Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 12/8)

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

Post by Downix » Sun Jun 24, 2018 12:30 am

Eurobeatjester wrote:
Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:12 pm
The most recent statistic I could find said that while they do still happen, it was around 10% in 1998 and around 5% of marriages in Japan as of 2015.
Wow, a higher percentage than I'd even thought. It's such an odd concept to me that I figured it would be no more than 2-3%.

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

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Jun 25, 2018 2:20 am

I'm going to try to keep my momentum going and get the next chapter done in the next two weeks or so. The reason being is because con/business season is coming up starting in mid-late July and runs all through August. Realistically, if I don't finish it in the next two weeks, I won't have time to write until September. If I have to take that kind of break because of personal obligations, I'd rather do it at the break between Act 3 and Act 4.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Redgodzilla » Sat Jul 28, 2018 4:29 am

Wow. Just read everything for the first time. I gotta say, I really like it! Eurobeatjester is clearly a strong writer, and really makes his characters believable and interesting. This keeps very true to the spirit of KS, showing people as more than their disabilities.

What's really impressive is how good this story is without using really any of the original KS characters. Sure there's Hisao, but he was always left purposefully vague so that the reader could easily identify with him. I really like what Eurobeatjester has done with Hisao's character, truing him into a more rounded character, rather than just a one-dimensional archetype for the reader to latch onto.

One thing that could be added which I believe would be a great addition to the story, are music cues. I personally really like listening to the KS soundtrack while reading fan-fiction. I'll generally listen to all the soft, light-hearted tracks until it becomes obvious that the moon has shifted, then switch to a more appropriate track. I took several notes of what songs I played and when. I'd be more than happy to map out an entire list for Learning To Fly, if Eurobeatjester would be willing to go back and edit every single part of the story to add the cues. If that was done though, all that I would have to do is put the order into a .txt file and we could use GuestPoster's KS music program to allow anyone to follow along with a single click. Or if readers would so choose, they could ignore it all-together. Let me know if you'd be interested in doing this and I'll map out an entire list for you (Eurobeatjester) to review.

So far the pacing has been pretty damn good. I always thought that Emi's route had the best narrative pacing in KS, and Learning To Fly (quick interject here to note how much I absolutely love that title) really has about as good pacing. The jumps from event to event have been seamless, but it also doesn't feel like important things are being skipped "COUGH" (Shizune's route) "COUGH".

Of course, it isn't finished yet, so there's still so much potential. All the pins are neatly lined up. Now all that's left in to knock them down and cash out on that sweet sweet emotional investment for act 4. It's going to be a long and hard road. For me, I mean. 'I' have to wait to read the rest of this excellent fan fiction. I mean come on, I just read like 4 years worth of writing in a week!. But I am more than willing to wait if the quality will be this consistent. Please keep up the amazing writing Eurobeatjester! But do take your time, because unlike Saki, I have all the time in the world. (yeah sorry I know that was evil, but I just couldn't resist.
Girls: Emi>Hanako>Misha>Lilly>Shizune>Rin
Routes: Lilly>Emi>Hanako>Rin
But that just like... my opinion... man

日本語がはなせますか?凄

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

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:54 am

It's taken a really long time, but I finally finished this chapter, and with it the act!

I honestly never thought I'd make it to this point, but I'm really glad I have. Thank you so much for continuing to read it and give me feedback and constructive criticism.

I specifically want to thank Downix for helping me with research for this chapter and moving forward with Act 4, along with gibzx and Craftyatom for proofreading.

So here it is, the finale of Act 3. Feedback and comments are appreciated as always.

Props to anyone who gets the reference for the chapter name without using Google!

The song for this chapter is "You Don't Know" by Katelyn Tarver.

Act 3: Ignition

Scene 12: Glamorous Glennis

I hate waiting.

I hate waiting at doctors’ offices.

I especially hate waiting at doctors’ offices when there’s someplace else I’d rather be.

With a sigh, I start filling out the mountain of paperwork clipped to the board on my lap.

“I’m going to get a coffee,” my father mentions, nodding towards the machine on top of the nearby table at the other end of the waiting room. “Do you want any?”

“No thanks,” I say, giving him a brief glance and smile before I turn back towards the task at hand.

Name. Sex.

Honestly, I really should just get a stamp made with all that information at this point. Or business cards. This isn’t even the first time I’ve been to this office since I’ve been back in town. You’d think they could just staple this form to those.

Age. Date of birth.

Argh. Why would you need both of those things?

I can hear my father pouring the liquid into the cup, the only other sound in the room besides my pen scratching the paper and the faint click of a keyboard behind the receptionist’s desk. When my phone vibrates in my pocket to let me know I have a new text message, the relative volume makes me jump.

Just got to the station.

“Was that her?” my father asks.

I nod and slip the phone back into my pocket. “She just got in.”

“Well, hopefully I’ll hear from your mother in a few minutes.”

I still find it hard to believe that things worked out the way they did.

When Saki called me several days ago asking if she could come up, I didn’t know how to respond. All I could do was call my dad and briefly describe the situation. When I got home that night, I gave them a more thorough explanation, wincing every time I stumbled over or let loose a detail I was trying to hold on to.

I didn’t even have many details, and that hasn’t changed. Saki and I haven’t spent much time on the phone the past few days except to make and confirm plans, so I still don’t know where her father took her that pushed her over the edge.

Given how terse Saki was in the few times we did talk, I figured it was a good idea to follow her lead and keep our conversations brief.

Fortunately, I think my parents picked up on that reluctance, and they understood the situation was far more serious than just me trying to ask if my girlfriend could visit. When they both said yes, I was relieved beyond measure.

Even with a day to plan, there was still one problem.

