Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated/New Art 5/26)

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/2)

Post by AlexFDSR » Thu Jun 13, 2019 9:22 am

Wow, that was quite the twist. The plot thickens... Excellent work as always, Euro!
If Iwanako had a route, would the tagline be "Can you find it in your heart?"

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:51 am

Wohoo, another update within two months!

This ended up being another 10k word chapter, right after the last one. I didn't plan for it, but the last two months have literally been the worst in mine and my roommates lives (so far) between huge emotional issues, costly home repairs, and family blowups that involved cutting ties with everyone on a certain side. It's been great to be able to write this month and take solace in it.

Comments and feedback appreciated!

There's some really heavy discussion in this one. No song to go with the chapter this time.

Act 4: Liftoff

Scene 4: I'll Be Home For Christmas

“Tell us what happened.”

From the second Saki slapped Maeda last night to now, I’ve barely been able to process anything that’s happened. I remember going through it all, but I was - and still am - in so much shock that it’s like the scenes are filmed in black and white. There’s no color, warmth, or depth…

Then why is it still so vivid?

“Where do you want me to start from?” I ask.

The older man leans back a bit in his chair, steepling his hands under his chin. The gaze he fixes me with is neither warm nor hostile, but completely neutral. I don’t know if this is natural or not given that I’ve never met the dean before, and my first time is sitting in front of his desk in his office. He has the same lithe build as Mutou does, but isn’t nearly as tall as the man. The lines around his eyes and graying hair remind me of Mrs. Sakamoto. I suppose it’s easy to make comparisons with those two, given that the people in question are flanking me, seated in chairs against opposite walls.

The dean’s office is spacious, yet oppressive. I wonder if it has to do with all the dark tones in the room, from the filled bookcases behind him to the dark wooden floors and matching desk between us. I’m sure it’s intended to be a warm, intimate setting...but given the circumstances I find myself here under, I feel like I’m being suffocated. Even though it’s a brightly lit room, there might as well be a single naked bulb hanging over my head.

I can tell that this office is a perfect reflection of the man before me.

“What did you do after you left the restaurant where we had dinner?” Mutou inquires.

“We went down to the skating rink. We were there for maybe half an hour or so before Saki and Chisato left.”

“That was when they were with me,” the music teacher interjects. The dean nods.

“According to Souma, you all met after that outside of the karaoke club?”

“Yes sir,” I reply. “We met outside the cafe near it. I went inside-”

“Did you go with anyone else?”

“Chi...Souma,” I say, correcting myself, “Mimura, and Sasagawa.”

His expression softens. “You can use their first names here, if it makes it easier. Where was Enomoto?”

“She was sitting in front of the recording studio, playing her violin. That’s where she was when I left her to head inside.”

“Were the others there as well?”

“No,” I wince. “They had already gone in ahead of me. I was helping Saki get her violin and making sure everything was ready for today.”

The dean looks down at a pad in front of him on which he’s scribbled some notes. Neither Mutou or Mrs. Sakamoto have asked me many questions, which makes me realize they’ve already heard most of the story from Chisato when she was called in before me. They’re using me to corroborate what she’s already told them, and having me fill in any gaps she wasn’t there for. I imagine this same thing will repeat itself when they go through this with Saki and Maeda next.

As for those two, Nurse is out there in the seating area keeping an eye on them for obvious reasons.

“How did the fight start?”

“I don’t know,” I reply. “I had gone into the club and sang a song with Noriko. Chisato said she was going outside to talk to Saki. After a few minutes she still wasn’t back. I decided to get a drink and stepped outside to, I don’t know, maybe check on the two of them.”

“So they were already arguing when you stepped out?”


“What were they arguing about?” he asks.

I hesitate for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I don’t know the full extent of it because I only caught the second half of it. Secondly, there’s a feeling that speaking about this would be supposition, or actively make the situation worse.

None of that matters however at this moment. I know that much. I just wish I wasn’t in this position.

“Hisao?” the music teacher gently prods. When I look at her, she’s worried, but doing her best to give me confidence to continue. She can sense I’m deeply uncomfortable with this.

“They were arguing about the recording they were supposed to do today. Maeda was saying something about how they had no right to-”

“‘They’ being Enomoto and Souma?” the dean interrupts.

“-y...yes sir,” I answer, thrown a bit off guard. “He was saying they had no right to record the music they had worked on.”

“What did you do then?”

I squirm. “I put a hand on Maeda’s shoulder to turn him around, and told him to stop yell-”

“You put your hands on him?”

I sit up a little straighter. “I wasn’t going to hit him or anything. I mean, I had just come out and all I saw was him yelling at the two of them and Saki was crying and-”

“Nakai,” Mutou interjects, cutting off my head of steam before it has a chance to build any further. “Relax. We’re not accusing you of anything. We’re just trying to figure out what happened.”

I nod and take a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

The others wait for me to compose myself, and I start again after a few seconds.

“Then they started arguing about...a different student. The one who helped Saki and Chisato write the music. Kayoko Sugimura.”

During my last answer, the dean’s face changes slightly from trying to remain impassive to just a flicker of recognition...and when I mention Kayoko, there’s a resignation there as well. All three of the older adults in the room exchange quick glances, and I hear Mrs. Sakamoto give a quiet sigh. This confuses me even further.

“What...what exactly happened with Kayoko?” I ask before I can think about whether I should or not. “Saki told me she...died...during the middle of their first year, but…”

I trail off when the dean holds up his hand. “I’m sorry, but I’m not at privilege to discuss the details. I can tell you though that what you’re telling us is very important to helping us understand the situation. Please understand that even though we can’t answer all of your questions, it’s critical you tell us what you heard and saw, not what you think you heard or saw.”

I nod again. The room is uncomfortably hot.

“What caused Enomoto to strike Maeda?”

I wince at the word strike, even though I know that’s what essentially happened. “Maeda said that Kayoko killed herself, and that Saki was the reason for it.” After I speak, the only sound in the room for a few seconds is the ticking clock on the wall.

The dean leans back, the sharp squeal his chair gives cutting through the heavy silence. He turns his head to address Mutou.

“This is when you came out?”

Mutou leans forward in his chair and folds his hands in his lap. “Yes. The door to the club was open and I was in the lobby. I heard some shouting and went outside to check what it was.”

“Did you make out any of the argument that Mr. Nakai just described?”

“No, I didn’t. As soon as I stepped outside to see what was going on, Enomoto reached up and slapped Maeda.”

The dean nods and steeples his hands. I can’t think of a reason for the two of them to have that last exchange, given that the two of them must have already had it by themselves earlier, and again when they were interviewing Chisato a few minutes ago. Maybe the dean is retreading this it to cement the timeline of events in their heads, or maybe it’s for mine and Mrs. Sakamoto’s benefit.

There’s no need to go over what happened next, since at that point Mutou was involved quickly followed by Mrs. Sakamoto, who had come out of the coffee shop to either sit with Saki or close up the recording studio. It didn’t exactly matter what she had planned to do once she heard Saki scream as she slapped Maeda and everything fell apart in the chaos after that.

Mutou had instantly moved in between the two of them, and Chisato and I did the same once the half second of shock wore off. Mutou was checking over Maeda to make sure he wasn’t hurt - whether or not it was intentional, Saki had slapped him on the side of the head that didn’t have his implant - and Saki just collapsed on the bench sobbing. That was when Mrs. Sakamoto showed up, wanting to know what had happened while trying to comfort her student. Chisato was just as wound up, and only after Mitsuru came out and started to talk with her did she calm down somewhat.

