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

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
Blank Mage
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:29 am
Location: My own personal hell, with a metered internet connection.

Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.57 posted 3/6

Post by Blank Mage » Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:37 pm

*slams open door, expression slightly crazed*

I CAUGHT UP! Screw you, world! I'm the b- *coughs up blood*

...anyway. This phone isn't ideal for copy paste quote pointing, so I'll just have to leave this a bit less organized than I'd like.

I didn't realize how hard I ship Meiko X Nurse until now. It turns out I ship it.... real hard. The alcoholism angle was inspired. It brought some hard hitting, terrifyingly rational drama that I simply hadn't considered. I've always held that it's when characters aren't themselves that we understand them more. Emi's outburst hit me in the feels, summarized years of tragic backstory, added a new layer to my views of Meiko and Emi, and moved the plot in an entirely unexpected direction, in only a few dozen lines. Dewelar, you glorious bastard.

I was rooting for Hanako, I admit, but at least it was a gracious loss, and all the characters were better for it in the end. I like the idea that Hanako is so new to the concept of friends that she misunderstood her own feelings. I've always disliked how easily people seem to categorize relationships. Can you really put a label on liking someone? At what intensity and length of time can you call it love? How do you differentiate it from kinship, or respect, or admiration? Where do they meet? Love just seems like a rather cheap word to me, given the range and depth and complexity of emotion.

...well, Rin knows what I'm talking about, at least.

Originality be damned, I'm stealing your headcanon. I never quuuiiiite agreed with it, namely because Jigoro is such a jerk that logically Shizune would have to flee to a place where she could feel loved and appreciated. It's weird that Shizune would stay with him when her mom is the one who learned a language for her. (Karma demands that Mayoi has the best epilogue! She's too kind to get this shafted!) Still, it allows for a far more balanced and rounded view of Shizune than we would otherwise get. Can't argue with that.

What I can argue with, and I hope this doesn't sound petty, is the ease with which Shizune and Lilly talk. This is contact sign language we're talking about. It's a workaround of a workaround, so it pulls me out of the story a bit when the two effortlessly convey complex sentences to each other at a reasonable pace. I know there's a suspension of disbelief involved, but it's something I've put more than a little thought into, so it kind of jumped out at me. But enough about Shizune. Sorry. It's a bad habit.

Your Misha (really, Blank?) is spot on, but only when assuming that Misha is as she likes to portray herself. Misha is a bit weird, because while it's stated that she's undergone a pretty massive change, it's never really explained just what she was like before. It's basically down to personal interpretation. I, for one, think that much of her bubbly, hyperactive, ditzy persona is just the part she plays, and has no real impact on a far more grounded internal monologue. It's certainly plausible that she's become the mask, though, or simply prone to severe mood swings. Long story short, I like the writing, but I respectfully disagree. (The tildes were a but much though. Sorry.)

The ONE THING you could have done to ruin this story was have no girl win. I find the idea infuriating, because it's a damned cop out whenever I see it, particularly in harem comedies, which seem follow me like my own damned shadow. Ugh.

Good job not doing that, though! You have my respect for making a firm decision and following through with it! I promise I won't slack off again! Probably! I still feel bad!
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."

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.57 posted 3/6

Post by dewelar » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:43 pm

Blank Mage wrote:*slams open door, expression slightly crazed*

I CAUGHT UP! Screw you, world! I'm the b- *coughs up blood*
Um...everything okay there? Yeah? Cool. Moving on, then...
I didn't realize how hard I ship Meiko X Nurse until now. It turns out I ship it.... real hard. The alcoholism angle was inspired. It brought some hard hitting, terrifyingly rational drama that I simply hadn't considered. I've always held that it's when characters aren't themselves that we understand them more. Emi's outburst hit me in the feels, summarized years of tragic backstory, added a new layer to my views of Meiko and Emi, and moved the plot in an entirely unexpected direction, in only a few dozen lines. Dewelar, you glorious bastard.
Thanks :) . As was mentioned above, there had to have been some serious effect on Meiko after losing her husband and nearly her daughter as well. For me, this just made sense.
I was rooting for Hanako, I admit, but at least it was a gracious loss, and all the characters were better for it in the end. I like the idea that Hanako is so new to the concept of friends that she misunderstood her own feelings. I've always disliked how easily people seem to categorize relationships. Can you really put a label on liking someone? At what intensity and length of time can you call it love? How do you differentiate it from kinship, or respect, or admiration? Where do they meet? Love just seems like a rather cheap word to me, given the range and depth and complexity of emotion.
And thanks again. You pretty much summed up my thinking on this here.
...well, Rin knows what I'm talking about, at least.
Indeed :D.
Originality be damned, I'm stealing your headcanon. I never quuuiiiite agreed with it, namely because Jigoro is such a jerk that logically Shizune would have to flee to a place where she could feel loved and appreciated. It's weird that Shizune would stay with him when her mom is the one who learned a language for her. (Karma demands that Mayoi has the best epilogue! She's too kind to get this shafted!) Still, it allows for a far more balanced and rounded view of Shizune than we would otherwise get. Can't argue with that.
As with Emi, the splitting up of a family does funny things to people. Quite often, the person who does the splitting (in this case Mayoi) more often than not bears the brunt of the blame, even if their reasons are worthwhile ones in their own eyes. I feel like Shizune, who values loyalty very highly, would see it as a betrayal, even if it's not necessarily logical to do so. I may also have been influenced by Megumeru's wonderful insights regarding the Hakamichi family.
What I can argue with, and I hope this doesn't sound petty, is the ease with which Shizune and Lilly talk. This is contact sign language we're talking about. It's a workaround of a workaround, so it pulls me out of the story a bit when the two effortlessly convey complex sentences to each other at a reasonable pace. I know there's a suspension of disbelief involved, but it's something I've put more than a little thought into, so it kind of jumped out at me.
No, it's fine. My rationale for this is that the two would have spent a lot of time together growing up, and Akira does say they were quite close in the past, so they likely have developed some of their own short-cuts in communication. You have every right to say it's flimsy, because it kind of is. I'm open to suggestions on improving things :).
But enough about Shizune. Sorry. It's a bad habit.
Heh.
Your Misha (really, Blank?) is spot on, but only when assuming that Misha is as she likes to portray herself. Misha is a bit weird, because while it's stated that she's undergone a pretty massive change, it's never really explained just what she was like before. It's basically down to personal interpretation. I, for one, think that much of her bubbly, hyperactive, ditzy persona is just the part she plays, and has no real impact on a far more grounded internal monologue. It's certainly plausible that she's become the mask, though, or simply prone to severe mood swings. Long story short, I like the writing, but I respectfully disagree. (The tildes were a but much though. Sorry.)
*nods* As I mentioned, there's a reason I used as many wave-dashes as I did, so no need to go over that again. What I will say is that in my own head, the closest we get to seeing the inner Misha is in the scene on the rooftop when she tells Hisao about confessing to Shizune. I tried to base her PoV mostly on that, with a touch of extrapolation on my part. I have no issue with anyone who disagrees with me, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it :wink:. Now, if you want to say that her PoV doesn't follow from that scene, I'm willing to listen!
The ONE THING you could have done to ruin this story was have no girl win. I find the idea infuriating, because it's a damned cop out whenever I see it, particularly in harem comedies, which seem follow me like my own damned shadow. Ugh.
Heh...yeah, in the past couple years since I have started exploring Japanese media, I have discovered I'm not a big fan of harem comedies for this reason, among others. There are a few good ones, but for me they have to meet at least the following three criteria:

1) Have an ending that makes sense.
2) Don't make it obvious who the main character is going to pick from the beginning.
3) Go light on the accidental pervert moments and ESPECIALLY the violence that typically follows. That stuff's funny, like, once a series. Maybe.

And yet, despite all that, I somehow still enjoy To Love-Ru...
Good job not doing that, though! You have my respect for making a firm decision and following through with it!
Thanks a-third! Even if the ending I had in mind when I first envisioned the story wound up not being the one I used in the end, I did settle on this one before I actually started posting the story.
I promise I won't slack off again! Probably! I still feel bad!
*laughs* No worries!
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
Leaty
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:18 pm
Location: Exile

Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.57 posted 3/6

Post by Leaty » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:56 pm

dewelar wrote:No, it's fine. My rationale for this is that the two would have spent a lot of time together growing up, and Akira does say they were quite close in the past, so they likely have developed some of their own short-cuts in communication. You have every right to say it's flimsy, because it kind of is. I'm open to suggestions on improving things :).
I love the idea of this. That would make it like deaf-blind twin-speech!

(Me and my bestie once played identical twins in a Pathfinder game and took "Twinspeak" as one of our bonus languages. I think ideoglossia is fascinating.)