Today I have a doctor’s appointment. In fact, it’s the last one I’m supposed to have when I’m out here, and it’s with Mr. Toshinori, my primary physician I’ve been working with since I was in recovery. This is a visit where my family, myself, and my doctor all sit down to discuss the results of the tests I’ve had done the last few weeks. Once we go over that, Mr. Toshinori is supposed to cover what changes, if any, should be made and what the next few months should look like. Both of my parents had both taken the day off of work for this appointment so they could be here.

Well, one parent at least. Dad’s here with me. Mom is currently at the train station, because of the aforementioned problem; Saki’s train was due to get in about the same time as my appointment was supposed to start, but clear on the other side of town from where the doctor’s office was.

With only one car, my mother’s most logical solution seemed to be to drop the two of us off early at the doctor’s office and then go to the train station to pick up Saki. Knowing my appointment could take a few hours, she said they could grab an early coffee or lunch and pick us up whenever we were finished.

I have my own reservations about that, but they’re outweighed by how thankful I am that my parents agreed to this.

“Thanks again, Dad. I really appreciate this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he says, sitting down next to me. The smell of hot coffee hits my nose and I feel a tad remorseful I didn’t take him up on his offer. Back to the paperwork.

Height. Weight. Eye color. Hair color.

That’s easy enough. Maybe this won’t take as long as I thought.

Please list any medications you are currently taking.

...never mind.

---------

Almost two hours later, my brain is mush.

I enjoy science and math, but when you’ve been bombarded by talk of numbers and huge words while being shown page after page of said numbers and huge words, it all kind of blurs together in spite of how hard you try to pay attention.

Mr. Toshinori is nothing if not thorough. He’s pointing out to me and my dad on charts what one number meant several months ago, and what a new number means now. He repeats this process dozens of times, and even though I’m trying to pay attention, I’m quickly overwhelmed.

The only breaks we get is when he references back through his folder and asks for clarification on something or other, almost always involving something Nurse reported from Yamaku.

Throughout the inquisition however, the mood is a good one.

Almost all my numbers are where they should be or better than expected. Even if I don’t quite understand what those numbers represent, the man in the white coat across from my father and I does his best to make sure that positivity gets across.

Finally, he takes off his glasses and leans back, indicating that we’re near the end.

“The staff at Yamaku have been sending me updates every week. Between what I’ve been seeing on your charts, the test results from the time you’ve been here, and just seeing you, I’m thoroughly impressed with how you’ve been doing.”

I wonder how Nurse has been sending updates every single week when I’ve missed more than one of my weekly checkups. Nurse may be giving me some slack and covering for me, but I really should try harder to make it to those.

“So, I know what it says in the data, but I want to ask directly. You haven’t had any more episodes, have you?”

“No.”

“Anything close?”

I hesitate slightly, but then speak honestly. “Once or twice I’ve overexerted myself, but I was able to pay attention to the warning signs I was taught and keep it under control.”

“Good. If you told me you hadn’t even had one of those I’d be worried that you weren’t getting enough exercise.”

“So, what’s next?” I ask.

My father clears his throat. “Well, your doctors had a plan they discussed with your mother and I in case there were any complications in the last few months, but since there haven’t really been any - right, doctor?”

Mr. Toshinori nods. “Right. Now would be a good time to go over it.”

I’m instantly apprehensive, and look back and forth at both their faces. “What’s this about?”

“Sorry,” my dad says. “He can explain it better than I can.”

The doctor finds a piece of cloth on his desk and idly starts to clean his glasses while addressing me. “Do you remember when we were going over initial treatment options in the hospital? How we discussed a pacemaker?”

“...I do,” I answer, having retrieved that snippet from an extremely disorganized and incomplete memory bank. It wasn’t a conversation we had after they cut back my pain medication, that’s for sure.

“The original plan was to have that pacemaker be the next step if you had another attack like the one you had in February. We figured you maybe had a one in five chance of having that happen.”

“So...why wait until summer’s nearly over to tell me this?”

“We may have recommended going ahead with the surgery this summer even if you didn’t have another attack, depending on how your heart was doing,” he elaborates. “But if I’m honest, you passed this little evaluation period with flying colors.”

“Does that mean I won’t need the pacemaker?”

“Not at the moment. Let’s see where we are when winter break rolls around, if nothing happens before then. If we need to at that time, we can set up the surgery after graduation. If things go really well and you keep doing what you’re doing, it could be years before you need it. Just to make it clear though, it’s not a situation of ‘if’ you’ll need one, but ‘when.’”

To find out that I won’t have to go under the knife again - for a while, anyway - is such a huge relief lifted off my shoulders that I visibly sag. My father notices this, and gently places a hand on my back.

“I’m proud of you son,” he says, and I can tell he means it.

“What happens now?”

(continued)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Tue Oct 16, 2018 1:51 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:56 am

“Given how you’re responding to treatment, I’d like to adjust your medications a bit,” Mr. Toshinori states, before handing over a printout he delicately pulls from the nest of notes on his desk. On further inspection, I can see a list of all my medications and current dosages in one column, with changes made to the second column. An increase here, a decrease there...along with one or two stricken off the list entirely.

Progress begetting progress. A good domino effect, and one I’ve needed for months. Seeing everything I’ve done from medication to swimming to even trying to adjust my attitude have an actual positive effect in my treatment makes it hard to keep my composure.

“I’d also recommend expanding your exercise regimen, but since you’re swimming it’s more general advice than anything specific. I tell that to everyone who comes in here.”

I nod.

Mr. Toshinori pushes his chair back to stand up, signalling that everything that needs to be covered has been. My father and I follow suit, and a round of polite bowing and handshakes follows.

“Keep me up to date on how the medication changes affect you. Give it a few weeks to balance out. You know the drill at this point.”

I wince. I’m pretty sure I can look forward to another crazy sleep cycle along with a few other unpleasant side effects.

“I’d like to schedule an appointment around October, if that works for both of you.”

My father looks at me. “I think we’ll be able to figure out a long weekend around that time. What do you think?”

