Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Blackmambauk » Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:45 am

Another great chapter Euro,

Very fitting we now get the pool episode, with as always fine writing in nailing down the tropes and experiences of teens at the pool park, all the usual water rides that we remember going to as youngsters, you brought back the good times I had at Blizzard Beach, Water Rapids at Disney Florida park, especially the waves stuff and the antics my and my sister did to our friends. The enthralling different slides and rides that adrenaline junkies like myself and Noriko enjoy. She once again was a highlight of the chapter and her chemistry with Chisato was fab to read about.

Loved Saki and Hisao pulling Noriko during the waves, the amount of times we did that during our childhood would fill a yearbook :evil:.

Figures Chisato would rock Dance Dance Revolution :D. Hisao thankfully spared us the sight of him trying to match Commander Shepard as the Prodigal fictional character who can't dance if his life depended on it.

The racing bit gold, always someone comes up short and Chisato as always fits like a glove.

Now for the serious bit, Hisao and his grief with his folks. Very in character his reaction and a good way of foiling it to what we know about Saki's own situation with her parents. Noticed Hisao didn't let on if he has brought up Saki to his parents yet, knowing Hisao he probably hasn't. Especially since he hasn't mentioned in his pov's that he has been in contact with his parents.

Wonder if this will lead anywhere or if a possible future chapter or segment is planned that will allow you to do your take on Hisao's parents. Since nearly all the big fics tackle them at somepoint and the girl of the route. Though some keep them blank, while others give them a bit of crumb to fill in the Authors view of them.

Overall fab chapter and nice stuff again between Hisao and Saki.

Keep up the wonderful work Euro as always.

Blackmambauk
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by AlexFDSR » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:36 pm

Good to read another chapter. I'm curious, is Hisao's visit home going to be the next chapter or will that be timeskipped and just mentioned?
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:47 pm

AlexFDSR wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 3:36 pm
Good to read another chapter. I'm curious, is Hisao's visit home going to be the next chapter or will that be timeskipped and just mentioned?
Next chapter.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Lap » Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:42 pm

I was having a crappy afternoon, decided to re-read the most recent chapter as a pick-me-up. Lo and behold, a new chapter appears! Guess I should have crappy afternoons more often if that's going to be the result. But seriously, thanks for the story.
Avenues of Communication: Shizune suffers an accident.
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival: Hanako's first days at Yamaku. (On Hiatus)
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:00 pm

Eh, it was a bit confusing with riding tubes through tubes, but after a while I just stopped trying to visualize it :-)

All in all the chapter felt a bit like filler - just like the pool episodes of most anime are.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Craftyatom » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:14 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:00 pm
All in all the chapter felt a bit like filler - just like the pool episodes of most anime are.
Yeah, it did feel a bit like that, but sometimes filler is important too.

I liked this chapter. It was nice and calm, as one would expect. The only worriment is Hisao's parents, and he knows they're just trying to help, as does Saki.

As always, a good piece of writing. I have a hunch about where the next few chapters are going - but we'll see how it all turns out.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by azumeow » Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:04 am

A little late to the party, but a damn good chapter as usual Euro! Fun times at the water park indeed.
"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: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:57 pm

Thanks for the kind words and constructive feedback everyone!

Next chapter shouldn't take nearly as long as I've been sitting on rough drafts of the last two for a while. I wrote them long before I wrote the last few chapters leading up to them but will most likely redo them from scratch now that the story's changed a bit in that timespan.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:55 am

I can't believe I was able to get another update done within three weeks! Thanks a bunch to everyone who let me bounce ideas off of them while writing this chapter.

The title comes from the song Here's To The Night by Eve 6..

This is the penultimate chapter of Act 3, and I hope you all enjoy it. It was a lot of fun to write. One chapter left in the act!

Act 3: Ignition

Scene 11: Here's To The Night

“So Hisao, what’s it really like, being back here again?” my father asks.

“It’s been an...interesting two weeks,” I answer honestly.

Well, it hasn’t been two whole weeks, but close enough to it to not make much difference. And “interesting” would be a pretty apt way of putting it.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit relieved to arrive to an empty house when I first got off the bus.

There are certain places in life that become a nexus for defining who you are as a person. More often than not when you let your thoughts wander or find yourself dreaming, they always become stations along the route your unconsciousness takes you. Sometimes you start from them. Sometimes they’re the destination you wind up at. And other times you simply roll through them on the mental journey, whether you make a leisurely stop or merely glance at them out the window as you go on by - bright smears of color and memory that recede the second you can make out the details.

Even the role those stations play change significantly. One day these fixed points in time are anchors, providing a strong sense of grounding when the world beneath you is heaving and raging. The next, they can become black holes that pull relentlessly at you and never let you fully escape them.