User avatar
YutoTheOrc
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2013 9:43 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.57 posted 3/6

Post by YutoTheOrc » Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:04 pm

Image Finally, Finally after weeks of reading, I...have...finally....caught up!

I am REALLY enjoying the story thus far, I especially like the P.O.Vs and the Original character. I'm a fan of Noriko :D . Where did you come up with such an idea?!

I also liked the fact that you subtly mention other writer's characters withing your story, really well done there! Before you get a large head and fly away on me now, :twisted: I have one small complaint. In chapter...
Chapter 56 Part 2 wrote:[I'll tell Lilly know.]
I think you mean now. Other than that, great story looking forward to the next chapter! :D

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.57 posted 3/6

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:46 pm

Cool, another new reader! Welcome!
YutoTheOrc wrote:Finally, Finally after weeks of reading, I...have...finally....caught up!
Heh...yeah, this story is quite the behemoth now, isn't it?
I am REALLY enjoying the story thus far, I especially like the P.O.Vs and the Original character. I'm a fan of Noriko :D . Where did you come up with such an idea?!
Thanks very much for the kind words! Noriko's origins...actually, you might say she's the result of reverse-engineering. If you want to get into specifics, it might be easier to do by PM.
I also liked the fact that you subtly mention other writer's characters withing your story, really well done there!
*bows* I can only hope that they might feel some of the honor that I feel when something of mine is picked up in the same way.
Before you get a large head and fly away on me now, :twisted: I have one small complaint.
Shoot...I thought I'd fixed that back when Mirage pointed it out, but apparently I only did it in the copy on my hard drive. Thanks for catching that, and it is now fixed!
Other than that, great story looking forward to the next chapter! :D
Again, thanks! I am currently about two-thirds done with the final draft, so it shouldn't be more than a few days before it's posted :D!
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Developments, Chapter 58 (Part 1)

Post by dewelar » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:17 pm

"Leaving already?"

I'm so distracted by talking to Ms. Hakamichi that I almost miss Lilly's quiet inquiry. "Oh, L-Lilly! Um...yes, I n-need to get back for..."

I debate in my head what, exactly, I should say, but just as I decide it would be all right to tell Ms. Hakamichi about my counseling, Lilly has already anticipated the reason for my hesitation. "Yes, I know," she says simply. "Give me a call if you'd like to get together before I come back to the dorm."

"Okay, I will," I reply. Even though our discussion last night seemed to go well, there's still a lot I feel like I need to process. Until I do that, it's probably best for me to avoid both Lilly and Hisao. "Do you know...when that will be?"

"Not exactly, but it will be no later than Friday. I'll need to meet with Yuuko and Kamisaka before the start of the term." Lilly pauses, and the pressure I'd been feeling diminishes at the thought that I have at least a few days of leeway. I have my appointment with Miss Yumi this morning, and then the newspaper club tomorrow. Beyond that, I still have my own future to set in order. To my surprise, Lilly adds, "If you like, we could have lunch in the tea room that day."

I gasp slightly, not expecting her to be asking that already. "A-are you sure about that?"

"As sure as I am about anything of late," she says with a wry smile. "Since I have the key, I'll be there one way or the other. It would be better if you were there with me."

While I don't know if I'll be ready by then, I feel a little happy to receive the invitation. With things still a bit delicate, I can't decline, but I can't accept either. "Thank you, Lilly. I'll l-let you know. We'll meet again...soon."

"Soon, yes." I stand there, not sure if I should reach out to Lilly or not. In the end, I decide on the latter. I walk away, my bag over my shoulder and Noriko's sleeping bag in my other hand. I glance back for a moment, but I quickly turn away, resisting the urge to run back and bury myself in her presence like I always have. I need to keep finding my own way, not just depending on her. If I can't do that, I'll be throwing away all the confidence she's placed in me, and that I'm trying to place in myself.

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.

When we get to Yamaku, everyone gets out of the car quickly. I'm relieved, because I feel like I can breathe again, and I take the opportunity to stretch out a bit. Shizune signs something to Misha, who goes around to the trunk and starts unloading the bags. Shizune then turns to her mother and gestures. Ms. Hakamichi nods, and the two walk a few steps away for what I presume is a private conversation, so I leave them be and go to help Misha. When she sees me, she stands up straight and says, "So~, things went well with Lilly last night, right right?"

At this, more expected reaction from Misha, I relax a bit. "Y-yes," I respond with a nod for emphasis. "I th-think...it'll be a little while before everything's b-back to normal, though." After a brief pause, I decide to test the more dangerous water. "Is...Shizune okay?"

Misha's face turns troubled. I'd never seen this side of her until recently, but now she seems willing to show it to me easily. I feel an odd happiness, but also a little guilty for it. "She will be, I think. Something happened this morning, and she'll need to work it out. She'll need someone~ to talk to, and probably want to play some games, so I'll have to be there for that."

Misha's voice tells me that her own emotions on the matter are mixed. There's a hint of sadness included among them, similar to the one I heard last night. "W-would it help if I..." I start to say, but Misha quickly interrupts.

"That's okay, Hanako~!" Misha says, just as quickly back to her bubbly self. "At times like this, Shicchan gets really~ intense. It's something I'm used to, so don't worry about it!" I hear the loud sound of snapping fingers, and after a quick look in Shizune's direction Misha immediately hoists their two bags onto her shoulders. "I'd better get going! See you later~, Hanako!"

"R-right. See you later," I say, waving at Misha as she walks swiftly toward Shizune. I wrangle my own bag out of the trunk along with Noriko's sleeping bag, then close the trunk with a thud. I look up to see Misha hugging Ms. Hakamichi enthusiastically, then Shizune doing the same, but more reservedly.

As I'm watching the two Student Council members walk away, I feel Shizune's mother's hand on my shoulder. She came up behind me so quietly that I jump a little, and I almost go into a full-fledged bolt. Taking a deep breath, I slowly turn around, and I see a look of contrition on Ms. Hakamichi's face. "I'm sorry, Miss Ikezawa. I thought you'd have heard me, but I can see you were distracted. I humbly apologize."

Ms. Hakamichi bows her head, and my mind flashes back to similar reactions from teachers and medical staff over the years. Unlike those, hers seems sincere, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Doing my best to brush it off, I say, "It's a-all right, Ms. Hakamichi. I j-just...didn't expect that."

She looks back up at me with a sigh. "Yes, I know. That's exactly the part I should have expected. However, if you're not bothered by it, I'm glad. If I might impose on you a bit more, I was hoping for the opportunity to speak with you for a little while. As a start, since my brother and his wife are not here to do it, I want to thank you for taking care of my niece."

Again, Ms. Hakamichi bows, raising my embarrassment level another notch. "B-but..."

"You're going to deny it, aren't you?" Ms. Hakamichi says, her smile returning. "You want to say that Lilly has been taking care of you rather than the other way around, and that you just want to repay that kindness." Not being able to say she's wrong, I stay silent. Ms. Hakamichi turns to look toward the school. "Lilly's told me quite a bit about the...difficulties the two of you have had over these past few weeks. Of course, Lilly feels that there's no need for you to do anything for her in return." She turns to look at me again. "So, I have a suggestion: continue being her friend, as she will continue being yours. Perhaps the scales are out of balance right now, but you don't need to be impatient. Lilly cares for you as much as anyone, if not more, and so I have no doubt that you will be friends long enough for things to even out."

I nod, knowing all too well how much damage being impatient can do. "I think...I just always hoped she would c-care for me...more like a sister, not a d-daughter."

Ms. Hakamichi closes her eyes and lowers her head slightly. "I'm afraid that might not be entirely possible. I've seen her treat her own sister as a daughter when it was appropriate, which is more often than Akira would care to admit. She would probably treat her own mother like a daughter if she could get away with it. That's just who Lilly is."

"I know that, t-too...now. I wish I'd understood that s-sooner."

"Actually, I think you were lucky to realize it so quickly," Ms. Hakamichi says with a wan smile. She pauses for a moment, looking me in the eye. I try my hardest not to look away. "Also, there's something else I can tell you from my own experience. People worry about their sisters just as they do about their daughters, you know. After all, you're worried about her, too, right?"

Perceptive, as expected from someone related to both Lilly and Shizune.

"We talked a lot about...the future last night. She's been th-thinking about it a lot lately, I think."

"She mentioned that to me, too. I hope she makes her decision quickly. What about you, Hanako? What are your plans for the future?"

The future.