As to how we all made it back last night, it was complicated after that. While it was clear the outing was over for the four of us involved in the argument, it was quickly decided by Mutou that the four of us couldn’t go back to the school grounds together because of what just happened. Mrs. Sakamoto offered to escort Saki, Chisato, and myself back to Yamaku. Mutou called Nurse to come up and check on Maeda, who arrived a few minutes later with Miki and Suzu in tow. Once Nurse gave Maeda a cursory examination, Mutou asked him to take over chaperoning the karaoke club so the teacher could take Maeda back on his own...and no doubt fill out paperwork.

The ride back on the bus was not pleasant, for a variety of reasons. None of us spoke much to each other, which might have been for the best anyway. Mitsuru wasn’t even with us; he was the only one who was able to walk Noriko to the bus station. All of us had planned to do so at the end of the night to say our goodbyes, but it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. Mitsuru had wanted to come back up with us originally, but Chisato objected so fervently that he went along with it...which might explain why Chisato didn’t sit with us, but instead chose to sit three rows up and stare blankly at the floor, numb to everything but what must have been going in her own head.

Saki barely said a dozen words to me the entire time as we made it back to the school and went to our separate dorms. No way she was going to be spending the night after what happened.

I don’t remember when I finally fell asleep, but I eventually woke up to a knocking on my door. It was Mutou letting me know that the dean wanted all of us in his office shortly after classes started for the rest of the school…

...and that’s how I ended up here. Chisato was called in first while Maeda, myself, and Saki all sat outside the office. Nurse was sitting next to us as well, switching between stoic and sympathetic glances at all of us.

The dean clears his throat. “Is there anything else you can add that you think will be helpful, Nakai?”

I struggle to think for a few seconds. “I...I’m not saying it excuses Saki for what she did, but...she was very upset,” I say, my voice hitching slightly before I force the words out. “She’s been under a lot of stress the last few months getting ready for today and when Maeda said that-”

“After talking to Souma earlier and you today, I believe you. There’s also some extenuating circumstances regarding those two that I’m not at liberty to discuss. Regardless, there’s no excuse for one student striking another, whether on or off school grounds. We have a no-tolerance policy on violence at Yamaku that we need to take very seriously for the safety of our students.”

“I know that sir. I’m just asking that you please keep it in mind when determining what her punishment is.”

“We’re keeping many things in mind, Nakai. Thank you for your help.”

I swallow hard. “Sir, if I may ask a question…”

This time the dean nods. “Go ahead.”

“What’s going to happen now?”

“We’ll be speaking to the other two parties involved to get their side of events, and then we’ll decide on a course of action.”

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed Aug 07, 2019 5:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/2)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:53 am

With no more questions to ask from any of us, Mutou gets to his feet, and I do the same to bow slightly to the dean. When I turn around to leave the room, I do so in such a way that lets me glance at Mrs. Sakamoto for any type of reaction I can read. She meets my eyes and while I do see a sadness there, it’s a soft one that...strangely gives me a shade of hope, as stupid as it sounds. Maybe it’s not that bad, or else she’d look worse.

Yeah. That makes perfect sense.

I’m given no more time to think about it before Mutou opens the door for me. I step out of the dean’s office into the waiting room. Nurse and Maeda are sitting in chairs against the wall, while Saki and Chisato occupy the couch at an angle to them...and seeing how the two are sitting as far apart as possible while still remaining on the thing makes me wince.

All four of them are staring at me, either startled by the door opening or trying to read something from my face.

“Enomoto?” Mutou asks.

Saki keeps the same forced impassive mask she’s worn for most of the morning, even if she tenses visibly at hearing her name called. I cover the distance to her in a smooth motion and offer her my arm, and she takes it to stand with a practiced ease that shows how heavily we’re both relying on autopilot right now. I squeeze her hand supportively, but she doesn’t return the gesture...instead walking past me and then through the open door.

There’s a tightness in my chest as I take in a constricted breath at being brushed off like that. I didn’t even get an acknowledgement from her.

Mutou raises his eyebrow at Nurse who stands up himself, brushing off some imaginary dirt off the front of his coat. He hasn’t given his usual smile once this morning, instead taking on a serious demeanor I’ve only seen him wear a handful of times...and it’s pretty withering when I’ve had it directed at me.

With a loud click, the door shuts behind all three of them and we’re alone.

A few heavy seconds of silence follows. I can see barely see Saki through the window in the wall between the office and the waiting room as she sits in the chair I was in a few seconds ago. The blinds aren’t closed all the way, but it sends a pretty clear message to anyone who sees them that whatever’s happening in that room isn’t something that should be disturbed without good reason. With nothing else to do, I finish switching places with Saki and lean back, letting out a long, quiet sigh.

All three of us remain silent, hearing their voices on the other side of the door, but never clearly enough to make out anything being said.


Now what?

There’s so much to talk about now that Nurse isn’t here, and absolutely nothing to talk about at all. I’m struggling with the idea what to think or feel, if we’re supposed to think or feel anything - do we discuss what happened at all, or do we all just do the bare minimum to rush past it?

Even as I ask myself that question, I already know what my answer will be. I’ve spent close to the last year growing into the person that can give it.

We’re stuck here in this room, but after today - hell, after we leave said room - life goes on, and there’s nothing we can do to stop that. All you can do is move forward the best you can...but it’s so hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes.

I swallow hard, then turn to look at Maeda. He’s sitting with his arms across his chest, head down and eyes closed in a perfect example of how he sulks in the classroom. He barely looks better than he did last night during the middle of the argument...and the image of the pain I saw on his face after I angrily spun him around is still as fresh and shocking in my mind as it was when it happened.

“Maeda,” I blurt, causing both him and Chisato to turn to look at me. “I’m...sorry for grabbing you last night. I shouldn’t have done that.”

He sighs and closes his eyes. “You didn’t hurt me. Forget about it.”

“Are you okay?” I ask.

Maeda’s eyes open again and he fixes me with a sarcastic stare for half a second before his face softens. “The slap didn’t hurt me either, if that’s what you’re asking.”

I take another deep breath. It’s hard to get air in this room.

“That’s good,” Chisato says, her voice both surprising and soft. When I look at her, she’s casting a sidelong glance at Maeda that I haven’t seen her make all morning.

Maeda puts his hands on his knees, and shakes his head to himself. “Three more months. Just three more months but no, I had to run my damn mouth off,” he mutters under his breath.

The seed of confusion that was planted in my mind last night grows larger. Three months? Does he mean graduation? That has to be it, right?

“Maeda,” Chisato starts, waiting for him to look at her before she continues. “What you were talking about last night before…”

He winces. “I can’t. Not now. Not here.”

Chisato leans back, folding her arms steadfastly. “No, you need to tell me, and it needs to be now. I’m leaving tomorrow and I’m not going to be back until graduation. We’re not going to have another chance to talk about this.”

Maeda glances at me. He realizes Chisato is right, as do I.

“Please, Takashi. I need to know.”

Maeda winces when Chisato uses his first name, obviously wrestling with himself over this. When he looks at me again, Chisato clearly catches it.

“Hisao has a right to know about this too,” she says, with a conviction that surprises me. Even though I do want to know what happened, Maeda was, well...he was right last night. Kayoko’s death happened years before I came to Yamaku and whatever they went through-

“I didn’t - don’t, hell - want it to hurt you,” Maeda offers up.

Chisato sits up straighter when she hears that, her eyes burning. “If we were ever friends, you need to tell me.”

Maeda stiffens up for a moment, scowling at the floor in front of him. After a few tense seconds audibly paced out by the clock on the wall, his shoulders sag with a sigh and he closes his eyes.

