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

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

Post by DackFayded » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:47 pm

God, this entire thing has been absolutely fantastic. I binged it all in about two days, and my Lord am I in love with your Saki. She's absolutely wonderful, and an incredibly well-rounded and well-developed character. I can't wait to see how this all finishes up!

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

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:40 am

Woo, new chapter!

Life has been pretty insane the last few months, with the main factor being that our dog was diagnosed with liver cancer. Thank you to everyone in the discord who passed on well wishes - the good news is that after a few months of aggressive treatment, doggo is finally in remission and getting back to her old self. Every day's a gift, and all of us are finally starting to relax after a few months of really high tension and worry.

It took me a while to get back into the headspace to write, but thank you so much for your patience!

This chapter is shorter than the last ones, at 7200 words. The song for the chapter is called "No Title" by Reol. It's one I really recommend listening to with the captions on to see the translation.

One last thing - if this is the first time reading this since the last chapter, there were some pretty significant edits made to the end of it that flow into this chapter.

Comments and feedback appreciated, as always!

Act 4: Liftoff

Scene 5: Hi-Fi Zeitgeist


“Did you get enough to eat?” my mom asks. My mouth is full with the last bite of rice from my bowl, so it takes me a second before I can mumble an affirmative to her.

“What time did you want to head out?”

“Depends, how many forms do you think they’re going to ask you to fill out?”

I groan. “Right. Almost done.”

My dad struts into the room, fiddling with the knot in his tie. We all got a bit of a late start this morning to match how long we stayed up last night.

The trip home was uneventful, leaving me plenty of time to stew in my own thoughts. Dinner was pleasant, along with a brief exchange of a few gifts, but my parents could see that I was distracted. My mom tried to broach the issue gently and I waved it off as still being tired from exams and the activities the day before, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best stance to take if I wanted to discourage further inquiry. They knew nothing of what happened in town the night before or that morning; my parents weren’t the ones called. I guess I simply wanted to have some more time to keep it to myself.

I wasn’t trying to hide anything from them; I just didn’t want to bring anything up yet. That’s how I justified it to myself anyway.

I managed to keep that up for a grand total of about four hours.

Mom finally confronted me about the way I was acting when she caught me checking my phone after clearing away dessert...and when I admitted to her that I hadn’t heard from either Chisato or Saki yet, she didn’t let me casually brush it aside.

That in itself sparked another round of conversation as I told them everything that had happened - going out to eat in the city, the ice skating and karaoke afterwards, and the fight...but not the main reason for it. Not yet.

My parents, somehow knowing how much I needed someone to listen, sat there and let me talk to them. I told them about the last few months and my life at Yamaku, how everything went with the finals, and how my relationship with Saki was progressing. It was a halting, painfully slow conversation at times with me starting and stopping as much as I did. Entire trains of thought would wither on the vine as soon as they formed, while others would take root out of nowhere and grow so quickly that my mind had to prune them for its own sanity.

If nothing else, talking about what I was able to was extremely cathartic. One can run through a scenario a million times in their head, but sometimes hearing it aloud instead of in the chaos of their own internal monologue forces a paradigm shift.

I didn’t even realize how long I had been talking with them until I finally got a text from Saki to let me know she got home...a few minutes before midnight. That jarred me back to the reality of what a busy day was coming up and how late it was. I sent her back an unanswered reply...and one more text to Chisato wishing her a good night and to sleep well. It was a subtle attempt to goad some sort of reply out of her.

I guess I was too subtle. When I checked my phone upon waking, there were no new notifications.

“I was thinking we could get some lunch downtown after we meet with Mr. Toshinori,” my father mentions to me. “Your mother and I haven’t been down there since you were here in October.”

“Dad, is this just an excuse to hit up Teppan again?”

“It was just an idea.”

I smile. “Sure, dad. That sounds great.”

-----------------

Dr. Toshinori’s office is mostly unchanged from the last time I’ve been here, the light brown walls and tan tiles providing the slight sense of anxiety they always do when I’m here. Even though my last few visits have been mostly positive, the one at the end of October made me a little nervous. It was just to run a few tests but...well, there’s a reason why people put off going to the doctor or the dentist.

The only real differences I notice that mark the passage of time are a few new magazines spread out on the coffee table and a small Christmas tree next to the coffeemaker. A handful of similar decorations can be seen in the office behind the receptionist desk, but she seems to be the only one in today except for the doctor. I can’t imagine many people end up scheduling an appointment for the day after Christmas.