Even thinking about the future has been on hold for me for a long time. Even before the accident, all I really wanted were the stereotypical things Japanese girls are supposed to want, like being a bride someday. I suppose I really wanted to be like my mother in that respect, since she was home taking care of me while my father worked. I never knew what my father did while he was alive, although I was told later that he was in the JMSDF. I have vague memories of my mother showing me pictures of the places his ship went, and I think that's when I started becoming interested in traveling. It's somewhat pitiful, but it's really the only time I ever bothered to think about the future – the only time it mattered.

Until now.

"I don't r-really know yet, but..." Before I finish my sentence, I remember a stray thought I had a while ago, before I let my feelings for Hisao take over my heart – no, maybe even from long before that. "I...think I might be interested in...photography." When this summer began, that was the other reason why I'd agreed to go on the trip with Naomi, so that I could start to see the places I'd only seen in pictures – or maybe even to be the one taking those pictures. I'd even planned to borrow a camera to take with me, but I never did. Thinking about looking at pictures with my mother must have brought it all back to the surface.

Ms. Hakamichi studies my face for a moment, then smiles. "You know, you might just be suited for something like that. Even in the short time I've known you, I can tell that you're quite good at observing in an unobtrusive way. I hope this doesn't seem rude, but I don't doubt that you've had a lot of practice at trying to be invisible."

"N-no, you're right. I've spent...a long time f-feeling like everyone would be...better off if they didn't have to d-deal with me."

"I see," she responds, looking a bit chastened. I know she didn't mean to dredge up that memory. "It's a good trait for a photographer to have, making other people feel as though they're not there."

Wait...PEOPLE?

"I...w-wasn't thinking about...I wanted to take p-pictures of...places, or s-scenes..."

"Hmmm...so landscape photography, maybe working for the tourism industry? That's a little outside my area of expertise. Do you have any experience with a camera?"

"J-just playing around a few times..." The orphanage had a couple of cameras they used for various promotions, and one of the wards was kind enough to let me play with one of them. I could never bring myself to take pictures of any of the other kids or the staff, and I didn't think the ones I did take were good enough to be worth keeping. Now I wish I did. I've had a couple other chances since then, but never like that.

"Yamaku has a photography club, doesn't it? Have you considered...well, I suppose you wouldn't, but it would be a good place to start learning."

"There is one, but...the president is a little..." I'm about to mention that Misaki is a bit odd in the way that she spends nearly every free moment – and even some that aren't supposed to be free – working with pictures on her laptop. Then I remember that I'm not exactly in a position to call anyone else odd, so I just let my thought trail off.

Fortunately, Ms. Hakamichi seems to understand. "I suppose a lot of people who are invested in their art might seem a bit strange to those outside their circle, myself included." She notices my surprised look before continuing, "People don't often think of photography as art, but it most definitely is." She leans forward as though she thinks this is something she shouldn't be telling me. "You might not be able to get Mr. Nomiya to admit it, though. He tends to be rather conservative about these things."

The thought of the flamboyant Nomiya being conservative in any way causes me to giggle. My issue, though, isn't just the reputation artists have for being eccentric in general, with Tezuka being a prime example. My larger worry about the photography club is its size. The newspaper club comprises only five members besides myself, and I've only gone beyond greetings with three of them. I've never so much as spoken during a meeting. Besides Misaki, there are at least a dozen students in the photography club. Just thinking about it is starting to set my teeth on edge. Still, if I'm going to keep moving forward, this is the kind of thing I need to at least attempt. "O-okay, Ms. Hakamichi, I'll...think about it."

"That's the start of everything worthwhile," she replies, then reaches into her bag and pulls out a business card. "If you find yourself traveling down that path, give me a call," she says as she hands it to me. "I work with people in the field, and so does Julia. One of us might at least be able to help you get your foot in the door."

I'm stunned by the gesture, but I at least remember to bow and say, "Thank you."

"No need. It's the least I can do for the kindness you've shown my family." Ms. Hakamichi bows in return, then starts to walk around to the driver's side of her car. "I know you have an appointment, so I won't keep you any longer. I really hope the four of you find the time to come back soon." Ms. Hakamichi pauses by the car door, looking a bit wistful. "At least once, before I leave for good."

"For good?"

Ms. Hakamichi's face looks slightly troubled. "Yes, for good. You see, I'm going to be returning to Montréal; I'm not certain when, but probably sometime next spring." She closes her eyes, and she smiles. "Don't repeat what I'm going to say to anyone. You and the other three are the only ones I've told this, but Julia and I are getting married."

After hearing that, I don't think it's possible for my eyes to go any wider. I remember a story on the news a few years ago about countries in Europe allowing same-sex partners to be married, but I haven't watched any news broadcasts since coming to Yamaku. I'd certainly never thought it would involve anyone I actually knew. It also explains some of Shizune's behavior this morning. "Th-that's why...y-your daughter wouldn't..."

"Most likely," Ms. Hakamichi says, nodding sadly. "Julia and I have been talking about this for two years now, but I'd been waiting for my daughter to be more comfortable with our relationship. Some things she'd said recently led me to think that it was possible, but I suppose it was still too soon."

Even though she's trying to hide it, I can see the pain in her face as she says this. It reminds me a lot of Lilly's usual expression. Even though I don't know why, I'm moved to say, "I'm s-sorry."

"Why?" Ms. Hakamichi half-shouts, sounding incredulous. This time, she reminds me of myself, of how I wish I could react to unnecessary apologies. "You've done nothing for which to be sorry." She pauses, turning to look off into the distance. "None of us have, including my daughter. This is something we need to work out between the two of us. We're slowly approaching each other, but the gulf between us is still wide." She bows to me once again, then straightens up abruptly and opens her car door. "I've troubled you enough, Miss Ikezawa, so thank you for indulging my selfish request."

"I-it was my pleasure," I say, returning her bow.

"In that case, I hope you might be willing to listen to one more selfish request." I look at her questioningly for a moment before nodding. "Please, get along well with my daughter. I know she can be difficult, but she's a good person, and she could use more people around her who know that."

Ms. Hakamichi's request takes me slightly aback. I think I'm already friends with Misha, but I'm not sure how well I can say I know Shizune. Still, there's only one thing I can say in reply. "I'll...do my best."

"Thank you," she says, smiling at me one last time before getting into her car and driving away. Strangely, I feel a slight sense of loss as it disappears. It reminds me a little of the night Lilly left Yamaku, and of...other partings that weren't so pleasant. After lingering a little in the growing warmth of the morning, I start on my way up the path to the girls' dorm.

After dropping off my bag in my room, I prepare myself for the task of returning Noriko's sleeping bag. This morning has already been stressful, and I'm not looking forward to dealing with my hallmate as well, but I need to get this out of the way before my appointment with Miss Yumi. Upon re-entering the hallway, I can hear shouting coming from Noriko's room. I freeze in the middle of the corridor, but before I can turn around her door opens and Kamisaka walks out. From inside her room, I hear Noriko yelling, "Don't come back until you get your head straight!" followed immediately by the door slamming shut.

Kamisaka stands there for a moment, a confused expression on his face. I still haven't moved from my spot, but now I have to, or he'll run into me on his way out. I shuffle as quietly as I can to one side of the hallway, clutching the sleeping bag to my chest, but not quietly enough. Kamisaka's head snaps in my direction, and so do his words. "Who's that?" I swallow, trying to ease my dry throat, as Kamisaka unfolds his cane. "Is someone there?" he asks more calmly. "Ikezawa?"

How does he know it's me? Oh, right, probably because I'm the only other one staying in this hall right now.

I start breathing again and take another shot at loosening my throat. "S-sorry, Kamisaka. I was just s-startled by...um..."

Kamisaka's shoulders slump. "Ah, don't worry about it, Ikezawa. I was kinda startled, too, to be honest. I didn't think I'd get that kind of reaction."

"R-reaction? To what?" Knowing Noriko's reputation, I imagine it would take a lot to get her angry like that.

Kamisaka turns slightly red. "Um...asking her to have lunch with me."

"Lunch?" I say incredulously, because I can't believe that's all it was.

"Yeah, lunch," Kamisaka says, shaking his head and laughing. "I just came by to ask her to come to the cafeteria with me, and she just started...yelling at me, about how she didn't want to talk to me. I figured I must've done something wrong, so I asked her what it was, and that's when she threw me out." Kamisaka sighs, looking defeated. "But this has nothing to do with you, Ikezawa. Sorry to trouble you."

He starts walking, his cane rolling across the floor lackadaisically. I call after him. "Wh-what are you..."

Pausing without turning around, he says, "I'll just come back tomorrow, maybe she'll calm down. I mean, it's not like we're close or anything. Well, according to her, anyway. Talk to you later, Ikezawa."