The first few weeks I was at Yamaku, before I made friends and settled into my classes and set down a few new anchors of my own, I had felt like a stranger in a strange land - not only to the people around me, but to myself. I had taken refuge in the thought of home because of familiarity, and even the hospital because of some lingering Stockholm syndrome, I’m pretty sure.

It’s hard to adequately describe what I felt like when I got home - no, when I realized I was home. It didn’t even hit me when I first got to the door. I found the spare key hiding in the usual place, something I had done before. I unlocked the front door, which I had done before. I took my shoes off to place them along the wall, taking the time to make sure the toes were properly squared up as I had done countless times. I had even set my bag down and walked into the kitchen before I realized everything I had done since I turned and started walking down my street had been done on autopilot.

I think it was the mylar balloon and small stuffed bear sitting on the counter that did it; the bright foil adorned with a cheerful platitude, connected to the bear’s arm by a thin red ribbon...swaying gently in the flows and eddies of the oppressively crushing air of the room.

Anchor or black hole. It’s always morbidly fascinating when you can pinpoint the moment the orientation flips.

Fortunately, moving to the bedroom helped, and the mere ritual of unpacking my bag calmed a bit of the apprehension I was feeling. The simple, practiced act of putting my clothes away in their familiar drawers and places in the closet was extremely therapeutic.

Not everything went in its old place though. Without even thinking, I realized that I had lined up all my medication bottles on the nightstand, in the exact same order and even spacing that they sat on my nightstand at Yamaku.

At least when something flips, something dichotomous usually flips along with it to keep the balance.

I had mostly settled that feeling of unease by the time my mother came home a few hours later, and my father an hour or two after that. We had a light meal together, just like the old days when their schedules would sync up and I happened to be home. My folks stayed up later than usual so all three of us could catch up, but still called it a relatively early night.

Even so, in the dark of that first night, I didn’t get much sleep.

Since then, my mother has taken me on two different trips, both to see specialists that had been working with me in the hospital. Both were pleasantly surprised with the progress I was making, yet couldn’t seem to keep themselves from launching into the same lectures that had been drilled into me before I left their constant care.

It made me appreciate how succinct Nurse tends to be.

Go easy on them.

Saki’s words rang in my mind like a mantra. I can tell they legitimately cared about how I’m doing, but that doesn’t change the fact that the last few months the only things I’ve been to them have been a series of numbers on a chart that would change with weekly updates. Once I had described my regimen to their satisfaction, their approval went a long way towards calming the fears of my parents. Seeing the tension leave my mother’s face when one of the doctors commented on my tan was a sight to behold.

Over the next few days, everything became a bit more relaxed, and the conversations I had with my folks remained cordial even if they didn’t get too deep. The last ten days or so fell into a familiar pattern of morning walks and afternoon respite. I was even able to get caught up on a few books I had in the hospital with me but had never taken up to Yamaku.

And of course, there’s also texting Saki every night.

Her social schedule has been keeping her much busier than mine has, but we usually find an hour or so to talk before one of us goes to bed.

This pattern repeated itself quite a bit until tonight.

“Well, it’s really good to see you doing so well. I’m sorry that we couldn’t do this sooner, but I’m glad we get to do something tonight,” my mother says.

“This sushi is as good as I remember,” I say, reaching up to the belt to grab another plate.

Today is different. My mother usually has today off, and my father got off work early so that we could meet him here and all three of us could enjoy an evening out. My parents insisted over my objection that it wasn’t really necessary with a variety of reasons, ranging from a celebration of my health to a belated birthday since mine passed while I was in the hospital. I finally relented. When they asked me where I wanted to go, I named my favorite sushi restaurant. Every birthday we would come here, and my folks were very happy to oblige.

Sushi, Saki, and medication.

Strange anchors, indeed.

My father sets down his beer, taking a minute to adjust his glasses. “Just out of curiosity, who were you on the phone with last night?”

“Oh, you heard that?” I say, grimacing slightly. It was the one time I’ve spoken to Saki on the phone that late, and while I tried to be quiet, I apparently didn’t completely escape detection.

“It’s not nice to eavesdrop, dear,” my mother chides.

“I wasn’t eavesdropping. I heard his voice on the other side of the door when I walked down the hall to get a drink of water,” my father defends himself.

“I was on the phone with Saki. She was telling me her father was taking her on a day trip today,” I say, taking a minute to mentally prepare myself for where this conversation might go. My parents have only been approaching the subject in a light handed manner, aside from the grilling they both gave me leading up to the waterpark trip. My parents have never really been what I would describe as “chatty,” but having taken their cue from my doctors to relax slightly, they’re almost back to what passes as talkative for them.

“You’ve only told us a little bit about her,” my father continues. “She sounds like an amazing young woman.”

“She is,” I reply, my face flushing slightly when I realize I said those words without any hesitation. I haven’t really volunteered any information about her besides the bare minimum.