The paperwork is just as exhausting to fill out as ever, but my parents have been through this process before so they know what to expect. Thankfully once everything has been verified, it takes less than two minutes for the door to open and the older man to greet us warmly. After a round of pleasantries, we all step into his sanctum and take our respective places around his desk - him behind it, and us in front.

“Well, Nakai, I think you already know what the first thing I’m going to ask you about is,” he starts somberly.

I’m shocked for a brief second as I realize he somehow knows about my flutter...and then I figure out that Nurse must have given him an update yesterday or this morning. Logically it’s the safest thing for him to do and I’m sure the policies are clear on it as well...but I feel a brief flash of annoyance at what seems like a breach of trust.

I grimace. What’s worse is that my parents are now going to find out, and it won’t be from me.

“The nurse called you?”

He nods.

“What is he talking about?” my mom asks, puzzled.

“I...had a flutter yesterday morning before I left Yamaku.”

“You didn’t tell us that-”

“-I’m sorry, I wasn’t hiding it. With everything else going on yesterday it just slipped my mind. Honestly.”

She takes a half second to stare intently at me, and when she can see the sincerity on my face, hers softens - even if it’s only a bit.

My father is almost apologetic when he clears his throat. “What happened?”

“It, uh...was in the dean’s office. It only lasted for thirty seconds, at most. I’ve had worse before.”

Now it’s the doctor’s turn to grimace, and I’m beginning to think that I may have just said the worst possible thing to prove my point.

“Yes, you have, and that’s something I’m concerned about.”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to-”

He holds up his hand. “It’s alright. I can appreciate what you were trying to say, but that’s not something to be so nonchalant about.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly, meeting his gaze. The last time I saw him, he was a lot more...jovial? No, not quite...but still, something’s off.

“This...isn’t going to be an easy meeting, is it?” I ask.

“No,” he says.

Any residual anger that my folks might have had towards me evaporates quickly when he says that. I sit up a little straighter, and adjust my collar to try and alleviate how warm I suddenly feel.

The doctor glances down at the chart laid open on his desk, the same file he’s had since I transferred into his care nearly a year ago. There’s a few tags of colored paper peeking out beyond the uniform border formed by the pages, and he flips to one.

The next half hour is an increasingly numbing one. Much like before, it’s filled with graphs and tables, each more dulled than the last. Mr. Toshonori goes over how some spikes are higher than they were months ago, and some numbers are lower. How this spike should instead be a valley, or this valley isn’t deep enough, or how this number should have improved by at least the same amount as it did the last time it was measured, only to fall short of the expected mark.

There’s several of those.

I’m not sure when exactly in that half hour I knew what the end result of it was going to be, but it happened long before he said anything that confirmed it. By the time he tells me that I will end up needing a pacemaker, I’ve known about it for a while. I know there’s a deluge of emotions waiting for me to process them, but I try my hardest to push them aside as he explains his reasoning.

“Essentially, you’ve had several flutters over the last year and some of these lines aren’t moving the way we want to see them. A pacemaker is the next step in treatment.”

I shake my head and look at the ground. I hear what he’s saying, I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a part of me that wants to scream when I hear it. He senses this, and uses a calm and reassuring tone. “We have a lot more of it under control than we don’t, but what we don’t is enough to be concerned about.”

I take another deep breath and straighten up again. I need to listen to this.

“I know it’s not what you had hoped to hear, but there is good news here.”

“What’s that?” I ask, still unconvinced.

“We only need to implant a single lead into your right ventricle,” he says, flipping to a specific paper marker and pulling out a few stapled sheets. When he hands them to me, I recognize them as one of the information packets I was given the last time I was here a few months ago.

“That’s good news…?” my father clears his throat, a bit unsure. Mr. Toshinori turns his attention to him.

“It is. For a lot of patients with your son’s condition, we usually have to implant two leads into the heart - the first one in the ventricle and the second one in the atrium above it. In some cases we even need three to correct an irregular rhythm. But I’m fairly confident because of everything he’s done that we can get away with a single lead.” He fixes his gaze on me again. “You’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last seven months, Nakai, and it shows. You’re in a much better position than you would have been if you didn’t keep up with your medications and exercise. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

I lightly rub my temple, trying to understand and take in everything I’ve just been told. It actually is reassuring in a way and I’m grateful for the validation and praise...but a tempered blow still hurts.

