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

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:30 am
by Eurobeatjester
“He can do whatever he wants, Hisao. I don’t turn twenty until a year after we graduate.”

I bring a hand up to my forehead, staring off into the middle distance as the impact of what she’s saying fully hits me. She’s right. She’s right. But even if she is...

“Saki, even if that happened, once you hit your birthday they wouldn’t be able to keep you there.”

“That’s why we were meeting with the lawyer,” she continues, splintering further. “My father says that if anything else happens, he’s going to try and push for custody past that point.”

I rise to my feet and start pacing, the agitation building in me demanding that I move. “What do you mean, custody?”

“He feels that I’m acting out and that I’m not capable of making decisions for myself because of my ataxia getting worse.”

I’m already shaking my head. “That’s bullshit, there’s no way that would make it through the courts. You’re not-”

“Not what, Hisao? Invalid?” she says bitterly, and it causes me to stop in my tracks with a horrible thought.

No, she’s not invalid. Not yet, but…

“-crazy. You’re not crazy, Saki. They can’t do something like that without your consent,” I blurt out, not sure of who I’m trying to reassure with that thought.

“Really? I know exactly what he’s going to say, because I got to hear him say it,” she venomously spits. “‘You’re under a tremendous amount of stress from your condition. You’ve had major depression issues in the past. You’ve tried to kill yourself before. You’ve been physically fighting other students. You may not be able to know what’s best for you.’”

“That’s horrible...please tell me you’re exaggerating? He said that?”

“Close enough,” she says, her voice getting smaller. “Even when I tried to explain, he just brushed it off as being from the stress I was under because it’s easier for him to think that. He just always explains it away or gets the doctors to. I can’t even have a reason for slapping Maeda that’s mine.

Despite the defiant lilt at the end…I can hear the defeat and resignation that’s permeating her right now.

A few long heartbeats pass before she speaks again.

“I have to do what he says if I don’t want to end up there. He’s serious, Hisao. I don’t have a choice.”

When I was at my lowest in the hospital and I was told about Yamaku, I hated the idea. I hated everything about it when I first heard about it. My parents told me it was my decision, but they stressed very heavily that it was something they wanted me to do with their language and tone.

Eventually though, I acquiesced. But what if I hadn’t? The truth of the matter is that they didn’t have to give me the choice - they could easily have declared that I was going to go to Yamaku and I would have had no recourse.

Thus, Saki’s defeat. Her parents have the exact same power that mine chose both then and now not to use - the ability to make any and all medical decisions for their child until the day they turn twenty.

Stay in line, or get sent away. I can’t think of anything more effective - or cruel - to resort to, because it’s worked before.

I had a choice. She didn’t then, and she doesn’t now.

“He’s still going to let you come back the week before we graduate, right?” I ask.

I hear her sniffle and blow her nose. “Yeah. Even if one of the reasons is to pack. His words, not mine.”

“At least we’ll be able to see each other again.”

“Y...yeah. I wish I could get up there sooner, but…”

“About that,” I tell her, sitting back down on the bed again. “I wouldn’t be there anyway, I don’t think.”

Now it’s Saki’s turn to be confused. “What do you mean?”

I rub my temple. “I’m uh, not going back up there right away after break ends.”

“Why’s that? Is everything okay?”

“Um, yeah, for the most part,” I answer quickly, hoping to reassure her. “I just...after what you just said I’m not sure how to segue this.”

“Please, just tell me. Anything to get my mind somewhere else.”

“Remember how I told you I needed to get a pacemaker after graduation?” I ask.

“Yeah. Did that change?”

I frown. “No, but...well, I guess technically it did.”

“What do you mean?”

“I talked with my doctors and my parents. I’m getting the surgery for it pushed up.”

“What!?” she exclaims in shock. “Hisao, why would you need to do that?”

“I don’t need to. I want to. It was my choice.”

“Must be nice,” she replies sardonically.

“Ah shit, I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. But...why?”

I breathe in deeply, steeling myself for my answer. “I don’t know what’s going to happen after graduation, Saki. With my living situation, with preparatory school, a job, or even, well, us. But I know that whatever ends up happening, I don’t want to be stuck in a hospital bed again for it. I couldn’t do anything about it last time but this time I can.”

“But you should be relaxing and enjoying yourself, these are the last few months we have before all that stuff happens-”

“What’s the point if I can’t spend them with you?”

There’s a few seconds of silence before she answers me in a broken voice. “Hisao…”

“I mean that,” I say, trying to muster all of the assurance I can.

“...I really miss you,” she finally replies. “I wish I was there.”

“Me too,” I sigh.

I hear her sniff and blow her nose again, and it tears at my heart to hear her like this.

“When are you getting the surgery done? What’s going to happen?” she asks.

“It looks like it’s going to be the first week of February,” I inform her. “I’ll be in the hospital for a few days after that and then staying here at home for a month. Then I’ll be going back.”

“ you think I can come up and see you?”

My heart beats, hard. “You would? Would your father let you?”

I almost regret the words as soon as I say them, but it does no good to deny the reality of the situation.

“Not by myself, but...I could probably make it up there for a day with my brother. My father would let me go with him, as long as I don’t ‘act out’ in the next month,” she finishes with a sarcastic tone, but one that’s alarmingly void of its usual fire. “I don’t know when, though.”

“We’ll figure something out. I promise.”

I hear her start to answer, but then there’s a rustling noise. I hear her voice along with another woman’s, this one fainter. The phone only picks up about every third word as they speak a few sentences to each other, leaving me to wait.

After a few seconds, the phone crackles and I hear Saki clearly.

“I have to go, my mother wants to talk to me. I’ll call you tomorrow,” she says.

“Alright. Call me any time.”

“I love you.”

I close my eyes as those three words wash over me, soothing and calming my nerves in a way I didn’t know how badly I needed.

“I love you too, Saki.”

The line goes dead with a loud click, leaving me alone in the dark with my thoughts. There’s only one that manages to surface from the maelstrom and fill me with regret.

I forgot to relay Chisato’s message to Saki.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:33 am
by Blackmambauk
A lovely surprise to see another chapter before the end of the year. As I thought it would be January until we got the next chapter of Learning to Fly.

Not much to say on this chapter as it was mostly covered stuff we already knew and dealt with some of Hisao's internal thoughts and on what his parents, Saki and Nurse felt about him wanting a pacemaker put in soon.

But as always you done a great job mate and are building more and more to the eventual scene where everything is had at and Hisao shows how much he's grown etc.

