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

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/19)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu May 18, 2017 8:11 am

With a turn of my head, I see the girls heading towards us. Chisato is wearing the white and black suit I saw her wear that day at the pool, and it's just as alluring as ever. The fact that she has her towel draped around her neck and her hands are full with both of their bags does nothing to diminish that.

Seeing Saki though, makes my heart skip a beat. I've seen her in swimwear before, and hell, I even managed to sneak a peak at her in her underwear, but the suit she's wearing now looks, well, stunning. It's a two piece, similar to Chisato's, but cut and fashioned a bit more modestly. The fabric is all white, with a grey edging that blends subtly into the style instead of drawing a contrast to it. The top has no visible tie in the front, but a few large white beads where you'd expect it to be. The bottoms, however, are styled more like a short, playful skirt, stopping just at the top of her thighs and tied tastefully at the sides. A white wristband with a matching beaded bracelet finishes the outfit.

It hits the high points of being modest, sexy, and overall incredibly cute, all at once.

Saki sees my reaction, and her cheeks flush slightly as she gives a modest smile. “You like?”

“Y...yeah,” I answer, wondering just how far my eyes are bugging out of my head.

“I see you're ready to go,” Chisato says, dropping the bags on the blanket and looking at her boyfriend...and I realize I'm the only one not ready.

Saki takes a moment to ease herself into a sitting position, using my shoulder for support. “Hisao, go change! I'll watch the stuff until you get back.”

“Are you sure?” Mitsuru asks, reaching up to run his hands through his hair, smoothing it back from his face. With practiced care, he removes the medallion and the earpiece of his implant and puts them into a case in his bag.

“We both know that I wouldn't be able to keep Chisato here. We'll catch up in a few minutes.”

Chisato takes this at face value and decides to smirk at her friend. Mitsuru only takes a few more seconds to get to his feet, and then the two of them start to jog towards the waves lapping up against the shore, deftly swerving to avoid other people either walking or sitting on the sand like we are.

The last thing I want to do is hold them up. We spent a really long time to get here, and I'll be damned if I don't get to enjoy the ocean for the first time in over half my life. I turn towards Saki as I start to dig what I need out of my bag.

“I'll be back in a few minutes.”

“I'll be here,” she answers, smiling sweetly at me and laying back on the blanket.

I'm breathing a bit heavier than usual by the time I finally make it to one of the changing huts, because the sand seems to claw and hold my every footstep on the way to the blasted thing. Closing the door behind me, I quickly strip down and change into my trunks and shirt, already feeling the cooler air caress my exposed skin and making my hair stand on end. It's not a long process, and I end up halfassedly rolling my pants and other clothing into a bundle to keep it all together before stepping back out.

Finally being dressed for the occasion makes me more aware of everything surrounding me. The sand is warm between my toes. The breeze is salty and slightly damp, a combination that fills my lungs and invigorates me. I can hear the gulls squawking as they fly through the air in droves, looking for any edible refuse or simply a safe place to land among all the noisy tourists enjoying the day as much as I hope to be in a few minutes.

I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and let it back out slowly. Yeah. I was right to look forward to this the last week.

It takes the same amount of effort to get back to where our stuff is parked, but it seems much easier with the new lightness in my step. When I get back to the blanket, I see Saki rubbing her legs down with suntan lotion, her hands tracing wide arcs as she works it in. A not-so-quick glance shows that she's already gotten her stomach, chest, and arms from the sheen on them. A nagging voice in the back of my mind prevents me from fully enjoying the view, however.

“Can I borrow some of that?” I ask, sitting down next to her. “I didn't think to pack any...”

Saki jumps a bit when she hears my voice, but then smiles. “Sure.”

About a minute later I've reached every inch of exposed skin that I either can or that I think is important. Saki waits until I'm done, and then gets my attention by putting her hand on my knee. “Hey Hisao? Can you get my shoulders and back for me?”

For the second time today, my face flushes. Saki makes absolutely no effort to hide the grin she gives me as she shuffles a bit to move between my legs, giving me easy access to her. She leans forward a bit and patiently waits as I try to maintain some semblance of thought or dignity and fail miserably by fumbling the lotion bottle the second I pick it up.

Saki's giggle strengthens my resolve, and I try to be as clinical about it as possible. I squeeze out a good dollop into one hand, rub my palms together, and gently place them on her shoulders.

I hear her give a sharp intake of breath. “That's cold!”

“Sorry, I didn't mean to use that much.”

“It's okay, just make sure you don't miss a spot, all right?”

I nod to myself and focus on what I was doing, or at least attempting to do. I run my hands over her shoulders, up to the sides of her neck and reach down to the indent of her collarbone, trying to use just enough pressure but not too much. Saki doesn't object, and subtly presses herself back against my hands.

<<Art by Sheepu>>

I continue the process further down, tracing out her shoulder blades and the curve of her spine. My hands map out her ribs. My knuckles graze the small of her back. Saki's warm to the touch, and I swear I can feel her heartbeat through my fingertips. I'm acutely aware of everything I'm doing in this moment, and I somehow just know she is too.

Mustering up a bit of courage from a combination of the heady rush I'm feeling and a lack of any conscious thought, when I move my hands up her back again I slide them under the strap of her top. Saki definitely notices this.

“Having fun back there?” she teases.

“Just making sure I don't miss a spot. All done.”

