured that if I never let people get close, they couldn't hurt me when they went away, because those things happen, right? But then with Hisao, it started to hurt more not being close to him. I thought, maybe having someone close wouldn't be so bad if it was him. Then, when I started letting it actually happen, I started thinking about his condition, about how he could die anytime, and that I could even be the one that kills him. Then, I accidentally fell on him, and I freaked myself out, and that's when I started avoiding him." I look at Mom, trying not to look too accusatory. "It didn't help when you started talking about how we might be like you and Dad, you know."

A look of realization comes to Mom's face. "That's why you asked me all those questions the other day." I nod. "I'm so sorry, dear, I didn't mean..."

"I know, because I didn't tell you any of it. When I finally started thinking clearly, and after it got beaten into my head by certain people, I realized that I was the one who was helping him get stronger, and maybe not be so fragile. But just when I got past that..." I stop there again, but I know this time I can't avoid the subject. "...when I got past that, something else happened that made me want to run again." Mom gives me a questioning look, and I look down at my hands. "Hisao missed one of his morning runs, so I went to his dorm room. I found out he'd been drinking the night before, and he was hung over."

"Oh," Mom says, her face clouding over. "I...see."

I knew she wouldn't want to talk about this. It strikes too close to home for her. I really didn't want to bring it up myself, and for all these years I've been able to avoid it. I never told her about the incident with Hajime, because it only happened once, and even though we were the same age he was technically my senior, so it didn't feel right. Now, I dropped it right in my own lap.

"Is that all you have to say?" I ask, trying to keep from shaking. I don't even know if the shaking is from fear or anger now. "You know why that freaked me out, right? I know...we never talked about it, but I know...well...I know what you went through after Dad died. I mean, I don't know, but..."

"Stop, Emi. Please." Mom's voice is scary quiet, so I stop. "I knew you would understand eventually. I...appreciated that you never asked about it, and I'd...well, I'd hoped we'd never have to talk about it, but I knew it would happen sooner or later."

"So...it's true. You used to be an alcoholic?"

"Well, first of all, there's no such thing as 'used to be'. It may be seven years since I had my last drink, but that's one of the first things Goro taught me once I started trying to stop."

"So...Nurse was..."

"No, but his father was. While Goro was in college, his father was killed when he hit a telephone pole while driving drunk. Shortly after...your accident, he could tell I was going through something similar, and he approached me once you'd started your rehabilitation."

"And...he's been helping you ever since, hasn't he?"

"Yes, he has. There are still times when I get depressed, when I miss your father terribly, but Goro always knows how to get me through those times. I don't know where I'd be today without him. Maybe I wouldn't even be here at all."

No...

"Don't say that!" I blurt out. "I would have done whatever I could for you!"

Mom looks at me almost like she's scared. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to put it like that, but what could you have done? You were only eleven years old."

What could I have DONE? Doesn't she know? How could she not KNOW?

"You want to know what I could have done? I could have gotten through my rehab in a year! I could have learned to depend on myself, to cook for myself, to take care of my own prosthetics, to make sure that I did everything I needed to do that I never did before! And do you know how I know that? Because I did all of that!"

"Emi..."

"I did all of that because I knew you couldn't! Yes, I wanted to run again, and I knew I would do that someday even if I didn't push as hard as I did. I pushed that much harder because something was wrong with you, and I wanted to help you! So I did...so I did what...what I could..."

I can feel myself gasping for breath to keep myself from crying, and I'm losing. "Emi, you didn't..." Mom starts to say, and I gather myself for one last burst.

"YES I DID! I DIDN'T WANT TO LOSE YOU, TOO!"

I didn't really intend to shout at the top of my lungs, and I immediately bring my hands to my mouth. Mom is frozen in place, looking at me with eyes like something out of Rin's mural. "I...I'm sorry..." I stammer, and I run down the hall to my room and shut myself in, then throw myself down on the bed.