“I don’t see why we can’t schedule the procedure a few days after you graduate. Enjoy the last few months you have before then. When you come back, we’ll admit you to the hospital for the surgery and then a few days after so we can keep an eye on your progress and give you some time to recover.”

With how much I really don’t like the idea of going back to the hospital, I’m glad it’s only going to be for a few days. I can deal with that, as long as it’s not any longer.

“How long?”

“Pardon?”

“How long will it be until you can tell if the pacemaker is making a difference?”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:41 am

The doctor leans back a bit. “Well, we can get a general idea within the first few days. Once everything checks out, you’ll be released and should be back to normal fairly quickly.”

“So he should be staying with us until you clear him?” my mother asks.

“That would probably be best. We’ll want him to come back weekly for a month after the surgery to make sure everything is healing properly. Standard procedure, just like everything else about this is. If everything goes well, you’ll only need to be restricted for a few weeks. Don’t worry.”

Well. That’s that.

My hand moves from my temple to sweep my hair back as I take a few moments to try and think about everything I’ve just been told. I’m...not sure what to think about the situation.

At all.

I still don’t manage to get a handle on it through the rest of the visit and the social wind down to lighter topics designed to bring the mood back to normal. It’s not until near the end of it when my mother is asking my doctor if he can recommend any good places to watch the sakura bloom in a few months that my phone vibrates in my pocket, barely loud enough for everyone in the room to pick up on it.

I politely excuse myself, giving my doctor a chance to go over any last minute things he might have forgotten, and giving myself a little bit of privacy to check the notification.

It’s a text from Saki.

With father, can’t text or call today. What did your doctor say?

I sigh. Damn. I really wished I could talk to her about this, and with that text, it sinks in how far apart we are right now. Three nights ago she was curled up against me as we both slept, and now she’s half a thousand kilometers away.

I miss her. I miss her terribly right now.

I still haven’t heard anything from Chisato, and suddenly, I’m annoyed at it. Angry, even. Saki managed to send me a text even if she can’t openly talk right now to ask me how my appointment was, and Chisato can’t even be bothered to let me know she got home safely.

I take another deep breath, realizing that my attitude might not be fair and try to clear my thoughts. Maybe Chisato wants some distance from the situation and I...and I...

…I hurt. I hurt.

It takes a second for me to accept that even if I admit it. I’m scared. I’m hurt by Chisato’s silence. I’m hurt by not getting the news I wanted. I’m hurt because I can’t be with Saki right now, and I hurt because I’m going under the knife again and neither of them are there for me right now when I really need them.

It’s an unfair reaction to have, but goddamnit, everything about this is unfair.

I open my contact list and stab the call button when I scroll to Chisato’s number. Maybe she’ll answer a phone call since she hasn’t been replying to texts.

It rings twice, then goes to voicemail. Not the standard four times that it would ring before doing so...which means she deliberately sent me to voicemail. My brain fumbles as I try to think of something to say.

“H-hey, Chisato. I, uh, haven’t heard from you yet and I’m starting to get worried. Let me know you’re alive, alright? Talk to you later.”

I quickly close the phone and slip it back into my pocket, right as the door opens and my parents and doctor step out. They seem to be in high spirits - well, as high as they can be given the circumstances - and the doctor address me one last time.

“Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll see you in a few months.”

---------

The waitress is clearing away the last of our plates when my phone vibrates again. I set my coffee down and try to pull it out of my pocket as fast as I politely can. My parents are talking to each other, so they’re once again content to let me check it. I had replied to Saki earlier but didn’t expect her to message me ba-

It’s Chisato.

Recording at the studio. I’ll call you later when we’re done.

My eyes go wide before my brows knit themselves in confusion. She’s recording? At the studio? But how?

“Is everything alright?” my father asks, seeing the change in my demeanor.

“Um, yeah. Yeah, it is,” I stammer back, closing my phone.

“Who was it?”

“Chisato. She finally got back to me.”

“Is she okay?”

“Yeah, I think. I don’t know. I’m not sure,” I say, trailing off. Wasn’t she supposed to be going back home yesterday, like the rest of us? She must not have left Yamaku then, but wouldn’t she be spending her time with Mitsuru?

Not to mention, how and what is she recording without Saki there? I know she had some stuff she was recording herself, but would that be enough for what she needed?

And...where does that leave Saki in this? If she couldn’t record, then what happens to her own prospects?

With my thought patterns already disrupted by the news of the pacemaker, it doesn’t take much more from that text to threaten to send my mind into overload. I’m taking another slow breath when the phone lights up again in my hand with another text notification.