And I do mean just the bare minimum.

Come to think of it, I haven’t even showed them a photo yet.

I reach into my pocket to pull out my phone. “Would you like to see a picture?”

“Oh, you have one?” my mother asks, leaning in.

“Yeah. Chisato used her phone to take a picture of us and texted it to me. Give me a minute and I’ll pull it up.”

It takes a few seconds to find the photo and bring it up on the screen, but I finally do and hand the phone to her. Both my parents squint, trying to discern as much detail as they can from the miniscule screen. Chisato had taken the picture of the two of us in the booth together at the diner we decided to eat at the morning after the waterpark.

My mother smiles knowingly, and it sets off an alarm bell in my head.

“I think she likes you,” she says.

“Really? How can you tell?”

“The way she’s sitting. I can’t put it into words. I just know.

“Mom…”

“I’d say your mother’s right,” my father says, dropping his voice a bit conspiratorially. “And I notice that you have your arm around her shoulders.”

Maybe this wasn’t the best photo to show them.

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:57 am

“What is that next to her...is that a cane?” he asks, squinting further. It’s a simple question, and there’s no surprise behind it, but it makes me panic for just a split second and I react out of instinct.

“Um...yeah, it is. She uses it for balance to help her walk.”

I hold my breath, hoping that the gamble I just made pays off. If I had only answered his question and nothing else, it might make him curious with a follow up question. However, by giving him more information than he asked for, I’m praying that it will be enough and he won’t inquire further. Even if Saki and I have had frank discussions at this point about our respective conditions, and she’s told me that I can be open with her about it, it still feels wrong to bring anyone new into that circle of knowledge - at least, for now.

“Seems like your mother’s right,” he says, handing the phone back to me. I finally let myself breathe as I put it back into my pocket.

“T...thanks,” I stammer, unable to hide my blush. My mother picks up on this immediately, much to my chagrin.

“So, the two of you seem to be getting along really well.”

“Y...yeah, we are...”

“My son doesn’t have a girlfriend now, does he?” she asks, trying to tease me with a sly grin. When she sees my face turn even hotter, she laughs. “You do!”

“Mom, seriously.”

“Well I think that’s great, son,” my father agrees.

God, this got uncomfortable quick. Is it getting hotter in here, or is it just me?

“So tell us,” he says, placing an arm around my mother and giving her a small hug. “What’s she like?”

The way he says it makes me hesitate slightly because of how earnest it is. This isn’t the first time that they’ve asked me this question, but hearing it now makes me look at them through fresh eyes. Even if it started out with them teasing me, I can tell they genuinely want to know.

“It’s hard to know where to start,” I say, my voice cracking a bit with relief from tension I didn’t even realise had been building in my mind for the last few minutes.

“How about from the beginning?” my mother asks.

And I tell them.

Over the next hour as talking becomes easier, I don’t tell them everything, but I tell them enough.

I tell them about how we first met, the first week of school.

I tell them about the festival and how we spent it together, even recalling how happy the kid who won the goldfish was.

I tell them about how she can play the violin, which leads into me telling them about Chisato and Noriko. Before I know it, I’m telling them about all the other people I’ve met just not just at Yamaku but around it like Mrs. Sakamoto and Mr. Takamura.

I tell them how amazing hearing Chisato and Saki at the recording studio was.

I tell them about the beach, although I do leave out certain details of the trip. I choose to believe my parents can’t read between the lines.

With the floodgates open, I tell them all about Yamaku and how I’ve been adjusting, about my classes and how I spend my days, mentioning the other friends I’ve made. These are all things I’ve briefly mentioned the last week or so when we’ve talked, but nothing I’ve ever gone into any detail about.

Somehow though, it doesn’t matter what tangent the conversation goes off on - it always seems to come back to Saki and the time we’ve spent together.

“It’s good to be back here, but it’s going to be good to see her again when the break is over,” I say, and mean it.

All of us take a few moments after that to process everything. My parents are taking all of what I had said in, and I’m trying to take in the fact that I let all of that out...and how good it felt.

“She sounds like someone very special to you. When did you two become a couple?” my mother finally asks me.

“Um...I don’t think we ever did, actually. At least, I don’t think there was ever an actual day…

My father is chuckling. “I hope we get to meet her some day. She sounds pretty incredible. Just try not to be on the phone too long tonight. Your voice does tend to carry just a little bit.”

Suddenly self-conscious, I take a brief moment to grab another plate and put it in front of me. Besides providing an excuse to end the conversation, I haven’t actually eaten much throughout the entire last hour and my stomach has reminded me of its existence with a vengeance.

“What time is it?” my mother suddenly starts. My father sits up straight as if the time is suddenly important, and the two of us check our watches at the same time.