What were you thinking, Ibarazaki?

~~~~

Previous | Part 2
Last edited by dewelar on Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:01 pm, edited 1 time 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 52 (Part 2)

Post by dewelar » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:01 pm

I knew this would happen. I knew talking about this with her would be a mistake, but I had to bring it up. I don't even know what she was going to say, but I wouldn't let her say it, because I had to say everything. I don't even know why this got me so upset, because I'm proud of what I did.

No, wait, I do know: because Mom tried to stop me from doing it. I can look back now and say it was the alcohol talking, or the depression, but it's not that easy to forget after all. None of this is stuff I didn't know in the back of my head, but suddenly it's like I'm reliving eight years ago, with me trying to push myself so that we could be a family, and her trying to get me to stop because she was worried...

...maybe...worried about losing me, too?

I sit up on the bed and draw my knees up against my chest. Of course she was worried about me, just like she always is...just like Hisao always is...

...worried about losing me...

I guess that's the real drawback to being the Fastest Thing on No Legs. I wound up moving so fast that I could never see what I was passing by. As soon as I start to slow down, and stuff becomes clearer, it makes me start to think about what I've missed along the way.

Heh, and when I miss stuff, I REALLY miss stuff.

I sit there for a while, because I don't feel like I can go out there yet. I can hear Mom doing her usual routine, and I figure I might as well let her. It probably takes her mind off things, like running does for me. I look around the room, and I see my bag, with the university brochures sticking out of it, and Mom's words from earlier echo in my head.

"Whatever you decide, I'll support you."

I never believed that, did I? I know she was always there for my track meets, but what else was there to support? What else did I ever want to do up to now? I don't want her support. I don't need her support. I didn't have her support when I was in rehab, and I got through that faster than almost anyone! I've done everything I've needed to do on my own, and I have the right to be proud of that.

Dad would have been proud of that, too.

Right?


At least Mom still has the good sense to leave me alone for a while. A few hours go by before there's a knock on my door, followed by her voice calling, "Emi, are you going to come out for dinner?"

"Yeah, I'll be out in a few minutes," I call back. I look again at my bag, and a thought comes into my head.

Why am I still holding it against her after all this time? Why am I not holding it against Hisao? Is it because she never talked to me, and he did?

I walk out of my room and head for the kitchen. "You don't need to help," Mom says without even looking at me. "Just sit down, and I'll have everything done in a little while."

The table is already set, so I sit down, and now I can't help but feel bad. Mom brings the food over, and once we're both sitting down, I pick up my chopsticks...but I don't really feel like eating. I guess she doesn't either, because I don't hear anything from across the table. I look up to see her watching me, but she turns away quickly. The last thing I want to do right now is upset her any more, so I start eating slowly. She does the same, and we both sit there for a while without saying anything. It's kind of eerie, because we're never quiet like this unless I'm trying to keep something from her. If anything, today's been the opposite.

Which might explain it right there, I guess.

Finally, the silence gets to me, and I push my chair away from the table. "May I be excused?" I ask, sounding a little more sarcastic than I wanted.

"If that's what you really want, dear," Mom says with a sad face. It's not the puppy dog face that I inherited, but I think it might be worse. I look back at her for a long moment, hoping that maybe if I will it hard enough she'll start talking again, but she doesn't.

Maybe she's doing the same thing back at me.

Finally, I give up and do what I'm best at: run away. I shut myself in my room again, and I spend the rest of the night alternately cursing myself and reading those damn brochures, along with some stuff Nurse gave me about first aid. There's even something here about a course the school gives, but unfortunately it's only for faculty and staff members – too bad, because that could have come in handy. In and around those thoughts, another one runs through my head, and keeps following me around the circles I've been running myself.

If I can't talk about this, how am I going to talk to Hisao tomorrow?

* * * *

After a restless night, I get up at the same time I've been getting up lately to avoid Mom. Even I don't believe that last night's conversation is over, but if neither of us is going to talk to each other this is for the best. I'm nervous enough about keeping my promise with Hisao, even though I'm the one that got him to make it. I don't even want to stick around long enough to make a lunch for myself, so I just get dressed, grab my bag, and catch the early bus.

Once I get on board, I can barely keep myself from moving. If the bus were less crowded, I'd probably be walking up and down the aisle. As it is, I'm swinging my legs back and forth, clunking them against the seat in front of me, which gets me the usual set of stares. My stomach is full of Rin's butterflies again, too. I close my eyes, and I can even picture them, all blue and green and purple and pink...

Is that a white one? Why is there a white one?

Before I know it, the bus pulls up at Yamaku. Usually this ride takes forever because I can't run until it's over, but today it seemed like it went by even faster than yesterday. When I get off the bus, I run over to the track, but fortunately there's no sign of Hisao. I check my phone – which is in my bag and fully charged today – and see that I got here way too early. It feels like every time I've had to wait for Hisao at the track lately, it's come back to bite me. Even yesterday, I only had to wait a minute or two, and I was already getting way too wound up.

Given how anxious I am this morning, I might be the one to have a heart attack.