“As long as I have about two weeks notice, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“That settles that then,” the doctor says in a jovial tone, opening the door for the two of us. “See you in a few months. Take care!”

--------

“Thank you very much for the meal. Can I help with the dishes?” Saki asks my father.

“Don’t worry about that. You’re a houseguest,” he replies, moving to take a stack of dishes into the kitchen.

“Please, it’s all right. I want to help out,” Saki insists, pushing her chair back to get up.

My father considers for a moment, but I know him well enough to know he won’t be rude enough to turn down a genuine offer twice.

“All right. It shouldn’t take too long. Hisao, while we do that, why don’t you tell your mother about how the visit with Mr. Toshinori went?”

“Great idea,” Mom answers for me. When I look at her in confusion, she stands up. “Can you give me a hand setting up the futon?”

“Ah, sure,” I reply. Before joining my mother down the hall, I grab the second stack of dishes to drop them off. Saki’s drying her hands with a towel, and gives me a small nod when I look at her.

It seems everyone except me is keen on the plan to split us up like this. With a small sigh, I head back towards my room.

“Mom, you know this doesn’t take two people,” I say upon entering my door. As if to prove my point, she already has the mattress laid out and is dusting herself off.

“Of course I know that. That’s the point, Hisao. Good for you that your girlfriend caught on.”

Hearing my mom refer to Saki as that, especially with Saki in the next room, gives me a strange sense of embarrassment. “Mom…”

“Don’t worry about that,” she says, taking a minute to sit down in my desk chair. When she makes a motion for me to sit on the bed, I begrudgingly comply.

“How did it go with Toshinori?”

Even though we briefly covered it at dinner, the inclusion of company stifled any deeper discussion on the subject. Now though, I can give her a much more thorough summary.

When I finish with the news about the pacemaker, Mom asks one or two more questions, as if she knows I’m trying to change the subject and wants to hold the upper hand as long as possible.

“So, how did lunch go?” I ask, trying not to appear too interested. She doesn’t buy it for a second, but gives me the answer anyway.

“I like her.”

“Yeah?”

“I do. We had a very pleasant time talking together.”

“What did you talk about?”

“Well, there was you, of course-”

“Mom.”

“-but mostly we talked about her.”

I hesitate a moment. “What did she tell you?”

My mother makes eye contact with me, her eyes softening. “She told me enough.”

I nod.

(continued)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Oct 01, 2018 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:57 am

Both of us pause for a few seconds, hearing the sounds of dishware clattering in the kitchen. I can make out their voices, but I can’t make out any of the words.

“Thank you for picking her up today.”

“I really do mean it when I said we had a good time. You could do a lot worse, you know.”

I blush when I hear that, but my mother mercifully decides not to pursue it.

“Don’t stay up too late.”

“We won’t. Actually, I think that the two of us might go for a walk so we can talk for a bit without keeping you and dad up.”

“I understand. Just try not to make too much noise when you come in.”

-----

“Your parents are really nice,” Saki says to me.

“I’m happy you’re all getting along.”

“I’m just glad they said yes. And the food! You didn’t tell me your mother could cook like that.”

The sound of our footfalls is soft on the dirt path we find ourselves on, accompanied by a light wind rustling the trees and grasses surrounding it.

After dishes were done I suggested to Saki that the two of us take a short walk up to the park near my house, and she agreed that it seemed like a good idea. It doesn’t take long. After about ten minutes, we round the last bend of the path and end up at the playground.

Image

It’s a bit smaller than I remember it being from when I played here as a child, but everything you could want is there. Monkey bars, a slide branching off a large linked set of climbing platforms, a seesaw, and a swingset.

Saki makes a beeline for the latter. “Oh man, I haven’t been on one of these in years.”

Setting her cane aside, she firmly sits down on one of the wooden planks connected to the overhead bar.

“Give me a push?” she asks.

“You’re serious?”

“Absolutely!” she answers, her enthusiasm clear in her voice.

With the slightest laugh and shake of my head, I move behind her and firmly place my hands on her shoulders. When she braces, I give her a light shove to get her started. She pumps her legs in time with the downswing, and when she swings back towards me, another push on her back gives her further momentum.

In less than a minute, Saki’s moving along at a respectable pace, her hair streaming around her in the night air.

“I’m glad your dad let me help out with the cleanup.”

“They alternate every night now,” I explain, keeping Saki’s momentum going with a light press on her back every time she swings back in my direction. “Mom ended up getting a transfer to another department so she’s home earlier than she used to be. One night he’ll cook, and the next night she cooks. Whoever doesn’t ends up doing the dishes.”

“That seems fair.”

“I missed out on the new system. Dishes were my job most nights.”

“I guess they had to adjust once you weren’t there anymore.”

I shrug, but I doubt she can see me. “Did you get along with my dad?”

“I mean, about as well as I think I could have.”

“Well that’s good. On the other hand, my mom seems to love you.”

Saki laughs. “She has a good sense of humor. We got along great at lunch.”

“So I hear.”

The rhythmic creaking of the swing set drones on.

“What did you tell my mom about...everything that’s been going on?”

Saki stops pumping her legs, her motions slowing. In just a few seconds, a combination of gravity and footwork causes her to come to a stop as she looks at me.

“I told her a little bit. She asked enough open-ended questions and I was able to drop enough hints.”

“...gotcha,” I respond, moving to and sitting on the swing to her left.

“It’s been nice. I’m glad I got to meet your parents today,” she affirms, her voice a strange mixture of melancholy and wistfulness. “What about you? You said your appointment went well today. How was it?”

Even though this is the third time this subject has come up tonight, I don’t mind talking about it with her.

“It went really great. I’m doing better than I thought they would. They might be able to put off more surgery for a few years, if I’m lucky.”

“So your arrhythmia isn't fatal?”

I’m a bit taken aback, but not as much as I once would have been by someone asking that. Maybe I’ve changed more than I’ve realized the last few months.