He waves vaguely to me as he resumes walking, and as he goes into the stairwell I realize I should have mentioned that Lilly was planning to talk to him. Having lost that chance, I take a deep breath, turn around and resume my perilous trek to Noriko's door. Tucking the sleeping bag under one arm, I raise my hand to knock on the door, but hesitate, wondering if her anger might be vented on me. Just then, the door opens abruptly, and Noriko nearly crashes into me as she comes out.

"What the fu-huh? Hanako?" She stares at me for a moment, then glances down the hall, then back at me. "What are you...oh, yeah, my sleeping bag." She gingerly takes it from my unresisting hands as I stand in front of her. She turns it over in her hands nonchalantly, saying, "Looks like it came back in one piece, but I should probably wash it." She tosses it off to the side, then turns back to look at me. "So is there something else, or are you just waiting for me to slam the door again?"

Unable to bring myself to move just yet, my stammer kicks into high gear. "I-I was...just t-talking to...Kamisaka."

"Figures," she says with a sigh. She looks back at me, and her eyes flash. "I want to say it's his fault for asking so suddenly, but any other day...ugh," she grunts, slamming her fist into the door. I jump backwards as she spits, "I just wasn't ready to deal with him yet, okay? You can relate to that, right? I mean, you're not ready to deal with people pretty much all the time. I was just...more...forceful about it." Her eyes dart around a bit, then some of the steam seems to go out of her. "Eh, who am I kidding? It's just easier for me to chase people away than run like you do. Kinda the story of my life, and why the hell am I telling you all this?"

She throws her hands up in the air and walks away, but doesn't close the door. I'm pretty sure I know the answer, though. "B-because I'm here...right now?"

Noriko turns around to look at me, then laughs. "Yeah, you got a point. Any port in a storm, right?" She takes a couple steps back towards me, then says, "So, since I started this, you wanna know what's going on?" I'm not sure whether she's being sarcastic or sincere. I'm about to deny any interest and walk away, but something she said a few days ago comes to mind.

"As for Hisao...well, I guess it's just because he listened to me when nobody else did."

She needs someone to listen to her.

She needs...me.


My hesitation is apparently enough for her, as she backs up into her room and sits down on the bed. "Okay, consider my anchor weighed. Heh, I didn't think I'd be doing the whole 'bare your soul' shit to you, but I'm game if you are." Hearing that almost makes me change my mind and bolt, but then she mutters something under her breath that stops me. "Not like Rika would understand anyway."

"Rika...Katayama?" I ask uncertainly. I only know Katayama's name, which apparently isn't uncommon. I'm not sure what her relationship with Noriko is, but they're close enough for Misha to have made a point of telling her she'd returned to school.

Noriko sighs, and in a voice barely above a whisper says, "Never mind." A little bit louder she adds, "So, you coming in or not?"

"Yes...e-excuse me," I say nervously. Gathering up all my strength, I tentatively step into the room, closing the door behind me. Looking around, I realize that it doesn't look much different from mine – there's nothing hanging on the wall apart from a calendar, and the only things on her shelves are her alarm clock, some textbooks and a small pile of square foil packets. On her bed, I see a medium-sized stuffed rabbit, colored black with white, stitched-on features.

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."

"Thanks," I say, pulling out the chair from her desk to do so.

Noriko shifts to lean her back against the wall before talking. "So, I figure Hisao wouldn't tell you anything about me, so I'll start from the beginning. A couple years ago, they told me I had a disease where only one case in a hundred lived more than ten years. I don't know what it's called, because I never bothered to try and remember it. Everyone who needed to know already knew, right? I didn't give a shit what the name of the thing was, I just needed to know what it was gonna do to me, and that's kill me. That's when I figured out how I was gonna live what was left of my life, which was live as much as I could, as fast as I could, so that's what I've been doing ever since. That's how I got used to living, and I liked it – or at least, I liked it better than how I used to live."

Noriko turns her head to look out the window. "That's what I thought, until this morning. Like usual, I went down to Nurse's office to get my pills and my monthly lecture about how I shouldn't do the stuff I like doing and I should do stuff I don't like doing. At least, that's how it was supposed to go. Instead, he comes at me with that big goofy grin of his and says 'Yoshimura! I've got good news for you!' and starts talking about how there's been..." Noriko pauses and takes a deep breath, and it catches in her throat like she's trying not to cry. "...about...how there's been a breakthrough, a new treatment for this thing I've got. He...my parents signed me up for a clinical trial, and if it works, they think...it might actually keep me alive for a lot longer. Nurse said that since I'm still in the early stages, that...that I'd have...one of the best...best chances..."

Noriko's voice disintegrates, and as I look at her with her knees drawn up to her face, I can't help but feel a little confused. "Th-that's good...isn't it?"

"You'd think so, right?" Noriko replies, sounding like she's on the verge of breaking. "You'd think that hearing you might live something like a normal life would make a person happy, right? So, if I'm sitting here crying like this instead, I must be stupid or something, right?"

"N-no, that's not..."

"Well, the answer is that of course I'm stupid, because ever since Nurse told me that, all I can think about is how everything I've been doing for the last couple years has been wrong! Because I've been living my life, thinking it was going to be over soon, and now maybe it isn't! Because I've been thinking I didn't want to have any regrets, and now because of this maybe I'm going to have a shitload of regrets! Because I was thinking...I was thinking I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory, and didn't care if something I did might kill me...even fantasizing a little about having someone with me...even..." Noriko stops for a moment and looks at me, and I see something in her eyes I've only ever seen before in the mirror: real, gut-wrenching fear. "WHAT IF I'D ACTUALLY DONE IT?!"

There's a part of me that fully comprehends what she's saying right now. It's the part that, once upon a time, had similar thoughts – not for the same reason, but there was a time, years ago, when I thought it would have been better if I'd just died in the fire along with my parents. I don't think that way anymore, because if I had, I wouldn't have met all the people who proved the old me wrong about humanity. I want to tell her this, and so I look her in the eyes, ready to open my mouth...

...but then, just like that, Noriko is back to herself. She looks out the window and says, "You know what? If I had done it, maybe I'd be better off now. I'd be dead, and I wouldn't even know about any of this shit that's going on, right?"

My eyes go wide, because now she's striking far too close to home. It's almost enough for me to wonder how much Hisao told her about me, that somehow she knows me. On the other side, I don't know her well enough to know how serious she is, but she's certainly trying to sound like she's joking. I wonder, if I'd been able to approach anyone back then, whether I might have sounded like this, too.

When I come back from that thought, Noriko is looking me in the eye again. It's suddenly very hard not to feel useless. After a second, she leans back and sighs. "Don't worry, it's not like I'd do something like that now. Just don't say anything to Kamisaka about any of this, okay? He doesn't know about any of it – not even my...condition."

Still not knowing how to respond, I say, "I won't. But...I think you n-need someone...else to talk to. I'm...n-no good at this."

"Nah, you're fine. Didn't I tell you, the best thing about Nakai was that he listened to me? Same thing here. I needed someone to rant to, you listened to me rant, so I'm good now." She pauses for a second, taking a deep breath before continuing, "I mean, it'll really piss me off if I go through this trial thing, and it doesn't work, and I end up dying without doing a bunch of stuff I wanted to do, you know? But otherwise, yeah, I'm good now."

Why am I not convinced of that?

Isn't there something I can do?

Wait.

I've got to go do something.

Maybe that's what she's got to go do, too.


"Noriko, I'm...r-really not that good at this, but...I know someone who is. I'm...on my way to see her now." At Noriko's puzzled expression, I clarify, "E-ever since I came to Yamaku, I've been...going to a counselor, to...h-help me deal with things. There have been...d-different ones, but I think this one r-really helped me. I probably...wouldn't even be able to talk to you otherwise."

Noriko frowns deeply. "Counseling, huh?" she spits. "Yeah, they told me about that when I got here, too. Talked to some old guy with glasses a couple times, but we never connected."

"Miss Yumi is...different." That's all I say, because I know that when people said that to me, I didn't believe them either.

Noriko gets up from the bed and paces for a bit. It makes me nervous, so I get up as well and try to nonchalantly edge my way towards the door. "Well, at least you didn't tell me I should talk to your foreigner friend. I don't think I could've handled that. But...if this Yumi person got this kind of progress out of the Hermit of Yamaku, maybe I should think about it."

"Good!" I say, a little more loudly than I'd wanted. Then, I say something that might be very dangerous. "But...whether or not you s-see her, if you...need to rant again, I'll s-still listen."

Noriko stares at me for a moment, a shocked look on her face. "Hang on, Hanako...why..."

"I'm...your friend. Miss Yumi says...that having friends and b-being counseled...aren't mutually exclusive. A person benefits most...by having both." I smile a little as I finish edging to the door and open it. "I'd b-better get going. My appointment is...pretty soon."