I decide to head for the dorms instead and check in with Rin. After ducking into my room to change into my blades, I check her door. It's closed, so she's still sleeping – no surprise considering how early it is – so I'll have to check again later. Still feeling restless, I start for the common room to see if anyone else is up when suddenly I hear a door open behind me. I turn around and see Misaki coming out of her own room with her shower basket. She's been bugging me about something she wanted to show me, so maybe that'll pass enough time. "Hey, Misaki!"

Misaki turns carefully to face me. "Oh, hello, Emi. Sorry, I'm still getting used to seeing you this clearly." I tilt my head at her, and she says dryly, "You know, because you're usually just a blur?"

"Uh-huh," I say. "Yeah, I get it. I really am trying to be more careful, you know."

"Okay, okay, I was just trying to make a little joke," Misaki says, starting her annoyed over-enunciation routine. "Sorry if I hit a nerve. Anyway, how are things? You look like you're still not taking care of yourself."

"Look, Misaki, I don't really want to talk about that right now..."

"...or ever," Misaki says with a loud sigh. "Yes, I get it too. You know, if you hate me, you can just say so. I won't be offended. In fact, I'd rather you did that instead of constantly throwing walls up like this. We're going to be graduating in a few months, and I want to feel like I actually knew some of my classmates here."

"Wait a minute, I thought you were friends with that French kid who sat next to you. Besides, don't you hang out with the other people in the photography club?"

Misaki sighs again. "Lelouch transferred out before the year started because his parents moved back to Europe. The guy who sits next to me now is dating Ikuno, so he never talks to me. I don't even remember his name. As for the photography club, you do know I'm the only third-year in it, right? They all look to me as a leader, but they don't really talk to me as a friend. I think I talk more to Mr. Okaizumi than I do to them." That sounds familiar, but it must be pretty lousy for it to happen unintentionally. I guess that explains why she keeps trying to talk to me lately. I kinda feel bad all over again for always blowing her off. Misaki sighs yet again, this time sounding a little sadder. She does that way too often. It can't be good for her. "Well, you asked. Anyway, you don't want to hear about my problems, and I don't want to tell you about them if you won't reciprocate. So, since it doesn't look like you're doing anything, do you have a few minutes? I still have something I want to show you."

"Actually, I was going to ask you about that," I say, trying to sound cheerful. "So what is it you want me to see?"

Misaki steps back into her room and waves her hand to invite me in. "Come on, I'll show you." I shrug and follow her inside, and she closes the door behind me. She sits down at her desk and turns on her laptop. I've never had a computer of my own, and I never really learned how to use one either, mostly because I never thought it was important. That's another thing that's starting to change, at least a little. As I watch, Misaki opens a window on her laptop, and scrolls through a few pictures until she lands on one in particular.

Oh, shit...

...that's a picture of me...kissing Hisao...


"I wanted to show you this, and to tell you...that I was the one who saw you and started the rumor about you. I was upset that you never wanted to talk to me about your problems, and I did it to get back at you." Misaki laughs bitterly. "The odd thing is that it never even seem to faze you. I wondered why, but you never gave me a chance to ask that, either. Anyway, when I told Nat that I had this, she asked me to send it to her because she thought she might get something out of it. I haven't sent it to her yet, because I wanted to ask you what you thought I should do with it."

"What I think?" I say, leaning over her shoulder to look at the picture more closely. I don't think I'll ever forget that day, and not just because of that kiss. It was the first time Hisao and I had been out on the track together in a while, and I was running on adrenaline from the moment I got there. It was the day that I started to open up to him, the day I told him about my nightmares.

The day I really started falling in love with him.

It was also the last time I let myself feel that way without having to hold back. I almost did it again a couple days later, and I freaked myself out over it. Ever since then, I've been right back to relying on myself, doing what I'd always done since the accident, and tripping over myself in the process.

It was the last time I really felt good about everything.

Yesterday morning, I was ready to stop tripping, but it wound up being another false start.

I let go of myself that day. I can do it again. I need to do it again, because that's how I want to feel.

I need to tell him everything.


"What are you smiling about?" Misaki asks me, and I realize that I've sprouted an ear-to-ear grin like an idiot.

I look Misaki in the eye, and then give her the biggest hug I can muster. "Thanks, Misaki," I say, still grinning.

"Ugh...ease up, would you please?" A little late, I remember about Misaki's back, and I loosen my grip. "Thanks...but...what are you thanking me for? For being a jerk to you?"

I laugh at that, saying, "Nah, I don't care about that." I break away fully and look her in the eye again. "I'm thanking you because you just gave me back my momentum."

Misaki looks at me like I'm Rin. "Momentum? I'm not sure what you..."

"Trust me, it's a good thing!" I say before starting off down the hall again. "See ya, Misaki!" Since I promised myself not to run in the halls any more, I brace myself for Misaki to try and stop me, but she never does. Once I'm down the stairs and out the door, I use my blades for their intended purpose and head straight for the track.

As I come over the top of the hill, I see that my timing is perfect, because Hisao is just getting to the bottom of it. "Hey, Hisao!" I call out, and he glances back over his shoulder with a smile and a wave. After catching up with him alongside the bleachers, I say, "Sorry I'm a little late, but I wanted to check in on Rin. I told her we'd go get her that haircut today."

Hisao winks at me and says, "As long as you're not trying to avoid me again."

Even though I know he's joking, that hurts a little, and I return the favor by pouting. "I promised, didn't I?"

"Okay, okay! So did I, remember?" I shift quickly back to a grin. "I also promised myself that I wouldn't let you run away from me today. I have something I want to say to you, too."