“Almost seven thirty. Why?” I ask, assuming it’s because the two of them want to get home at a reasonable hour before work in the morning.

“We can wait a few more minutes,” my father says. There’s something off in the way he says it though.

He used the word wait instead of stay.

I can’t explain why, but that statement gets my attention in the same way that Shizune and Misha do when they have some ulterior motive in mind.

“Did you have fun tonight?” he asks.

“I did. Thank you very much for taking me out like this,” I answer him.

“Well, just because the two of us need to get back home and get some sleep doesn’t mean that that tonight has to end for you.”

“W...what exactly does that mean?” I ask, the slight nagging in the back of my brain cranking up to the volume and pitch of a klaxon going off between my ears.

“Hey, Hisao!” I hear a familiar voice behind me. For half a second, I can’t place it, but as I turn around I recognize who it belongs to the second I set eyes on them.

Holy hell. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Four figures have entered through the front door and are making their way to my table - two guys and two girls. I stand up from the booth in surprise and take a step in the aisle to face them, my heart pounding from the shock.

“You look surprised to see us,” one of them says. He’s a few centimeters taller than I remember him being, but even with that I’d recognize him anywhere. The cheeky smile and buzzed head make sure of that, as does his strength when he reaches me first and gives me a bear hug.

“T...Takumi! What are you doing here?” I asked, too bewildered to do anything but weakly drape an arm around his shoulder.

“Your parents told us you were in town and that we should all come out and see you tonight,” the guy standing next to him says. He reaches out a hand towards mine and pulls me into a gentler hug than his friend did a moment ago, and this time I have enough sense to slap his back a few times.

“Shin! Y...you cut your hair,” I tell him, blurting out the first thing I notice in order to buy some time.

“Hah, I guess I did,” he says, running his hands through his red locks. His bangs still frame his face, but the long ponytail halfway down his back that I remember is nowhere to be seen.

“I think he was hotter with the Reno look,” the next person in line to greet me says, her voice as brusque as I remember.

“Mai,” I exclaim warmly, the initial shock finally giving way to understanding of what’s actually happening right now. She covers the distance between us in one long stride and throws her arms around my shoulders, letting out a squeal.

“God damn Hisao, is it good to see you again,” Mai says, loud enough to where my parents can hear the profanity. If they care about it, they choose not to bring it up.

“I can’t believe this,” I say, hugging her back.

She pushes me away and then holds me by my shoulders at arms length, running her eyes up and down me to get a good look. “You’re taller! I can look you in the eyes now! You have a growth spurt or something the last few months?”

“Something like that…” I start, but then freeze when I see the fourth person; the one hanging back and waiting for me to notice her. As soon as my voice trails off, the other three seem to take a half step back, making sure to stay out of the way.

She hasn’t changed one bit from the day I last saw her.

“Iwanako.”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Oct 20, 2018 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:58 am

The look in her dark eyes is both fearful and hopeful above a small polite smile, a crack in the otherwise perfectly porcelain face.

We take a step towards each other, and before I can stop myself, we wrap our arms around each other simultaneously, with hers reaching under mine and splaying on my back. It’s not the same type of hug that Mai gave me, but one that feels quite a bit closer.

“It’s so good to see that you’re okay,” she says, barely loud enough for me to catch it as she buries her head into my chest. As soon as we both notice she’s doing it, she pulls away with an embarrassed look on her face which quickly breaks into a relieved smile, as if she can’t believe I’m standing in front of her.

For my own part, I find it hard to believe either. In just thirty seconds, this entire visit has changed completely and my emotions are in a confused - yet overall happy - whirlwind.

“Glad you all could make it,” my father’s voice sounds out, cutting through everything else and commanding polite attendance. “Right on time too!”

“Mom, dad, you seriously set this up?” I ask.

“We figured it would be a surprise for you!” my mother explains. “We did mention that this kind of was a late birthday present, and we didn’t get to do anything really while you were in the hospital…”

If she wanted me to be surprised, she succeeded beyond anything I think she could have imagined.

“It...it’s already so late though,” I say. “And we already ate, so…”

My father laughs. “We ended up renting out a room at Shirahime for the next two hours for you to use. The reservation starts at eight.”

Now that the introductions are over, Mai doesn’t waste a bit of time in returning things to normal. She pulls me into a gentle headlock and tousles my hair, just like she used to. “Come on, let’s go sing! I haven’t been since February.”

“That long? So the last time was…”

“Yep, last time all of us went together.”

God, that would have been two weeks before my attack, wouldn’t it? I’m not sure of the exact date, but...I am sure that Iwanako wasn’t there.

“Try not to stay out too late,” my mother says, cheerfully dismissing me into the care of my friends.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Nakai. We’ll take good care of him,” Mai grins.