“What do you mean? It’s probably not just going to kill me out of the blue anymore, if that’s what you’re wondering. Unless a lot of things go very wrong in a very short period of time.”

“From what you just told me and what I overheard earlier, you seem to have a handle on it.”

I think back to the conversation earlier today with the doctor and the cautiously optimistic feeling I had at the end of it that’s been underlaying my mood for the rest of the day. Maybe I do.

“Honestly, you’re the one I have to thank for that,” I say. “If I hadn’t started swimming with you in the mornings, I don’t know if my attitude would have changed as much as it did.”

My words are meant for comfort, but they have the opposite effect on Saki. I see her brow furrow a bit in a wince, and I realize I might be reading the situation wrong.

“It’s not going to cut your life short though, is it?”

I’m definitely reading the situation wrong.

We’ve had discussions about our conditions before, but never one that actually delved into them seriously...or more specifically, how their progression might affect us with more than just physical problems.

What that progression means for Saki. What progression means for me.

What it means for us.

Both of us have been pushing these types of thoughts from our mind with the same rationalizations we used on similar ones before them: waiting until the time was right to bring them out into the open. Saki’s question and her reaction to my answer show me that she was testing the waters.

With everything that’s happened the last few weeks and especially the last two or three days, she seems to feel that the time could be right.

And even if she is right, that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

“It shouldn’t,” I say, “as long as I follow the advice of my doctors.”

Saki nods, then falls into silence once again.

The wind picks up, causing the trees around us to rustle. The unoccupied swing to my left gives a slight creaking noise as it moves.

“Would you think less of me if I told you that I don’t envy you?”

“What do you mean?” I ask, confused.

“If you knew how and when you were going to die, would that be a good thing? Or would it worry you?”

When I don’t give an immediate answer, Saki can tell she hit the mark.

“I’m...not sure I understand the question…” I answer, my mind trying to adapt to the shift in conversation. Saki’s already shaking her head.

“Let me ask it a different way. If you only knew how you were going to die, how would that affect you?” she asks.

Her tone has shifted. It’s not the same as it was a few minutes ago, but one she takes when she’s trying to academically and logically explain a point without bringing any emotions into it - besides an almost bored curiosity.

“I’d like to think it wouldn’t.”

“So if you knew that you’d die by drowning, but you didn’t know when it would happen, you’d still go swimming or to the beach?”

“Probably not, when you put it like that.”

“Most people go through their whole life without even asking themselves a question like that. People like the two of us, or a lot of other students at Yamaku...we’ve actually been able to deal with the idea that we’re going to die, so I guess...in a way...we’re more alive because of it, you know?

Until this moment, I’ve had inklings of what she’s getting at, but I’ve never heard someone put it into words that succinctly. Whenever I have thought of it, it was never in a context of being alive or being thankful for it, but instead rooted in a feeling of guilt that I dared to be less than positive about surviving a situation which could have very easily killed me.

In one fell swoop, I see that maybe I don’t need to feel guilty about that.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t feel sad...I mean, there’s a part of me that’s sad I’ll never get married. I can never have kids without putting them at risk, or have a career...but on the other hand, I never need to worry about what that career is going to be, or if I’m going to get the promotion, or if I’ll be able to retire. And I don’t need to worry about how I’m going to die.”

I stare at the ground again, trying to process everything she’s saying. For normal people our age, those questions - marriage, children, careers - are off in the distant future, if they're ever thought of at all with more than idle curiosity.

Saki isn't someone who has the luxury of waiting to see how things play out.

“It’s just…”

“Just what?” she asks.

“It’s just so unfair.”

(continued)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:14 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:59 am

“Of course it’s unfair. That’s the tradeoff. I already know what’s going to happen. I’m going to lose everything piece by piece, until I’m just trapped in a useless body. I won’t be able to get out of bed myself, or feed myself, or even breathe on my own. I’m going to keep going downhill until I finally either have my heart give out or my lungs stop working and I end up drowning. It’s horrible, it’s unfair, but I know. So I don’t need to dwell on it or let it hold me back,” she says, a familiar fire burning at the edges of her voice. “I only have another few years before it starts to really get bad, so I’m going to take everything this world offers me before that happens.”

So much falls into place with that exchange that I can’t think of an immediate response. Her cutting wit and her ability to find dark humor in anything, even herself. The dismissive way she refers to her family, or blows off her studies. The way she focuses on her violin, while quitting the art club.

The way our relationship always seems to be standing still before lunging forward, usually at her lead.

One small step for her; one giant leap for the two of us.

“How?” I ask.

“Hm?” she answers.

“How can you deal with it?”

“Deal with what? It’s okay, Hisao. You can say it.”

“Knowing that you’re going to die like that,” I say, an action that happens so fast the emotional toll and impact of simply being able to say it strikes me only afterwards.

Saki looks down at her feet and gives a heavy sigh. It’s not one borne by the moment, but instead seems to be a floodgate that hold tremendous weight behind it.

“I’m...kind of scared to tell you,” she says, giving a small nervous laugh.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because I’m selfish. Because your opinion of me is going to change and I’m scared of that,” she says, biting her lip slightly, all humor gone from her voice.

I adjust my position slightly on the swing, mainly to give myself something to do while I try to come up with some sort of answer.

I know that while Saki has opened up to me, and I to her, there are still barriers we haven’t even entertained the thought of overcoming. She likes to tease me, but the second she senses real hesitation, she holds back. I’ve tried to do the same thing the few times I’ve pressured her.

But then again, isn’t that the point?

By chipping at those walls with a sense of friendship, camaraderie, and most of all respect, you begin to think that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to let someone in - as long as you’re still the one holding the reins.

This time though, it’s different. She’s offering to draw me into a part of her world that she knows may lead to something unpleasant...and she’s asking me not just for affirmation that I’m okay with this, but that I’ll actively be by her side.