That starts some wings fluttering again. "Well, promise or no promise, the rule is still run first, then talk. Now start stretchin', matey!"

"Aye, aye!" Hisao returns snappily, and he immediately starts his warm-up. After a few seconds, out of the blue he says, "So, I heard that the school paper is doing some kind of article about your career."

This is the first I've heard of it, so my only response is, "Huh?"

"Yeah, one of their reporters came up to me and said she was working on some kind of retrospective of your career as an athlete."

"Oh, well, I guess that makes sense. I mean, I did set a lot of school records and stuff, so obviously I'm pretty awesome," I say with a wink. There's still something off, though. "Still, why would they want to talk to you?"

Hisao blushes a little, which is always a pleasure to see. "She...wanted to ask me about my relationship with you."

"Huh?" I say, trying to be as cool as possible. "Are people still talking about that? I'd've thought they'd have moved on to something more interesting by now." I wonder for a second if I should've been madder at Misaki earlier.

"Apparently not," he says, laughing lightly. "You mean she didn't talk to you?" I shake my head, and Hisao continues, "That's weird, then. The reporter said she had inside information about...certain things, so I thought she must have talked to you."

As he says that, a light bulb goes off just a little late. "Hang on, Hisao. This reporter, did she happen to have a long ponytail, and maybe a prosthetic right leg?"

"Ponytail, definitely, and I thought I saw her limping...so she did talk to you after all?"

"Yeaaaaaah, I met with her a couple days ago. Hamaguchi, right?" Hisao nods in agreement. Is this the "help" she was talking about? The butterfly population of Ibarazaki Center starts to rise again. "I swear, ever since Ooe started running things over there, they've been doing some weird stuff at the paper."

Hisao tilts his head questioningly. "I thought Inoue was in charge."

"Yeah, technically, but from what I hear Ooe pretty much runs the show. I guess she actually wants to go into journalism someday, so they give her free rein over there or something. Either that, or the club advisor is asleep at the switch." I pause for a second before continuing my stretching. "Sooooo...what kind of inside information did she say she had?"

Hisao grins tauntingly at me. "What happened to run first, then talk?" I glare at him, but the jerk just laughs. I wait for an opportune moment in his stretching to give him a good poke to the ribs. "Hey!"

"Guess we'd better get running, then! Right, Hisao?" I dash over to the starting line and Hisao follows me, shaking his head but still grinning.

We start our routine, and I have to restrain myself from pushing the pace today. For the first time I can remember, I actually want a running session to be over. If someone would have ever suggested I'd think like that, I'd have laughed in their faces. I probably still would after today, but right now, looking back at Hisao, I need to know how he feels, and if I'm lucky tell him my own feelings in return. Then we can work on finding our pace somewhere in between each other's, and we can both keep running our way through life.

When the hell did I start thinking romantic schlock like that, anyway?

At that moment, we're finishing up our fourth lap, so with one last look back at Hisao, I take off on my sprints...

...

air . . . wind . . . ground . . . track . . . . . . . . .
. . . will . . . not . . . hold . . . back . . . . . .
. . . . . . hear . . . smell . . . feel . . . see . . .
. . . . . . . . . set . . . these . . . thoughts . . . free
wind . . . air . . . track . . . ground . . . . . . . . .
. . . one . . . more . . . time . . . round . . . . . .
. . . . . . time . . . space . . . form . . . flight . . .
. . . . . . . . . all . . . shall . . . be . . . light


...

As I finish my sprints, I can't remember the last time they felt so smooth. For a moment, I savor the runner's high that hasn't come so easily for me this summer, and let the feeling wash over me as it fades. My smile comes a lot more easily, too, as I approach Hisao along the front stretch. I pull up next to him just as he crosses the starting line, and when I see him smiling back I wish this moment could last a little while longer.

Maybe it can.

I start my own cool-down, and for a while neither of us says anything. I hope that means he's feeling what I'm feeling, but before I can ask him I already feel my impatience welling up inside. As we walk around the track, I quickly realize that hoping the feeling would last was extremely wishful thinking. Instead, we settle into an awkward silence, each glancing over at the other. I keep hoping he'll say something, and I'd guess he feels the same, and so it goes until we're done. At least we still know this routine well enough to walk off the track at the same time.

The two of us walk over to the bleachers side by side and sit down next to each other. I take a deep breath and look over at Hisao, and he looks as nervous as I feel as he fiddles with his shirt. I think that's a good sign, but I can't be sure, because despite feeling good physically I can't quite think in a straight line – my brain is still running in circles.

Heh. Occupational hazard.

The silence continues for a bit, and I look up at the solid blue sky to try and relax myself. I turn back and open my mouth, and I'm half-surprised that I can produce actual sound from it. "Okay, Hisao, so...which one of us is going to talk first?"

Hisao looks back at me, looking a little relieved. "Well, since this was your suggestion, and I put you off yesterday, you should probably go first."

I was afraid he'd say that.

"Yeah," I say, then take another deep breath. It doesn't work too well. I try again, and this one's a little better. "Um, just...give me a minute to figure out where to start with this, okay?"

Hisao looks at me with a mixture of concern and confusion. I don't know what's running through his head, because he probably doesn't know what I'm going to say. As much as I've gotten mixed signals from him, I know he has to be thinking he's getting them, too. Sometimes I've even given myself mixed signals, and I'm not even sure I know everything I'm going to say. Once I get started with something like this, sometimes I say stuff I don't mean to say, and...ah, I'm just trying to talk myself out of talking, or something. I just need to say this now, because I don't think I'll ever be any more ready to say this than I am now. I take yet another deep breath, then plunge into it like a cold swimming pool.