Thanks euro


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:32 pm
by Mirage_GSM
I'm not a specialist on Japanese family law, but I'm pretty certain that a parent cannot decide to lock up their child, even if they aren't 20 yet.
They're probably not oblieged to support the child if it decides to move out, but locking them up would be false imprisonment.

Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

Posted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:38 am
by Eurobeatjester
Huh, for some reason the forum ate the formatting on the last part. Fixed!
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:32 pm
I'm not a specialist on Japanese family law, but I'm pretty certain that a parent cannot decide to lock up their child, even if they aren't 20 yet.
They're probably not oblieged to support the child if it decides to move out, but locking them up would be false imprisonment.
This was something that downix helped me do some research on, but I still wasn't able to find a concrete answer for. I tried to be accurate to what I could find on the subject although most of it applies to the elderly. I could be wrong, but this was the premise I was going on:

While it can be nebulous as there are exceptions, in general parents get to make the medical decisions for their children until they're 20 years old. One of the things that can secure this is if the adolescent has a history of delinquent or dangerous behavior.

Saki sees herself as being locked away but from a legal perspective, her history of having ataxia, assaulting another student, and having a previous suicide attempt would not weigh in her favor if her father presented his actions as simply providing for her medically. She could fight it, but it would be uncertain, and there would already be precedent from sending her to Yamaku.

The way as I understood it tied back to the beginning of the game - Hisao is given a choice to go to Yamaku by his parents but in that situation, his parents could have made the decision on their own and Hisao wouldn't have had a choice but to go along with it.

Like I said, I could be wrong because it was hard to find a lot of concrete examples and most of the answers I found were hypotheticals (family members being given power of attorneys and making decisions for the elderly, if elderly also meant invalid, and if those rules could apply to a young adult that was deemed incapable of acting in their own best interest.) It was a fun rabbit hole to go down :)

Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

Posted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 5:35 am
by Mirage_GSM
I imagine it was :-)

Regarding getting power of attorney for an elderly person, I know a bit about that because I had that for my father when he was struck with dementia.
They don't give that out willy nilly. There have to be several doctors signing off on it confirming that the person truly isn't able to make decisions for themselves.
Next, I think that one slap can hardly be called a "history of delinquent behaviour". The suicide attempt might be more of a red flag... Not sure how long ago that was in the story, and currently there aren't any signs of that repeating - as the medical staff of Yamaku could probably confirm.
Finally, choosing the school a child goes to is hardly the same as locking them up in their home. As I said a parent is not oblieged to support their child wherever they want to go, but actually restricting their freedom of movement is not something they can do.
All that said, if her father tried to enforce any of that, while he would ultimately fail, it would still place a lot of stress on Saki that it would be best to avoid.

Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:57 am
by Eurobeatjester
Hooray! Rclouds96 did a piece of artwork for me on short notice in time for Christmas :)

Thank you to everyone who continues to read, and Merry Christmas to you all!

There are a few more pieces of art being worked on, including one for the next chapter. Can't wait to show them to you all! :mrgreen:


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2019 6:02 am
by Blackmambauk
Oh ai, lovely commission for Christmas indeed mate :).

Your chapters are a constant source of pleasure and deepness to me and it's a real honour to be following i to it's end whether it's next year, year after or 2030.

Happy Christmas and holidays to everyone here.

May today bring you joy, happiness and love no matter where you are and who you are with.

You all deserve it.


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sat Jan 04, 2020 3:42 pm
by calcifer
Well... I was last here more than a year ago, when chapter 3 was just finished and euro was telling us about his kidney stone :)

A few days ago the first act of a spiritual successor to KS, Missing Stars, came out and playing that (strongly recommended btw) reminded me of some of the great writing I've used to follow here so I came back to check on progress. I was pleasantly surprised to see soo many new chapters! I was a bit hesitant to start where I left off - so much time has passed and details were lost on me, but reading through Act 4, everything quickly came back and I was engrossed once again. Your writing is still amazing euro, please keep it up :)

Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:16 pm
by Eurobeatjester
Wahoo! New year, new decade, new chapter, new art! This is gonna be a good year, I think!

This new chapter clocks in at just over 9k words. It was a lot of fun to write and I was lucky enough to be able to commission the wonderfully talented Kuriitama for this piece of artwork near the end.

My resolution is to finish this by the end of the year! Thanks to everyone who reads and gives me feedback!

The chapter title comes from the song "Runaway" by Bon Jovi.

Act 4: Liftoff

Scene 7: Runaway

The ceiling tiles are whiter than I remember.

I’ve had that thought several times over the last few days, a sign that cabin fever is setting in a lot sooner than it did last time. Even though this is only my third day here, I’m looking forward to going home at the end of the week if everything goes well.

I’m amazed that my doctor was able to get so many people to change their plans. He said that the anesthesiologist was the only one it took him a while to hear back from, and even then it took only a day. I was surprised that there were six different people in the operating room when they wheeled me in, but the medication they had given me beforehand dulled any need for concern. The last thing I remember before I was out was the metallic taste of the anesthesia.

Then, the familiarity of the recovery ward, and my first look at my fresh new scar. Set horizontally just below my left collarbone, it’s thankfully a lot smaller than the one down my sternum. The anesthesia hadn’t completely worn off at that point, and when I told the doctor that I should have asked the surgeon to even me out on my other side while I was out, he gave me a look that was very hard to read.

The last two days of recovery have been uneventful enough, letting me catch up on some much needed sleep. Despite my resolutions of going forward with the surgery, I still found myself nervous enough to be restless the few days leading up to it. The pain is still fairly prominent, but it’s not something the medication can’t handle. I’ve been told I’ll be sore like this for at least another week.

As much as I was dealing with the apprehension of the surgery, I’ve been looking forward to today for an entirely different reason - Saki’s coming up to see me, something that was in a very perilous position until a few days ago.

It’s been a rough month for her. I can tell not just from the things she says to me over the phone, but the way in which she says them. Ever since she’s been at home, she’s been trying to avoid her father as much as possible without neglecting him; something she’s been having a very difficult time with. She’s been spending most of her time with her brother, who I also get to meet today.

Today was the only time that they would have been able to come up. There’s no way Saki would have made the trip on her own, either by choice or design, so when her brother mentioned he had some family business to take care of in the area, it didn’t take much convincing for her brother to allow her to come along and make a day trip out of it. From what Saki’s told me, her brother’s closer to the two of them than they are to each other, so her father didn’t raise any objections.

They won’t be able to stay long; a few hours at most. They’ll spend more than twice that amount of time simply traveling today from Osaka and back again.