“You’re popular today,” my mom observes, trying to lighten the mood. To my surprise, I see Mai’s name when I look at the screen.

Hey Hisao! Did you say you were getting in yesterday or today? I can’t remember.

“It’s Mai. I should let her know I’m back,” I inform them, feeling just a bit guilty at not confirming things with her. I type out a quick response.

Got back in yesterday. Just got done having lunch downtown with my folks.

“It’s good to see you’re talking with your old friends again,” my father comments, taking another sip of his drink.

I smile faintly. It has been good, the last few months. We don’t talk often, and almost never on the phone since texting is so much easier, but it’s been enough to where we can still be a part of each other’s lives. I have my parents, my friends, and Iwanako to thank for that - if they didn’t conspire to throw me that surprise party back in summer, I might have just been fine with drifting away from all of it.

I’m thankful I’ve learned the value of keeping old friendships active, especially ones that were forged before I’ve become the person I am now - messed up heart and all.

*BZZZZT*

Wait, are you still downtown? I’m down here shopping right now! Do you want to meet up?

My mother sees my eyebrows raise when I check Mai’s latest reply. “How is she doing? We haven’t seen or talked to her since you were here during summer.”

“Ah, she’s downtown right now,” I reply, thinking. I make eye contact with my folks, and my tone becomes almost apologetic. “If it’s not too much trouble...would you mind if I took the bus back home? She’s downtown right now and wants to meet up and...it’s been a long few days.”

My parents glance at each other, then my father nods. “Dinner’s at six. Just let us know if you’re going to be getting back any later than that.”

“Thank you. I just...need to decompress a bit.”

“We understand. Don’t forget that we’re here for you too. You’re our son, after all.”

“Thank you. I haven’t.”

“We’re pretty much done here, if you want to leave. They were about to bring us the check anyway.”

I nod and stand up, pushing my chair in. My parents give me a brief hug and extract a promise from me to be in touch if anything happens or comes up.

As I leave the restaurant and step out into the brisk morning air, I’m assaulted by the cacophony of life and noises that make up the city. Car engines, train bells, rapid conversation of people around me and music from half a dozen sources. It’s a wonderful chorus but it makes calling anyone fairly difficult...so I settle on sending another text.

I would like that very much, actually. Coffee at Nari?

--------------

Mai gives a squeal and jumps at me. “Look at you! Merry Christmas, and all that.”

“Hey Mai. It’s really good to see you,” I reply, laughing and returning her hug.

She steps back and gives me a visual once-over. “Yeah? You look a little rough. Everything okay?”

I rub the back of my neck. “Not...exactly.”

“Come on, let’s get some coffee and we can sit down. What’s going on?”

“A lot of things. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning.”

“So that’s why you were in town, eh? How’d it go?”

“Let’s order coffee first, then I’ll tell you,” I answer, opening the door for her.

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

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:43 am

Image

Nari is just as I remember it, a perfect little hole-in-the-wall cafe that ends up being a jewel for the people that walk in off the street and discover it. It’s a lot smaller than the Shanghai with only a dozen tables and no booths, but even when it’s full, there’s a comforting sense of intimacy with the other people you’re there with. I stumbled upon it during one of my walks a few years ago, and it became a priority to stop at whenever my friends and I were down in the area.

Once we get our coffees and sit down, I spend a few minutes to give Mai the details of earlier in the morning; how I’ll need a pacemaker after all, my medications are getting adjusted again, and that I’ll probably be out of commission for a few weeks after I get cut open again. My rant carries on for a few stanzas before I realize just how bitter I’m sounding.

I shake my head. “I’m sorry. It’s just...deflating. I thought I was doing better, I’ve been feeling better, and I’m in better shape now than I was when I had the damned heart attack in the first place.”

“See?” she jokes. “It’s not all bad.”

“No...I guess not. It’s just hard to hear. I was working really hard to avoid that.”

Mai looks at me coyly over the rim of her cup. “Are you sure that’s why you were working hard?”

“What do you mean?”

“Were you working hard because you wanted to keep your heart from getting worse, or because you wanted to improve who you are?”

I stare into the cup in front of me, making eye contact with my reflection in the black liquid. “I’m not really sure, when you put it that way.”

“Really? I am,” she answers with confidence.

“Oh? And what do you think?”

“I know you’ve been doing it to get better. You just said it yourself, you’re in the best shape you’ve ever been in.” She gives me another quick scan with her eyes then raises her cup slightly in salute. “Damn fine job by the way, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“Thanks for the compliment.”