Here goes nothing...

"H..." I swallow roughly to get the dryness out of my throat. "Hisao, I know...I've been acting all weird lately, and I'm sorry. I know I've said that before, but I really, really am sorry for always running away from you. Today is the day that stops once and for all. I want you to know why I've been doing it, because...because whatever happens, I don't want to lose you again."

"Lose me? I'm not sure I understand. I thought..."

"I know. You thought it was just me worrying about your heart, but there's more to it than that. You're not the first person I've done this to, either.
Remember when I told you I dated a guy last year? I did the same thing to him because he wanted to get close to me. He got angry about it, and we broke up. I was fine with that, and I thought I'd be fine if it happened with you, too. I thought, if I pushed you away, it wouldn't hurt as much as actually losing you...but...that's not why I did it."

"Emi, I..."

"Hisao, you better let me keep going, because if you stop me I may never be able to get started again. I need to run this race to the end." I look at Hisao, and he nods like he understands, so I continue. "See, I lost someone really close to me a while ago, and I thought that risking that kind of pain wasn't worth letting anyone else get close." I pause for a second and look Hisao in the eye. "Sometimes, it is worth it. The person I lost..."

You can do this, Ibarazaki. Don't break down now. Not yet.

"...the person I lost was the person who taught me how to run, the person who taught me more about life than anyone else. Eight years ago, in the same accident where I lost my legs...I also lost my father." Hisao says nothing, but he does put a hand on my shoulder. I can appreciate the gesture, and I almost give in to the desire to lean into him, but if I do that I definitely won't finish. "He died on the way to the hospital, and I didn't get to go to the funeral. I only got to go to the gravesite two months later to say my goodbyes. I knew then that I never wanted to go through something like that again, so that's why this is so hard for me. That's why I've never worried about the future, because anything can happen at any time. I...I could lose anybody at any time."

I pause for a second to take a breath, and Hisao tries to draw me closer to him. Against every instinct I have, I put my hand out to stop him. "'M not finished," I say. Hisao backs off a bit, and I continue. "I was just getting used to that, too. I realized that if I could still run with you, could still spend time with you, that maybe the chances that I'd lose you would go down. I thought that was the best I could hope for, because you'd be with Hanako." I put up a hand to stop him before he starts. "I know, I know, don't make it about Hanako. I'm not trying to, not anymore."

I take another deep breath, and try my best to keep from fidgeting again. "Anyway, this all led up to what happened the day before yesterday." Hisao's face falls, which I understand, and I feel a brief twinge of happiness at his guilt, which just makes me feel guilty too. "The reason I got all weird then is sort of the same, but sort of...not. It's about what happened...after the accident." I pause for a second and gather my thoughts again. "After all, I wasn't the only one who'd lost someone."

A look of recognition crosses Hisao's face. "Your mother?"

I nod. "After Dad...died, something went wrong with her, too. I know that sounds bad, but it's the only way I know how to put it. She got really depressed, and although I didn't understand it at the time," I look Hisao straight in the eye again, "I figured out later that she'd started drinking, to try to keep her own pain away." I wait for Hisao's reaction, but there isn't one. "I thought...I thought maybe there was something I could do to help her, so once I was out of the hospital, I pushed myself as much as I could. I was one of the fastest recoveries they'd even seen at the hospital, and when I got home I learned how to take care of myself so she didn't have to. The only trouble was that...that none of it helped. She just kept getting worse. Finally, once I was out of rehab, Nurse talked her into getting some help. You're the first person I've ever told this, and I'd rather you didn't say anything to Mom when you meet her." Hisao raises an eyebrow when I say that, but doesn't say anything.

"So, when I saw you yesterday morning...that's what I saw in my head. I saw you in pain, and I needed to know what the pain was. I didn't want to have to watch you start going down that same path. At the time, I thought it was Hanako, because of the fight you'd had, so I told you to set things right with her. But that wasn't the problem, was it?"

Hisao shakes his head. "It was part of it, but..."

"It...was?" I say, feeling a little thrown off all of a sudden. "Okay, I...yeah, I understand. It...well, you probably felt the same way I've been feeling, you needed to tell her how you felt, because you hadn't yet, just like I haven't told you that I love you..."

...

Did...I...just...

...

Hisao is standing there, staring at me with his mouth open, and I can't do anything but blink back at him. "You...did you just say..."

...

Come on, brain, do something.

...

"I...um...yeah, I...said that. Just...don't worry about it. I didn't mean to...I mean, I know Hanako loves you, too, and...you probably need to meet her for lunch or something, so...um...morning run! Don't forget!" I start to take off at full speed, intending to head for the bus stop, but I only get a few steps before...

This is your second chance, Ibarazaki. Don't let it go without a fight.

I turn around, and I barely get a glimpse of Hisao as he plows straight into me, hitting me in the chest with the force of a steam train. We both crash to the ground, and he winds up on top of me. "What are you...mmmffff?"

Suddenly there are lips pressing against mine, and...I'm in shock or something because I just stare at Hisao's hair that's in my eyes. Hisao pulls back and stares right back at me with the biggest damn smile I've ever seen on his face. "I love you, too," he says. "That's what I wanted to tell you today." And now the biggest damn smile I've ever had on my face appears, and if I didn't feel like I could light up all of Japan before, I do now. I quickly pull Hisao back down into another kiss...

Thank you, universe!