"Yeah, um..." Noriko gets up from her bed and starts walking over to me. The thought strikes me that in a situation like this she might be about to hug me, and even though I'm her friend I'm not quite ready for that. I take a nervous step backwards into the hallway, and Noriko stops walking. Smiling at me, she says, "Okay, then. See ya later, Hanako, and thanks."

"It's...fine," I say, and start down the hall, only half-running, and not stopping until I get to the auxiliary building.

~~~~

Previous | Next
Last edited by dewelar on Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:23 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!

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Developments, Chapter 58 (Part 2)

Post by dewelar » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:22 pm

Before long, I arrive at Miss Yumi's office and knock on the door. She calls for me to come in, and when I do she moves to greet me. She looks as she always does, wearing her trademark violet shawl and long, black, pleated skirt with her grey hair drawn back into a bun.

"Good day, Miss Hanako."

"Good day, Miss Yumi."

It's the beginning of a ritual we have developed since I started seeing her – words, gestures, and activities designed to make me feel at ease. When it's complete, I've taken up my seat on one side of a low table, on which a goban has been placed, with the bowl of tea Miss Yumi has graciously poured for me in my hand. The goban is perhaps the most important part of our ritual, as during our games of Go only the person whose turn it is may speak.

As Miss Yumi sits across from me, she asks, "Shall we begin?" I nod and, as I'm playing black, prepare to place my first stone on the board. However, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I hesitate.

I've always allowed Miss Yumi to guide the conversation by playing first without speaking, because it's always been the more comfortable option for me. That comfort has been one of the things I've treasured, something that's allowed me to connect with Miss Yumi as I never could with any of her predecessors. Even as this summer break has moved forward, bringing the turmoil to my life that it has, I always knew that coming here would be like arriving at an oasis after a long journey through the desert.

But today feels different.

"Are you all right, Miss Hanako?" Miss Yumi's voice gently intrudes on my thoughts. For a moment I almost chide her for breaking the rules, but then I realize that our game technically hasn't started yet. "Y-yes, I'm fine. I was just...thinking." With that said, I lay down my first stone. A small smile comes to my lips with the feeling that I've overcome a hurdle that, until now, I never even realized I'd been stumbling at.

"I see," Miss Yumi replies neutrally. "You seem in better spirits today, Miss Hanako. Is it the result of something that happened recently?"

Remembering my recent encounter with Lilly, I'm about to answer that it is, but then I remember what else happened since my last appointment, and I place my stone without saying anything. After Miss Yumi places hers I'm about to answer that it isn't, but then I remember everything else that has happened since my last appointment. Hisao may have rejected me, but otherwise I realize that things have been going surprisingly well. I play another stone, letting the idea sink in a little deeper. Miss Yumi looks at me, with her eyes betraying a hint of curiosity this time.

I can't blame her for that. If I was able to look at my face right now, I'm sure I'd be wondering what I was thinking, too.

Once Miss Yumi plays again, I confidently answer, "Yes, something good happened."

Miss Yumi looks at me for a bit before commenting. "Indeed. If I'm not mistaken, I would venture that this past week has been quite eventful for you – perhaps even more so than last week?"

"Yes," I say simply. The last time we spoke, I told Miss Yumi about the difficulties I'd been having with Lilly, and about my love for Hisao. Despite my confidence just now, neither of those issues is anywhere near what I'd call settled. "The two people th-that I care about most...I'm not sure where I s-stand with them."

"I see. And yet, you can still feel that something good has happened?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

It's a question Miss Yumi asks often – a simple question, but more often than not very difficult to answer. At the same time, it's also often the one helps me the most, because, like now, it forces me to think about things I haven't had to consider. The two of us trade moves for a while, with Miss Yumi watching me patiently each time it's my turn. "Because," I finally say, "I think I...understand them better n-now, at least a little bit."

"I see. I would say that is undeniably a good thing. Could you tell me how you came to that understanding, Miss Hanako?"

It's quite a tall order, since she's essentially asked me to explain everything that's happened over the past week. I let several more moves pass without saying anything, going through the scenes in my head, trying to organize them. When it's finally clear enough, I slowly, haltingly at first but with more confidence over the course of the telling, relate the events to Miss Yumi. As always, she gives me free rein to tell the story at my own pace, without betraying much in the way of emotion. She frowns a bit as I describe my conversation with Emi about giving up on Hisao, but only nods as I talk about Hisao's rejection of my feelings. She seems more pleased when I talk about how things went with Lilly, and also regarding my odd relationship with Noriko. At least, that's how it seems to me, although I'm fully aware that I might be reading too much into her expressions.

When I finish, Miss Yumi says, "Indeed, it sounds as if quite a few good things happened, along with some experiences that were painful for you. That much is to be expected. However, I must say that seeing you as you are this morning, it appears that you have been able to come through all of it quite well."

Everybody keeps saying that. Why does it still make me feel uneasy?

"I'm n-not sure I have."

"That's quite understandable as well. After all, you are still coming to terms with these experiences. It will likely be some time before you can look upon these days with objective eyes. However, you may trust me when I say that you have grown a great deal since we first met. I certainly believe that you will continue to do so, but I am quite pleased with the progress you have made, especially when it comes to your relationship with Mister Nakai."

That might be true from the point of view of a neutral party, but from mine the pain is too fresh to even try to think that way. "But...but I made so many mistakes..."

Miss Yumi gives me just the barest hint of a smile. "Of course you did. It is a very rare person indeed who doesn't make mistakes when it comes to such matters, especially on the first attempt. As I said before, your feelings, and your reactions, were in all ways quite normal, which I mean in the best way possible." She shifts slightly on her zabuton so that she can look at me more directly. "Miss Hanako, do you remember the last time we met, when I asked you to think about your response to my question about why you loved Mister Nakai?"

I suspected this was where she was leading, and I'm eager to know whether I had interpreted her correctly. "You said...my answer was about how h-he made me feel, and not about...his qualities."

"Indeed. Since then, it would seem that the time came when you no longer held those feelings that led you to declare your love for him. That, too, is inevitable in any relationship. There is always a certain amount of idealization at the beginning of a relationship. It is what happens once that ideal falls away that determines whether it will flower into something more. In this case, it would seem that it did not, but perhaps because of that you can be more confident the next time you feel something similar for someone."

Next...time?

The last part of what she said takes me aback for a moment, but I force myself to put that aside. As for the rest, I'd understood it, but as Hisao would say I only did so in theory. Now, I can see the whole equation. When I called Hisao and Noriko answered, it knocked the wind out of me. For the first time since that first day in the library, thinking about Hisao didn't make me feel warm. I shut myself in my room, but not out of panic, or even because I was depressed. I did it so I could sort out what I was feeling without being in contact with Hisao. When I couldn't do it by myself, I reached out to Lilly because she was all I really had. Miss Yumi understood before I did, and she wanted me to discover it for myself. I...needed to do it myself, or it would have stayed a theory, never proven. "I think I understand."

"In that case, I only have one more thing to ask you today. You said that after your ill-fated phone call to Mister Nakai, you began to doubt your love for him." I nod affirmatively, placing my next-to-last stone on the board. "Tell me, did you ever doubt your friendship with him?"

Taking my last piece in hand, I think carefully about that question. I wonder if she thinks I should have, but I decide it doesn't matter. "No."

As she lays down her own final stone, Miss Yumi smiles slightly at me. "In that case, Miss Hanako, you have lost nothing." Looking from her face to the board and back again, I realize that, for the first time ever, our game has ended in a draw. Miss Yumi rises from her zabuton and says, "I will see you again next week. Please take care."

"You, too, Miss Yumi," I say, rising, bowing, and then departing.

I make my way back to the dorm, and when I get to my hallway, I can't help but sneak a glance at Noriko's door. After what happened this morning, I hope she's all right. Thinking about it, the two of us growing closer this summer might be more surprising than anything else that happened. During my first year at Yamaku, all three of the other rooms in this hallway were occupied by third-years. The administration might have been hoping that one of them would be able to draw me out, but I never spoke to any of them all year. Last year, they all graduated, and Lilly and Noriko moved in. It was readily apparent how different they were; where Lilly was tall, quiet, and mature, Noriko was short, loud, and relatively childish. Now, somehow, I've become friends with both. I wonder if that was in anyone's plan, even if it never would have happened had Noriko not become friends with Hisao first.

As I unpack, I think back to what Noriko said about Hisao's ability to make friends with so many different people. It was that ability that led me to make what was, in hindsight, my biggest mistake of all, even if I had no way of knowing at the time. One of the reasons I fell in love with Hisao was because he didn't treat me like I was different. What I realize now is that he also didn't treat me differently than he treated anyone else. It was just particularly important to me, and I mistook that at first for something else. We may have become friends that way, maybe closer friends than most, but that in and of itself didn't mean he loved me. He said it himself, that he didn't see me that way. I tried to force the issue, and it ruined any chance we might have had, but as Miss Yumi reminded me, I didn't actually lose anything, because I can't lose something I never had.

When I finish unpacking, I start to feel a little hungry, and more than a little restless. I still haven't made a proper trip to the convenience store, so I have to head for the cafeteria. When I get there, the usual summer break half-crowd is already there. I catch a glimpse of Kamisaka, but I can't really talk to him right now, so I keep my head down, quickly grab my lunch and head back into the hallway.

I continue walking, and as I look down at the food in my hands I wonder how things will be from now on. Will I really be able to go back to eating lunch in the tea room with Lilly, but without Hisao there to make things more lively? Will I go back to spending all my free time in the library, slipping out of class or skipping it altogether to go there? Somehow, doing any of those things now feels like I'd be taking a step backwards. Still, if I don't do those things, where will I go?

Forcing myself out of that depressing train of thought, I find that, out of habit, I've arrived at the end of the second floor hallway, in front of the library door with the tea room door to my right. That depresses me almost as much as my previous thoughts. I turn around, still with no destination in mind, and for a split second I swear I hear the laughter of a crowd of people. I close my eyes for a moment, half-expecting to see Lilly and Hisao joining in when I open them.

Shaking my head, I focus my eyes on the hallway in front of me, and for another split second I hear the roar of flames. I feel a wave of heat engulf the right side of my body, where I shouldn't feel it at all. I recognize this sensation, too, from when I wake up from my nightmares about the accident. Again, I close my eyes, preparing to fight off a rising panic, but strangely, it never comes. Then, even more strangely, I feel the same heat on the left side of my body. I close my eyes for a third time, waiting, hoping for the feeling to dissipate. It takes a few moments, but it finally does.

When I open my eyes this time, I turn around and look back at the doors. This time, all I see are the doors, and all I feel is the still air of the hallway. I'm almost disappointed now that neither one is open, because I could have used the opportunity to rest. Then I remember that I was supposed to tell Shizune that I gave Lilly my key to the utility room, and before I start to let my nerves run with what would happen if she knew, I set off for the only other place I've found peace lately: the roof.