“Good,” she coos. “I'd hate to get a strip of sunburn right where my bra strap is. Thank you.” Whether it's to ease my tension or heighten it further, I have no idea, but when I feel her lean back into me, I automatically wrap my arms around her midsection.

“You're good at that,” she mentions.

We stay like this for a time, simply enjoying the moment. The slight breeze causes a few strands of her hair to tickle my nose, and when I breathe in, not only do I smell the sea, but the faint aroma of her shampoo. It's just like the band room that day when she helped me with her violin – without realizing it, I'm completely surrounded by and captivated by a sense of her.

When she finally speaks, it's barely loud enough to be heard over the waves and crowd which seems so close and yet so far away.

“Glad we made it?”

“I am.”

“Good,” she says, turning her head back to look at me. With no hesitation, I crane my head down and give her a kiss.

“Ready to go swimming?” I ask her when I pull away.

“Yes! It's the first time this year!” Saki exclaims, the romantic mood of the moment completely swept away by her excitement. We awkwardly untangle ourselves from the blanket and I help her stand.

“Not taking the cane?”

“Nope,” she answers, wrapping an arm around mine. “I'm borrowing you for a while.”

“Got it. Any idea where Chisato and Mitsuru wandered off to?”

“I think that's them,” Saki says, shielding her eyes from the sun with her free hand so she can scan the waterline. “They're out in the waves a ways off.”

“Wanna go join them?”

“If you can give me a hand until the water gets about waist deep, I should be fine.”

“No problem. Let's go!”

It's a bit slow going, and anyone who knew what to look for might notice Saki's leaning on me just a bit heavier than you'd expect someone walking arm-in-arm to be, but we inevitably make it down to the water. When the first wave to reach me washes up over the top of my feet, I get goosebumps all over.

“That's cold!”

“Don't worry, you'll get used to it quick,” she laughs.

We make progress through the water, with me helping Saki and bracing her every time a wave comes in, venturing deeper. Eventually a wave breaks across our thighs and the splash soaks us completely. I sputter as salt water gets into my mouth, much to Saki's delight as she's openly laughing at how much fun she's having.

“Heads up!” I hear a voice in front of us shout, and I look up to see not just a wave, but someone familiar bearing down on us.


Bodysurfing towards us like a laser guided missile, I can barely make out Chisato riding the wave crest. Shock spurs me into action as I instinctively pivot my body to protect Saki, but at the last minute Chisato seems to rear up as the wave surges forward and crashes into us. The girl turns into a rapidly flailing pile of limbs for a second or two before she manages to come to rest on her knees, staring up at us and grinning broadly, water streaming from her matted hair.

“Hi there! Glad you could make it!”

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed May 27, 2020 5:18 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/19)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu May 18, 2017 8:15 am

“That scared the hell out of me,” I admit, breathing heavily. “I thought you were going to hit us!”

Chisato stands up and slicks her hair back out of her eyes. “Nah, don't worry. I'm glad I scared you though! Where's Mitsuru?”

“What do you mean, where-”

“Oh damnit, there he is!” Chisato pouts, looking behind us and to the left. We turn and see him slogging towards us. “Looks like he rode the wave farther than I did.”

“Sorry we got in your way,” Saki says.

“He's always been better at this than I am.”

“We could always rent some boogie boards.”

“This is fine. Besides, it's a little too crowded here for those right now.”

“Suit yourself,” Saki says, then surprises me by letting go of me and lunging towards Chisato, half-pushing and half-tackling her into the water while the surprised girl gives a startled yelp. I laugh at how suddenly it happened before another wave slams into me and I'm knocked flat on my ass. By the time I get back to my feet, Saki's already a few meters ahead of me, swimming with broad strokes further out.

With a smile, I go after her.


A few hours later, we find ourselves all stretched out on the blanket, enjoying the last few rays of warmth the sun can give before it starts to cool off too much and we have to change. Saki's holding my hand as she lays with her eyes closed, and Chisato and Mitsuru are engaged in quiet conversation, punctuated by the occasional giggle. As for myself, I can feel my skin crinkle as the last of the water dries off my arms and legs.

It may have only been for a while, but it was a fun afternoon. We were swimming for a while, with Saki having far less difficulty with the waves than I did, until I learned to dive under them instead of trying to jump high enough to keep my head above them. Mitsuru tried to show me how to bodysurf but I wasn't able to get it down just right while wearing my shirt. Chisato even managed to temporarily liberate a plastic bucket and shovel set from some other beachgoers and the four of us tried to build a sand castle. It actually looked halfway decent until the tide came in.

“I am going to sleep very well when we get back to Yamaku,” Mitsuru says, to all of us and none of us in particular.

“How much longer can we stay?”

“The last bus isn't until late tonight,” Saki yawns, resting her head on my chest. “We have plenty of time.”

Chisato sits up. “I'm getting hungry. What did you guys want to eat for dinner?”

“I was thinking we could just grab something from one of the restaurants here along the beach. What are you in the mood for?” her boyfriend asks, idly walking his fingers up and down her back.

“Well, there's all the normal stuff like pizza, ramen, burgers, fish...”

“Oooh, I haven't had a burger in forever,” Saki says, a wistful lilt to her voice. “I say we go for that.”

“We should get changed first, shouldn't we?”

“Are we done with the water? It's so nice out we can probably just keep wearing our suits.”