~~~~

Part 1 | Next
Last edited by dewelar on Thu Nov 06, 2014 12:30 am, edited 1 time 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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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by brythain » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:22 pm

So THAT is why we've been having so much trouble with Emi Ibarazaki. Her mother was a luscious lush-ess. What back-story. So drama.

And Goro too. Dang, I should've had my morning coffee before I started reading. OK, off to breakfast and back again for a re-read.

It must be wonderful stuff, I have a silly grin on my face. I need to appreciate it more. Where's that coffee?
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.52 posted 10/

Post by bhtooefr » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:47 pm

Wait, did Hisao just confess by tackling Emi?

Turnabout is fair play, I guess.

Edit: I thought this was an error, but no, you're becoming as bad as brythain:
dewelar wrote:"Yeah, that's fine. I don't have anything going on right now except some work for Madam Presideaf, and the longer I can put that off the better. Where are you sitting?"
That was terrible. :evil:
Last edited by bhtooefr on Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by azumeow » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:49 pm

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPP!!!!! I love love LOVE how that ended! I honestly expected Emi to just grab Hisao and kiss him when they were having their weird little moment during the cool-down, but aaahhhhhhh the way things went is greaatttt!!!
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:13 pm

Thank you, universe!
Took you long enough, Emi! - Universe

There's a lot to decompress in this chapter, with Meiko's alcoholism and the reverse tackle hug kiss victory thingie for Emi. Will need to think more. (As Rin might say.)
"Well, I thought that since I painted that painting for Hisao, and it seemed like maybe that helped, I might try to do something for someone else. I didn't know who it would be, because I didn't know who I wanted to try and talk to, but then yesterday, when I went up to the roof, she was there, although there was no toilet there, which was very disappointing. I thought I might want to talk to her, though, so I started this." She waves a foot vaguely in the direction of her painting. "I'm not sure what she needs to see, though."
Your Rin, as always, continues to impress me.
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by Mahorfeus » Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:44 am