I turn around deliberately and walk toward the stairwell, doing my best to ignore the echoing sound of my own footsteps. I slowly climb the stairs, but when I get to the top, I can hear voices from the other side. I listen to see if I recognize them, and to my regret I do.

Hisao and Emi. It had to be them, didn't it?

Without opening the door, I turn around and start back down the stairs. As I make my retreat, I start to wonder if this, too, is how it will always be. If it is – if I will always be fighting myself like this – then at the very least maybe I'll win those fights more often than I have before. For now, though, I don't have the strength to find out if I can win this one, so I try to think of somewhere else I can go. The newspaper club room is likely to be locked, and I don't really want to be out in the open right now. Feeling more than a little deflated, I make my way back to the dorm with my lunch.

Once I get there, I quickly close the door and sit down at my desk. I've gotten myself so worked up that I almost throw the still-wrapped bread in the trash. In the end, hunger wins out, so I open it up, tear off a piece and start chewing on it. It tastes a little bland, but I wind up eating half of it anyway. I guess this morning took even more out of me than I thought.

As I'm getting up to throw out the rest, there's a loud thumping sound at my door. It's too loud and dull to be a knock, and at first I think someone just bumped against my door on their way down the hall. A few seconds later, I hear it again, slightly louder this time, so I put my bread down on the side table and carefully open the door just enough to see out. There I find an unexpected tableau before me. Standing in the hallway is Rin Tezuka, balanced on one leg, the other drawn back to kick the door again. Around her neck is some kind of collar, to which is attached what looks like a canvas shaped like a right triangle, as if someone had taken a normal canvas and sliced it in half diagonally. The two of us stand there, staring at each other, for a few moments. If anyone was observing us, it must look fairly surreal to them, but I suppose that's normal for her. "Tezuka?" I say once I've adjusted myself and opened the door the rest of the way.

"Hmmm...yes, I'm fairly sure I am," Tezuka says after thinking for a moment. "I try to avoid looking into mirrors, so I haven't checked in a while to see if I've become someone else. At least since this morning. It's hard to avoid looking into the mirror when you're in the bathroom. Despite my best efforts, I failed, but it definitely looked like me staring back."

Alien life form, check. My long day is just getting longer.

"I-in that case, why are you...here?"

Half-expecting some sort of philosophical response, or just a nonsensical one, I'm surprised to hear her say, "This is yours." With her left foot, she touches the canvas hanging from her neck, and it sways slightly. "It's getting a bit heavy, so I'd like to remove it."

"Oh...um...then please, c-come in."

Tezuka nods, then walks in and sits down on my bed without any additional pleasantries. She removes one of her sandals and disengages a catch connected to a hook at the top of the canvas from her collar, allowing it to drop to the floor. She then turns the canvas to face me, and I finally get a look at what's painted on it. It doesn't look like any of her works that I've seen, although I admittedly haven't seen many. At what seems to be the top, I see a patch of grey, and as my eyes follow the canvas down it seems to split into various shades of itself, mostly lighter shades, including something close to white on the diagonal side on the far left. About halfway down, there's a broken line of a yellowish-brown color, in the middle of which is what looks like a clock face, distorted in a way that reminds me of The Persistence of Memory. Below that, the monochrome turns polychromatic, as if the line was a prism splitting it into every color of the rainbow, although looking closely there doesn't seem to be much in the way of green. The shapes and patterns within the panoply become more and more intricate as I look closer to the bottom. There, it looks almost unfinished, as though she just ran out of space. It's definitely a striking effect, and for a few moments I just stare at it, dumbfounded. Eventually, I say, "This is...n-not what I expected."

Rin nods, a serene smile on her face. "Good. If it had been, then that would have meant it didn't work."

That confuses me for a moment, but I decide not to comment. "Is it s-supposed to...represent something?"

Tezuka looks at me with something like disappointment on her face. "Hmmm...it's about time, I think."

"About...time? F-for what?"

When I say that, Tezuka smiles. "Good question." She looks back down at the painting, and says, "If you want it to be Western, you can turn it a quarter-turn westward." She looks somewhat pleased with herself at that, although I have no idea what she means.

"O-okay, thanks. Um..."

While I'm trying to think of how, or maybe whether, to continue the conversation, she's already opening my door. Then it strikes me to ask, "Tezuka, do you know anything...about photography?"

She looks at me seriously for what I think is the first time. "I tried it once. It didn't work. I think it could for you, though."

"Why?"

Tezuka looks me up and down. "Your colors are good ones, although maybe some butterscotch would be good, too." After saying that, her eyes drift away from me towards the hallway. "Would it be bad taste to mention that you're making me hungry? Or would it just taste bad?"

Before I finish processing her thought, Tezuka has already wandered away from my door on her way to wherever it is she goes. I close it behind her, then turn around to look at the painting. My eyes are drawn to the broken yellowish-brown line...

Butter...scotch?

Not wanting to think about it too much, I avert my eyes and lean the painting against the wall beneath the window. Even though I just came back here, I suddenly feel restless again, like I need...

...like I need to not be alone.

I pick up my bag again and reach for the door handle, but I stop because don't know where I can go. Wandering aimlessly is no good, and all the places I'd usually go are out. Maybe there's something...

Of course there's something. Why didn't I think of it before?

After talking to Shizune's mother this morning and Tezuka just now, I think it's time I got serious about looking into photography. Since I don't think I'm ready to deal with Misaki just yet, I need to talk to someone else who knows how to use a camera. Fortunately, I happen to know such a person: Yuuko. Early in the year, I caught her in the library fiddling with one, and in exchange for promising not to tell she taught me how to use it. I never had the courage to ask her if I could borrow it, but maybe now I can. She should be working at the Shanghai today, so I open the door and set out for the main entrance.

As I walk through the front gate, I notice someone sitting on one of the benches, and I stop in my tracks before I'm seen. She looks familiar, and as I peer around the corner I know why. It's Ritsu Tainaka, the girl who sits behind Misha in my class. She transferred in at the beginning of the year, and she was Shizune and Misha's target before Hisao arrived. Ever since then, I don't think I've seen her talk with anyone outside of study groups. Even though I've never talked to her, I've noticed that her uniform is always messy, and even from here I can see she's no less careless with her casual clothes. She looks like she's at least half asleep, so she probably hasn't noticed me yet.

This is what they call a chance, isn't it?

Standing here, I think I understand why all my alleged progress still doesn't quite feel satisfying. I've been able to talk to more people, and even become friends with some, but something's always been missing: I've never been the one to approach them first. I realize that this is an opportunity to try. I may not be able to do this just yet, but I need to try. As Miss Yumi has told me, even if I fail, it might make it easier to try again the next time.

I really, really hope she's right.

Cautiously, I walk over to the bench. I see that Tainaka's eyes are closed – maybe she is asleep. I almost change my mind, but something inside tells me that I can't give up, so I muster my strength and say as loudly as I can, "E-excuse me...Tainaka?"

It comes out as barely more than a whisper, but apparently it was enough, because without moving or opening her eyes, she replies, "Yeah?"

Okay, she's awake. I have no choice but to keep going now.

"Um...I'm...Ikezawa. I kn-now we haven't...really talked to each other much, but we're..."

One of her eyes opens, and it looks at me. "Ikezawa?" she says quietly, "from my class?" Both eyes open wide in surprise, and then she sits bolt upright and looks straight at me. "Wait a second, did you just talk to me?"

I back away a few inches and hesitantly reply, "Y-yes?"

Tainaka breaks out in a huge grin and lets out a breath. "You know," she says, leaning in with an excited look on her face, "I was beginning to think I'd go through my whole last year without anyone to talk to!"

"Um..." Tainaka's burst of enthusiasm takes me by surprise, and my pulse starts to quicken.

This might still be too much after all.

Tainaka leans back, considering me carefully with her hand on her chin. "Ah, sorry. I'd heard you were a little skittish from Arai. I don't want to scare you off or anything." She puts her hand behind her head, looking embarrassed. "I've been told I do that from time to time."

"No, it's...fine, but what did you m-mean, without anyone to...talk to? You're always...pretty quiet in class, so..."

She rolls her eyes at that. "You thought I was quiet because I wanted to be? Hayashi doesn't talk about anything but books, Arai is asleep half the time, and then there's the Student Council and the wall. Oh, and Nakai, but I never even got a word in edgewise with him once Mikado started playing gatekeeper." Tainaka lowers her head and sighs. "I really miss my old school."

"Your old school?"

"Yeah, I went to an all-girls high school in Kyoto my first two years. I went there to visit my friends over the break and got back a couple days ago."

"What was it l-like?"

"Eh, we had a lot of fun. We were in the Light Music Club together, and we even formed a band. I played the drums, but I can't exactly play like this right now." She holds up her hands, which appear somewhat misshapen.

"Oh...r-right, you have carpal tunnel syndrome?"

"That's what I hear," she replies jokingly. "So, while I was there we mostly just hung out and drank tea in the old club room or at my friend's house."

Hung out and drank tea...I wonder if I should invite her to lunch...or to The Shanghai.

"I...d-didn't know it could get...that bad."

"Yeah, it can. They say it could get better with therapy, but more likely I'll need surgery on both of them, and I've had to re-learn how to do a lot of stuff. Hey, maybe someday I'll be like that girl in 3-4 and play the drums with my feet!" Tainaka sits down on the bench, her feet swinging wildly in the air like she's already trying it out. When she's done, she smiles a little sheepishly at me, but there's still a mischievous glint in her eye.

"From 3-4...you mean R-Rin Tezuka?"

"You know her?" Tainaka says, her eyes going wide when I nod again. "Can you introduce me to her? That mural of hers at the festival was so cool!" She stares off into space for a moment with her hand on her chin. "I wish I could've shown that to M...oh, hey, the bus is here!"

I look past Tainaka to see the bus coming around the side of the hill. "Were you...going into the c-city?"

Tainaka shrugs. "Yeah, I guess. I didn't really have anything to do here, so I thought I might look around a little bit, since I haven't really had a chance yet. Why?"

Okay, here goes nothing.

"You know...th-there's a really nice tea house in the town at the...bottom of the hill. I w-was on my way there, so...w-would you like to...come with me?"

The bus pulls up to the stop and opens its doors, but Tainaka steps away from it, breaking out in a big grin again. "You're talking about the Shanghai, right?" After I nod in response, she says, "I've heard of it – Hakamichi invited me there the first week, but Arai told me she was just going to try and rope me into the Student Council, so I skipped out. I haven't been there yet, but it sounds a lot better than aimlessly wandering around the city by myself." She tilts her head, looking thoughtful, as the bus pulls out and goes on its way down the hill. "Hmmm...I hear there's a music store in town, too. Even if I can't play, I should look around. Ugh, how can Yamaku not even have a music club? There isn't even anyone to talk about music with around here – at least not rock music. I've heard this one girl playing the violin, but just classical stuff. She's probably never even heard of Mik Kaminski or Robby Steinhardt."

The more Tainaka talks, the more I wonder if I can handle being with her after all. Still, I used to think the same about Emi, and about Misha. All I can do is keep trying, and see what happens. "N-neither have I."

Tainaka reaches out a hand and grabs mine suddenly. Fortunately, it's the left one. "Then I'll teach you!" I only have time to get slightly flustered before she lets go again. "All right, then, let's do this, Ikezawa!" She throws an arm in the air, then starts walking off dramatically down the hill, beckoning for me to follow. I take a deep breath, then start on my way just a few steps behind her, hurrying to catch up.

Right. Let's do this.