“I don't know about you, but this sand is chafing something fierce. I think I'm going to put my clothes back on.”

Now that the sun is finally going down behind us, my damp shirt is starting to switch from being merely cool to cold. “Yeah, I'm with Mitsuru on this one.”

“The bathrooms have showers,” Saki explains, sitting up and brushing both real and imaginary sand off of her legs. “It won't get everything and it doesn't do anything for your hair, but it's enough to get most of the sand off.”

I stand up and give the other three a hand pulling them to their feet. All of us grab our bags and take a minute or so to arrange the contents inside to make changing as easily as possible. Mitsuru motions for my help, and the two of us pick up the blanket and shake it out thoroughly before folding it up and shoving it into his bag.

“I'm going to go on ahead,” Chisato says. “You guys good? I need to give myself an injection.”

“We're fine,” Saki answers, unfolding her cane and locking it into an extended position.

Chisato nods. “Glad to hear it. I'll give you a hand when I'm done, alright?” And with that, she tramps through the sand towards one of the low concrete buildings near the wall. We follow, lagging slightly behind. When we reach it a minute or two after she does, Saki smiles at the two of us before disengaging her arm from mine.

“See you in a few minutes?”

“Sure,” Mitsuru answers for the both of us. We walk around the corner and into the bathroom, or at least, what appears to be a bathroom. Instead of the white cleanliness one would expect to find, I'm a bit taken aback at the appearance inside. The floors are concrete, with various puddles and small rivers of sand, with boxy stainless-steel fixtures anchored to the cinder block walls. Mitsuru must see my hesitation, because he starts to chuckle behind me.

“First time in a bathroom like this?”

“Yeah, I was expecting...a little more privacy.”

“Don't worry about it,” he says, moving to an alcove where a half a dozen steel shower heads protrude from the wall. “It's like this so they can just hose the entire thing out at the end of the night. It's impossible to keep a normal bathroom clean with all the sand and salt water that gets in here.” He wastes no time in hitting the spigot and starting to strip.

I'm not self conscious about changing in front of someone else, or even showering. There was enough of that in P.E. classes at my old school. But when the fingers of my right hand idly trace out the scar on my chest through my cold shirt, I can't deny that at least on some level, this is making me uncomfortable – even if I logically know at this point I have no reason to be. I mean, I know for sure Mitsuru's not going to care one way or the other, but still, anyone could walk in.

So what, I'm not afraid of them seeing me naked for the two minutes it's going to take to change and rinse off, but I'm afraid they might see my scar? When I phrase it to myself like that, then yeah, it does seem really silly. With that realization, I whip my shirt off and slam the button to start the water flow.


“I'm stealing this,” Chisato declares, liberating a fry from a nest of its brethren on Mitsuru's plate.

“You could have ordered your own, you know.”

“Nope. I can't eat that much.”

“You've already eaten half of my fries.”

“Yeah but if you steal calories off of someone else's plate, that doesn't count,” Chisato teases, sticking her tongue out at her boyfriend. Saki and I laugh while Mitsuru just shakes his head.

“How was it?” I ask Saki. She ordered something smaller than the rest of us did, but there's barely any trace of it left on her plate.

Saki leans back. “Delicious. You can't find food like this at Yamaku.”

“Isn't there that place just down the street from Shanghai?”

“Yeah, but they never did anything like this. It was some sort of new 'fusion wave' restaurant. I went there once and the food was disgusting.”

“They had a place like that?” Mitsuru asks. “I didn't think a place like that would be very popular down in town.”

“It wasn't. It closed down last year.”

“Well what did they expect, nobody our age lives there except for the ones who go to the sch-”

Our conversation is cut off by the sound of a phone ringing, specifically next to Saki. With a look of annoyance, she bends down to scoop up her purse and go digging for the offending piece of technology. When she sees the number on the caller ID, her face sours and she hits a button on the side, immediately ending the noise.

“Who's that?” Chisato asks.

“My father,” Saki answers in a curt voice. She opens the phone and starts to send a text message, her thumbs stabbing at the keypad. “I'm sending him a text that I'll call him in a few minutes.”

“Everything okay?”

“I don't know,” she answers, clearly upset before turning towards me. “Can you let me out? I'll be back in a few minutes.”

I stand up to let her out of the booth. With a look of determination, she stands up, grabs her cane, and heads towards the door leading out to the outdoor seating area. Only a few people are out there, so it's about as much privacy as she's going to get.

“Think she'll be okay?”

“I wouldn't worry about it,” Chisato says. “She...never really likes talking to her father. It's just one of those things she has to deal with, you know?”

“I guess so.”

“How are your studies going?” Mitsuru asks me, and even though I know part of the reason he's doing so is to take my mind off of what's happening with Saki, I feel obliged to answer.

“Not too bad. This last week wasn't too difficult. Mutou ended up giving us a pop quiz but it was pretty easy.”

“Glad it worked out well for you,” Mitsuru scoffs. “I struggled with it.”

“Was that one of the reasons you weren't sure if you were going to come today?”

“Partially. I'm also lagging behind a bit in English.”

“Still, I'm glad you were able to come today,” Chisato says, snuggling into the crook of her boyfriend's arm.

“Me too, although I'll be studying for the rest of the weekend once we get back.”

Chisato pouts. “Aw, am I a little too...distracting?” she asks, raising her eyebrows seductively.