“No problem. So now that you know you’re going to need the surgery, when do they want to do it? I promise I won’t have any qualms about visiting you in the hospital this time.”

“Mid March, after graduation.”

She drums her fingers on the table for a moment, thinking. “Maybe your doctor’s right. You really should go back up and enjoy yourself up there. At least you’re down here for another week or so, right? We all need to get together again, if you’re up for it.”

“Yeah?” I ask, taking another sip. “How are you and the others planning to spend the next two and a half months?”

“Well, the class is planning a trip up north to the snow for a few days. There’s an inn with a hot spring there. All of us are going together. It should be a lot of fun.”

“Sounds like fun. I’m jealous.”

She laughs. “The rules are pretty lax. I could invite you as my plus-one if you really wanted to go.”

I shake my head. “Nah. If it was just you guys, I might do it, but it’s the whole class and well, I’m not really a part of it anymore. Trust me. I’d feel too out of place and not be able to enjoy it. Besides, you get to spend some quality time with your boyfriend.”

Mai winces. “Ahhhh...Takumi and I broke up.”

I’m a bit shocked when I hear that. “What? When did that happen?”

“The week before finals.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I thought you two were good together.”

“Don’t be! We were. We are. We just decided that we worked better off as friends. I’m always gonna love him though. Same with you, you big dork.”

“In that case, I’m flattered instead of sorry.”

She laughs. “Yeah. We dated for a few months and nothing really changed between us. It was fun but it never really felt right, you know? It kind of worked out, since we realized there was no chance we would be able to go to the same university.”

“Is that so?”

Mai leans back and takes another long swig from her cup. “Eh, there was no way I was going to get into Meiji. Takumi had a shot though, and damned if he didn’t make the most of it.” Her eyes light up. “He actually got in! I’m proud of him.”

“That’s good to hear!”

She nods. “Well, it just seemed at that point it was easier to break it off so he could have the time to study. The timing ended up working great, and both of us are single going into college. Besides, Shouji’s closer.”

“You know, you’re actually not the first friend I’ve had this conversation with. You’re handling it a lot better than they are, though.”

“Ouch. Sorry to hear that. They’re trying to figure out if long distance is worth it?”

“Yeah. Except she’s moving to Tokyo and he’s moving to Korea.”

“Did one of them not get the grade they wanted?”

I sigh. “No, both of them got into schools they wanted to. It’s just that distance is a thing with a lot of couples at Yamaku, since we come from all over the country. I mean, Saki lives in Osaka…”

“Huh. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen with Iwanako and Shin.”

I perk up. “Oh? What’s going on with the two of them?”

Mai winces slightly. “They were studying hard to get into the same university together, but Iwanako’s exam scores weren’t high enough. She’s going to Shouji so the two of us will be going together at least. We’ve already started filling out the paperwork to share a dorm room together, and it’s not that far away so we’ll be able to come back and visit friends and family here. What about you?”

I take a second to brush my hair out of my eyes, reminiscing about the hell that was final exams. “I did pretty good on the national exam, but I didn’t really do enough work or research the last few months to choose a university to shoot for. I’m doing the ronin thing.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Gives me some time to figure out just what I want to do with my life. Besides, since I’ll be down and out for a few weeks anyway I’d miss the start of the year, and I already did that once. I don’t want to have to go through that again, especially for the same reason.”

She laughs again. “That’s true. You gonna stay at home, or are you thinking of moving somewhere else?”

“I was thinking of moving near Tokyo with some of my friends, but I don’t know if that’s going to be happening now.”

“Ah, so that’s what’s been bothering you?” Mai inquires, setting her cup down.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I didn’t think the reason you were like this was just because of the pacemaker. I’ve known you for too long, Hisao. You have this little tell when something’s been on your mind for a while.”

“And what tell is that?”

Mai shakes her head. “Nope, if I told you what it was then you’d stop doing it.”

“It’s not like you’re going to be playing poker against me anytime soon.”

“You never know,” she winks.

I take a moment to consider. I wasn’t able to really open up to my parents about everything that’s been going on, but with Mai, things are different. She genuinely wants to know...and I need to talk it out.

So, that’s what I do over the next thirty minutes, which goes by so much quicker than expected. I end up telling her everything about my relationship with Saki, the recording studio, the Christmas outing and the fight at the end of it...and unlike with my parents, I tell her about Kayoko, and the full details of what happened yesterday morning in the dean’s office. She listens diligently, breaking her attention from me only to order us a refill on our coffees sometime during what ends up feeling like a confessional.