---------

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Shirohime is just as I remember it, right down to the color of the song books. The soda always comes out of the machine at just two degrees above freezing. The fourth booth on the right side still has the best sound, but the seventh booth has more comfortable seating. I still have the layout of the remote control memorized.

I think I needed this.

Takumi is singing a duet with Mai, an opening from an anime we watched as kids. When I saw the two of them holding hands as all of us left the restaurant, I was only surprised for a minute. I always thought the two of them would get together someday. When I brought this up, Mai laughed, claiming that they did too, but were both too stupid to say anything about it to each other.

What did surprise me though was when I saw how Iwanako was sitting next to Shin, snuggling into him. My suspicions were confirmed when he sat back down after a song and grabbed her hand.

So, the two of them? That comes as a bit of a shock, and if I’m being honest, puts just a tiny dent in my ego. I kind of imagined that the mythical bonds of the anonymous love letter and heartfelt confession on a snowy day tropes would do a better job of blocking rebounds.

So much for that theory.

Still though, the thought made me laugh when I had it. I’m certainly in no position to talk, having spent the better part of an hour bragging to my folks about my girlfriend earlier.

After giving me first choice of song in a time honored tradition, the night carried on just as they always used to. I remember the singing, the laughing, and the fun from it...and in a short amount of time I’m not just retreading old memories, but actively making new ones.

I don’t know if we’re ever going to be able to do this again, but I don’t want to think about that now. Instead, I really do want to enjoy this. In some ways, I’ve felt the most alive I’ve ever been since I started going to Yamaku. In other ways, it feels like performance art.

The first hour flies by, and we’re well into the second when we decide to take a break. I announce that I’m going to step out into the patio area to get some fresh air. Shin and Takumi wave their acknowledgement absentmindedly, their noses buried in the songbooks picking out their selections for the next round. Iwanako and Mai both look up and make eye contact, but don’t say anything as I close the booth door behind me.

The sun has gone down completely since I saw the sky last, the western horizon just a shade or two lighter than the eastern, the latter making up for it by weaving an amazing tapestry of starlight.

I hear the sound of a can of soda being opened behind me, and turn to see Mai’s outstretched hand, offering me a sip. It seems I was followed after all.

As I take a swig, Mai steps up to the patio railing next to me. “Hope you still like diet.”

“I do, thanks for remembering,” I say, wiping the back of my mouth and passing her back the can. “Are you having fun?”

“I am. Yourself?”

“I have to admit, I was a bit worried about how it would go, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out.”

“You’re not the only one,” Mai says, the sardonic tone to her voice making me do a double-take.

“Yeah?”

Mai takes deep gulp and an even deeper breath, as if she’s steeling herself up for what’s to come.

“Hey, so listen. I told myself I was gonna tell you this if I came out here tonight. Okay?”

I’m a bit taken aback by this, even if I know how forward she tends to be. “Okay...”

Mai steeples her fingers and stares out over them into the middle distance, unable to make eye contact with me. “I’m sorry. I wanted to say that I’m sorry.”

“Wait, what for, Mai?” I ask, although I think I already know where this is going.

She rubs her temples, her voice equally resigned and frustrated. “For not coming to visit you after the first few weeks. For not seeing you before you left. For not trying to find your mailing address and reach out after you were gone. Choose one or all of the above,” she finishes, passing the can back to me.

I wince with that statement, because of how effortlessly it seems to shatter all the facade that’s been propped up the entire night.

All of us could have just carried on together, enjoying the night for what it was, never really acknowledging that we all knew it probably wouldn’t happen again. It’s easy to list off a dozen reasons as to why, but when you distill them all, it comes down to the same thing.

Effort, or the lack thereof.

Honestly, in situations like this it’s just easier when everyone plays along and hopes to get a fond memory or two out of it.

“It’s not something you really need to apologize for,” I say, lowering my voice. I give a self-depreciating shrug, and actually find myself chuckling. “I mean...it’s not like I ever reached out either.”

I’m not so dense as to deny it’s a two-way street.

Mai turns to look at me and the corner of her mouth curls up into a grin. “If it makes you feel better, I do actually have an excuse for the second one.”

Now that both of us have tacitly acknowledged to each other that - despite extremely extenuating circumstances - the only reason we truly fell out of touch with each other is because of our own inactions...it’s a relief. I was hoping something like this wouldn’t have come up, but if this conversation did have to happen tonight, I’m thankful that it’s with Mai.

“Mm-hmm. What’s that?”

Mai shrugs, her gaze focusing on the ground in front of her. “We didn’t learn that you were transferring until you were already gone. They just announced it to the class one day after we got back from the weekend.”

“I didn’t transfer for months after my attack. Why didn’t you guys come see me more often?”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed Mar 06, 2019 7:18 am, edited 3 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:00 am

There’s no yearning or maliciousness in my voice or intent when I ask that question. It’s simply a matter of wanting to know.