While I listen to the two of them banter back and forth, I can catch glimpses of Saki. She's pacing back and forth in front of the window with her phone up to her ear. I can't make out any of the conversation, but I can clearly see that she's agitated. Even from here I can tell how wound up she is, and not in an excited way. I try to go back to listening to the couple in front of me.

“Not tonight,” Mitsuru is saying. “There's no way security isn't going to catch us when we'll be getting back so late after curfew. The last thing we need is for them to see us going in together. You're going back to your dorm.”

Chisato does something to Mitsuru under the table, which causes the stern look on his face to falter slightly. “Tomorrow night, though...”

“Good boy,” she says, and kisses him on the cheek.

Mitsuru checks his watch. “We still have some time before we have to head back. Anything else we should do?”

“Wanna go for a walk?”

“Sounds fun,” I say, slightly distracted. I can see that Saki's finished her phone call and is leaning slightly against the rail, her arms crossed in front of her body. She's pinching the bridge of her nose and giving off such a distressed vibe that I have to stop myself from getting out of my seat to go check on her.

Chisato sees where I'm looking, and cranes her head to glance out the window. Instead of seeing Saki the way I just did, she instead sees her starting to make her way back towards the door. Even before she makes it all the way back to our table, I'm standing up so I can let her back in.

“Sorry about that,” she says, with both a smile and a tone that seems fairly forced. None of us are eager to point it out, however. “Are we ready to go?”

“We have some more time we can kill. We were thinking about going for a walk along the beach. How about it?”

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 1/19)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu May 18, 2017 8:18 am

“Sounds great!” Saki says, eager to do anything else but remain here. Her mood really does seem to plummet whenever her father calls, and nothing short of a change of scenery seems to pull her out of that spiral.

After settling up the tab, and making sure Chisato steals a few more fries from Mitsuru's plate, the four of us start to walk back towards the beach. When we reach the sand itself, we can see the glow from half a dozen firepits sending sparks into the night sky, people sitting or running around them. A faint laugh or shout occasionally drifts through the ever present heartbeat of the waves.

“Wanna meet back here in a bit?” Chisato asks, addressing Saki and myself. “Mitsuru and I were going to head off in that direction,” she indicates, with a nod of her head.

“Sure,” Saki answers, wrapping an arm around mine. “We'll go the other direction then. See you soon.”

The two of them start to head down towards the water, while Saki links her fingers with mine and we start to walk along the thoroughfare parallel to the actual beach. There's not many people walking along it this time of evening, with most of the remaining tourists gathered down at the fire pits or walking down by the water.

After a few minutes, we've left most of the lights and what little people there are behind. Saki leans on the wall that separates the sidewalk from the sand, and looks out over the ocean. I do the same next to her.

“Beautiful evening,” I say, more as a way to fill the silence than anything else.

“It is,” Saki answers, reaching up to brush some errant strands of hair from her eyes. “I wanted to say I'm sorry for what happened back at the restaurant.”

“Oh, don't worry. I mean, we all have to make phone calls we don't want to sometimes, right?”

“Yeah,” Saki snorts. “I was hoping it wasn't that obvious.”

“I could...kind of see you out of the window.”

Saki gives a heavy sigh. “My father can be really hard to deal with sometimes. Tonight was one of those times.”

“What's going on?” I ask, with enough concern in my voice to let her know I'm genuinely here for her if she wants to talk about it, but also letting her know I'm not pressing the issue.

Saki looks down at her hands and clasps them together. “I guess I do owe you an explanation, don't I?”

“You don't have to...”

“No, I need to. It's not really fair to you otherwise. But...it's not...exactly pretty.”

I nod, and choose not to say anything. Saki takes another moment to smooth her hair out again, and nervously flex her hands. I know she's stalling before telling me whatever it is she's about to, but I'm more than willing to give her all the time she needs if it will help.

“My father, hell, my whole family and I, aren't really on good terms, except for my brother,” Saki starts. “It's gotten worse the last few years since I came to Yamaku.”

“What happened?” I ask, curious.

"That happened,” Saki says, looking down at the cane which is propped up against the wall. “It's not like things were perfect before, but when I got diagnosed, things started to go downhill.”

A space of half a dozen breaths passes by while Saki contemplates the amalgam of steel and rubber, glistening in the faint light around us.

“You know my dad owns a resort chain, right?”


“Well, lets just say my family is pretty rich because of that. My brother and I grew up in a really large house just outside Osaka. I mean, I'd say that we as a family grew up there, but my father and mother weren't there a lot of the time. The two of them were always working.”

I can relate to that. I was pretty much a latchkey kid by the time I came to Yamaku.

“My parents put me into a lot of programs when I was little,” she continues. “Sports teams, acting, dancing, pretty much everything, trying to find something I liked. They actually paid for me to have lessons with a few different instruments until I found one I was good at. They tried to get me to play guitar, piano, flute, you name it...until I finally ended up really liking the violin. My father hired someone to come and give me private lessons a few days a week.”

“Did they do the same thing with your brother?”

“No. It was never really a question that my brother would be brought up to take over the family business one day. Our parents let him have his hobbies, but when they started sending us to a charter school in the area, it became pretty obvious that's what they intended for him.”

“So you two never did end up going to a public school, did you?”