~~~~

Previous | Next
Last edited by dewelar on Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:22 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!

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3519
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

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

Post by brythain » Sat Apr 18, 2015 2:51 pm

It's almost like we're coming to the scene at the end where everyone links hands and takes a bow... and I must confess I shall feel a little sad when that moment comes. Happy to find Ritsu in there too, not enough love goes that way. I'm going to read through this new two-parter again. Oddly, the one part I didn't get was the part about how S's mother knew Nomiya so well. :)
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)

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 6041
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:24 pm

Looking from her face to the board and back again, I realize that, for the first time ever, our game has ended in a draw.
Minor nitpick: It's very hard to tell the result of a game of Go just by glancing at the board except if one of the players has won by a large margin. To recognize a draw you'd have to spend two or three minutes counting the points. Also, draws are quite rare, but I see that is there for symbolic reasons.

Superb chapter again as usual. I especially liked the scene with Noriko. Usually I'd think this "miracle cure" plot twist was too cliché, but you managed to give it a unique spin. In this case being "unhappy" - I should better say "conflicted" - about the possible cure seems really believable

And so, right as you porfess to bring this story to an end, you introduce a story that could easily be the stuff for a sequel :-)

Oh and you introduce another "new" character as well with the prospect of introducing yet another soon. Are you sure this is going to be finished soon? :mrgreen:
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
Leaty
Posts: 515
Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 9:18 pm
Location: Exile

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

Post by Leaty » Sat Apr 18, 2015 5:39 pm

My first thought when I saw this update was "Oh, fuck, I missed my window to beat Dewelar to a chapter again."

My second thought was "Yesssssss, the update is finally here!"

I need a nap, but I should have clearer thoughts when the grogginess passes.

User avatar
Alpacalypse
Posts: 436
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:00 am
Location: Britbongistan

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

Post by Alpacalypse » Sat Apr 18, 2015 6:16 pm

Apparently, I never posted here. :shock:
The hell have I been up to with my life?

Anyways, not much to say that hasn't been said already, so my miscellaneous thoughts:
- Bloody hell, but do you write well well enough for me to use an entire week's free time to read this thing all the way through back when it was at 50 chapters
- Was hoping for Hisao x Hanako earlier. I was disappoint, but oh well, Hisao x Emi works fine for me.
- Noriko is kinda cool.
- Misha has tildes in her internal monologue. Not sure if that's entirely normal, she might want to get that checked.
- Ritsu. Ok then, that's not common to see (seriously, I have seen her name used less that Ikuno's. And Ikuno basically never gets name-dropped).

Bit late for encouragement, but keep going with this.
These forums ain't gonna be the same once Developments finishes :(
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
---
I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
---
I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

User avatar
HipsterJoe
Posts: 62
Joined: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:24 am
Location: Silicon Valley (The Show)

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

Post by HipsterJoe » Sat Apr 18, 2015 7:37 pm

Yay, an update! Just realized that I missed posting on this thread in my initial flurry of posts. I've really enjoyed the story, although I was at first incredibly skeptical of the love triangle. You managed to pull it off really well though and it looks like everybody will get a happy ending (for various degrees of happy).

It seemed like this last chapter was the end of Hanako's arc since it ended with the reinforcement of Miss Yumi's lesson that things are easier the second time. From this point, I can extrapolate Hanako living a fulfilling life seeing that she has truly started to overcome her crippling social anxiety.

Eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this story!

User avatar
Blank Mage
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Dec 07, 2013 5:29 am
Location: My own personal hell, with a metered internet connection.