“No real excuse. I hate hospitals and, let’s be honest, you weren’t exactly fun to be around,” Mai smiles, grabbing the can back from me.

I snort derisively. “Yeah, well, almost dying tends to do that to you.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” she says, pausing briefly while the expression on her face changes to a more somber one. “But you should know all of us were pretty shocked. We were looking forward to you coming back to class. But then that never happened.” Her demeanor then shifts again, holding my gaze in the first sign of pleading I’ve seen from her tonight. All else aside, she wants me to not just know the last statement she made was true, but she needs me to understand it, and is asking me if I do.

I answer her unspoken question with one of my own. “You still could have written me.”

“Would have had no idea what to say. You?”

I take the can back from her and notice that there’s only a small bit of liquid left in it. I tilt my head back and drain it completely, the carbonation burning all the way down to my stomach.

“...same reason.”

It takes us a few moments to let the irony of that last statement sink in, and when it does, both of us start to chuckle. In a few seconds, both of us are laughing hard, the reprieve of letting something go that’s been haunting both of us for over half a year washing over us.

Mai stands up, and just like when we first met tonight, wraps her arms around me in a hug which we hold for a few precious seconds, the tension of months worth of uncertainty fading.

“We’re cool, right?” she asks me.

“Yeah, we’re cool. Don’t worry about it. Just text me once in a while, alright?”

“I will,” she answers me, and the hug ends. Mai takes a step back, brushing off the front of her skirt. “I’m gonna head back inside. Takumi’s gonna start wondering what’s taking so long.”

“Really?”

“Probably not, but you know him. He won’t miss an opportunity to tease me even if we are dating now. It’s probably even worse than before we were dating, if I stop to think about it.”

“Good idea. I’ll join you.”

“I have a favor to ask before you come back inside.”

“Hm?”

Mai’s smile drops into a serious line. “Talk to Iwanako, okay?”

I frown, thinking that outside of the reunion at the restaurant, Iwanako and I haven’t spoken more than a dozen words to each other all night.

“I’m...not sure I know what to say, honestly. What do I talk to her about, Mai?”

Her expression softens. “You’ll find the words. She’s been a bit of a wreck the last week or so since your mom called her to plan this.”

“Wait, my mom didn’t call you?

“Nope. She called Iwanako, and then Iwanako called the rest of us.”

She must have given my parents her number.

Mai senses my hesitation. “I’ll talk to her, if you want me to-”

“No.”

She nods. “I’ll just let her know you’re out here.”

As Mai disappears back into the lobby, I’m left alone with my thoughts again.

I needed that conversation. I really did. I had no idea how freeing it would be, and above all, it’s helped me put to rest some very real fears about coming back here.

All except one, which is probably going to be walking out that door any minute.

I don't resent Iwanako. I don’t even blame her - I like to think I moved on from that, after Chisato showed me a different perspective about the situation, and especially after talking to Mai. Her writing that letter and me reading it seemed to be all the closure either of us wanted.

Now though, after seeing each other tonight, I wonder if it was just a bandage that’s about to be ripped off to expose a still-raw wound underneath.

Just as predicted, Iwanako comes out the side door, hugging herself in spite of the warmth of the evening. She stops about a meter from me and leans with her back against the wall, imitating me.

Both of us realize we need to have this conversation, but neither of us are looking forward to it.

“Mai told me you set this up. Thank you.”

“It was your mom’s idea, you don’t need to thank me.”

“I know, but I want to. I’m having a lot of fun tonight.”

“Yeah?” she says, giving me a sideways glance, her tone a bit hopeful.

“Mhmm.”

Silence.

“I tried writing you.”

I sigh. “I know.”

“...oh.”

“I’m sorry,” I say, giving her the explanation she deserves. “When I read it, I just didn’t know how to respond to it. I couldn’t think of anything to say after the last time we saw each other.”

Iwanako nods, not turning to look at me.

I remember the letter, and what Chisato said to me about it.

Tell her a bit about Yamaku. She sounds like she’s blaming herself for not doing enough to help you get better. Let her know you’re getting there.

I can’t let this conversation end the way our last one in the hospital did. I can’t.

I never got around to writing Iwanako a response, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give one right now.

“Yamaku’s nice,” I start, not knowing where else to. Iwanako picks her head up a bit to look towards me.

“Tell me a little bit about it.”

“I can’t believe how beautiful Sendai is this time of year,” I continue. “The school is larger but more spread out than our old one. It sits on a hill just outside of town. It’s easy to walk to, which you have to do sometimes if you want to get some good food. The cafeteria is pretty bad.”

Iwanako chuckles a bit, which reminds me of something Saki told me.

The way we look the last time someone sees us is usually the picture that gets stuck in their head.