After I finish, Mai purses her lips and stares off into the middle distance for a few seconds, trying to take it all in.

“Too much?” I ask.

“No, I’m your friend, but wow, that is some new information. No wonder you were so upset this morning.”

“I’m kind of at a loss what to do.”

Mai ponders for a moment. “From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound like it’s anyone’s fault. Saki couldn’t have known that it would have ended like that.”

“But were her and and her ex right to keep it from Chisato?”

She sighs. “I don’t know. I can understand why they did, though. I agree with you though that no matter what, the situation just...sucks.

Everyone involved is hurt and angry, and they all have very real reasons to be.

“Look,” Mai says, sitting up straighter in her chair. “I can’t say I’ve been anywhere close to what you’re going through. But maybe you don’t need to do anything. It’s not a problem to solve.”

“I know that, but it’s hard not to think about. My girlfriend and one of my best friends are fighting…”

“You can be there for both of them. That’s all you really should do.”

“I hate feeling like I’m caught in the middle.”

She reaches out and puts a hand on mine. “Being there for one doesn’t mean you’re betraying the other. But if it does go bad, well...don’t let anyone walk over you.”

“Mai! That’s a horrible thing to say.”

She shrugs, not backing down. “It’s true. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t there for both you and Iwanako while you were in the hospital.”

“You...what?”

“I don’t blame you, but near the end you were such a sad sack that it’s no wonder you didn’t end up noticing. Who do you think Iwanako kept coming back to every time she saw you in the hospital? She was an absolute wreck.

“I knew she was hurt but I didn’t know it was that bad,” I say, feeling guilty all over again.

“Like I said, you had other priorities. She blamed herself for what happened.”

“But it wasn’t her fault...”

Mai’s grip becomes tighter to drive home her point. “Ex-act-ly! It wasn’t anyone’s fault. But it took awhile for her to realize that. She didn’t really believe it until you came back for the summer.”

I sigh, knowing she’s right. “Yeah, but that took months. We graduate in less time than that.”

“Maybe it all ends up happy and maybe it doesn’t. But it’s going to work itself out one way or another. Accept the things you can’t change, and have the courage to change the things you can, you know?”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve heard or seen that quote somewhere before, and you’re butchering it.”

“Did I? Doesn’t matter that I got it wrong if it means you’re still thinking about it.”

I smile. “Thanks for being there, Mai. And here, now. I didn’t realize you were there for Iwanako too.”

“You two are my friends,” she says. That’s all the reason she gives, and it’s all the reason she needs.

Before I can answer her, my phone starts to ring. I pull it out of my pocket and read the display, my eyes going wide.

“Who is it?” Mai asks me.

“It’s Chisato. I have to take this.”

Mai nods and waves me off, mouthing the word bathroom. She retreats to give me some privacy as I open the phone and hold it up to my ear.

“Hey, Chisato.”

“Hey. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you. It’s been a really long twenty four hours.”

“What’s going on? I thought you would have been back at home?”

“I am now. I stayed one more day.”

“So you could go to the recording studio?”

“Yeah.”

I frown. “I thought you said you weren’t going to be able to.”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:33 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 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:44 am

“I got lucky. I called my parents and they were able to change my train ticket to today, and I was up all night with sensei and Mr. Takamura.”

“I’m a bit confused. How did you record if…?” I say, trying to frame what I’m saying as carefully as possible.

“That’s why I was up all night. We recorded my songs and were able to modify some of the other ones so that I could play them alone.”

She sounds exhausted. If she really rewrote some of the songs that her and Saki had been trying to record as a duet, then what does that leave for Saki to do?

“I’m just glad to hear from you. I didn’t hear from Saki until midnight last night-”

“Hisao,” Chisato cuts me off. “Look. Not right now, okay? Yeah, we’re going to talk about it, but later.”

I bristle slightly, but Mai’s words replay themselves in my head and I calm down. “I’m sorry. I thought you might have been mad at me.”

“Oh, I am mad, Hisao. Not at you. But I’m pissed. I’m pissed and I’m hurt, okay?”

“I understand. We’ll talk later, then.”

I hear her sigh. “Nevermind. It’s...good to hear your voice. I don’t want to stop talking yet. Let’s change the topic. You had your doctor appointment earlier today, right? How did that go?”

“Well, there’s...news.

“Oh no. Good or bad?