“Fine,” he says, resigned. “What do you want to know?”

Chisato opens her mouth, but then closes it. It seems that now she can finally ask a question, or get an explanation, that any she may have formed have fled...or maybe she’s like me in that she would have no idea how to even begin.

“When?” she finally manages to say. “When did you talk with her?”

Maeda rubs the back of his neck. “It was the Saturday after the Halloween party.”

Chisato looks confused. “The Saturday after…? But...” she trains off, her brows knitting in concentration.

“You two had gone down into the city that day.”

Her eyes get wider. “I remember now, we went to the movies downtown,” she says, before her face falters again. “You two weren’t with us.”

Maeda shakes his head. “You didn’t tell us you were leaving. I had a cold that week anyway, and Kayoko was busy with something else anyway.”

Chisato hangs her head a bit, as if this too sounds familiar. “She was working on rewriting the piece we played at the festival that year...the one we ended up playing this year…she told us earlier that week that she was going to be busy, so Saki and I just decided to go down. That was when?”

Maeda takes off his beret and runs his free hand through his hair, trying to explain as impassively as possible. “She knocked on my dorm room that evening. When I opened the door, she asked me if I knew where you were because you and Saki weren’t answering your phones.”

Chisato puts a hand to her forehead, not saying anything. They would have had their phones on silent while they were in the theatre, wouldn’t they?

“I asked her why,” he continues. “She said she wanted to get your take on something that her and Saki had talked about. I asked her if I could help.” He leans back in his chair, his shoulders slumping further. “So, she told me that Saki had talked to her about what she had planned in the future when she got too bad to look after herself.” He looks at me. “You know don’t you? Or has she not had that talk with you yet?” he finishes with sarcasm...a flimsy cover for the pain that flashes across his face.

It would be so easy to snap back at him, and there’s a part of me that really wants to do so. I look straight into his eyes, the way he did that day when he hit me with the door. “Yeah. She has.”

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/2)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:54 am

Any defiance Maeda had built up from that quip melts from his demeanor when he hears my answer.

“What did you tell her?” Chisato presses.

This time, anger fuels the despair in his voice. “What could I tell her, Chisato? I didn’t know how to respond to that! Saki had only brought it up with me the week before that and we had already been dating a few months at that point. I still didn’t know how I felt about it, how the hell was I supposed to help someone else deal with it?”

“And you didn’t say anything to anyone?”

“Again, what was I supposed to say?” Maeda fires back, his voice a little louder than he intended. He grimaces, but it doesn’t seem to be loud enough to draw any attention from the dean’s inner sanctum. When he continues again, he speaks at a lower volume. “She never talked about killing herself-”

“What did she say about it?” Chisato interjects.

“...we talked about what Saki had said, and that it had given her some stuff to think about. That’s all, Chisato.”

“How the hell did you not see that for the red flag it was!?”

“Because of her!” he replies, and we all know who he’s referring to. “Saki spent months telling me to pretty much ignore her ataxia because she said it didn’t matter, and then the week before it happened she tells me how much it actually did matter. I didn’t even know if I should have said something to Nurse about her being suicidal or backed off thinking maybe that it was something I just didn’t understand because my tinnitus isn’t going to kill me. Well guess what? I chose the second one, and that’s what I thought when Kayoko talked to me. Now she’s dead. Does that answer your question?”

Chisato doesn’t say anything in response to this for a few seconds, the slight sound of the voices in the office droning on. The clock ticks inexorably onward, each second taking longer than the last. Finally, she looks away.

There’s a part of me that really does not want to ask my next question, even if Chisato feels I have a right to know the answer to it. “What happened to Kayoko after that?” I ask. There’s no amount of tact I can use to make that sound better than it does.

Another long pause goes by before Chisato answers me. “She had a bad asthma attack in the middle of November during band practice when her cystic fibrosis flared up.” Her voice is muted as she relives the memory, a look of pain across her face. “They had to take her to the hospital to get it under control. We all went and visited her when she came back the next day, but then…”

“A week later she slit her wrists. The same way that Saki did,” Maeda finishes, angrily directing the second part of his statement towards the office.

None of us have anything to say to that, falling instead under an oppressive reticence.

I rub at my chest, taking another deep breath in as I try to focus on everything that’s just been said. I wish these were things I didn’t have to learn, but as more pieces fall into place from this conversation and last night, it just becomes overwhelming to try and pick out anything from the whirlwind of emotion going on in my head right now. I know I’m only hearing one side of it, but as each part of it becomes more plausible the more I think about it, so much is starting to make sense.

Saki had the same conversation about her condition, her plans for the future, and her attitude about suicide with all the members of her friend group back then. The same conversation she had with me. The same conversation she said that Maeda and her broke up over.

I never could have imagined that this is what she meant by that.

Once that train of thought starts, there’s no stopping it.

Now that I know she had that conversation with Kayoko, someone who was in the same position as she was - terminally ill with a disease that would claim her while she was young - it makes horrifying sense in how it could have gone so wrong. Saki couldn’t have known about or anticipated what happened after that.

Would all three of them have known that Saki had that conversation with each of them before Kayoko brought it up with Maeda? How could they have, unless they all talked about it together or Saki explicitly shared that information? If someone confided to you about something that serious, you wouldn’t want to betray the trust that person put in you...but where’s the line, and how do you even begin to look for it?

I look at Chisato. She’s leaning forward, resting her elbows on her thighs and steepling her fingers around the bridge of her nose. Just from hearing her breathing, I can tell how shaky she is right now.

“She never came to me. None of you did,” Chisato finally says, repeating her line from last night...and crumbling further with every word.

“I’m sorry, Chisato,” Maeda answers her in a strained voice. “It’s not your fault.”

“You don’t know that, Maeda! You should have told me, or if not me, told someone!” she exclaims, this time not caring how loud she is. “Especially afterwards! Why didn’t you tell me then?”

Maeda stands up at this, his fists clenched at his sides in frustration. “Because I didn’t know how to handle it, Chisato! One of my best friends had just killed herself, and I was the last person she came to before it happened and I just brushed it off!”

Chisato is on her feet as well, angry tears in the corner of her eyes. “You might not have been if you just told someone! Then maybe we could have done something-”

“You think I don’t fucking know that?” Maeda spits back at her. “You think I don’t think about that every night? You don’t think that’s the reason why I asked to be transferred into a different class, because I couldn’t stand how guilty seeing you made me feel and how mad I would get looking at her?” he finishes, angrily jabbing a finger towards the office. “At least I only had to see her in art club instead of the entire-”

The rant is cut off as the dean’s door opens. We all fall into an abrupt silence as Nurse sticks his head out, a stern look on his face as he assesses the situation - Chisato and Maeda frozen in place standing across from each other, a look of fear and shock on their faces at being caught. After a few excruciating heartbeats, he clears his throat and speaks.

“We already have to keep two of you separated. Do we need to separate you all further?”

“No sir,” the two of them answer in unison. Nurse’s gaze softens as they both take in a deep breath. Maeda uses his cuff to try and discreetly dab at his eyes, but there’s no hiding something like that, especially in this moment. Chisato sits back down on the couch, putting her forehead in her hands as she bends forward.

“Nurse,” Maeda asks, his voice strained. “I know I’m next, but may I please use the restroom first?”

The older man considers for a moment, glancing at the three of us, then relaxes. “I’ll have to escort you. But other than that, it should be fine. We’re not quite ready for you yet.”

“That’s fine.”