The last time Iwanako saw me, I was sitting in a hospital bed, the sterile cage surrounding me having sucked out all the color from both my body and demeanor. It was a look she had not only become accustomed to, but one that she saw worsen.

Now though, my color is back. I’ve put weight back on. I’m not hooked up to a bunch of tubes or machines. I’m not staring out of the window, oblivious to everything and everyone else around me.

Honestly, they’ll probably let up when they actually see that you’re doing better this summer.

I want Iwanako to let up on herself.

We chat for a few minutes. I describe Yamaku, my teachers, and my friends. I even describe the shopping district in the city and the small noodle stand outside it. Iwanako tells me about exams, classroom gossip, and about some funny prank Shin pulled on Takumi in class and how Takumi got him back at gym in front of everyone.

It takes longer to do so than it did with Mai, but eventually both of our guards start to come down. It takes laughter, statements of disbelief, more than a few wild hand gestures, and sense of overall relief as to how it’s going, but it is happening.

Finally, with enough barriers removed between us, the conversation turns a bit somber.

“I’m sorry,” Iwanako suddenly blurts out. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you more when you were in the hospital. I guess we just all thought that...when you got back...”

“You don’t need to be. Mai told me about what happened with the announcement.”

“It all worked out though in the end, right?” Iwanako asks, her voice small.

I pause, taking a minute to gather my thoughts before answering her. I can see in her eyes and hear in her tone she’s dreading the answer to that question. For months, she must have been second guessing herself. Had she had been the best friend she could be? Was she responsible for what happened to me? If she had said or done something else...would it have turned out differently?

I played enough of those guessing games myself...and I was thankful when a certain someone set me right.

The least I can do is put those doubts to rest.

“It did. I’m glad I ended up going to Yamaku. I was pretty against it at first, but it ended up being a really good thing for me.”

I can see Iwanako visibly sag as the wave of relief hits her. “I’m really glad to hear that.”

“I’m glad I got to see you tonight.”

“I’m glad I didn’t give you another heart attack.”

All I can do when I hear that is laugh, that statement telling me everything I need to know about how Iwanako’s feeling. She moves to give me another hug, and I gladly return it, the act closing out not just the conversation, but serving as a cathartic bookend to a situation that upended - and defined - both of our lives on that cold winter day.

“So...this has been bugging me all night, and I have to ask,” I start.

Iwanako looks up at me. “What’s that?”

“What’s up between you and Shin?”

“Oh gosh,” she says, flustered, looking away. “We’ve only been dating for like, two weeks.”

“He’s a good guy.”

“Yeah, he is. He was there for me the last few months…”

I don’t need to ask what Shin was there for. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. At worst, I find it ironic given my own “situation” at Yamaku, and at best I am happy for her. Iwanako is infinitely more animated than she was the last time I saw her in the hospital...and there’s even a marked improvement over the last few hours.

Plus, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m kind of glad that she’s dating someone. Besides being able to do far worse than Shin, I’m relieved that it makes the fact I’m in my own relationship less awkward.

“What about you?” Iwanako asks. “Are you seeing anyone?”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/6)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Jun 22, 2018 4:01 am

“Yeah, I am. I met someone at Yamaku.”

“What’s her name?”

“Saki Enomoto,” I say, unable to keep from smiling at the thought of her when I do.

Iwanako picks up on it. “What’s she like?” she prods gently.

“She…”

I think hard about all the ways I could describe Saki. The fact that she’s smart, funny, and caring. The fact that her drive carries everyone in her sphere along for the ride and encourages them on their own way.

“She’s amazing. She helped me when I needed it most.”

I don’t know if Iwanako understands that statement, but it’s the truest one that I can make.

“Do you have a picture? I’d like to see what she looks like.”

“One sec,” I say, digging into my pocket to grab my phone. I pull up the picture of the two of us I had shown my parents earlier, and hand the phone to Iwanako.

The blue of the screen casts an ethereal glow on her face, every line deepening as complex emotions dance upon it. Finally, she gives a small smile, but with sad eyes.

“You two look good together.”

“Well, I’ve pissed her off a few times but she still seems to be able to put up with me,” I say in an offhanded manner, making Iwanako laugh.

“I know what you mean. I feel like I want to kill Shin at least once a week.”

“He tends to do that to people. You’ll get used to it.”

Just as I reach to put my phone back in my pocket, it starts ringing in my hand. I flip it open and stare at the number on the screen.

“Huh, speak of the devil…”

Iwanako pushes herself off of the wall. “I’ll give you some privacy. I’m heading back inside. See you soon?”

“Okay. I’ll be there in a minute or two.”

Iwanako nods, and disappears back inside.

I press the “accept” button, bringing the phone to my ear.

“Hey, Saki. We were just talking about you.”

“H...hey,” Saki says on the other end, in a distressed voice. No preamble, no acknowledgement about the joke I just made. She’s never started a conversation like this before.