I reach out and place my hand on her arm.

“I can’t promise it won’t,” I say haltingly, “but I can promise to listen and try to keep an open mind.”

She nods, although she doesn’t look at me when she does, and doesn’t speak again for a full minute. In the dark of the night, I can barely see her face, but what fading glimpses I’m afforded paint a very convoluted picture as she assembles her thoughts.

Saki's not kidding. She really is scared. She finally lets out a sigh that I can barely hear, the sheer weight of which is staggering.

“It’s not dying that scares me. I lost my fear of that a long time ago when I tried to kill myself,” she says, her voice barely a whisper over the muted ambience of the night.

“Do you regret it?” I ask, grasping her hand gently. Her left hand.

She laughs softly. “No. I don’t regret it. It worked, Hisao.”

“What do you mean?”

Saki looks out to the treeline, her eyes focused on the middle distance. She gives a small smile and then shakes her head, as if contemplating the absurdity of what she’s about to say or the absurdity that she’ll thinks she’ll actually be able to explain it in a way I’ll understand.

“I don’t know how to put it except...I killed the part of me that wanted me to die,” she says, turning to look at me. She’s wearing that same smile, tinted with a sadness and resignation that I’ll never be able to fully understand with what she’s saying.

During my time in the hospital, I was the lowest I had ever been in my life. I felt like I had everything stripped away from me and there was no real reason to look forward to the sun restarting its lazy journey across the sky each day. During it all, especially when I let my mind wander into the depths of self pity, I would be lying if I never wished I was dead. The moments were few and far between, and I never seriously entertained them to the point of wanting to die.

As I revisit those dark memories to try to find some common thread to empathize with Saki’s experience, I realize that I can’t - not truly - for one simple reason.

Wishing you were dead is not the same thing as wanting to die.

I can relate to nearly nothing in what she just said, but what little I can prompts me to squeeze her hand in sympathy.

“Everything was fine until my father…” Saki says, trailing off as her train of thought takes her back to what happened to her a few days ago.

I gently brush my thumb over her knuckles, letting her know I’m still there.

“Maybe it’s karma,” she continues. “For me and for him.”

“For both of you?”

“Maybe him for being a controlling asshole. Maybe me for what happened a few years ago.”

Both of those sentences confuse me, for different reasons. Saki senses it and gives me an explanation for one of them.

“My father didn’t plan everything for me when I was younger but he damn sure limited what I could be ambitious about. When I got diagnosed with ataxia, there was a part of me that thought it was almost worth it just to kick his plans in the teeth.”

“Saki, that’s…”

“Oh, I know it’s messed up. But what happened to me is one of the few things that my father can’t control, and he hates me for it.”

My grip around her hand tightens again. “Do you really believe that he hates you?”

Saki stands up suddenly, tearing her hand from mine. “He’s my dad. If he doesn’t love me, then what’s the difference? Why would he want almost nothing to do with me once he found out I was sick, or just dump me off on a therapist after I tried to kill myself if he didn’t? It’s not even enough that he shipped me up here to Yamaku away from home, but he had to come up there and try to make sure everyone knew that he was the boss.”

I say nothing. There’s nothing I can say. I have no idea what she’s going through, and I won’t begin to insult her faith in me by pretending to. Even as she describes it, I find my mind making up excuses to try and lessen the shock.

Maybe he didn't know how to handle the situation. Maybe he was trying the best he could. Maybe he was trying to make sure that you were put in the best school he could find and…and I feel horrible.

Every excuse invalidates her pain.

“Even the other day,” she says, leaning on the swingset and hugging her arms defensively around herself. “It’s just one more way he’s trying to keep control.”

“What exactly happened, Saki?” I ask. I accepted that I didn’t get the full story earlier, but now I need to know. “You still haven’t told me where your father took you. You told me that you were going to see some doctors, but-”

“It’s more than that, Hisao,” she says, her voice and demeanor wrapped up in a struggle between pain and forced indifference - a balance she won’t be able to maintain for long. “We didn’t just go to the normal doctors I go to when I’m back in Osaka. He took me to an assisted living facility.”

“Why? Why would he do that?” I ask, slightly bewildered.

“Because he was showing me how generous he was and how I wouldn’t need to worry. Once my ataxia gets so bad I can’t live on my own anymore, that’s the next place he wants to ship me to,” she exclaims, clearly losing the battle to remain as impassive as possible. “Do you have any idea what that’s like? To be taken to a place and basically be told ‘hey, don’t worry about anything else you do in life, because you’ll eventually end up here and this is where you’re going to die?’ And then have it spun it into some...some ‘it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey’ bullshit!

“He didn’t,” I say, horrified. What in the hell-

“Yeah, he really did,” Saki says, bordering on hysterics, her hands animated. “Oh, it’s a nice place, Hisao. It’s almost like a resort on one end. They have doctors on site. It might as well be Yamaku for the elderly. But instead of classes, they have bingo and chess tournaments, and “classic” movie night! They even have a stage on one end of the main activity room. My father tried to cheer me up by saying I would be able to play my violin there.”

“Saki,” I start, moving to stand up. She’s too far gone to acknowledge me.

(continued)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 6/22)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:00 am

“That’s not the worst of it,” she says, drawing into herself with a fearful tone. “They have a wing of the building for end-of-life patients. It was part of the tour. My dad was trying to show me how great the care was. All it showed me was that once you really get to the point where you become too much to deal with, they move you there and you don't come out. It’s terrifying, Hisao. It’s like...imagine every hospital and clinic you’ve ever been in and mix it with lotion and bleach and shit and death and-”

Saki’s cut off as I close the distance between us and embrace her in a tight hug. She reflexively fights it for half a second before the tension drains out of her body and she collapses against me, sobbing hard.

“I can’t die like that, Hisao. I can’t. I can’t.