Nurse nods and steps out completely, closing the door behind him. As Maeda turns to leave the room ahead of him, he shoots a look at me and raises his eyebrows slightly. When he sees that I’m confused by this gesture, he looks at Chisato at the other end of the couch and then back to me, making his message clear. He’ll calm down Maeda if I can calm down Chisato.

As soon as the two of them leave the room, Chisato lets out a sob that she’s been holding back...maybe since last night. Her frame shakes as her hair falls forward and completely obscures her face from the world around her. I quickly slide over closer to her and put a tentative hand on her shoulder. She starts at the contact, seeming to come back to the moment...and when she realizes I’m next to her, she leans heavily into me as she continues to cry.

It physically hurts to see her like this.

“How could they not tell me, Hisao?” she manages to choke out, having calmed down slightly. “She didn’t even leave a note…”

I don’t know the answer to that question, or even how to answer it. How can I possibly put myself in Chisato’s situation? Or Kayoko’s?

Saki and I had the same conversation a few months ago, and it absolutely terrified her to bring it up, but she did anyway. If she had that same conversation with Kayoko, someone who took their own life a few weeks later, how could you not be scared about something like that happening again, no matter how miniscule the chance?

No. None of that matters. To talk about odds and chances completely misses the point - it either happens or it doesn’t.

“I’m so sorry, Chisato.”

She sniffles a bit. “Thank you. I mean it. I’m just...I don’t know whether to punch the wall or cry. I’m so mad at the both of them.” She squeezes the hem of her skirt in her hands hard enough to turn her trembling knuckles white. “I guess I should probably avoid breaking my hands but...I don’t know if I can even look at them right now...”

“It’s going to be hard to play the piano with broken fingers,” I say, trying to use humor to calm her down. Instead it has the opposite effect as she shakes her head.

“We won’t be able to record today, Hisao. Not after what just happened. And now we might not be able to at all!”

“You can’t push it back a few days?”

“Until when, Hisao? You really think we’re going to be able to go down today after what happened? They’re probably not going to let her leave the school grounds, or maybe even send her home until graduation!”

“They wouldn’t do that,” I object. “I mean, that’s three months from now-”

“Yeah, and what are we doing with that three months? We’ve already taken the exams and we already know we’re graduating. Hell, half of our classmates are going home for the next three months anyway. Noriko is! I am!”

Shit, she’s right, but even with the no-tolerance policy, there has to be some leeway, right? All she did was slap him, and yes, it was wrong and she shouldn’t have, but...it’s not like she swung at him with her cane.

“Would they really just kick her back down to Osaka, just for slapping someone?”

“I don’t know. They might. Our first year, there was a student in our class that was expelled for fighting someone else. I didn’t see the actual fight happen, but he was gone the next day.”

A feeling of dread slams into me and stops me cold. “But even if they did send her home, they’d have to let her come back for the end of the year ceremonies and graduation, right?”

Chisato rubs her temples. “I don’t know, Hisao. One of our bandmates a year ahead of us didn’t come back last March. He was diabetic like me but even if he didn’t have a pump, it wouldn’t have been enough to keep him from coming back here unless he just didn’t want to make the trip.”

“Where was he from?” I ask, my mind desperately searching for anything.

“Nagoya,” Chisato says, and even that small hope gets eroded. Nagoya isn’t as far away as Osaka…

I’m trying to keep the worst case scenario out of my mind, but it’s undeniable that all the elements for it are there, and it’s pretty damned hard to miss how to connect those dots.

I had never thought of this last night or this morning. I mean, of course, my mind was stuck in overdrive thinking about all the things that could happen, and what I could say or do, if anything. If what she just said could actually happen, then it means something I’m completely unable to cope with when I realize it.

I was supposed to go home later today, but I was going to be back again a week or so after winter break...Saki was supposed to be here through graduation and we were going to spend the last two months together, but if they end up sending her home now and she doesn’t come back in March...

After today, Saki and I might not see each other again. And it’s something that’s completely out of my control.

My pulse is thundering painfully in my ears. It takes a few seconds to realize the pain isn’t just in my head, but in my torso as well...and when a hot streak flashes through my chest and makes my breath hitch in my throat, I realize I could be in trouble.

Damnit! Did this have to happen right fucking now?

I immediately start the routine that was drilled into me, sitting up straighter and forcing myself to slow my breathing. My lungs protest as the tendrils of pain in my chest desperately want to force me to increase my air intake, but I hold it.

Chisato senses this sudden change in me, and looks at me in confusion for half a second. When she sees the look of intense concentration on my wincing face and my hand on my chest, she looks scared. “Are you okay?” she asks me, a frayed edge of panic bleeding into her tone.

I don’t say anything, but shakily nod my head. In. Out. In. Out. My pulse rate is slowing down, but my chest is aching and it’s not fading as fast as it usually does. It’s not getting any worse, but-

“I’ll get the Nurse,” Chisato says, shifting to stand up. She stops when I put a hand on her shoulder and looks at me incredulously.

“Give me a minute,” I plead, trying to keep my voice steady. “I’ll be okay.”

“Are you sure?”

I let out another long and slow exhale...and this time there’s no jolt of pain with it. When a second breath has the same results, I nod to her. “I’m sorry to make you worry.”

“How long has it been?”

Why is she asking this of me right now, with everything that’s going on with her? This is supposed to be about her, and now my heart decides to act up for the first time in…

“Three months.”

Chisato is still looking at me with concern, and in a rush of understanding, I realize why this feels familiar somehow. She’s treating me the same protective way she was treating Saki that night she twisted her ankle...and just as soon as I think of Saki, the idea that threw me off so bad in the first place comes back to loom over me.

“I’ll see Nurse after...well, after,” I say, and I mean it.

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/2)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:55 am

Chisato nods and then turns her face away from mine. It’s still a painful and complicated look she wears, but it’s subtly different from the way it was a few minutes ago. There’s still moisture at the corners of her eyes, but it doesn’t look like it’s being refreshed.

Just like me. Not okay, but at least we aren’t getting worse; sometimes all you can hope for is to hold your ground. My heart rate still hasn’t returned quite to normal, but it’s getting that way.

Both of us regain enough of our composure by the time Maeda and Nurse make it back, and Maeda looks to be in the same sorry shape as we do. Nurse takes note of the situation again, and when he sees that we’ve actually managed to calm down somewhat, gives us the ghost of a smile. He ends up stepping back into the dean’s office, and we’re left by ourselves again.

Maeda starts to speak. “Chisato-”

“Don’t, okay Maeda? Just don’t.”

He starts to say something else, but then decides not to continue after all.

A few more moments pass like this before Nurse opens the door again and holds it open so Saki can exit. When I see how pale she is and how woodenly she’s moving, I’m alarmed.

“We have your parents on the phone, Maeda. We’re ready for you,” he says.

Maeda nods and walks over. When he passes Saki in the middle of the room, he gives her a hurt glance - one that’s tainted by shame. Saki meets his eyes for a fraction of a second before turning away.

The door closes, and Saki sits not on the couch with the two of us, but in the chair Maeda was using earlier. She’s drawn into herself, and what’s more, it’s obvious she’s been crying and she’s scared. Very scared.

In fact, I haven’t seen her this scared since we talked at the playground...specifically, when she told me about her father. It’s the exact same energy coming off of her now.

“Saki, are you okay?” I ask. When she hears my voice, she looks at me like it’s the first time she’s seen me today...and the feeling of dread is back.

“N...no, I’m not…”

Even though Chisato is just as mad at her as she was at Maeda, even she takes pause when she hears how defeated Saki sounds when she says that. Even though everything involving last night and the interrogation was bad, it can’t warrant a reaction this distressing from her.