I never thought I could be so happy for Emi. She's done me proud in this fanfic, and now it seems that her patience and determination have paid off. :)

It seems we have just enough time to wrap things up... perhaps some reconciliation and a non-gratuitous sex scene. :P
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Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by azumeow » Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:47 am

Mahorfeus wrote:I never thought I could be so happy for Emi. She's done me proud in this fanfic, and now it seems that her patience and determination have paid off. :)

It seems we have just enough time to wrap things up... perhaps some reconciliation and a non-gratuitous sex scene. :P
Emi? Non-gratuitous sex scene? Not on MY watch!
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by brythain » Wed Oct 22, 2014 3:18 am

With more coffee inside, I'm very happy for Emi. Also, delighted at Meiko having a nice chunk of back-story filled in, although it's a sad one. And wait, is that really Nurse's name? :)

The thing is, there are a few more chapters left before the end, according to you... and I cannot help but feel I need to prepare myself for someone's heart to be broken somewhere. Then again, your Developments has strengthened those particular emotional muscles considerably, so I should survive. Lovely chapter, on second look, still lovely.
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.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:44 am

I don't think any H-scene could be anything BUT gratuitious at this point...

Great chapter again, except for the part with Meiko - Emi's outburst to be exact - where I'm still not quite sure what your intention was or where it was supposed to be going or what exactly Emi thought she could have done in addition to what she already did...

One general thing about your story - and that's been going on for quite a few chapters now - is that the construction is quite formulaic: You have a series of dialogues and hardly any group scenes.
In this chapter this is especially obvious. You have Emi/Nurse, Emi/Rin, Emi/Kamisaka, Emi/Meiko, Emi/Misaki and finally Emi/Hisao, and the lack of background characters in the scenes makes this sometimes read more like a theatre play.
It's not like there's anything wrong with writing the story this way; it's just something I noticed and thought to be kind of unusual.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by dewelar » Wed Oct 22, 2014 10:27 am

Thanks to all for the kind words so far! Surprisingly, I think this chapter turned out to be the hardest so far -- having too many ideas can sometimes be a more difficult challenge than not having enough...

Anyway, a couple things I wanted to address...
bhtooefr wrote:I thought this was an error, but no, you're becoming as bad as brythain:
Hey, now! At least I try to use my puns tactically, unlike that carpet-bombing madman! :wink: I hope Yo-Shi the difference between our styles.
Oscar Wildecat wrote:
Thank you, universe!
Took you long enough, Emi! - Universe
"Yeah, well, it would've happened sooner if you didn't throw all that other stuff in my way! I'm not used to running hurdles!"
Mirage_GSM wrote:I don't think any H-scene could be anything BUT gratuitious at this point...
*whistles quietly*
Great chapter again, except for the part with Meiko - Emi's outburst to be exact - where I'm still not quite sure what your intention was or where it was supposed to be going or what exactly Emi thought she could have done in addition to what she already did...
It's not about what she could have done so much as thinking what she did wasn't ever appreciated or acknowledged because Meiko never talked about it, and that everything she did never seemed to help her mother get any better. Even worse, in Emi's stressed-out state of mind it feels like her mother is now denying that Emi did anything. Other stuff is feeding into it as well, of course, and there will be more to come on this in future chapters.
One general thing about your story - and that's been going on for quite a few chapters now - is that the construction is quite formulaic: You have a series of dialogues and hardly any group scenes.
In this chapter this is especially obvious. You have Emi/Nurse, Emi/Rin, Emi/Kamisaka, Emi/Meiko, Emi/Misaki and finally Emi/Hisao, and the lack of background characters in the scenes makes this sometimes read more like a theatre play.
It's not like there's anything wrong with writing the story this way; it's just something I noticed and thought to be kind of unusual.
*nods* I didn't set out to do it this way -- it just felt like how the story needed to be told, and it seems to work, so I went with the flow. Now that you mention it, my background in the theatre might be coming through. Anyway, it's worked for me thus far :) .
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.52 posted 10/

Post by Blasphemy » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:12 pm

Isn't it nice to be finally able to smile for the characters again? Was nice knowing that something good would be in store for Emi at the end of this chapter after seeing her worry so much.
Mirage_GSM wrote:I don't think any H-scene could be anything BUT gratuitious at this point...
Not sure if I can agree with that. The half-H-scene involving Hanako and Hisao was done so darn well in my opinion that I certainly wouldn't mind a H-scene of equal quality. I'm kinda indifferent about it and we'll have to see if it will be done at all and if it'll be done well. Of course it's darn easy for those scenes to feel gratuitous.