Saki shakes her head. “No, our parents paid for us to go to a private charter school. Room and board. We weren't that far away but I guess it was easier for them for us to live on campus than it was to go back and forth from home every day. Not much different from now, actually.”

Only a few minutes into our chat, and a picture is starting to form, one that I've been starting to peek behind the covering of. So Saki and her family were never really that close, and it seems like she never really lived at home too much...even if her parents were providing for her.

Saki chuckles darkly. “So yeah. They paid for all the lessons, and the best clothes, all that stuff. But...I can't remember anyone but my brother actually sitting down to listen to me play, whenever I learned something new. But you can be sure they never missed a recital. They were more than happy to show me off or proudly say 'that's my daughter!' when they never once sat in on a lesson, or let me practice in front of them...but that would have been enough, you know? It was what it was. And then I got diagnosed with ataxia and even that went to hell.”

Saki's lost deep in memory, her entire countenance shifting. Her voice is losing some of its earlier steadfastness as the slightest hint of pain starts to bleed through.

“How did you find out?” I ask softly.

“When I was ten, I started to have some balance issues. I rolled my ankle a few times going down the stairs, or I'd be playing and my leg would give out, just little things like that. My father didn't think it was 'ladylike' enough to have problems like that, so he actually hired a posture coach for my brother and I, can you believe that?” She shakes her head. “So after a few sessions, I wasn't getting better. My father thought I was just acting out and being lazy, but it was the coach who actually suggested something else might be off. My parents decided to have our doctors do some testing. I didn't find out about that until later. I just thought I was going in for a pretty thorough checkup.”

A few more heartbeats pass by.

“My family panicked when I was diagnosed,” Saki says, gazing out over the water. “I thought it was concern over me, but I found out later, after a fight with my mother, what was really going on.”

Her voice takes on a melancholy tone as the corners of her mouth pull down into a frown. It's obvious what she's thinking is hard for her, but she powers through it knowing that the quickest way to get it out isn't to stall and simply maintain the emotional ambivalence.

“Ataxia...has a few different causes. Sometimes it just pops up on its own, and sometimes it's hereditary. When I started having problems and finally got my full physical and all my tests done, and they found out what it was, they tried to explain it to me in a way I could understand, that there was something I had that was going to make it a little hard to walk. That's literally all they told me, at first. I was scared. There was more blood work. More needles. More overnight visits hours away to specialists. My parents and my brother were getting tests done too. They all told me that it was to help me, that the more they learned about the type of ataxia I had, the better they'd be able to treat me. Maybe they convinced themselves that they were helping me,” she says, a bit of bitterness bleeding into her voice. “It takes a lot of time and money to tell what type of ataxia someone has, if it's hereditary or if it's random. That's why my brother was being tested. That's why my mother and father were getting tested. It was for them, not for me.”

Another brief pause as Saki takes a few deep breaths to calm down, but I can tell it's having minimal effect.

“That's why there were so many arguments with the family whenever we would get together, so many hushed voices when I would walk into the room, why everyone would stare at me. It's like I was turned into a black sheep overnight.”

“Saki...” I start, wanting to say something. She continues on, turning to look at me, tears in the corner of her eyes.

“They spent so much money to have these tests done, and they never did find out. They don't know if what I have is carried down or if it just...happened. They tell me and each other that it had to come from somewhere, right? Every time anyone in my family looks at me, they can see it. They know I'm going to die. They know I can't have children. And they know, all of them know, that everyone connected remotely to me has the chance now, however slim. My brother won't be able to have a family when he's old enough without the risks, my uncles and aunts, they all have to worry about if it came from further back and if they're affected too...”

I don't know what to say. I'm looking at her, seeing her body tremble with the effort, and hearing her voice waver as her mental condition mirrors her physical one. I want to reach out to her; to put an arm around her, to hug her, to brush a hand on hers...anything to let her know she's not alone. But any move I make at this moment would be an invasion; a breach of trust to try and tear down the walls she's made the first time she's ever really shown them to me. It tears me as I see this beautiful girl, so full of laughter and life, revealing all this.

“It was a few years ago,” she says, closing her amber eyes and squeezing the tears that had formed there down her cheek. “It was one of those days where you forget about everything wrong and just...feel like you're normal, you know? That everything is okay and there's nothing in the world that can hurt you.”

I wince and give an inaudible, sympathetic groan. Those days she talks about, where you can forget everything and be a normal person can be so few and far between now...and the second you realize the magic is there, it vanishes.

“My mother's family had come over to visit, and my cousin came with them,” her voice calmer now, settling back into a bored recital. But from the outset, it seems forced. There's more emotion hidden behind it, but I can hear the effort she's putting forth to hold it back.

“He was only five, I was fourteen, but I was the only one there for him to play with. So we were trying to get along while my parents were visiting with them. We ended up kicking a ball in the backyard, just normal everyday things. Well, my leg slipped and I went down while we were playing. It hurt, not so much physically but it was a...reminder.”

She stops suddenly, looking at me with a look of...fear.

“Hisao...I told you I would tell you what happened, and...do you still want to hear?”

Saki's eyes are two dark pools, glistening not only with tears, but with a sense of apprehension. They plead with me, but for what?

And with a shock, I realize.

She's desperate to go on with the story to get it out, but she's also desperate to stop, to push this back down whatever rabbit hole it popped out of. She can't make the decision, so she's asking me to do it for her.