However short the time will be, I’m thankful for it. I’ve been missing her more by the day, especially since Saki’s been the one who initiates communication between us if it’s more than a text. I never call her until she tells me to, or she calls me. I hate that this is the state of things right now, but with everything going on right now, it’s not a good time to object to that.

And when will there be a time? Sometime between now and going back to Yamaku, or between then and graduation? I shake my head. No, there might not be a perfect time, but...some times are definitely better than others, and this is not one of them.

One day at a time; same as it’s always been.

I sit up straighter in the bed, wincing a bit as a small jolt of pain works its way through the left side of my chest. My parents visited me both yesterday and the day before when I had the surgery, but today they both have to work and I’m left on my own. Funnily enough, this time doesn’t feel so much an abandonment as a simple matter of fact.

I reach over to the table on my right to grab a glass of water, taking a few sips. I try not to move my left arm, under doctor’s orders. It’s going to be a week or so until I can lift it over my head, which I can deal with. What I’m finding harder to deal with is not being able to shower for another two days. The wound needs some time to close up properly before it gets wet, and while I’ve been changing into fresh clothes every day and not doing anything that would work up a sweat, you start to feel the lack of refreshment both physically and mentally.

With a slow deliberate motion, I put the glass back on the table next to my phone and wallet. My relationship with even those two innocuous items is changed as well. The wallet is now home to a shiny new plastic card I’ll have to keep on me at all times, and I better hope the hearing in my right ear doesn’t have any problems because I’ll only be able to hold the phone up to that side from now on. Those are pretty small prices to pay in the grand scheme of things.

Saki didn’t let me know exactly when she’d be here, but did say she would text me when they were getting close, and estimated it would probably be late morning or around noon. It’s only around ten thirty, so I shouldn’t start to worry yet. Worry more, anyway.

I’m shaken out of my thoughts when I hear a female voice on the other side of the door.

“Knock knock!”

That voice. It’s not Saki, but I think I recognize it...and my eyes go wide when the door opens and I see who it is.

“What the? Mai? Iwanako? What are you two doing here?”

The two girls step through the door, Mai ahead of Iwanako. Mai immediately seems more chipper than Iwanako, who is giving a reserved smile.

Mai unzips her coat and throws it on the nearby chair along with her bookbag. “I told you I was gonna come see you. Had to ask the nursing station where your room was - we ended up making a left when we got out of the elevator before we realized we weren’t going to your old room.”

I chuckle slightly, glad to see the two of them, even if I am surprised. “Yeah, they gave me one with a view this time.”

“How are you feeling?” Iwanako asks timidly, stepping forward. She’s not nearly as enthusiastic as Mai is, but I don’t really blame her. I can’t be the only one having a sense of deja-vu from this, and unlike me, she hasn’t had a month to mentally prepare herself to find herself in this position again.

“A lot better than I was the last time I was here,” I answer, both acknowledging the situation and trying to head off any tension she may be feeling. Iwanako gives me a small smile, and I feel relief wash over me.

“That’s good to see. I guess that means the surgery went well?”

I reach up with my good arm and slightly pull down the collar of my shirt, exposing the new scar for the two of them to see. “Pretty well. I should be able to go home in a few more days.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Iwanako says, staring at the fresh incision but not letting the look of dread come across her face that she wore so often last year. “That’s a lot smaller than the last one…”

I laugh, covering it up again. “Good thing, too. They’re going to have to open it again every few years to change out the battery, if I end up keeping it.”

“You mean it might not be permanent?”

I nod. “The doctors want me to have it for a while to see if it helps. After that, nobody knows. Either way though, I’m fine with it.”

“You’re going to be more machine than man when they get done with you,” Mai jokes.

“Gods forbid. What about the two of you? You have everything set up for spring?” I ask.

Mai puts her arm around Iwanako’s shoulders. “I think so. We have an orientation next week to go over the rules for the dorms. We’re not going to be moving in for another six weeks, but they’re pretty thorough and we’re getting a jump on everyone else. I think they’re going to let us pick our own room.”

“I’ll have to send you two a housewarming gift when you get settled in.”

“Oh, speaking of gifts, we got you a few things,” Mai suddenly says, letting go of Iwanako and retrieving her bag, starting to rummage through it.

“You didn’t have to do that,” I object, groaning internally. I’m already having a rougher time mentally here than I expected, and the thought of well-meaning but depressing detritus filling my room the way it did last time doesn’t help that.

“No, but we wanted to,” Iwanako replies.

Mai continues digging in her bag. “Yeah, we thought about getting you a card or flowers, but you got enough of those last time. We thought we’d get you something more...practical.” She gives a slight squeak of triumph and pulls out two small metal canisters, tossing them gently onto my bed between my legs.

I reach down and manage to grab both of them with my good arm, turing them so I can get a look at them.

“Body spray and dry shampoo?” I ask, inspecting the labels.


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:17 pm
by Eurobeatjester
Mai grins. “You couldn’t shower for a while after your surgery last time. We thought this might help.”

I frown and look away. “It wasn’t that bad.”

“ kind of was…” Iwanako says meekly, causing me to sigh.

“Thanks, I think.”

Mai laughs. “I wish we could stay and grab lunch, but we have an appointment with the Shouji admissions office in about an hour to go over some things and drop off paperwork.”

“We want to take you out for dinner too, but you’ll have to get out of here first. When are you going back to Yamaku?” Iwanako asks.

“A few weeks, if everything goes well. Probably the end of this month or the first week in March.”

“Plenty of time, then.”

I place the two canisters onto the bedside table. “How was your class trip?”

Mai’s face lights up. “The hot springs was a lot of fun. It’s too bad you couldn’t join us.”

“Ah...yeah,” I say, idly bringing my hand up to my chest, an old habit of mine that I still haven’t quite managed to break.

“We all might have to go back up there again sometime, if you’d like,” Iwanako says.

“I guess we’ll have to see how things work out in the next few months.”

The air tends to deflate slightly when I make that statement. It seems that as much as we all want to talk about things normally, we’d all be going our separate ways no matter what the circumstances. There’s an unspoken agreement to not acknowledge that our own plans for the next phase of our lives might not include each other in them…

No. That would be an easy excuse. Friendships take work, and my friendships with the two of them are worth putting the effort into keeping.

Yep. One day at a time.

“Still thinking of moving to Tokyo?” Mai asks.

“I haven’t made my mind up on that yet.”

“Well, you’ll have to let us know whenever you’re in town. We’ll come down and hang out.”

I laugh. It’s good to know they feel the same way.