“What happened in there?”

“My father’s coming,” Saki answers, all of her fear suddenly making sense.

Oh no.

“Wha...how? Osaka’s like, five hours away by train!”

“When he was called last night, he booked a flight last minute for this morning. He’s already in the taxi on his way here...I don’t…I...”

Saki can’t keep her composure and breaks down, a look of anguish twisting her face.

I move to her side, not caring that I’m leaving Chisato’s. I put an arm around her trembling shoulders, trying to offer what comfort I can, while trying to keep calm myself about what she just said.

Saki lifts her head up, and looks at Chisato with pleading eyes. “Chisato, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry, I never wanted you to find out like this-”

“Like this? Or at all?” she replies, not doing anything to mask the hurt in her voice. “Because it’s really looking like it’s the last one, Saki.”

“It’s not like that Chisato, please-”

“Then explain it to me.”

“I was scared, Chisato, okay?” she says, her eyes pleading and fearful. “I was scared of losing you.”

“What are you talking about, losing me? Did you really think I would have done the same thing as Kayoko?”

Saki’s shaking her head. “No, not that...but I thought you’d get mad at me if you knew I talked to her about...”

Chisato stands, her eyes tearing up. “Saki, why would you ever think that I’d stop being your friend because of that?”

“Because of how Maeda yelled at me after the remembrance ceremony!”

“I never saw him yell at you-”

“He...cornered me, when I was on the way to band. He said if it wasn’t for me, she’d still be here, and we got in trouble-”

Chisato’s eyes go wide. “Are you kidding me? You two got into a fight afterwards and still, neither of you told me?”

Wait, a previous fight? Was that the dean meant when he said that there were “extenuating circumstances?” If that’s the case...oh no.

I had imagined - maybe naively - that he might have meant a sense of leniency from the understanding of how traumatic Kayoko’s death was for everyone involved. Instead, it could very well do the exact opposite by establishing a history of heated conflict. Maeda did say that he transferred out of the class, but neither he nor Saki left the art club.

God, please let it be the former.

Saki shrinks back even further. “M...Maeda didn’t want anything to do with me anymore, and I thought that all of us wanted to try to move on from it.” She pauses for a second to take a pained breath. “...because, what if he was right?” she finishes, her voice splintering.

The dark haired girl sits down on the couch again, but the slow method in which she does it is very distressing to see. Every time she blinks, she forces another tear down her cheek, but her face otherwise is motionless. I can’t imagine what’s going through her head right now.

“I’m sorry,” Saki tries again.

“God damn you, Saki. You and Maeda both.”

“Chisato,” I try to interject, but stop when she fixes a glare on me that makes it clear she’s in no mood for it. She shakes her head and places a hand over her mouth.

“I spent two years trying to find peace with what happened. And you know what? Working on this together helped that. Wanting to record this to help remember her was helping that, Saki,” she says.

“Maeda and I were feeling guilty enough...after that fight, I didn’t want to drag that down on you, Chisato. I was wrong, I don’t know how many times I can say it. I’m so-”

“I didn’t want you to coddle me, I wanted you to respect me,” Chisato says, cutting her off. “Gods, I couldn’t even grieve properly because...the two of you wanted to feel better about yourselves?” she asks, her tone one of fractured incredulousness.

“That’s not fair, Chisato!” her friend cries.

Chisato opens her mouth to respond when there’s a knock on the door leading to the outer hallway. When Saki hears it, she goes rigid, and seeing her react like that makes me scared. Having sufficiently announced his presence, whoever is on the other side of the door turns the handle and opens it.

A tall man steps into the room, wearing black slacks, a dark grey dress shirt, and a black tie. His short black hair is graying at the temples, but slicked back in a no-nonsense style. A pair of black square-rimmed eyeglasses rest on his nose, giving his dark eyes a depth and intensity that makes me instantly know who this man is.

Saki’s father.

He first glances at Chisato, who sits up straighter as if to brace herself from the aura that he’s giving off. Even though he’s just taken a last minute flight, not a strand of hair is out of place on his head, or any look of tiredness in his eyes. He then turns towards Saki and myself, and I can feel him practically scanning me as he looks me up and down. I stand up straight, but still leave a hand on Saki’s shoulder, which he notices with a slightly raised eyebrow.

“Hello, Saki,” he says, his voice almost as deep as Takamura’s. It’s almost completely neutral, not showing any anger, but instead hint of annoyance that he finds himself here. It’s off putting to say the least. I wasn’t expecting...well, I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but this doesn’t feel like it.

“Hello, father,” Saki replies, even though she can only meet his gaze for a second or two before turning her face away.

He takes another moment to look at his daughter, then sighs. “Is there anything that you want to let me know about last night before I talk with anyone in that room?”

Saki hesitates a moment, then speaks. “I’m sorry for what happened. I’m sorry I made you come up here on Christmas.”

“Your music teacher tells me that you hit another student last night.”

Saki flinches when she hears that, and I can instantly tell why because it surprises me as well. A quick glance at Chisato shows she’s having the same reaction as I am.

Mrs. Sakamoto was the one that told her father? Why her?

“She’s right,” Saki answers, small and cowed. “We got into an argument and I reacted without thinking-”

At that moment, the door to the dean’s office opens, startling all of us. Mutou’s torso appears in the doorway, leaning out slightly so he can get a quick view of the room. When he spots Saki’s father, he gives a small terse smile. H steps out completely and covers the distance between them and bows.

“Mr. Enomoto,” he says in greeting. “I’m glad you could make it.”

“What’s going on with my daughter?” Saki’s father asks.

Mutou coughs slightly and gestures towards the office. “If you’ll join us in here, we can discuss that further. We need you again as well, Miss Enomoto.”

Saki’s head snaps up to look at Mutou, then at her father. She tries her best to set her mouth into a hard line, but I can tell from the way she grabs onto my arm with trembling fingers that she’s barely managing to hold it together right now.

I reach down and take her hand, giving her all the support that I can, both physically and mentally with a tight squeeze. I can tell from how hard she squeezes back that I’ve gotten through to her somewhat...and when she stands up, it’s with the most determination I’ve seen her have all morning.

That’s still not saying much.

Nurse surprises us when he steps out, a manilla folder in his hand. He steps aside to let Saki and her father enter the office, and once they do, he exchanges a few words with Mutou. I can’t make out what’s being said, but finally Nurse gives his colleague a halfhearted clap on the shoulder. Mutou gives a small smile before sliding back into the dean’s office and closing the door behind him, leaving just the three of us.

Nurse takes a deep breath and addresses us directly. “Well, Nakai. Souma. You two are free to leave.”

“What?” both Chisato and I ask at the same time, astonished.

Nurse nods. “After talking with all of you, everyone agrees on what happened and that you two weren’t part of the violation.”

“But what about me?” I ask. “I admitted to grabbing Maeda.”

“We believe you when you said you weren’t trying to hit him. Maeda even said he didn’t think you were trying to do anything.” He frowns. “Plus, well...the only thing Mutou actually saw was what Saki did.”

“So what happens now?” Chisato asks.

“It’s up to the dean. I know you two have never really met him before, but he’s one of the fairest people I’ve ever known. He always puts the students first. You can trust me on that. He’s going to do everything he can to try and find a resolution for this.”

“He wouldn’t keep Saki from graduating with us, would he?” I ask, remembering earlier the very real fear Chisato put into my head earlier.

Nurse frowns again. “He could. For what it’s worth though, I don’t think he will. He knows this goes deeper than just what happened last night,” he finishes. He casts a quick look down at the folder he’s carrying. I can tell it’s a medical file, but I can’t read the name scribbled onto the tab.