Even during my time in the hospital, in my foulest moods and around those who felt the same around me at times, there was a sense of helplessness. There was sadness. There was fear. There was abandonment and every other emotion, but there was always a glimmer of hope as patients improved, if you looked hard enough.

In the place she describes, there is none.

Nobody gets better. Everybody knows it. Appearances must be kept, so the body is kept alive long after the spirit loses any life left in it.

In such a place, with the implications behind it, Saki’s existence would kill who she was long before she passes away.

What...what words can I possibly say to that?

None. None whatsoever. All I can do is be here like this, for as long as it takes.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, her breath a bit ragged as she fights to regain control of her breathing.

“Don’t apologize.” I say. I feel her nod against my shoulder, the fabric already wet.

We stay like this for another few minutes. Saki eventually starts to calm down, her sobs reduced to sniffles as she starts to reform her shattered composure.

“Death doesn’t scare me,” she finally mumbles, pushing slightly against my chest to signal me to loosen my hug. “Dying does, though. I’m not strong enough to go through what I saw that day. I’m not strong enough to see myself go downhill to where I’m in a bed twenty four hours a day and some nurse who doesn’t want to be there has to feed me and check my diaper every few hours because I won’t be able to tell if I’ve messed myself.” She lightly beats a fist against my shoulder. “And don’t lie to me and tell me I am.”

“Okay.”

“I won’t die like that,” she says, with an iron in her voice that surprises me. She disengages herself from me to look in my eyes. It’s dark, but at the moment they’re glowing with something other than tears.

“I'm not letting it get to that point. I won’t,” she repeats, bringing up her right hand to idly clasp her left wrist.

She doesn’t mean...no...does she?

When my glance moves from her hands back to her face, she smiles softly and turns away, unable to keep eye contact.

That’s all the confirmation that I need.

“Well,” Saki says, turning away from me and clasping her hands behind her back. “I mean, it’s not like it’s going to happen soon anyway. With my father's money I can still get the best treatments and medication. I can still play the violin for now. I’ll still be able to travel, for a while anyway." She looks down at her wrist again. "I’m just going to wait until the last possible moment where I'm still able to do it myself. But like I said, I still have a lot of living left to do. No point in wasting it on things like entrance exams or prep classes.” She turns her head back over her shoulder to look at me and flashes me the first genuine smile she’s given me. “I told you I don’t envy you.”

I give a short, quiet laugh on reflex, and that seems to release at least some of the strain we’re both feeling. I run my hand through my hair, hoping that clearing it from my vision will somehow help me have similar mental clarity on everything that’s just happened...and it’s a lot to take in.

“You’re...okay...with all of this?” I ask. The question seems so insignificant given our conversation, but I have to ask it for my own sake.

“I am,” Saki says, before turning back to look at the stars. “I made my mind up about this years ago, Hisao. Please don’t try to change it.”

“It’s...a lot to process all at once.”

“Promise me one thing, Hisao. No matter what happens from this point on.”

“What is it?”

“I’m serious. Even if we end up hating each other, you have to swear that you won’t tell anyone at the school about...what we just talked about.”

“I won’t, but...am I the one you should be telling this? Haven’t you talked to your therapist about this before?”

Saki scoffs. “Try explaining the concept of suicide being empowering. It doesn’t go well,” she finishes with a shudder.

“I promise.”

“Thank you, even if it’s hard to understand. It means a lot to me.”

“It’s going to take me a while to wrap my head around it. I don’t know if I could face it the same way you are.”

Saki ponders this for a moment, then looks up at the sky. “The stars are beautiful tonight, aren’t they?” she says, drawing my attention to the canvas of lights above us.

“They are.”

“Astronomy used to be one of my favorite things when I was little.”

“Of all the things you’ve said tonight, I find that one the most unbelievable,” I say, taking a step towards her.

Saki senses my presence and leans back into me. “It’s true! My brother had a telescope on his balcony and we would spend hours pointing it at everything we could find up there. I used to know the name of every constellation up there and every major star.”

“Yeah?”

“Mhmm,” she answers. “We are made of star stuff.”

Something tickles my brain. “I think I’ve heard that before.”

“It’s a quote I like from a scientist who passed away a decade ago. I’ve always found it comforting.”

“Why’s that?” I ask, intrigued.

“Well, think about it,” she says, turning her face up until the stars in question reflect in her eyes. “Everything that makes us, every atom in our bodies, it all starts up there. Every element that makes me up...I just try to think of how many billions of years it must have taken to form them in stars like the ones we're looking at...then scattered all over the universe until it forms this planet we’re standing on. This body.”

I know the basic tenets of what she’s describing, but I’ve never heard it spoken about with the reverence that Saki is giving it as she continues.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen to me after I die, but I do know what’s going to happen to my body. Whatever makes me, my soul, consciousness, whatever...it’s just borrowing this specific arrangement of matter for a while before that matter becomes something else. Someday, it’s going to spread to other parts of the universe. Maybe even help create new bodies like this one. Maybe something similar happens with whatever it is that makes me me.

Saki takes a step away from me and stretches her hand up towards the sky, frozen in time for a moment I am always going to remember.

“I’m just a link in a chain that goes from the beginning of the universe to the end of it. I’ve always liked that a lot more than anything I’ve heard in a temple or a church. That’s the way I like to think of it, anyway. I mean, it’s a short link, but…”

I laugh, despite the seriousness of the conversation. “When you put it that way…”

Saki turns to look at me, her face set in determination.

“I have ataxia. It does not have me.”

This is the moment.

Years from now, when someone asks me or I ask myself the question “when did you know?” My answer will forever be right here at this instant in time.

I love her.

Saki's gaze drops to the ground again, and the world seems to go a little bit darker as she returns to hugging herself. “It was nice, you know?” she says, her voice cracking. “I just...I didn’t think it would get this far.”

What does she mean? What could she mean? Is she talking about the confrontation with her father? Is she talking about her ataxia? Or is she talking about…

...about us?