“Well, seeing the two of you was a nice surprise. I thought I was only supposed to have one visit today.”

“Oh? Who else is coming?”

“Ahh...Saki,” I answer, my voice a little quieter than before.

“All the way from Osaka?” Mai asks in shock. “That’s quite a trip. Is she going to be staying up here?”

“Her brother is with her. They’re only here for the day then heading back home tonight.”

“When are they supposed to get here?”

I look over and check the clock. “Pretty soon, actually. They said they’d be here before noon but didn’t give me an exact time.”

“Looks like we’re just going to miss each other then. That’s a shame, it would have been nice to meet her.”

“How long is your appointment going to take? Maybe you could swing by afterwards on the way back home.”

“I don’t think we’ll be able to. We have plans afterwards. My grandfather’s birthday is today, so the family is getting together.”

Iwanako speaks up. “I’m meeting Shin. We’re going on a date.”

“Ah. Well, there will probably be another time.”

Mai grins and claps her hands. “Speaking of dates, we should help you get ready for yours!”

“Wait, what?” I ask in astonishment.

“Well, you said your girlfriend was going to be here soon. We did just get you some shampoo and body spray.”

“Uh, that’s great and all, but I think I’ll be fine. Besides, I can only use one arm right now.”

“I thought you said that the surgery went well?” Iwanako asks, concerned.

“It did, but I won’t be able to lift my arm up for a while until I heal a bit more,” I answer, glancing down at my left side.

Mai laughs. “Well, if you can only use one hand, I don’t mind giving you an extra.”

“I think I’ll be alright.”

“Oh come on, it’s not like I’ve never tousled your hair before.”

“Yeah, but-”

“You could really use it,” Iwanako says.

“...fine,” I relent with a sigh.

It only takes a few minutes, and throughout the entire time I can’t stop blushing at the absurdity and awkwardness of it all. Mai sits down on the bed next to me and takes the can of shampoo, pressing down on the tab until a fairly good sized blob fills her hand. She practically attacks my hair, running her fingers through it as the gel begins to work its way into my scalp.

“Do you have a brush? I can’t believe we forgot to get one,” Mai comments, continuing her work. I must admit that despite my initial objections, the attention feels nice.

“I have one,” Iwanako says, retrieving one from her own bag.

“I can’t use yours,” I protest.

“It’s okay, Hisao. Really.”

Mai completes her task, leaning back a bit to admire her handiwork. “There we go. Much better.” When she looks down at her hands, there’s still a bit of residue on them from the shampoo. “Nako, take over? I’m going to go wash my hands off.”

“The bathroom’s down to the left of the nursing station,” I comment.

“I remember that much,” Mai laughs, standing up and making her way towards the door. She turns sideways to bump it open with her hip, making sure not to touch anything. “Back in a few!”

With that, Iwanako and I are left alone. The two of us look at each other, and a hint of that old tension is back. It’s impossible for there not to be, given what happened a year ago. Anywhere else would be fine, and we made up this summer...but the irony of the situation isn’t lost on either of us.

She sits next to me in the same spot Mai just vacated moments before, and gently brings the brush up to my head. We’re both blushing at this point, and Iwanako focuses on what she’s doing with an intensity that shows she’s trying to block out what she’s feeling.

“Thank you for this,” I say to her, my voice soft. “I really do appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome,” she answers. “I can’t seem to do anything about that stubborn bit in the front though,”

I chuckle. “Me neither. It’s always been that way.”

“God,” she practically whispers. “You’ve changed so much...and in some ways, not at all.”

“I hope that’s a good thing,” I say.

“It is... I was scared to see you today.”

“I didn’t exactly want to be back here either, but...I’m glad. It’s really good to see you again, Iwanako.”

“I’m sorry,” she says, turning away from me to look at the floor. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you when you nee-”

I cut her off, grabbing her hand. “Don’t. You’re here now. And I’m very grateful for that.”

“Your girlfriend’s lucky…” she says, blushing harder. “I’m just happy you’re still in my life.”

My own face is red, not knowing how to take that compliment. “I’d give you a hug, but, well…”

“Promise me you’ll give me one later, before you go back?”

I squeeze her hand. “Absolutely.”

Both of us turn our heads towards the door when we hear a bit of a commotion outside of it, our hands separating. I hear Mai’s voice, along with-

“Look what I found!” Mai exclaims cheerily, opening the door widely, and my heart skips a beat when I see who’s with her.

It’s Saki, and someone with her who I can only assume is her brother.

“I came out of the bathroom and saw these two by the nurse’s station, so I thought I’d give them an escort,” Mai continues. Iwanako jumps up, startled, and tries to bow.

“Ahh, I’m sorry. I’m pleased to meet you. My name is Iwanako Ogawa.”

“Saki Enomoto,” Saki replies, just as polite. Her brother bows in turn while his sister introduces him. “This is my brother, Shuya.”

“I’d stay longer and would love to meet you all properly, but I’m just here to drop my sister off and running a bit late,” the man in question says. He’s taller than Saki, but has a lean build very similar to their father in the black suit he wears. His eyes are sharp yet inquisitive, a dark brown that resemble Saki’s in a way. The neatly combed brown hair on top of his head barely moves when he does, but if it wasn’t styled I can tell it would be a hairstyle fairly similar to my own if not a bit shorter.

Seeing the way he moves, just in this brief interaction, gives me pause. There’s an elegance there with how he holds himself, and there are absolutely no wasted movements. That more than anything else cements in my mind that this is definitely Saki’s brother.

“The meeting should take a few hours. I’ll be back to pick you up then. Are you going to be alright?”

Saki nods.

As if noticing me for the first time, Shuya nods in my direction. “You must be Nakai. I’m sorry to be rude, but can we save the proper introduction for when I get back this afternoon?”

“That’s fine!” I answer. “Please, don’t risk being late on my account.”

“Thank you,” he says. “If you could answer one quick question for me?”

“What’s that?”

“Is there a cafeteria here? I’d like to grab a coffee on the way out.”

“I can walk you down there,” Mai interjects. “That sounds like a good idea.”

“I’ll walk with you too,” Iwanako says. “We should get going anyway, Mai.”


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:18 pm
by Eurobeatjester
There’s a brief flurry of activity as the girls put their coats back on and gather their things, while Saki and her brother try to stay out of the way. I sit up straighter in bed when they come over to say their final goodbyes. Mai gives me as warm a hug as she can manage.

“Feel better soon, okay? We still need to take you out to dinner.”

“I will. Good luck today. Let me know how it goes!”