Without a doubt though, I know it has to be Kayoko’s.

“Chisato, Mrs. Sakamoto’s going to be out in a minute. She said she’d really appreciate it if you’d wait for her.”

Chisato nods, not even looking at him when she does; she’s lost deep in thought.

“Are you okay, Nakai? You look a bit paler than normal...even accounting for what’s going on right now.”

I swallow hard. Just like the night that Saki hurt her ankle, it’s not a question he’ll ask without knowing that something is off. Over the last few months I’ve come to respect Nurse too much to lie to him.

“I had a flutter earlier, but I think I’m okay for now.”

Nurse keeps eye contact with me for a few seconds, dissecting everything he can from that statement to analyze it. “I’m heading back to my office. Come see me as soon as you’re able, okay?”

I glance back towards Chisato, who at least attempts to smile at me in a reassuring way. “Go get checked out. I need to talk to sensei.”

I look at my watch, not realizing how much time has passed with everything going on this morning. I still have a train to catch in a few hours. The original plan was to grab it when we all went into the city together today, but there’s no way that’s going to be happening now.

“I have to get down to the train station by noon,” I say.

“Then we better get going,” Nurse replies. “That was your first flutter in a few months, wasn’t it?”

“Beginning of October,” I confirm.

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/2)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:57 am

“You’re not leaving here until I clear you safe for travel, Nakai,” he says, his voice stern.

“I need to talk to sensei,” Chisato repeats. “I’m sorry Hisao, but...I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day with Mitsuru.”

I give her a tight hug, and I feel a slight sense of relief when it’s reciprocated to me just as strongly. “I understand. Call me, okay?”

“I will. You’re a good friend, Hisao. I’m just sorry about all of this.”

So am I.


Nurse is nothing if not efficient. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve had to see him for more than a routine checkup, he’s still just as quick with the more thorough examination he insists on giving me.

“I’ll cut right to the chase, Nakai,” he says, touching the stethoscope to me in a dozen different places. “Do you think this episode was triggered by anything other than the stress from last night and this morning?”

Yep, damned efficient. I shake my head.

“A lot of people don’t realize that emotional stress can work the body over just as bad as pushing too hard physically...especially with heart conditions. After last night, it’s unfortunate but not too surprising you had that reaction today. Take one more deep breath for me.”

I comply. “If that’s the case, will I still be able to take the train today?”

I’m not sure why I ask it. Maybe it’s the hope that I’ll be able to stay here another day or two.

“Technically yes. You thought quick to get it under control, which can be a lot more difficult to do when the trigger is emotional stress. You handled it well, but under normal circumstances I’d recommend spending a full day to rest to see if this was an anomaly or some sort of new symptom.”

“I don’t think I can,” I say. “I have an appointment with Dr. Toshinori tomorrow. We’re supposed to go over some results.”

“Ah, so that’s tomorrow?” he says, rubbing his chin. “This is when you were going to discuss a pacemaker as an option with your doctor, right?”

It doesn’t matter how many times it happens, I’m still impressed whenever he demonstrates how much he actually knows about what’s going on in the lives of his charges. “How did you know?”

“Well, I’ve been communicating with your doctor weekly since you started coming here, so it’s a bit hard to be completely cut out of the loop on what’s going on,” he smiles. “You can put your shirt back on now.”

I quickly do just that. “You say that like you know this isn’t exactly a normal situation. What do you recommend, then?”

“Keep the appointment since you already have it. There’s no good time to have a flutter, but the day before you have a scheduled visit with your doctor is probably one of the better ones.”

I nod. “I just wish I wasn’t leaving like this,” I say, taking a deep breath and allowing myself to feel some of the emotions that have been building up this morning.

Nurse sits down in his chair, dropping my file on the table in front of him. “It’s rough, Nakai. I really don’t have much advice I can give except take it easy. I don’t just mean physically, but...make sure you take the time to think about what you want to say. Don’t say something in the heat of the moment that you can’t take back.”

“I’m going to be gone for two weeks, but what’s the point of coming back up before graduation with everyone gone? Chisato’s leaving tomorrow and won’t be back until then, Noriko left last night, and now Saki might not be back at all,” I lament, finally allowing myself to feel some of the full impact of what’s happened in the last twelve hours.

My vision starts to blur, and when I blink it away, I feel a tear making its way down my cheek.

“I said earlier, I really doubt that the administration would go so far as to kick her out. I won’t lie though, it might be another story if Saki had hit him on the other side of his head,” Nurse says somberly.

“I don’t know what to do,” I admit shakily, pinching the bridge of my nose, causing more tears to come out. I just want someone to give me some assurance, or at the very least some direction I can go in. I trust Nurse and I believe him, but I can’t get that idea out of my head and I know it shows.

Nurse looks guilty for a second before he takes in a deep breath. “I know you said you weren’t sure about coming back, but...you should keep your options open. That’s all I can really say.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said. Don’t move everything out of your dorm unless you’re sure you’re not coming back. But whatever you end up doing, you really should be on that train this afternoon.”

I nod, even if I don’t completely understand what he’s saying. I have an idea, but it’s something to unpack for later when I actually have a chance to calm down and think about all of this. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself right now.

I cough, suddenly remembering something. “I...have a favor to ask.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s uh, not exactly something in the student handbook.”

He leans back further. “Now you’ve got me intrigued.”

I press forward. “I don’t want Saki to get in trouble, but if something happens and she’s sent home...she has a fish tank in her room.”

“Ah, is that all?” Nurse says. “I understand. Don’t worry, if it comes down to it I’ll make sure it’s taken care of.”

“I kind of thought you’d take that differently.”

“It’s not a three hundred liter tank with a shark in it or anything, right?”

I shake my head. “No, just a small one on top of the dresser.”

He smiles. “Thanks for telling me about it. Now you should really get moving if you plan to get to the train station on time.”

I hop off the exam table and put my blazer back on. “I’ll see you when I get back.”

“I’m sure you will, whenever that ends up being. Good luck with your appointment tomorrow. And hang in there, Nakai.”


I’m lucky that I have a task to focus on, even if that task is mundane as folding clothes to throw in my duffel along with a handful of the medication bottles on my desk. I have about half an hour left before I have to leave, and I’m trying to fill it anyway I can for obvious reasons.
I’m also glancing at my phone every thirty seconds, willing it to ring. I didn’t know what else I could do but to send a text to Saki when I was leaving the Nurse’s office. All I could manage to type out and send was a plaintive request that she call me when she could.

I can’t stop my mind racing with the uncertainty of how everything could proceed, imagining a hundred different scenarios from simple wishful thinking to things I might not have any control over. There’s a fine line between trying to prepare yourself and being unhealthy, and I never quite learned where it was with any type of consistent accuracy.

I’m packing my last few pairs of socks when there’s a knock at my door, making me jump. As crazy as it sounds and fills me with both hope and fear, I swear I recognize who it is on the other side of the door...and when I open it, there she is.

Saki hesitates for two seconds before she launches herself at me, dropping her cane and wrapping her arms around me in a desperate embrace. I can already feel her burying her face into my shoulder, not caring one bit about how she looks or how she sounds. When I hear her start to cry, it resonates with something I’ve been trying to hold back but no longer can...and my eyes tear up.

We stay like that for a few moments, halfway in my room and halfway in the hall. Saki finally pushes gently on my chest, and I loosen my grip on her so we can look at each other.