What can I say? I can't force the issue, but I don't want to let it go either, for both our sakes. She wouldn't have told me this much without secretly wanting to tell me the rest, but making her relive this might be too much.

“Saki...I won't force you to tell me if you don't want to,” I stammer, my voice betraying how unsteady my thoughts are, “but if you want to tell me, I'll listen,” I finish, staring into her eyes with as much assurance as I can muster.

Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:10 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/19)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu May 18, 2017 8:23 am

Saki bites her lip and looks at the ground between us, losing herself in the thought again as she presses on. “I fell and twisted my leg a bit, and I simply asked my cousin to give me a hand, to lend me his shoulder, anything so I could get back up. He just stood there and said 'No, I don't want to touch you! I don't want to die like you!'”

I'm completely shocked. I know that kids can be cruel when they don't mean to, but how...how the hell did he ever get that idea planted into his head?

“I just...sat there, completely stunned. I didn't know what else to do. So I asked him 'what do you mean, die like me?' He looked at me and said 'Mommy says you're sick and are going to die soon, and she doesn't want me to get sick and die too.'”

Saki raises her head to the stars, rolling her eyes and giving a sharp, vitriolic laugh at the universe.

“That's when it all clicked, Hisao. All the tests, the stares, the reason for them, everything. It doesn't matter how much you try to hide it from someone, when you're telling your fucking five year old son that you're scared of him dying because of someone else in the family.”

All I can do is stare at her, the concern written on my face. We're only a meter apart, but there's an eternity of time and space between us; a system of walls and barriers forged from the pain of experiences that I'll never know and never be able to relate to. I've never felt so close and yet so distant to someone else as I do at this exact moment.

Saki hugs herself briefly, bringing her right hand up to brush an errant lock of honeyed hair out of her eyes. Her gaze moves down to the band she wears around her left wrist, and the beaded bracelet wrapped around it. Slowly, almost mechanically, she moves the arm out, moving to trace the beads with the fingertips of her other hand.

“I got to my feet and walked to my room, my mind just...there was a constant buzz. All the doubts, all the fears, everything. It made it hard to think straight. I just thought to myself, 'make it to your room, play a song or two, and calm down.' My therapist had always said that to me, and it worked. So I did. All the time I was getting the violin out of the case, sitting down, prepping the bow, bringing it up to my chin, placing the bow across the strings, I kept repeating it to myself. 'Just play something and calm down. Play something and calm down.'”

Her fingers work nervously at the bracelet, twisting it as she attempts to find the clasp.

“So I did. It worked, for a few seconds. Then I missed a note. No problem, I thought to myself. I'll just try that part again. So I did and I didn't miss it. But I missed another one a few seconds later. So I tried again, and missed again. And again. And my mind just...broke.”

All of her despair and hopelessness, not just of that moment, pours into that short, simple word. There's so much experience and emotion wrapped up in it, and in the fact there's no word that will ever be able to convey it all except that one.

“I was terrified. I had read about what happens to ataxia victims, about how the legs go first, then the fine motor control, and I was scared...I thought 'please, you're going to take everything from me, don't take this too...'” Saki says, her diminutive frame shaking as she undoes the clasp. Removing the bracelet, she hesitates for only another few seconds before she takes off the wristband.

It takes half a second, but my eyes go wide as more pieces fall into place. In all the time I've known Saki, and all the times I've seen her...around school, the trips into town, swimming at the pool, she's always had her wrist covered up – if not with the sleeve of her uniform, than with a wristband of some kind.

She didn't...did she?

Without a word I close the distance between us and put a hand on her shoulder. She's still covering her wrist with her hand, but with one final look at me with eyes filled with equal parts terror and resolve, she slides her hand down a few inches, and my eyes are drawn to her wrist. Even in the low light, I can see them.

Two long, dark scars, made even more visible by the contrast of the porcelain skin surrounding them.

It only takes half a second to see, and I look into Saki's eyes again. She holds my gaze steady for only a moment before she turns her head away. Without any doubt or reservations, I wrap my arms around her and hug her tightly.

“I just...I wasn't strong enough,” Saki says into my shoulder, her voice choking back a sob.

All I can do is hold her, to let her know that I'm here. She may have been alone when it happened, and alone when dealing with it, but I swear to myself in that moment that she will never have to be alone when reliving it. I kiss the top of her head, hoping that just a fraction of the comfort I'm desperately trying to convey ends up helping her.

“It's okay,” I say, in as soothing a voice as I can. I start to gently rock with her.

After a few minutes like this, swaying back and forth in time with the sound of the waves, Saki calms down. She pushes onto my chest, giving a few inches of space between the two of us.

“Don't tell anyone, okay?” she laughs shakily, trying to regain her composure. “I have a reputation to keep.”

“Deal,” I affirm. Saki reaches up with her hand to cup my cheek and give me a tender kiss, filled with gratitude and relief. When she pulls away, her face is flushed, and she quickly moves to replace the wristband.

She continues, her voice restructuring in its resolve. “After that happened, my parents kind of wanted to keep it under wraps. They didn't really know how to deal with it. They put me into therapy, I went through a string of doctors who were told in no uncertain terms that it was supposed to be a secret...and suddenly, my parents no longer felt like showing me off at recitals or for company. One of my therapists told them about Yamaku, and next year, when I was old enough...well...they shipped me up here.”