Iwanako trades places with her friend, but her hug is a bit more hesitant and lingers a few seconds longer.

“Thanks for coming. I’ll give you a proper hug next time I see you,” I say to her in a low voice. I hear her laugh as she pulls away.

Mai’s already at the door, holding it open for Iwanako and Shuya. She turns towards Saki. “He’s all yours, make sure to take good care of him!”

“S...sure,” Saki says, a bit taken aback but choosing to appreciate the humor of the situation. The door closes behind the three of them, and we’re both left to process what just happened. It takes a few seconds for both of us to relax a bit.

I get my first real look at Saki. It’s great to see her, but...she looks absolutely terrible. It’s hard to put my finger on any one specific thing - there’s still a light in her eyes, but it’s not as bright as what I’m used to seeing. There’s a tiredness there that she’s using makeup to conceal, especially beneath her eyes, and the way she’s holding her cane is off…

I don’t care about any of that. It’s good to see her. My distress does nothing to keep my heart from soaring when she gives me a genuine smile.

Saki turns around, taking a moment to remove her dark red coat. When she sets it down on the chair, I’m a bit surprised to see the outfit she’s wearing.

“That’s from Plus Two, isn’t it? From the first time we went down to the city together?”

She’s confused for a few seconds before recognition dawns on her. “Ah, yeah. I ended up going back and getting it when it went on clearance.”

It looks just as cute on her now as it did back then, even with the addition of her leggings.

“How are you feeling?” she asks me.

“I’ve been better, but I’ve also been a lot worse. Not too bad, overall.”

She nods, a bit unsure. She’s looking at me with a concerned expression, but I don’t think it’s just from seeing me like this. When she fidgets, I realize what’s going on. I smile back at her and her face breaks in relief, before she covers the distance to the bed in a few shaky strides and goes in to hug me.

“Careful,” I wince. “I can’t really use my left arm right now.”

Saki studies me carefully for a second, best determining how to wrap her arms around me when it’s clear she can’t the way she wants to. She tentatively puts her left around my shoulders and her right around my midsection, and when I don’t make any noises of pain, she fully commits.

I do feel some discomfort, but I think I’ll keep my damn mouth shut on this one.

“I’ve missed you,” she says into my shoulder.

We stay like this for a few moments, simply enjoying being in each others presence for the first time in over a month. It’s calming and familiar, and I can feel the tension and worries draining away from both of us.

“How are you holding up?” I ask, knowing full well what the answer is, but wanting to let her vent anyway. When she pulls back, I can see tears at the corner of her eyes.

“It’s been hard. I’ve been trying to avoid him as much as I can, but he still insists on taking me places with my mom and brother, and I’m trying to act the way he wants me to, but…”

Her survival strategy since being home has been to make herself as small and meek as possible. It tears at me to see that she’s not pretending as much as she thinks she is.

“...I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she says, breaking down. “I lost my chance to record anything. It’s too late for that now. Even with sensei’s help, I missed the deadline and I almost caused Chisato to miss it too.”

“Have you talked to her at all?” I ask, taking one of her hands in both of mine.

She hesitates a bit before nodding. “I have. She called me last week. We spoke for a bit, wasn’t a good time to talk because I was at home.”

“I wish there was something I could do.”

Saki bites her lip and looks down at the floor again. “There’s nothing you can do, Hisao. This is between the two of us.”

I nod.

“Saki, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but...what exactly happened with Kayoko? We never got a chance to talk about it directly…”

She frowns a bit, but nods. She has to have known this conversation was coming, and I respect her too much to not be direct with her.

“She played the violin like me,” Saki explains. “We met in band that first year. I wasn’t in a good place, and she reached out to me. We became friends pretty quickly, and that’s where I met Chisato too.”

From the way Saki tells it, it sounds like Kayoko did for her what she did for me...and that would have been especially needed for her, given how she felt about being transferred to Yamaku.

“I saw you in the pictures in the band room. Those were taken at the festival that year, right? Your hair was a lot shorter then.”

She smiles a bit at the memory. “They were. I was closer with her back then than I was with Chisato...she was a lot like me, she played the violin, and she was…”

Saki’s voice falters when she says that, and I can guess the reason why. Kayoko was one of the few other students at Yamaku with a terminal disease, so it makes sense that the two of them would have that in common...something that I’ll never be able to wrap my head around completely.

“...anyway, all of us became really close friends over the first few months,” she finishes.

“But, how does Maeda fit into the picture?” I ask her. “He was never in band, was he?”

She shakes her head. “No. He was friends with Kayoko in our class, and then I started hanging out with Maeda when we both joined the art club. All of us started spending time together and then Maeda and I started dating.”

“What happened then?”

Saki tenses up, not answering me for a few seconds. Just as I’m about to apologize for asking, her shoulders slump and she takes a deep breath. “I...talked with Kayoko. We had grown pretty close by then, you know? Being the only other person I was friends with who knew what it was like to...well, be like me...we talked a lot. That night she asked me about how I felt about my ataxia and how I dealt with knowing what the end would be like, so...we talked. I didn’t think anything of it when I told her what I was going through and what I planned to do...but we talked about it. I didn’t know, I had no idea…”

“You couldn’t have known,” I tell her, my voice as soft as I can make it.

She shakes her head again and angrily blinks back tears. “I should have. Then a few weeks later...she did it. She never talked to me about doing it...after we saw her when she got back from the hospital, she seemed fine. We were all worried about her, and then...she was gone, and if I never said anything to her, maybe she’d still be here, or…

“Saki…” I say, squeezing her hand and trying to stop her. “You-”

She cuts me off. “Look, you wanted to know, and I’m telling you, okay? Just...let me. Please, let me.”

I shut my mouth, and after a moment, she continues.

“After she died, the school did an investigation. My father came up,” she says, wincing, “and Maeda broke up with me after a shouting match. But I never knew Kayoko came to him, that makes me feel so much worse…”

“So then, Chisato-”

“I was keeping it from Chisato.” She looks at me then, her eyes pleading with me for understanding. “It happened so fast and I was scared, Hisao. Kayoko killed herself, and then my father found out because of what happened with the school...and I was scared. Chisato has every right to be mad at me. She was so hurt when Kayoko died, all of them were-”

“Not you?”

Saki looks away, unable to keep eye contact. “I...didn’t think I had any right to be hurt. Not after what happened,” she answers me, in a tone that absolutely crushes me. This is taking so much out of her, and it doesn’t look like she has much strength to spare.