“Well,” she says, giving a sad smile. “I’m not getting expelled…”

I feel my knees go weak and I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding for what feels like hours. The sense of relief that cascades into me knowing that the worst case scenario won’t happen is exhausting. Anything else I can find a way to deal with.

“That’s good news right? So you’ll be able to stay?”

Saki looks away from me, unable to look me in the eyes...and I’m right back to dreading what she’s about to say.

“I can’t,” she says, her voice cracking. “My father wants me to come home.”

“But...why? If you’re not getting expelled, why is he pulling you?”

She sniffles. “This is the second time I’ve gotten into trouble for fighting with Maeda. He doesn’t want there to be a third.”

“That’s bullshit. He doesn’t think you’re seriously going to fight again when there’s only three months left?”

“It doesn’t matter, Hisao!” she shouts, then wilts. “I don’t have a choice. He bought a plane ticket for me. I’m flying back with him tonight.”

I’m shaking my head, refusing to believe this. “But what about all your stuff? And the year end recital?” I ask, suddenly terrified of the answer.

“Sensei told him that I had worked very hard on it and that it would be a shame if I couldn’t play.”

“What did he say?”

“Sensei convinced him,” she says, crying anew. “He’s going to let me come back the week before graduation.”

I hug her again tightly in relief, and her grip becomes fierce as she sobs into my chest. Tears well up in my eyes. She’ll be back. She’ll walk with the rest of us in March. This isn’t the last time we’re going to get to see each other. I thank whatever deity exists for giving me that gift.

But if she’s leaving today, then what about-

“-the recording?”

Saki’s hands ball into fists when I say that, gripping my shirt tight in frustration. “What recording, Hisao? It’s not going to happen now. I’m being forced to leave and Chisato thinks I’m a horrible person…”

I try to think of anything that I can that might be a solution to or comfort from this situation. “Can Takamura reschedule? Something like that?”

“What's the point if Chisato won’t be here? She wouldn’t talk to me even if she was. Mrs. Sakamoto can’t do anything for me if I have nothing to show her! And Chisato was going to use this for musical school and now she can’t because of me fucking up again and being useless-”

“Saki, stop. We’ll get through this,” I say, with as much misplaced confidence I can try and muster...but there’s a strong conviction that comes with the knowledge we will.

She actually listens to me and looks up at me, shocked to see how upset I am, as if she keeps forgetting then remembering everything that’s going on around her. She’s that far out of it.

“Is there still a ‘we’, Hisao?” she asks weakly, in a voice that only makes me more upset.

I swallow hard. “There is, if you still want there to be.”

Saki pulls back and looks hard into my eyes, and I don’t look away despite how hard my heart is pounding at this moment. Whatever the answer is, I can live with it...but I need one. The seconds are agonizing as I wait for a response from her.

“I do,” she replies, “but...I don’t see how…”

“One day at a time, right?”

Saki hesitates for a few agonizing seconds, then pulls my head down and kisses me hard. There’s no lust in it at all, but a rash desire to gain some sort of control again, or find some sort of comfort, or just be able to find something solid and grounding.

A desperate need to feel that you’re alive; you exist, and you want someone else to acknowledge that.

When the kiss finally ends, I try to smile. “We’ll figure something out, I promise. Your dad just doesn’t want you to be here at Yamaku, right? Maybe you can come and visit me again. My parents loved having you.”

“I think I’d like that,” Saki sniffles, reaching up with a free hand to brush the hair out of her eyes, and when she does, I see the face of the watch on her left wrist...and what time it is. I want nothing more than to just stay here with her...but right now, that’s not possible, and we both know it.

I take a deep breath, giving her one last hug before grabbing my bag and looping the strap around my shoulder. “I’ll text you when I get home tonight. Promise me you’ll do the same thing when you get to Osaka.”

Saki nods. “I will.”

I don’t know how, but between the two of us, we’ll be able to figure something out.

I almost manage to convince myself of that during the train ride home.

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Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed May 27, 2020 4:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Feurox » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:23 am

Things are looking bleak for the crew. Poor Chisato, Poor Maeda, Poor Saki. Poor Hisao.

Still, great update. Thank you EBJ.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by ThePluviam » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:45 am

I was re-reading it again after the third time and today in class I saw the new update and almost bawled my eyes out reading it during the break. Now to power through the heartache until the next episode, keep up the amazing work!

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Blackmambauk » Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:52 am

Another huge chapter of events that bring so many things to the surface and truly enter us now into the endgame of things.

Once again euro you have truly done an excellent job of covering so much of what you have been building up to from the very beginning. Of giving all the characters involved a chance to shine here and put so much of what has been implied, hinted to, foreshadowed etc. into the context where we get a real view of the picture that has been waiting to be Colored for years and been the elephant in the room for Saki, Maeda, Chisato.

Which was so worth the wait with all of it left me feeling very fulfilled as a reader and fellow writer, even as my heart sank, emotions veered through my head, heart and other stuff as I read the chapter.

First off Maeda, boy he really got to left off what's clearly been swimming around in his head for a long time now here. to have gone through what he did, of having to deal with everything we know about what Saki planned and then as he was dealing with that, then what happened with Kayoko would be complex for anyone to deal with, let alone a teenager. It certainly gives context as to why he's been the way he has been throughout the fic and Maeda clearly feels for what happened. You really nailed the complexity of balancing Maeda's bitterness, guilt and using sarcasm to hide his deeper emotions spot on here Euro. Textbook example of doing a jerkass woobie right.

Said this before but I will say it again, poor poor Chisato. Her world continues to crumble and she finds herself with Hisao in the worst possible position in all of this, of finding out people she has known for years didn't tell her what happened to one of her best friends. At the worst possibly time when her support structure is collapsing from her boyfriend leaving and Noriko going home and soon Hisao as well. Yet she still tries to soften things up with humor, still keeps her empathy with her bit with Maeda showing it perfectly despite her anger and with Hisao's fluff bit coming up.

But even she couldn't keep that up with Saki, the rawness and the betrayal she feels too much.

Then we finally get our first view of... him. And you really nail the first impression we get of him from everything Saki has told us about him so far. Everything about his appearance, his demeanour, the way he treats the meeting. Man it really sinks in why Saki hates dealing with her father and why she's so determined to do what she plans to do. Clearly Hisao is going to have his work cut out for him when he has to crossroad with him in future chapters.

With the final bit all confirming that things are truly at the bottom for everyone, at their lowest point and darkest hour.

But now, comes the interesting part of the story, now comes the climb back up for everyone. To face themselves, to truly confront everything that's been thrown their way and more.

This ride is about to chart into the forest and where things go is going to be quite the experience.

Excellent job once again Euro and I hope things get better for you after everything that's happened recently.