“Jesus,” I murmur, trying to take all of it in.

“You're not having second thoughts about dating me now, are you?” Saki asks, her voice humorous...but with just enough apprehension beneath it to show she's scared I might actually be considering it.

“Never,” I say, her face surprised with the weight of my conviction at that word. “Well...not for those reasons, anyway...”

“Y...you!” Saki says, flashing anger just for a split second but breaking into a grin before playfully punching me in the shoulder. This spawns another close embrace, this time with her reciprocating as all the pent up tension melts away.

“Thank you,” I whisper into her hair. She nods against my cheek, not needing to say anything else.

“There's one thing I don't get, though,” I mention, after we pull away again. “What's the deal with your father and your card? And why he came to Yamaku?”

Saki sags a bit and sighs. “My father is very...controlling, especially after what happened. That's why he came up to Yamaku to sit in on all my classes for the day. He wants updates, and the card is his way of getting it. If I don't call him to justify every little thing I do or decision I make, or even run it by him first, he'll cut me off.”

“So after you quit the art club...”

“Yeah. He was pretty upset about that. When I finally got a hold of him it took a while for him to calm down. The only reason he cared was because the therapists and Nurse told him it might be a good idea for therapy, and he insisted. I had just moved across the country, I didn't know anyone, and I was...well, scared. I didn't want to rock the boat.”

“Don't take this the wrong way, but he seems to, well...send you a lot of money. Especially if you can buy clothing at Plus Two and laugh about it, you know? My folks send me a bit every month to help with expenses, but nothing like that.”

Saki shrugs. “My father's the type of person who throws money at his problems.”


Saki sees me wince and tries to reassure me. “I said before, it is what it is. He throws money at me because it's all he knows how to do, and I have no problem spending it if he wants to give it to me. At least it lets me do things like spend time with friends, or come down to the beach like tonight, right?”

“Right,” I say, feeling relieved at the moment, but knowing there's no way in hell I'm not revisiting this later, both with myself and with her.

“Good,” she replies, pulling me back into a kiss. As soon as it starts though, Saki shudders and pulls away, a look of pure panic across her face.

“What? What is it?” I ask her, but she's already digging into her purse.

“Oh shit,” she curses under her breath. She pulls out her phone and flips it open, the display lighting up her worried face. “Oh shit.

I think I might know what's wrong, and if it's what I think it is, then yeah, it's definitely an oh shit moment.

“What time is it?” I ask, even as I squint at my watch to try to read the dial.

“It's past nine-thirty.”

“Oh no...then that means...”

“Chisato's been trying to text me,” Saki scowls, slamming her phone shut and putting it back into her purse. She grabs her cane and immediately starts to power walk back towards the shop area, and I actually find myself struggling to keep up. “I put the damned phone on silent after talking with my father and I never thought to turn the ringer back up.”

“What did Chisato want?”

“She wanted to know where we were,” Saki puffs out, her legs and cane a blur. “She sent that a few minutes ago.”

“There you are!” we hear from up ahead. Chisato and Mitsuru are lightly jogging towards us.

“Sorry, I didn't realize how late-”

“Where were you? We were waiting for the last ten-”

“-it was getting, we were walking and talking-”

“-minutes. The last bus left a few minutes ago-”

“-and my phone was...wait...what!?”

“I'm saying that I was trying to text you to find out where you were. The last bus just left about five minutes ago.”

Oh shit is right.

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Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed May 27, 2020 4:24 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by Edible_Funk » Thu May 18, 2017 8:51 am

First reply! Excellent chapter EBJ, very interested to see what's going to happen next!

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by azumeow » Thu May 18, 2017 9:55 am


Ya dun goof'd, Saki. Ya dun goof'd.

Good chapter, euro. A nice little look into Saki's past. And, honestly, doesn't surprise me one bit that there was that one family member who doesn't seem to understand what terms like genetic or congenital mean.

Dumb shits.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by Blackmambauk » Thu May 18, 2017 10:10 am

I can see why this chapter took so long to do. So much happens and no doubt you needed the time to get it down to a spec and boy was it well worth the wait as always. But this time mate you have really exceeded yourself so full props for nailing down some really heavy stuff.

So lets get my chapter commentary underway.

Practically everything worked in this chapter, from the pacing of the first half of the chapter of the couples enjoying the beach despite being in a traffic jam for 2 hours that I can attest to have been in when I have been in Japan, though thankfully they are way better at handling roadwork's and diverting traffic than any of the tits that run England's motorways and roadwork's. Especially the bell ends that maintain the m6 and m60 near Manchester.

To the second half where the drama kicked in and we got some major revelations that had been coming for quite a while. The tone of every scene, the dialogue and everyone's interactions with each other.

Chisato as always is such a joy to read with her antics of running off ahead of everyone again, poking her head in between on the bus. She never get tiring for me to reread about. She is so believable as a teen, her interactions with everyone add so much to a already such detailed story with not just likeable characters, but interesting characters.

Especially loved her nicking of her boyfriends food, we all know someone who does that all the time the thieving gits :lol:. My favourite bit was her friendly nudge under the table. I just hope Mitsuru's pencil hasn't lost it's point.

Now for our darling couple.

Loved how you used all of the beach tropes here with them. From the sun lotioning of Saki, to how Hisao approaches it and the teasing between them throughout it all. The detail of Hisao's senses around her and just the interactions between them in general. Usually stuff like this bores me since most writers rarely make these clichés interesting to read about. But you make it engaging with Saki and Hisao by the detail you put in and their chemistry carrying the scene well. Props for that.