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:19 pm
by Eurobeatjester
“Saki, look at me. You had the same conversation with me, and I’m still here,” I tell her, getting her attention again. I swallow hard and take a few seconds to figure out what I want to say. “It’s tragic it happened, and it shouldn’t have, but you’re not responsible for what happened to Kayoko. She was the one that made that choice, not you.”

The corner of her mouth twitches before her face settles on a mask of sad resignation again. “But I still made the choice to not tell Chisato.”

“So did Maeda,” I counter. Saki has no answer to that, so she continues on.

“After her remembrance ceremony, when we got into that huge fight, I realized he knew what I talked with Kayoko about, but never talked about it with Chisato. After that...I guess I never did either. I should have, but I lost one of my best friends and I thought it was my fault.”

I say nothing for a few seconds. I could tell tell her again that it isn’t her fault, but I’ve already done that so many times that it would just sound hollow.

“Maeda transferred out of our class into another one, and I would have left the art club, but my father was upset that he got dragged into everything and I didn’t want to rock the boat any more,” she continues, looking down at the floor. “I just tried to move on, and everyone else did too.”

And that worked, for the last few years.

“And...that’s that,” Saki says, attempting to put a light airiness into her voice that neither one of us believes, but are willing to let slide. The two of us sit there in silence for a bit, neither of us knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry,” she finally says. “I’m sorry this happened. I’m sorry you got caught up in this. I just heap all this bad stuff on you, and you just got out of surgery! I mean, we’re sitting here in a god damned hospital room after not seeing each other for a month and this is all I can talk about...”

“No time like the present,” I say, a bad attempt at humor. It still makes her smile a bit though.

“I’ve had a lot of good stuff and bad stuff happen in my life. I shouldn’t be dumping the bad things on you.”

I laugh. “Me too, but the good and bad things don’t cancel each other out, you know? I’ve put up with a lot of bad things, but I still enjoy having the good things.”

“I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

“You’re definitely one of the good things.”

Saki blushes deeply at this statement, and I do the same when I see her reaction.

“Hisao...would it be okay if…” she starts, but then trails off, looking at me and biting her lip tentatively.

“What is it?”

“Would it be alright if I curled up with you?” she asks, her voice small. “I mean, the surgery-”

“Sure,” I answer, cutting her objection off before it forms. “Just make sure it’s on the right side, because of the scar.”

She giggles like I remember, and after some shuffling where she makes herself comfortable, she’s soon lying on the bed with me, on top of the covers. I scoot over to the side a bit to give her more room, and she responds by draping an arm across my chest and resting her head on my good shoulder.

The two of us lay like this for a while, simply enjoying the presence and comfort of each other’s company. Neither of us feel like talking after that conversation...and neither of us notice when the other drifts off.


Three hours later though, it’s clear that I’m dozing on and off, while Saki is completely out. Her breath is a steady metronome against me, adding to the chorus of the ticking clock on the wall and the gentle beeping of pulse monitor clipped to the end of my finger.

I’m surprised her brother isn’t back yet, but it’s always possible the meeting ran long. Maybe he’s trying to give the two of us as much time together as he can before taking Saki back home tonight.

That’s not the only thing keeping me awake now, though.

After all this, I think I finally understand what happened. It’s taken me a while to put together the pieces, but I might have a clear picture.

Kayoko, Saki, and Chisato all met through band. Maeda and Saki were in the same class their first year along with the art club, so the four of them started hanging out with so much overlap, and Saki started dating Maeda.

Then, according to Saki, she had the same conversation with Kayoko she had with me, about how she planned to deal with her disease when it progressed to a certain point. Kayoko would eventually have reached that point too...and it would have been a painful, rough journey to get there. Cystic fibrosis is not a pleasant way to die, from what I’ve read on it. Kayoko would have been lucky to make it to her thirties, eventually ending up with her lungs completely failing after being riddled with abcesses, cysts, and scar tissue.

A short time after that talk, Kayoko tried to find Chisato to pick her brain about it. It makes sense, seeing as they were all in band together, but when she couldn’t find her, she spoke to Maeda instead. Maeda had no idea how to handle it, and despite everything that happened afterwards, I can’t blame him. I don’t know how I would have reacted if I was in that position, and I’ve had my own brush with death.

Then, Kayoko had a bad flare up, one she had to go to the hospital to get treated for. A week after that, without talking to anyone else, she committed suicide. Maeda knew what Saki’s attitude towards suicide was, and that she had talked to Kayoko about it’s no wonder he angrily blamed Saki for what happened.

They broke up after a fight and a subsequent investigation, where Saki got into trouble with her father but ultimately was cleared of any wrongdoing by the school. Saki never told Chisato that she talked to Kayoko, and neither did Maeda. Maeda transferred out of Saki’s class and hasn’t been in it for the last two and a half years, and Saki and Chisato carried on like normal.

Or whatever counted as normal, anyway.

I can at least understand why everyone feels the way they do about it. I can understand where everyone’s hurt and anger comes from, from Maeda being angry at Saki and Chisato feeling betrayed by both of them for not being able to shoulder her share of the grief.

Even though Saki and I had the same talk, the similarities are superficial. I’ll never be able to understand the true depth of what that conversation might have meant for the two of them.

That has to be the reason Saki was scared to tell me, and why she asked if my arrhythmia was in any danger of killing me. It still could, honestly...but it’s not the slow, inexorable march towards the end that the two of them and people like them have to deal with.

I believe Saki when she says she had no idea that’s what the conversation might lead to, if that was even a part of it...but ultimately, there’s no way to know what was going through Kayoko’s mind. Just as I don’t know how I would have reacted if I was Maeda, I don’t know how I would have reacted if I was her.

Maybe if my heart was going to get worse, and my attacks would continue to happen and get worse...maybe if I learned that day that my life was more than halfway over when I thought it would just be beginning in a lot of ways and there was nothing I could do to change that fact...maybe I’d do the same thing.

I stare down at Saki, her face relaxed. Her eyes are closed and her mouth is open slightly, taking in slow steady breaths as she sleeps. She looks so delicate like this, curled against me...but I’m both humbled and awed as I realize anew the incredible strength she has. It’s never really sunk in completely the nature of the spectre that she fights with constantly, until realizing that it’s not a battle that everyone wins.

Right now though, in this moment, she doesn’t have to fight. She doesn’t have to fight her guilt, her father, or Maeda. She can rest, at least for a little while.

It’s such a fragile, brittle strength...and if I’m the only person she can be around while she repairs the cracks, I’ll do anything I can to be there for her and give her a sense of sanctuary.