“It’s...complex. I’m going to need to get a pacemaker but I won’t need the surgery until after graduation. I’m out with a friend right now trying to...process it all, I guess.”

“Oh man, I’m sorry Hisao. I know you were hoping you wouldn’t need one.”

“Yeah, well, it is what it is. The doctor wanted me to enjoy the next few months.”

“Might as well. Things are going to get pretty crazy after graduation.”

“You’re only going to have about a few weeks to find a place in Tokyo.”

“Mr. Takamura and sensei said they would help me there too. They have a few leads and I don’t need anything bigger than my dorm room, anyway. I’m sure there’s a converted closet I can throw a futon in somewhere. I’ll invite you over for a housewarming party after you’re feeling better.”

I chuckle a bit. “When will you find out you’ve been officially accepted?”

“It’s going to be a few weeks. I was pretty confident, but...I hope it was enough. Sensei thinks so. I trust her.”

“It will be.”

“Thanks. You’re with your friend, I’ll let you go. I’m going to try and get some rest tonight and then...tomorrow’s a new day, I guess.”

I take a deep breath and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Alright. Can I ask you something?”

“What is it?”

“Look, I know you’re upset with her and you don’t want to talk to her. But can I at least let her know you made it home okay? She’ll be worried too.”

There’s a few long seconds of silence on the other end before she answers. “You can tell her I made it home. Also, make sure to tell her not to contact me right now. I don’t want to talk to her. I’ll call her when I’m ready to talk.”

“I’ll make sure to tell her that.”

“Thank you for respecting that, Hisao. It means a lot.”

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“You too. Goodnight.”

I hang up the phone, then just stare at it. It’s like my brain hit an overload and simply doesn’t want to work any further on this at the moment, which is a good thing because Mai conveniently steps back around the corner.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

“No, but...well, you’re right. She wants to talk, just not right now.”

“See? Progress.”

I nod. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight. But keep an open mind about it, yeah? And don’t wait so long to tell me this stuff! You ever dump that much exposition on me again, you’re not the only one who’s going to end up having a heart attack!”

“You’re incorrigible, you know that?”

“You and I both know I don’t know what that word means.”

I laugh again, thankful for the distraction and allowing myself to fall into it. “So, you had mentioned getting together with everyone soon. Let’s talk some more about that.”

------------------

The seats on the bus are just as hard as I remember them being. I wrap my arm around the bag next to me, the spoils of a brief run through the fashion district with Mai. Since we spent such a long time at the cafe, it seemed only right that I go along with her on her original quest. The shirt I picked out is blood red, reminding me a bit of the one I saw an age ago at Plus Two...with a much better price.

I didn’t really need the shirt, but it felt nice to get something for myself and as Mai pointed out, I deserved to treat myself for doing such a good job this last year with my arrhythmia. I find it slightly amusing how she was able to turn something that was bringing me down into a positive deserving of a reward, but then again, I knew getting together would help.

The bus slows down and comes to a stop, and I exit it by stepping down onto the curb. I have one last transfer to make in about ten minutes, which will then take me to the station closest to my house.

I breathe in the smells of the late afternoon, and I feel a strange mix of nostalgia. The winter day is stark and cold, but has a clean crispness to it that the city near Yamaku doesn’t have. When I look down at the bag I’m carrying by my side, I’m reminded once again of the shopping trip and dinner down in that city the first time our group went together. I sigh heavily as everything just kind of rushes back into place, the distraction of the last few hours over.

Accept the things you can’t change. Have courage to change the things you can. Have the wisdom to know the difference. That’s the third part of the quote that Mai brought up earlier.

Chisato, Saki, myself...there’s nothing I can do right now. We won’t even all be back together at Yamaku until just before graduation anyway, and as much as it hurts me to see the two of them fighting like this, it’s between the two of them. I want to uphold the faith that Chisato has in me, but I also want - no, need - to be there for Saki.

I have no idea what’s going to happen with graduation, but I do know that time isn’t going to stop there. Afterwards, things move quickly for everybody - Chisato and Mitsuru both moving, me going in for surgery, and...whatever is going to happen to Saki. There’s only a few precious short weeks between the time we graduate and when we all end up taking different paths, and it seems almost cruel that there’s several months of what’s supposed to be tranquil peace leading up to them. Instead of enjoying them, they’ll be a constant reminder of how impotent I feel in this situation...and how useless I’m going to be afterwards since I’ll be recovering.

I come to a dead stop and my eyes go wide.

No. Holy hell, that’s not true. Maybe there is something I can do.