All of which is made more potent by what happens in the second half.

Boy did we get some really heavy stuff in this part. All of it full of subtext and context very fitting to how many in Asia treat someone in the family with a condition like ataxia. Or really anything that is deemed a disability or handicap in general from what I have read of social worker cases, what my sister has told me she has seen at her school in Thailand. Some of the stories my guides told me while I was there (one that was very similar to Saki's expect it had to do with simply being left handed).

Getting her brother the heir apparent tested to see if he has it again that's very truth in television.

It makes how Jigoro treats his own daughters disability seem almost tame in comparison despite how over the top he is.

Not to mention how the rest of Saki's family reacting to it and the five year old kids reaction especially was very believable. Drew a few tears from me that's for sure even though you know the kid was too young to understand what they were saying. Yet there is so much more to it that is yet to come that keeps the questions flowing and leaves me feeling for the first time almost... fretful of what else we might learn and where all of this goes.

The moment the wristband was coming off... it all clicked together of stuff I remember reading about. It was something that you could sense was coming but when it did... right there you just want to hug Saki and never let her go.

Considering how Japan for many years has treated suicide and what some family members have been known to encourage... yeah I don't want to go further with that thought.

This fic has always struck many chords with me for personal reasons and it's something I greatly admire it for. Your handling of such sensitive topics here, in such a nuance way is truly something that is very commendable and shows your gift as a writer.

Your ability to balance out such a reveal and the details with the levity that you always bring to your writing is why this fic is one of my favourite pieces of literature that I have ever read and is right up there with the VN's routes.

It reminds me of Fruit Basket in a way with how that series handled topics like this, how one minute I'm laughing hard with the characters, then the next I'm drying my eyes out. Most series can't do mood whiplash well, but you pull it off. Which is very hard to do so.

Again I cannot state enough how well you nailed this chapter and I cannot wait to see where all of this goes from here.

It's going to be interesting how our gang is getting back to Yamaku. I smell a call is coming to someone.

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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 5/18)

Post by Eluciel » Thu May 18, 2017 11:27 am

I'm so glad to see this updated! I've been waiting with bated breath for the new chapter and i can say it was definitely worth the wait. Thanks a bunch for this man, and it's great to hear you're settling in well after moving. I look forward to the next one!
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by Peorth » Thu May 18, 2017 12:41 pm

Glad to see you back in the saddle, Euro.
Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stopped, the story will not end.

Whether it's a comedy or a tragedy, if there is cheering, the story will continue on.
Just like the many lives.
For the us who are still in it and still in the journey, send warm blessings.

---We will continue to walk down this path until eternity.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by OneDrop » Thu May 18, 2017 1:03 pm

I've never clicked on an update so fast before. This chapter was well worth the wait and it's good to see you back!

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 1/19)

Post by AlexFDSR » Thu May 18, 2017 5:51 pm

Eurobeatjester wrote:
Saki shrugs. “My father's the type of person who throws money at his problems.”

Wow, Hisao. She had to outright tell you so you'd figure it out?

Anyway, loved this chapter. Glad to see you still write this fic, especially after all that's transpired since you started. One of the best things about you, apart from the superb writing, is your diligence.
If Iwanako had a route, would the tagline be "Can you find it in your heart?"

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by Zerebos » Fri May 19, 2017 11:06 am

Another great chapter man. This one was really deep, our first time really getting a look at Saki's past and it definitely struck a chord with me. The description of everything surrounding her past was so accurate and vivid, just incredible work Eurobeat!

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by gibzx » Fri May 19, 2017 11:54 am

Loved the new chapter, amazing work as always Euro. It was great to take a peek at Saki's past in the previous chapter, and it's awesome we get a more in-depth look for this one too. I wasn't expecting you to update this month, a surprise, to be sure, but a greatly welcome one. Saki's plot is super interesting, and can't wait to see it unravel. Keep up the great work Euro!

Also, it seems we have new crowning champions for the title of biggest asshole parents. The Enomotos have taken the crown right out the the Satou's hands, pushing Jigoro down to third. The Satou will have to pull off some crazy stunts if they want to regain their spot.
"You are a beautiful person, Hisao. Please, never apologize for that."--Lilly

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by InSaiyan » Fri May 19, 2017 12:51 pm

My man! Glad to see that you're back in action! Great chapter, looking forward to the next one!
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 5/18)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat May 20, 2017 10:35 am

A bit late to the party... A lot has already been said praising this recent chapter, and I agree full-heartedly.
So just one minore quibble...
About a minute later I've reached every inch of exposed skin that I either can or that I think is important.
I think that should be an AND condition not an OR one :-)

...and one thing that does not quite work out with the succession of events in the last part:
After the two pairs seperate, tey walk for "a few minutes" and then have that conversation that lasts until Saki notices Chisato's text. Somewhere you need to put in more time-padding, because there's no way this conversation lasted so long they missed their bus :-)

As for traffic jams in Japan... I didn't use the motorways much when I was there, but the few times my colleagues took me on trips I've found them to be virtually empty. I thought it was because a) it costs money to use them and b) public transit is more efficient to get almost anywhere.
It's possible that I just got lucky with the times, though.
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