I don’t know how long we can stay like this. I don’t know how long she’ll be able to continue sleeping until her brother comes back to pick her up. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to be together, if at all after Yamaku with how things have changed. If her father continues dangling the threat of medical custody over her head, she’ll be fighting it with everything she has for the next year, at the very least. If anyone can hold out, it’s her...but after seeing just how this last month has been on her, at what cost?

And to what end? She was banking so much on this recording at the end of the year, and using it to apply for the Philharmonic or school like Chisato. With that chance gone, and Chisato having already recorded her music - no, their music - there’s nothing that can be done to rectify it right now. With Saki’s ataxia...she can’t do what I’m doing and be a ronin until the next chance to apply comes up, because by then, she won’t be able to play as well as she does now.

She’ll keep fighting, for sure...but it’s so much harder to fight against something than it is to fight for something.

At least her and Chisato are talking again. Maybe not a full conversation, or more than just the bare minimum, but I’m happy to hear that. It may or may not work out, but knowing that it’s something they want to talk about face to face gives me at least some hope that everything could, somehow.

There’s a light knock at the door, which isn’t quite enough to wake up Saki, but enough to have her shift slightly against me and make a small noise of distress. My attention is torn between her and whoever might be coming in, although given the time, I’m fairly certain it’s her brother, and when the door opens, I see that I’m right.

He takes a step into the room, at once taking in the situation that Saki and I are in. I freeze up thinking about how the two of us must look, but I keep eye contact with him, searching his face for any hint of what he’s thinking. He spends a few long seconds taking in the scene before he gives a ghost of a smile.

“I don’t think she’s slept that soundly since she’s been back,” Shuya says, his voice low so as to not wake his sister. I blush slightly at his comment, but when I look at the peaceful look on Saki’s face, I know I have absolutely no reason to.

“She’s been out for a few hours now. I didn’t want to wake her up,” I answer him.

“She’s told me a lot about you over the last few months. She was looking forward to seeing you today,” he says, closing the door softly and moving to gingerly perch on the arm of the chair. When he folds his arms, I realize that I don’t know exactly how old he is - all Saki’s told me is that he’s her older brother.

“She told me that you were her older brother, but he didn’t mention how much older.”

“She’s four years younger than I am,” he says, answering my unspoken question.

“Thank you again for bringing her up here with you. I really appreciate it.”

He smirks a bit, his dark eyes showing a hint of mischief, something I’m fairly familiar with from Saki. “Knowing my sister, she’ll probably be upset she slept through the visit.”

“You might be right, but this is more than enough for me.”

“Well, I’m sure this is what she needed,” he says.

“Did you get everything done you needed to today?”

“I did, thanks for asking. I was really just along to observe today, so I didn’t have to do much.”

I hesitate a bit, but I want to keep this conversation going. “Saki told me a bit about what your family does, but she never told me what it is that you were here for. She just said it was business related.”

He nods. “We’ve been in talks to buy one of our biggest rivals for months now. A few of our board members met with theirs today as part of the negotiations. I was sitting in.”

I frown, thinking back on the circumstances that Saki said led up to today. “If you were here along with members of your company, why wouldn’t you have come up with the rest of your staff?”

He laughs a bit. “I just had to be at the meeting. If I traveled with them, I wouldn’t have been able to bring my sister today. I’d still be out having drinks with them right now, probably.”

I don’t know how hard it was to change his plans, but I know it must have been an inconvenience on some level to be able to bring Saki up with him today. “I don’t know what to say, really.”

He shakes his head. “This was important. I had to get her out of the house for a while, and the timing was just too perfect when the meeting was scheduled for today. It was easy enough to do. She told me you know a bit about our family.”

I hesitate before answering. “I, uh…”

“If you have any questions, I can answer them for you. She’s told me about you, after all, so I would imagine she’s talked to you as well.”

I take a minute to collect my thoughts, which are a bit shocked at how frank he’s being with me. It’s refreshing to be treated like this, if not a little intimidating; normally I’d try to use a bit of verbal sparring to stall for time and see where I stand with someone, but when it’s put out on the table like that all at once, it can throw your rhythm off.

Right to the chase, then.

“She said you were there at the meeting with the family attorney.”

He remains impassive. “I was.”


Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (New Art 12/25)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 5:21 pm
by Eurobeatjester
“Was your father serious? Could he actually get protective custody?”

He takes a few seconds before he answers. “Maybe. It’s not a given, but if he pushed for it, he would have a decent chance.”

“I don’t see how that could happen, the courts would agree with it?”

He crosses his arms and closes his eyes, deep in thought. “They could. Saki hasn’t had it easy, but she hasn’t exactly made things easy either. Father’s never quite known how to deal with her. Even at Yamaku there have been issues, as you know,” he finishes with a sigh.

I glance down at her. “So because of that he shipped her off there?”

His eyes snap open so quick that I think I may have offended him with that response. “Your parents did the same, did they not? I know my father and my sister don’t exactly get along. But he sent her to Yamaku because he wanted to help her,” he says, a slight edge to his voice. He’s letting me know that while he’s answering my questions, it’s a subject that I may want to be careful about...especially at this exact moment. “Given where you are right now, would you have preferred they didn’t?”

I swallow hard. “Well, no...but…”

The corner of his mouth turns up into a small smile. “See? It’s not that easy, is it?”

I know he’s older, but I still try to speak with a conviction born from more than youth. “Sending her away to that facility, or trying to tell her that she can’t make decisions for herself though...he still thinks he’s helping her?”

“It would be his way of making sure she was taken care of and all her needs were provided for. So yes, he still does.”

My face turns hot. “If he thinks that would help her, then he doesn’t know her. He doesn’t know her at all.”

“What makes you so sure that you know her better?” he asks. The question and the way it’s presented are so nonchalant that I get a flash of genuine anger.

“You said it yourself. She’s sleeping better than she has in weeks,” I answer, refusing to back down and feeling confidence in my answer.

He stares at me, his eyes narrowing slightly. We lock eyes for a few seconds before his face breaks into another small smile, and he gives a small chuckle. “I can’t argue with that answer.”

I’m confused at his response. “Then why-”

I’m cut off when Saki makes another small noise and adjusts against me. Her eyebrows furrow in her sleep, and I’m scared that last exchange might finally be waking her up. She settles down again after a few seconds, and I slowly let out the breath I was holding.

“Look, for what it’s worth, I think you're right,” Shuya says, his face softening as he looks down at his sister. “I do think that what he’s doing is extreme, and Saki’s going to fight it. I just wish she was more careful about the battles she picks.”

I frown again. “What do you mean?”