I’m going to need the surgery, but it’s not urgent enough to need right away...and if that’s the case, does that mean it has to be done the week after graduation? The doctor told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, so it’s obvious he believes that there won’t be any serious issues or changes between now and then.

I put a hand to my forehead and use my trembling fingers to sweep my hair back. It seems crazy at first, but the more the idea tickles the back of my brain, the stronger it becomes.

I pull out my wallet and dig through it, trying to find - ah, there it is. Dr. Toshinori’s card. I use my other hand to open my phone and dial the number printed on it. It only rings once before someone on the other end picks up.

“You’ve reached the office of Oda Toshinori, how may I help you?” I hear his receptionist answer.

“Ah, yes, hello. This is Hisao Nakai. I was there a few hours ago with my parents for an appointment with Mr. Toshinori. Has he gone home for the day?”

“No, he’s still here finishing up some paperwork. Is there anything he can help you with?”

“I just had a few quick followup questions from my visit earlier, if that’s all right.”

“Of course. May I put you on hold?”

“Sure,” I say, and after another two seconds, I’m treated to the tinny sounds of muzak.

I would need to know first if such a thing would even be possible, and then explain it to my parents. Nurse might be able to help, if I call him. I think I still have his number som-

“Hello, Nakai,” I hear the older man cut in. “I’ve been informed that you had a few questions for me? Is there anything that I can answer for you?”

I clear my throat a bit before proceeding, giving me a half second to collect my thoughts. “Ah, thank you. I uh, wanted to go over the timeframe again for the surgery. You said you wanted to do it the week after graduation, right?”

“That’s right.”

“If I need the pacemaker, but I don’t need it right now, does that mean the exact date I have the surgery isn’t that important?”

I can already hear the disapproval in his voice when he answers. “Well no, it’s not terribly urgent, but we still want to get it done as soon as is convenient. It’s not something you want to put off any later than you have to.”

“Actually, doctor, that’s what I wanted to ask you about. I’m not asking about getting the date pushed back.”

Now I hear slight confusion. “Very well, then why are you asking me about the exact date?”

I take in a deep breath before answering. “Would be possible to move it up?”

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

Post by Razoredge » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:01 am

Once again, this is a nice update. Now, I'm intrigued, about what will happens in the future about the surgery and all the stuff like that, how the characters will manage to bear that kind of event, and so on. You, Euro, achieve to hook me up to your story, and I have to say, I wait with pleasure for each update.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Blackmambauk » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:25 pm

I wasn't expecting an update until next month at earliest so this was a nice surprise to wake up to this morning.

Really nice low key chapter here that shines the light on Hisao and what he has been going through, along with him having to face up to the part of his condition he was hoping to avoid with the pacemaker and also still sorting through the mess he is in the middle of.

The scene between Hisao and Mai was truly excellent and flowed so well with the teasing, the catching up of what's happened with Hisao's old friends and what future plans are. Mai was the perfect character for Hisao to confide in here, she could bring out things directly in a way no other character could do, despite having no stake in it and not knowing the people Hisao is involved with. But still listen to Hisao and context some things of the events that happened in the prologue between Hisao and Iwanako. All of which helps to bring Hisao to make a decision i have no doubt is going to to be one hell of a read.

Excellent job again as always my good friend :D.

Blackmambauk
"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 10/13)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:04 am

The Saki-Chisato conflict is reminding me a bit of Shizune's route, with one girl upset at the other and Hisao caught in the middle. Though at least he hasn't comforted Chisato..... yet.....

It will be interesting to see if the pacemaker drives home to Saki that Hisao might not actually have that much longer to live than she does.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:16 pm

Always makes my day when I see this story has an update and you've yet to disappoint!

Glad I wasn't the only one who thought about the potential for comfort here...

Memeing aside I look forward to seeing how this all works itself out and what Hisao has planned.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by sackwrist » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:15 am

I am ab-so-lutely excited for what comes next. Waiting for your next update is unbearable especially with how you ended your last chapter. Phenomenal writing.

Perhaps my opinion is skewed after reading nothing but the driest selections of literature for the past few months but DAMN if this wasn't some of the most enjoyable reads I have had in the past year.

I've had to clutch my chest in anxiety, peek through the spaces between my fingers,and look away in shock whilst reading. This is the best compliment I can give. Having someone elicit a visceral reaction to your writing is something special. Well...at least it is to me.

You are. A wonderful. Writer.

I hope you are reminded of this when you most need it.

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