Now overall I'm actually not quite sure if I liked these last couple chapters as much as I did like your chapters previously dewelar. It may be partially because it seems like misunderstandings became more frequent and also a bit more contrived (I mean the whole drunk sleepover for example). But even then I was expecting to like Hanako's last chapter much more than I ended up doing, and that one was rather clearing up stuff, just as this one is. Perhaps the story just started to feel a bit more unnatural overall lately to me and it may be that this point of Mirage plays a role in that:
Mirage_GSM wrote: One general thing about your story - and that's been going on for quite a few chapters now - is that the construction is quite formulaic: You have a series of dialogues and hardly any group scenes.
In this chapter this is especially obvious. You have Emi/Nurse, Emi/Rin, Emi/Kamisaka, Emi/Meiko, Emi/Misaki and finally Emi/Hisao, and the lack of background characters in the scenes makes this sometimes read more like a theatre play.
It's not like there's anything wrong with writing the story this way; it's just something I noticed and thought to be kind of unusual.
Perhaps it really has felt a bit too formulaic lately. That could be because I think there hasn't really been happening much outside of the actual conversations apart from monologuing and having lunch/sleeping when beforehand we had some more events like Hanako going shopping with Hisao or doing karaoke. We don't get to see the actual drunk sleepover but rather the aftermath and lunches, morning runs and Nurse visits are dime in a dozen.

That coupled with realizing that Emi's would likely be going to win the race to Hisao's heart may have made the last bunch of chapters a little less interesting of a read. It's not really that problematic because not only does everything going on seem to make sense but the dialogues are still as good as ever (if not better, especially the Rin awesomeness).

It's rather hard for me to say though. I wasn't even intending to even mention anything until I read Mirage's last comment that seemed to perhaps explain some of my slightly waning interest.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Wed Oct 22, 2014 12:42 pm

Mom looks back at me, her face not showing any emotion. "That's quite the entanglement, isn't it? I'm not really sure I can help you very much as far as being able to sort it all out. I don't know if it will be possible to do it without someone getting hurt, but I know you'll try. It sounds like Hisao is trying, too. The only thing I haven't heard is how he feels about you."
Perhaps Entanglements would have been a better title for what this work has developed into. :wink:
Mirage_GSM wrote:One general thing about your story - and that's been going on for quite a few chapters now - is that the construction is quite formulaic: You have a series of dialogues and hardly any group scenes.
In this chapter this is especially obvious. You have Emi/Nurse, Emi/Rin, Emi/Kamisaka, Emi/Meiko, Emi/Misaki and finally Emi/Hisao, and the lack of background characters in the scenes makes this sometimes read more like a theatre play.
It's not like there's anything wrong with writing the story this way; it's just something I noticed and thought to be kind of unusual.
dewelar wrote:*nods* I didn't set out to do it this way -- it just felt like how the story needed to be told, and it seems to work, so I went with the flow. Now that you mention it, my background in the theatre might be coming through. Anyway, it's worked for me thus far :) .
For a reader like me, this particular formula -- in conjunction with the POV index -- has proved particularly useful in keeping track of the ongoing plotlines. If I need to refresh myself on a certain past event, I can usually track it down without too much difficulty.

(There's also the fact that I love theatre plays. Driving Miss Lilly? A Wheelchair Named Desire?)
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience." - Mark Twain
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by forgetmenot » Wed Oct 22, 2014 2:31 pm

"Yeah, actually, she's with one of my classmates, helping her get ready for some date or something. I didn't even know she did that kind of thing, but then I didn't know her until a couple days ago, and...well, I don't know that many of my classmates, really."
I swear this group of authors is so incestuous sometimes I wonder if we all live on the same mountain in West Virginia. :lol:

Glad to see Emi getting some resolution. It's a different kind of dramatic satisfaction, I find, when one of the initial assumed outcomes ends up being the conclusion to the story. Very old-school, I guess, in not trying to throw twists and turns at us from every angle. I don't know if you've ever read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but it's a very similar kind of resolution. Personally, I find it very satisfying.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.52 posted 10/

Post by Hyperactive » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:58 pm

That.

That. Was Incredible.


I have a sneaky suspicion that this isn't over yet though. I love your style of writing and have enjoyed Every. Single. Bit of it so far, anything you bring forth now can only be a bonus :D

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