Thanks mate

"I think the greatest skill a writer can have is simply having confidence in themselves to tell the story they want to tell, and to have confidence that their audience will make up their own minds on their story and characters." Blackmambauk

Favourite Route= All the Routes were done well. Each had it's strengths and weak points. But none were bad, a brilliant achievement by the KS Team.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:16 am

“Until when, Hisao? You really think they’re going to let Saki stay here through graduation after this? She’s going to be on the next train down to Osaka! They might not even let her walk with the class in March!”
Okay... I was already thinking they were making much ado about very little before this point, but getting thrown out of school for slapping someone? Even without any extenuating circumstances AND considering Yamaku's special circumstances that seems quite excessive...
And calling in her father in person for something like this...
The resolution was not quite as bad as the dears, but still a bit exaggerated. Can't stay at Yamaku while Maeda is there? What, are they expecting her to sneak into his room and stab him? Give the situation they both would try to avoid each other as much as possible anyway.
I agree with BMUK that you nailed the conflict between the four perfectly. In my opinion though that would have been enough to make the chapter feel dark and heavy. To me the conflict with possible expulsion and punishment felt superfluous and tacked on.
All in all still a great chapter!
BMUK wrote:But now, comes the interesting part of the story, now comes the climb back up for everyone.
Ah, so you're one of the optimist ones :-)
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:42 am

Mirage_GSM wrote: To me the conflict with possible expulsion and punishment felt superfluous and tacked on.
You know, looking on it, you're right. Going back and rereading it again the expulsion threat did seem a little contrived. I was going off of my own experiences going to a private school with a really strict no-tolerance policy that always ended up in both parties being suspended. I really thank you for that feedback because it made me think for a bit on how I could do it differently and still get the same result for the fic. I went back and made some large edits to the chapter as a whole and specifically a few places - I tried to elaborate on the no-tolerance policy, changed some language to make it less harsh, and I changed the reason why Saki leaves Yamaku from the dean threatening expulsion to her dad pulling her out. I hope that makes it all flow together a bit better. :)
Feurox wrote: Things are looking bleak for the crew. Poor Chisato, Poor Maeda, Poor Saki. Poor Hisao.
I actually kind of enjoyed breaking them :twisted:
Blackmambauk wrote: Which was so worth the wait with all of it left me feeling very fulfilled as a reader and fellow writer, even as my heart sank, emotions veered through my head, heart and other stuff as I read the chapter.
That means a lot to me. I was nervous about this chapter because I've never gotten this far into a writing project before. Hell, I've never worked on any one thing this long in my life, either intermittently or continuously. It felt so great to get to this point and write what I've wanted to get to for years. I'm really looking forward to writing the rest of the story.
I know a few people took issue with me writing Maeda as a jerk. I'm not done with him yet, but I don't think he's going to get any more resolution with Chisato and Saki (especially Saki) than that. I've been reading and watching a lot of writing essays recently on character arcs and redemption, and while at one time I was going to have them try and reconcile, it just didn't feel right because of the severity of the situation. Maeda's just waiting for graduation so he can get out of Yamaku and (hopefully) never think of it again. Yeah, he's a jerk, but you can understand why.
With the final bit all confirming that things are truly at the bottom for everyone, at their lowest point and darkest hour.
Hope it wasn't too cliche to have it all happen in one chapter. I tried to write it as much of a gutpunch as it would be to Hisao.
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 7/30)

Post by Blackmambauk » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:40 am

Rereading the chapter again after the first time, i agree with Mirage point on the expulsion and punishment bit seeming a bit much for what happened and feeling tacked on with everything else in this chapter.

I think if Saki had slapped Maeda on the side of his tinnitus implant and that had come out or been damaged, then the punishment would have made more sense, though this probably would have been a bit dramatic and run the risk of being a bit soapy or cliche.

Though i suspended my suspend of disbelief here for a number of reasons.

First is that i got the impression that the decision was more of Saki's father doing than Yamaku's, since what we have heard and impression Hisao's pov of Saki's father gave em the impression that Saki's father is pretty conservative in his views and opinions. With him no doubt believing in the Japanese idea in not making waves to embarrassing your family in anyway. So Saki slapping a student, one that it's widely known she has history with and the faculty reaction to when Hisao brought up Kayoko and Saki's father asking her about it, definitely implied that this wasn't the first time something had happened between Saki, Chisato and Maeda i imagine played a part on Saki's father decision to take her home out of his own decision and one he insisted upon with the Dean.

Since previous chapters have shown Saki's father cutting her credit card off when she overspent and so on.

Second reason is that Japanese schools often will do anything to make sure any negative event either with students, faculty etc that could or would bring the reputation and integrity of the school in question whether the event happened on school premises or happened outside (i.e. a teacher was seen drunk by some of the students or seen to be doing stuff by members of the public). Is quickly dealt with or swep under the rung so as not to bring any further disruption or harm to them or their reputation.

Which often increases if the person or group who are involved or make the complaint happen to be connected or are well known as powerful people like a local businessman, councillor or donator/trustee to the school. As no school wants to be on their bad side or raise fuss with parents who might pull their kids out of school (which is why there is a number of stories of foreign teachers getting fired due to parents, local politicians etc having heard or seen them doing something they didn't like).

Which fits in with that we know Saki's father is a known businessman in the Osaka area, his oversight of Saki in general. My fanon that he has likely donated to Yamaku during his daughter's time at the academy. Which would complicate things all round for all parties on top of what is clearly a past situation that the faculty know left a bad mark on the Academy.

But it's clear that overall, this event was the straw that broke the camal's back for everyone involved and has led to where things are at the end of the chapter.

Something the new version clearly states clearly. So for me it did make sense in context originally and does even more now. Plus sometimes, one can have their thumb on the scale of things and still produce great work. We often talk about A Song of Ice and Fire here and GRM had his thumb on the scales during ACOK to get to some of the outcomes in that book (I.e. mainly everything to due with Ramsey Snow and Theon's taking of Winterfell).

As always just my thoughts here on what i have read.

Thanks again Euro

Last edited by Blackmambauk on Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I think the greatest skill a writer can have is simply having confidence in themselves to tell the story they want to tell, and to have confidence that their audience will make up their own minds on their story and characters." Blackmambauk

Favourite Route= All the Routes were done well. Each had it's strengths and weak points. But none were bad, a brilliant achievement by the KS Team.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:06 pm

Man Sockey's dad is a jerk. Maeda has been built up as the villain of this story but he's pretty sympathetic at this point. I mean Saki hit him, not the other way around. Who's really the jerk there? Whereas her dad hasn't gotten as much focus. Maybe he'll be a bigger player going forward.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Aug 04, 2019 3:29 pm

...and I changed the reason why Saki leaves Yamaku from the dean threatening expulsion to her dad pulling her out.
Yes, I think that makes a lot more sense.
Second reason is that Japanese schools often will do anything to make sure any negative event either with students, faculty etc that could or would bring the reputation and integrity of the school in question whether the event happened on school premises or happened outside (i.e. a teacher was seen drunk by some of the students or seen to be doing stuff by members of the public). Is quickly dealt with or swep under the rung so as not to bring any further disruption or harm to them or their reputation.
On the other hand Japan has a HUGE problem with (sometimes violent) bullying and the people in charge looking the other way so as not to bring the reputation and integrity of the school in question...
And while it makes sense fr Yamaku NOT to adopt this policy - slapping someone who basically just accused you of murdering your best friend is something not even Jesus himself would scold you for :-)
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by skittleslol » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:04 am

Wow this story sure has gone so far, I remember seeing this like, 6 years ago starting out.

I like how Saki's turned out to be so far. Out of all the characters in KS, it's kind of a funny thing for me to say that the one I'm most interested in was someone who was supposed to be an April Fools' joke.

SCA has always been a special subject for me, due to it being a topic back in my high school days in '08, where me and my best friend toyed around with the idea of writing about a character with it, except it was supposed to be a fan fiction of La Corda d'Oro (whose plot was very coincidentally similar to how Your Lie in April turned out to be). I ended up writing that up as a KS fan fiction eventually after I had to leave my hometown (and her) behind.

All in all, what I wrote can't compare to how this turned out to be. I really like how you fleshed out her route and hope to read this up to its end.

Also I find it funny how some of the details here coincidentally mirror IRL events in my life.
My ex has the same scar on her wrist for one, always teased me the same way Saki does, etc. Except I'm the one who had a friend kill himself.
This tugs at the heartstrings a little more personal for me. Thank you. I look forward to how this ends.

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