My chest constricts when I think of that possibility. Stop using past tense. Not after that. Please not after that.

As sure as I am that I love her, I know that's what she means.

"You think we should break up," I say. It's not a question.

Saki doesn't answer me for a few seconds.

“Remember what I told you in the art room? I never said I was a good person.”

“No,” I say, remembering. “Just an opportunistic one.”

“You learned,” she says with a proud lilt, but one devoid of all humor. “I wish I did. I told you so. I just...I don’t know why I thought this time would be different. But who would still want me after learning all of that? I’m sorry, Hisao.”

No. This isn’t right. She isn’t right. All the time we've spent together, all the things we've done, all the places we've been together...

Is she saying that I was just one more of the things the world offered her that she took?

She can't be. I can't be.

“I’ll understand if you’re angry with me.”

I am angry. And I’m angry at Saki.

I’m angry that she seems okay with simply letting...whatever this is that we have...slip away because it’s easier. Or that she thinks I would do the same.

“Is this why you broke up with Maeda?” I ask, my tone a bit harsher than I intend. Saki picks up on it, and her shoulders slump even further.

“It wasn’t the only reason, but...no. I guess it was the only reason.”

“You told Maeda what you told me and either you or him decided that it wouldn’t work out.”

“I didn’t tell him everything I told you, but...he heard enough,” she says, her spirit cowed.

“And now you think that we should do the same. Is that it?”

Her silence angers me further.

This isn’t the Saki I know. This isn’t the Saki that pulled me out of my shell, the one that got me in shape again, the one that’s encouraged me to break limits I didn’t even know were there.

No. If I was just a whim, or our relationship was something to pass the time, she wouldn't have acted like that. She couldn't have.

I’m not letting her go like this.

“Gods, Saki...how can you think so damn little of me?” I exclaim in a hurt voice, a lot louder than I mean to. Her body snaps around towards mine, surprise making her eyes widen.

“I don’t! Don’t say that-”

“Well then what the hell do you want me to do?” I reply, exasperated. “I just learned all this stuff, from your father to your plans to finding out you think that we should break up now because you feel like you used me. How am I supposed to respond to all this? What do you want me to say?”

“Tell me I’m wrong! Tell me I’m a horrible person. Say you hate me, say you love me, say you want to break up. Just say something!”

I step forward and throw my arms around her, hugging hard and burying my face in the nape of her neck.

“I love you,” I whisper fiercely, my voice muffled by her hair.

Saki hears my words and goes rigid. The space between the next few heartbeats stretches for eons...until she cracks.

Her arms move to my back and she starts to cry. It's the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard.

Image
<<Art by Hairinya>>

“You’re such an idiot,” she says, her face pressed against my shoulder. “I’m only going to end up hurting you.”

“Maybe so,” I answer. “But I’m not going to think about that tonight.”

“What do you mean?” she asks, pulling away from me, trying to hide a look of fear.

I speak slowly, running over what I want to say in my head carefully before I say it.

“You were right. It is a lot to take in. And I don’t know how I feel about all of it at the moment. I’m going to need a few days to unpack it. I know I’m not going to just automatically let this go. I love you Saki, and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way.”

Saki nods hesitantly, the redness in her cheeks visible even in the low light. “I do, Hisao. I’m just...scared. I...don’t know what happens to us now.”

“I don’t either. But we’ll figure it out together, okay?”

Saki holds my gaze for a few more seconds, emotions dancing across her face. When tears well anew in her eyes, she finally jumps to hug me; the momentum causes both of us to go down onto my back. Saki instantly curls herself up against me, resting her head on my chest and throwing an arm around me to hold me as tightly as it seems she can manage.

I have no idea how long we stay like this. Thirty seconds. Thirty minutes. An eternity. It doesn’t matter, but eventually I have to break the spell.

“I need you to do something for me,” I say, my hand coming to rest on her back.

“What’s that?” she asks, raising her head slightly.

“No more jumping forward then stepping back. I don’t know what normal is but I’m pretty sure this thing we’re doing isn’t it.”

“You have to admit, it can be fun,” she smiles, resting her head on me again.

“It is, but I just wish the pace was a little more...”

“Relaxed?”

“Consistent.”

Saki laughs. “I’m still figuring this out too, but I think I can work with that. I hope you’re still okay with how fast we’ve been going.”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m a bit pressed for time,” she answers, and the absurdity of that statement makes me laugh.

“I’ll try to keep up.”

Saki’s right. Tonight has changed things, but I don’t care.

We may not be in the future, but for right now, we’re alright.

I don’t care that I can feel the dampness of the ground leaching the heat out of my back. I don’t care that I can’t remember exactly where her cane went. I don’t care about the sun coming up the next morning.

“I love you too, Hisao,” Saki says, squeezing me even tighter.

There will be time for everything later, but right now there’s no time for anything else.

<< Previous Chapter : Next Chapter >>
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Dec 08, 2018 9:56 am, edited 13 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
Blank Mage wrote:
Eurobeatjester wrote:I doubt my ability to write convincing lesbian erotica
believe in yourself

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

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:10 am

Hard to believe I'm coming up to the fifth year of starting this story. So much has changed between starting it and the point it is now, not just in real life for me but for the story as well.

The ending of this act is the hardest thing I've ever written. The outline for it was one of the first things I penned for the story, but when I got to this chapter, I realized I couldn't use it. Saki and Hisao are both very different people than how I envisioned them when I did the original outline, and I just decided to put the characters in the situation to see how they would react to it.

I hope you all like what I was able to come up with.

I've had to change a lot for Act 4, but I'm confident that I know how it will work.

Here's the Act 4 title card, done by jmc, same as the others.