My brow furrows. Something’s wrong. Something’s very wrong.

“Are you okay?”

“No, Hisao. I’m...not.”

“What happened?”

“I went out with my father today and…” Saki says, her voice breaking. “I’m sorry, I’m just…”

“I’m here, okay?” I say, trying to reassure her. “Tell me what happened.”

I can’t, not...I’m at home right now...I just...really needed to hear your voice.”

My heart beats faster, but not for the normal reason it would when I hear her say those words. I physically feel a wave of pain when I hear her sniffle - she’s barely holding it together.

“Okay. I’m here,” I say again.

Every second passes like an eternity. I can hear Saki softly crying on the other end of the line. I have no idea what’s going on.

The door bursts open and Takumi sticks his head out, making me jump.

“Hey, Hisao, you coming in or what man? We’re gonna sing your part if…” he starts, but then trails off when he sees me on the phone with an intense, worried look on my face. He actually blanches slightly at the withering look I shoot him.

“...right. I’m going back inside.”

“Who was that?” Saki asks.

“I’m out with a couple of friends tonight.”

“Is this a bad time?”

“No, it’s okay.”

“Okay,” she says.

More silence, punctuated by sniffles. This is driving me insane.

Saki blows her nose, and takes a deep, shuddering breath. “I...have a question to ask.”

“Anything,” I answer, without hesitation.

“W...were you serious about having me come up and visit you before school started again?”

“Um, yeah,” I say, my thoughts racing at a thousand miles an hour. “I mean, there’s some logistics to figure out but...”

For the love of God, think before you say something like that, you goddamned idiot!

“...but yeah. I was.”

“I can’t stay here until the third. I have to get out. Even if it’s just for a night or two. Please…?”

“Alright,” I say, trying to put some steel into my voice. I’ll figure out how to make this work in a few minutes, but right now I want to do everything I can to calm her down and not upset her further. “Yeah. Come up. I’ll text you the address.”

“Thank you,” she says, and blows her nose again.

I wince, knowing that I need to say this next part, but not liking it. “Give me a day to talk to my parents. I don’t think they’ll say no, but I need to ask them.”

“I can get a hotel if it’s a problem…”

“You might not have to. Let me talk to them and call you tomorrow, okay? I promise I’ll call you first thing in the morning after I talk to them.”

“Okay. Okay, I will. Just...don’t take too long, okay? I can be there Thursday or Friday…”

I think quickly. She was going back to Yamaku on the third, a week before classes start again. That would put her here for the weekend before she goes back to Sendai. I was planning on heading back a few days early myself. Not on Monday, but that might change…

“We’ll figure it out,” I say, trying to be as reassuring as possible.

“Thanks, Hisao...I just...I didn’t know who else to ca-hang on. My father’s coming up the stairs, I have to go. Please call me tomorrow, okay?”

“I will, I promise. We’ll figure it out. Call me or text me tonight if you need to, okay? I don’t care how late it is.”

“I will.” she says, and the line goes dead.

Standing here, phone still up to my ear, the dial tone is a perfect analogue for the fuzzy state of my brain. The clack it makes when it closes sounds like a gunshot.

I’ve never heard Saki anywhere close to that dismayed. What the hell just happened? She said yesterday that her father was taking her out for something today, but…

I shake my head to clear it. I have things I need to do. I need to call my parents. I need to go inside and try to politely disengage myself from-

*BZZZZT*

My phone vibrates in my hand, making me jump. I open it quickly and see that I have a new text message.

i’m sorry, i’ll be ok. talk to you tomorow. please try to have fun with your freinds tonight

I’d feel better about that message if I didn’t just get blindsided with that phone call...and if it had been spelled correctly. Saki’s not exactly a scholar, but she’s never sent me a text with that many errors.

I switch to the contact screen on my phone and scroll down until I find the number I’m looking for. I wait for half a second to see that the number is dialing, and then lift the phone back to my ear, hoping that it’s not too late.

“Hello?”

“Hey, dad. You’re still up?”

“For a few more minutes anyway. Your mom’s already in bed. Are you having a fun time with your friends tonight?”

“Yeah, I am, but…”

“Is everything okay?” my father asks, sensing that things might not be.

I take a deep breath.

“Dad, we need to talk.”

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Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:12 am

Nice chapter!
With a cliffhanger like that at the end, I hope your next update will stick to a similar schedule :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Lap » Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:21 am

Lovely chapter. Dunno why, but I'm always a sucker for Iwanako reunion/reconciliation scenes, and this one worked well.

But... the cliffhanger! Arrrgh! I hope the next chapter is in the works!
Avenues of Communication: Shizune suffers an accident.
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival: Hanako's first days at Yamaku. (On Hiatus)
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).
One-shots

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