Shuya sighs. “Relatively speaking, Father doesn’t ask much of her. Saki doesn’t talk to him often; I’m usually the middle man. He’s fine with that, but she’ll go weeks or even months without talking to him. Choosing to hit another student on Christmas Eve in public is not the way to fight it.”

I think about refuting what he just said, to say that Saki had a reason. But objectively, he’s right. It doesn’t matter what the reason was, just that it happened and it shouldn’t have.

“Everyone wishes she didn’t,” I admit with a sigh.

“Her most of all, I think.” His eyes soften further. “I’m not going to be able to run interference for her forever.”

“You’re her brother. What do you think she should do?”

He closes his eyes. “Keep her damned head down for the next year, but...well, if you know her as well as she says you do, you know that’s just not really her style.” He opens them again and fixes me with an inquisitive stare. “What about you? What do you think she should do?”

I open my mouth to speak, but then close it. Saki and her brother are close, but...I don’t want to presume about the different things the two of them have talked about. I don’t know if Saki’s confided in her brother all of the things she’s confided in me...specifically her feelings towards how she’ll deal with her condition when it gets worse. She’s vowed to herself that she’ll never end up declining in that facility, or anywhere else for that matter...but from the way her brother speaks about her, and says that her father still wants to help her in his own misguided way...he may not know. He would have known about Saki’s suicide attempt in the past, but there’s no way to be sure if he knows how she feels towards the subject now. To bring it up with him and have him not know about it would be an unfathomable act of betrayal, on top of everything Saki’s going through - and if he does know, why would he bring it up with me, for the same reason?

And right here and now, I gain a greater understanding of the circumstances around their friend group at the time Kayoko died.

“I don’t know. But...whatever she decides to do, I’ll support her.”

“You really do love her, don’t you?” Shuya asks with an idle curiosity. There’s no incredulousness or mocking tone in his voice, but just a simple, honest question.

I look down at her sleeping face again. When I give her a slight hug, her hand opens and recloses around mine, squeezing it tighter. “Yeah, I do.”

<<Art by Kuriitama>>

“I believe you,” Shuya answers, then looks at the clock. “But, we need to wake her up. We need to leave if we’re going to get the car turned in and back down to the train station on time. Sorry.”

I nod regretfully, then hug Saki again, this time with a little more force to shake her shoulders gently. She makes another groan of protest, curling up against me tighter.

“Hey,” I whisper to her, dislodging my hand from hers and using it to brush her hair out of her eyes. “Wake up, sleepyhead.”

“Urrrggh,” she answers, straightening one of her legs and lazily opening her eyes. When her vision focuses to see her brother, she fully awakes with a start, blinking back her sleep and confusion.

“Shu? When did you get here?”

“Just now,” he replies.

Saki starts to push herself up, looking around her as she remembers where she is. “Wh...what time is it?” she asks. When she sees the clock, her face blanches. “Oh no, I didn’t mean to fall asleep for that long…”

“It’s okay. It looks like you needed it,” I say, trying to reassure her.

“We need to get going, sis,” her brother says, clearing his throat. Saki nods and stands up, grabbing her cane leaning against my nightstand.

“You better do everything the doctor tells you to,” she says to me, slipping into her coat as her brother holds it for her. I wish she didn’t have to leave; this has been better for both of us than I think either of us realized. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year is that time doesn’t stand still for anyone, so you can either fight it or be thankful for the experiences.

“It was nice meeting you today, Nakai.”

“Thank you again for doing this.”

He holds up his hand and brushes me off. “Don’t worry, it wasn’t a big deal. I need to go bring the car around from the parking garage.” He looks at his sister. “I’ll meet you down in front in say, five minutes?”

Saki nods, appreciative of the chance to say goodbye, with just the two of us. With a final wave towards me, he steps out and the door closes behind him.

“I’m sorry for falling asleep like that, but thank you. I guess I needed the rest more than I thought I would.”

“I didn’t mind. I’ve missed it.”

She nods again, stepping closer to the bed and grabbing my hand. “If this business deal goes through, maybe I’ll be able to come up here more with Shu.”

I smile, but I wince internally. This last summer she came up here without a care in the world, but now, the new reality of the situation is revealed by that simple statement.

“I meant it when I said you better follow your doctor’s orders. If you’re going to do this, it better pay off. I don’t want to be back at Yamaku and have you not there, you understand?” she says. She’s trying to play it off as humorous, but I can hear a shakiness in her voice that shows how serious she actually is about this.

“I will. I promise,” giving her hand a reassuring squeeze. “I don’t want to be down and out any longer than I have to be.”

“Do your best.”

“You too, okay?” I say, my look turning plaintive. “Hang in there. I believe in you.”

A complicated look flashes across Saki’s face, and before I realize it, she’s placed both of her hands on either side of my face and bent down to kiss me, hard. I’m shocked only for a moment and start to respond in kind, but she presses forward and forces me to lean back into the pillow, her body curving with mine. She deepens the kiss, and there’s a hunger, not exactly. It’s not lustful, but almost desperate in how urgent it feels. I’m completely caught off guard, and try to return the gesture as best I can...but something just doesn’t feel right.

There’s nothing mutual about this kiss. Saki’s taking. She needs this. Not because she’s turned on, or trying to do so to me, but because she needs some - hell, any - form of validation and support. My hand moves to the back of her head, my fingers gently caressing her hair. I’m trying to let her know in that brief contact how much I’m supporting her, and that she can borrow as much strength from me as she needs.

She pulls back, her cheeks flushed and eyes burning with a fiery intensity I haven’t seen in months.

“I’ll see you when we both get back,” she whispers fiercely.

“That’s the plan,” I answer, taking my hand that’s buried in her hair and using it to caress her cheek as I bring it down. “Call me when you get back home.”

Saki nods, and then all too quickly...she’s gone.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/12)

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:58 pm
by Hanako Fancopter
Solid update my dude. Enjoying the ride of Hisao and Sockey together. The brother was an interesting addition, kind of a counterbalance to Saki without being an outright villain figure as the dad is. Also the art is pretty sweet

Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/12)

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:56 pm
by yanivp
Excellent chapter. I could feel my eyes watering in some parts, and some real, barely contained anger in others. That brief, quiet shouting match was written superbly. I noticed a little typo, by the way:
“Look, for what it’s worth, I think your right,” Shuya says, his face softening as he looks down at his sister. “I do think that what he’s doing is extreme, and Saki’s going to fight it. I just wish she was more careful about the battles she picks.”

It should say, "Look, for what it's worth, I think you're right," not "your right,". Otherwise, excellent.