Image
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
Blank Mage wrote:
Eurobeatjester wrote:I doubt my ability to write convincing lesbian erotica
believe in yourself

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

Post by AlexFDSR » Mon Aug 20, 2018 6:59 am

Eurobeatjester wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:59 am

She nods, although she doesn’t look at me when she does, and doesn’t speak again for a full minute. In the dark of the night, I can barely see her face, but what what fading glimpses I’m afforded paint a very convoluted picture as she assembles her thoughts.
Double "what" here.
Eurobeatjester wrote:
Mon Aug 20, 2018 5:00 am

“We are made of star stuff.”

“Everything that makes us, every atom in our bodies, it all starts up there. Every element... think of how many billions of years it must have taken to form them in stars like the ones up there...then scattered all over the universe until it forms this planet we’re standing on. This body.”
Try NOT reading that in Carl Sagan's voice.
According to the forums, I post an hour into the future...
If Iwanako had a route/was the protagonist of KS, would the tagline be "Can you find it in your heart?"

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Act 3 Completed 8/20)

Post by Blackmambauk » Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:32 am

Like Hisao said, a lot to take in this chapter.

So many emotions currently going through my head while I am reading this at work and processing the events of this chapter as I type this. This is the hardest hitting chapter I have read in fiction in a long time, not since the chapter where you revealed that Saki had tried to take her life have I felt so many things.

So much relating to exactly what Saki said, her fears, her experiences. Parts of it matching things I have been through or have felt in my life, what I know about the care sector that my workplace is in. The mortality factor isn't there for me like it is for Saki. But how people walked and dealt with me, of how at points I felt death would be embracing. The experiences at the hospital when young even though my folks just wanted an answer. Along with how like Hisao, in comparison to others who end up in assisted living places or need that help. That feeling of... self hatred and feeling guilty for feeling that way of what I was born with when others have it far worse.

The greatest fear I have (and many others as well) of ending up in a place where I don't feel like a individual, but simply a void.

Sorry, got very personal there. But I wanted to let you know you touched me very deeply, in a way that many authors try and fail to. But you succeeded in how you wrote this chapter, the way you had Saki express the words, the feelings, the confliction. Along with no doubt how much of it was influenced by your own time in the hospital. You truly understand what its like and how it affects things and all the internal thoughts that goes on. I greatly appreciate that and it's why this has become not just one of my favourite fanfic works of all time. But one of my favourite fictional works of all time because of well much it touches me personally, how well written it is and how much I am into Saki especially and everyone else I this fic as characters in ways very few fictional characters have ever affected me.

So much of this chapters revelations makes sense and fits to what you have been building up to this entire time. Of how much Saki and Hisao's experiences counterpart each other in what they feel and have been through. Of Maeda and how that breakup affected both him and Saki. Of more on what we know of Saki's father and how his treatment of Saki has impacted her.

Of how Hisao has learned that at his current rate, he's been able to possibly put off surgery for a few years, but still a case of when and not if still leaving that cloud over his head.

Everything in this chapter is so well written, grammar correct and so in depth of the themes, the topics you touch upon and of the human condition in general.

Oh I am expecting for one of those Astronomy bits to come up again at some point in Hisao's thoughts. Science is the area he excels in after all.

Can't believe we are finally at the end of this part of Learning To fly. It has been such a ride following and being part of Act three's updates for all these years. It has been such a pleasure to follow it to this point and to continuing following it for another few years until the final chapter goes up is something I am looking forward to doing no matter how long it takes or what you throw our way.

As a fellow writer and someone who will outline pretty much everything with my own writing due to my need to detail everything in my work. I empathise greatly with how a outline differs with the final version. It's like I think it was Stephen King once said and others have as well, writing is like a car journey, you start at point a, then end up at points b. Start seeing shortcuts, divergences, hit a block, wipers give out etc. And soon you find instead of taking route 66, you took a very different route in the end because of how things start turning out, how others responded, how you developed as you write. but yet that is what makes writing fun and interesting.

Oh I love that title card. That is truly a wonderful way of opening up what will be an Act of so many feels.

Take care mate and thank you once again for giving us this chapter

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

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

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Act 3 Completed 8/20)

Post by calcifer » Mon Aug 20, 2018 7:58 am

This was lovely euro, I'm at a loss for words... I've lost multiple loved ones to degenerative diseases and the image of them withering away in hospitals hooked up to an inordinate number of tubes and cables is something I will never forget. I'm a huge proponent of assisted suicide for exactly this reason. So kudos to Saki for choosing to go out on her own terms.

Really looking forward to act 4!

Some minar SPaG issues:
That doesn’t mean you don’t can’t feel sad
Extraneous "don't"
As I revisit those dark memories to try to find some common thread to empathize with Saki’s experience, I realize that can’t - not truly - for one simple reason.
I realize that I can't
Nobody gets better. Everybody knows it. Appearances must me kept
must be kept
Shizune = Rin > Emi > Hanako > Lilly
FluffandCrunch wrote: Every day is a gift, every hour is golden, every minute is a diamond. Life is wonderful, if you have the courage to live it.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Act 3 Completed 8/20)

Post by Downix » Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:47 pm

Damn, that... damn. Wow.

You sure do hit in the empathy don't you.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Act 3 Completed 8/20)

Post by AngryFerret » Tue Aug 21, 2018 7:04 am

Well I specially create account in this forum to write this post.
Wow, you really create great story, that I have follow for couple of years. This episode especially was really emotional. I may not have the same problems like Saki, but what she said connect with me on deep level. Her talk about suicide and coping with disease was meaningful to me, at least it allow me to think about some things from my past in different way.
I hate big words, but in this case they are totally deserved. You really are a great writer, keep up good work and know that in some way you change people in a good way.
Best wishes and I can't wait for next part!

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Act 3 Completed 8/20)

Post by Lap » Tue Aug 21, 2018 10:43 pm

Beautifully written and moving. I'm utterly terrified of where it's going--there are no happy endings for Saki's story, unless you stop before the end--but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless. Thanks!
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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