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

Post by Blank Mage » Sun Apr 19, 2015 3:17 am

Ah, but I always love your Hanako PoV chapters. You're always so good at conveying her deep-seated issues realistically and subtly, and you've done an excellent job sticking to her '2 steps forward, one step back' style of character development. It's sad to see her so unsure of herself around Hisao and Lilly, particularly when Lilly is as broken as she is, but then again, rushing to support each other was sort of what put them in that situation to begin with. I'm sure we'll have the heartfelt reunion we crave, and then there will be feels.

Man, I never pegged Noriko as broken up about living. That's a new one, but I can see where it's coming from. Everyone likes to talk about 'living like you're dying', but no one ever mentions the credit card bills the week after. I can't even imagine the kind of discussions you'd hear in Noriko's counseling sessions, though. She doesn't strike me as someone who can talk calmly and openly about her issues over tea and go. But who knows, eh? Sometimes it's all about the setting. I know the me at work and the me watching anime are two very different people.

Speaking of which, I think you crossed the point of subtle character hints, and floored it full into K-ON CROSSOVER WOOOOOOO! BRING THE WHOLE CAST, WE'RE MAKING THIS INTO A SLICE OF LIFE COMEDY. Not that I mind, of course, I'm pe-

Wait, I just imagined Lilly and Mugi in the same room, can't stop now, brain shutting down.
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."

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

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

Post by dewelar » Sun Apr 19, 2015 9:24 am

First of all, as always, thanks to all for the kind words! Also, a couple of new names in the comments - welcome! It's always good to see more folks enjoying this story, even this late in the game :).
brythain wrote:It's almost like we're coming to the scene at the end where everyone links hands and takes a bow... and I must confess I shall feel a little sad when that moment comes.
Yeah, so will I. This story has been a big part of my life for two years now, but moving on to whatever comes next will be interesting, too :wink:.
Happy to find Ritsu in there too, not enough love goes that way.
Agreed. Even before I went and watched K-On! (or even knew what that was), something about her interested me. When I was thinking about starting a fanfic, one of my ideas was to write a route for her, but then I saw one already existed.
I'm going to read through this new two-parter again. Oddly, the one part I didn't get was the part about how S's mother knew Nomiya so well. :)
I was wondering if anyone would mention that, and here it is in the very first comment :lol:. Anyway, while I have my own headcanon for that, I'll let folks think what they will :).
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Looking from her face to the board and back again, I realize that, for the first time ever, our game has ended in a draw.
Minor nitpick: It's very hard to tell the result of a game of Go just by glancing at the board except if one of the players has won by a large margin. To recognize a draw you'd have to spend two or three minutes counting the points. Also, draws are quite rare, but I see that is there for symbolic reasons.
Yeah, chalk this one up to author's license. Of course, we don't know how long Hanako spent looking... :wink:
Superb chapter again as usual. I especially liked the scene with Noriko. Usually I'd think this "miracle cure" plot twist was too cliché, but you managed to give it a unique spin. In this case being "unhappy" - I should better say "conflicted" - about the possible cure seems really believable
Thanks!
And so, right as you porfess to bring this story to an end, you introduce a story that could easily be the stuff for a sequel :-)

Oh and you introduce another "new" character as well with the prospect of introducing yet another soon. Are you sure this is going to be finished soon? :mrgreen:
Well, this story will...muahahah...

Seriously, though, it was always my intention to leave Developments at least somewhat open-ended. That's partially so that I have someplace else to explore later for new stories, but also because it's very much my philosophy that a story like this isn't an ending, it's a beginning. Also, if someone else wants to continue...er...developing one of my threads, I would be very interested to see where they take it.
Leaty wrote:My first thought when I saw this update was "Oh, fuck, I missed my window to beat Dewelar to a chapter again."

My second thought was "Yesssssss, the update is finally here!"

I need a nap, but I should have clearer thoughts when the grogginess passes.
*laughs* I did warn you this was coming :wink:. Looking forward to your feedback as always!
Alpacalypse wrote:Apparently, I never posted here. :shock:
The hell have I been up to with my life?
:D and welcome!
- Bloody hell, but do you write well well enough for me to use an entire week's free time to read this thing all the way through back when it was at 50 chapters
I'm honored, thanks!
- Noriko is kinda cool.
Again, thanks. She's a very fun character to write.
- Misha has tildes in her internal monologue. Not sure if that's entirely normal, she might want to get that checked.
And people wonder what her disability is... :wink: :lol:
- Ritsu. Ok then, that's not common to see (seriously, I have seen her name used less that Ikuno's. And Ikuno basically never gets name-dropped).
As mentioned above, there is a sort-of Ritsu route floating around the boards if you're interested. It has some...issues, especially with the ending, but it's pretty good overall.
Bit late for encouragement, but keep going with this.
These forums ain't gonna be the same once Developments finishes :(
It's funny, because we had a pretty big drought of new stories last year, but it seems like a fair crop of interesting ones start up recently. Hope springs eternal!
HipsterJoe wrote:Yay, an update!
And it only took me six weeks! :wink: Anyway, welcome aboard!
Just realized that I missed posting on this thread in my initial flurry of posts. I've really enjoyed the story, although I was at first incredibly skeptical of the love triangle. You managed to pull it off really well though and it looks like everybody will get a happy ending (for various degrees of happy).
Thanks.
It seemed like this last chapter was the end of Hanako's arc since it ended with the reinforcement of Miss Yumi's lesson that things are easier the second time. From this point, I can extrapolate Hanako living a fulfilling life seeing that she has truly started to overcome her crippling social anxiety.
That's what I was going for, so glad it worked!
Eagerly awaiting the conclusion of this story!
Three more chapters to go!
Blank Mage wrote:Ah, but I always love your Hanako PoV chapters. You're always so good at conveying her deep-seated issues realistically and subtly, and you've done an excellent job sticking to her '2 steps forward, one step back' style of character development.
Thanks. In some ways, I'm sadder to write her last Developments chapter than anyone else for this reason. On the other hand, I will not miss the effort it took to get into -- and, more pointedly, out of -- Hanako-Space.
It's sad to see her so unsure of herself around Hisao and Lilly, particularly when Lilly is as broken as she is, but then again, rushing to support each other was sort of what put them in that situation to begin with. I'm sure we'll have the heartfelt reunion we crave, and then there will be feels.
Um...:oops:
Man, I never pegged Noriko as broken up about living. That's a new one, but I can see where it's coming from. Everyone likes to talk about 'living like you're dying', but no one ever mentions the credit card bills the week after.
I may have to steal that.
I can't even imagine the kind of discussions you'd hear in Noriko's counseling sessions, though. She doesn't strike me as someone who can talk calmly and openly about her issues over tea and go. But who knows, eh? Sometimes it's all about the setting. I know the me at work and the me watching anime are two very different people.
True dat. All of it. Well, except that last part, although if you say it is, then it is.
Speaking of which, I think you crossed the point of subtle character hints, and floored it full into K-ON CROSSOVER WOOOOOOO! BRING THE WHOLE CAST, WE'RE MAKING THIS INTO A SLICE OF LIFE COMEDY. Not that I mind, of course, I'm pe-

Wait, I just imagined Lilly and Mugi in the same room, can't stop now, brain shutting down.
*laughs* Yeah, in case it wasn't obvious, my headcanon is that Ritsu Tainaka is, in fact, that Ritsu Tainaka, or at least an AU version of her. I'm still a newcomer to anime/manga, but K-On! kinda hit a sweet spot for me. It's the kind of thing I can picture myself lying sick in bed and just watching for the fluffy (time).
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
Alpacalypse
Posts: 436
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2015 6:00 am
Location: Britbongistan

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

Post by Alpacalypse » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:03 am

Dewelar wrote:As mentioned above, there is a sort-of Ritsu route floating around the boards if you're interested. It has some...issues, especially with the ending, but it's pretty good overall.
I am actually aware of that one, but I never had much interest in reading it (I read Semisoftcheese's Saki route continuation and didn't like it all that much), and I've been told many times by a friend of mine that K-ON!'s best part is the opening sequence, so I'm not hugely eager on that front. :lol:
I mainly mentioned it because it was an anomaly in my experience of the forums. Not objecting to it, though.
Dewelar wrote:It's funny, because we had a pretty big drought of new stories last year, but it seems like a fair crop of interesting ones start up recently. Hope springs eternal!
Yeah, nice to see new stories cropping up. Who knows, maybe we'll see the next Developments or MTtB later in the year. :wink:
And maybe I'll actually finish the fanfic I was writing, then procrastinated on writing for 2 months, but that's debatable
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
---
I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
---
I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

Post Reply