After the Dream—Rika/Mutou/Akira (Complete)

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika complete, Mutou 20140501)

Post by brythain » Thu May 01, 2014 8:47 pm

forgetmenot wrote:Ahh, so Mutou's voice has now been added to your already impressive chorus. It'll be interesting to see how his observations will fit into this tapestry you've spun. A man of science's opinion is always revealing, to say the least.
Thank you very much for that comment. A lot of the time, I feel I'm only playing catch-up to some of the authors here (maybe that explains my insane writing rate over the last two months). I wouldn't even dare to try my hand at an OC, like -ahem- some people have done so successfully. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
forgetmenot
Posts: 375
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:33 pm
Location: Pacific Northwest.

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika complete, Mutou 20140501)

Post by forgetmenot » Fri May 02, 2014 2:30 am

brythain wrote:
forgetmenot wrote:Ahh, so Mutou's voice has now been added to your already impressive chorus. It'll be interesting to see how his observations will fit into this tapestry you've spun. A man of science's opinion is always revealing, to say the least.
Thank you very much for that comment. A lot of the time, I feel I'm only playing catch-up to some of the authors here (maybe that explains my insane writing rate over the last two months). I wouldn't even dare to try my hand at an OC, like -ahem- some people have done so successfully. :)
I wouldn't worry about it at all, actually. You've proven you're more than worth your salt as an author - I've really enjoyed reading this pastiche you've created over the past few months. So much so that I've often wondered where Kagami would fit into all of this if she existed in this universe. I also keep coming to the conclusion that, barring some miracle encounter with Hisao, she'd be completely divorced from the situation, so there you have it, I suppose.

In any case, I look forward to any and all continuations of this.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika complete, Mutou 20140501)

Post by brythain » Sat May 03, 2014 12:15 am

forgetmenot wrote:
brythain wrote:
forgetmenot wrote:Ahh, so Mutou's voice has now been added to your already impressive chorus. It'll be interesting to see how his observations will fit into this tapestry you've spun. A man of science's opinion is always revealing, to say the least.
Thank you very much for that comment. A lot of the time, I feel I'm only playing catch-up to some of the authors here (maybe that explains my insane writing rate over the last two months). I wouldn't even dare to try my hand at an OC, like -ahem- some people have done so successfully. :)
I wouldn't worry about it at all, actually. You've proven you're more than worth your salt as an author - I've really enjoyed reading this pastiche you've created over the past few months. So much so that I've often wondered where Kagami would fit into all of this if she existed in this universe. I also keep coming to the conclusion that, barring some miracle encounter with Hisao, she'd be completely divorced from the situation, so there you have it, I suppose.

In any case, I look forward to any and all continuations of this.
Thank you again, and if Kagami does come over for a chat, you'll be the first to know! Meanwhile, Mutou keeps loafing around my lab with a cryptic look on his face. That man is keeping secrets, I tell you...
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

AtD—Mutou2.1 (20140505)

Post by brythain » Sat May 03, 2014 12:23 am

This is the second part of Mutou's arc from my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic, 'After the Dream'.
It has been overhauled a fair bit, hence the designation 2.1 — it is much like the original part 2, but expanded.
In the AtD continuity, it takes place in 2012, between this part of Rika's story, and this part of Emi's arc.



Mutou 2: Choices of Life (T -12)

They sit together as they once used to, but now everything is awkward, and you would be able to see the strain on their faces, if you were there as an observer—which strictly speaking, you are not. This is the summer break, and they would have spent it happily together, if this were only twenty years ago—but it is not.

Akio Mutou knows this lady well, well enough to know that there are unusual circumstances about all this, and that there is a touch of fate and destiny in the air. And he waits, because he has always waited for her, even after there was nothing left to wait for.

*****

“Michi, how have you been?”

I look carefully at her face, perhaps with greater care than I used to. It is an altogether too familiar face, in some ways. Her slightly round face is still smooth and fair even without makeup; it tapers gently down to a small familiar chin, still sharp and firm. Her hair is still that lovely almost-gold chestnut-brown that runs in that particular branch of her bloodline, the legacy of a gene that’s rare in our race. She has not bothered with dye, and age has not silvered her.

“Well, the sense of failure does not go away easily. I know I was always a bad wife. It had nothing to do with my husband, apparently.”

I wince. Michiko’s tongue has not been blunted by time. The fact that her beauty remains as clear and sharp as her speech continues to pit my emotions against each other. I let the feelings fight while the rest of me concentrates. I toy idly with some of the excellent sashimi.

“Michi, I have always been sorry for losing you. You know that. I was not a good husband. But I still have care for your well-being, and that is why I am here.”

“Perhaps, despite what has passed between us. Akio, I’m moving back to Japan. That’s why I decided I should have a talk with you first.”

A lump of burning ice fills me. You might think a man of science would not respond like that, but you would be wrong. My love is deeply-buried, yet not lost. I have merely left it alone and starved it to sleep. Now here it is again, looking at me with a dangerous longing.

I let out my breath slowly. She is looking at me as if she expects a rebuff, or maybe anger, or blank incomprehension that would be a lie. All I feel is a great, sad, tiredness. I feel like a whale heading into the deep to die.

“Go ahead, Michi. I will listen. The gods know I never did enough of that before.”

She looks fiercely at me, but also sadly.

“I asked you out for dinner just to clear things up between us. We’re not ever getting back together again, I think, and you should know this. But because I’ll be around, one or both of us might be tempted. I don’t want to make that mistake again.”

I am hurt, but years of watching the angst of high-school students have hardened the windows of my soul. No tears, this time. Just the legendary Mutou half-smile.

“I understand,” I say, firm in my resolve. A man can only lose the most precious thing in his life once, after all.

She stares at me, then nods.

“Good.”

We relax a little, assiduously pick at the food before us, good stuff which really shouldn’t be wasted. She breaks the silence first.

“How are things at Yamaku?”

*****

My mind drifts back eight years, to a time when I dressed neatly, drove conservatively, and spent more time talking to people. We are at this same restaurant, which is rare, since we have been having difficulties, as they say.

“Akio, it’s a small favour for the family.”

“Whose idea was it to send her to Yamaku?”

“Where else would she go? Her previous school was problematic. Her parents are also problematic.”

“And so Aunty Michiko is now legal guardian?”

“You know it doesn’t work that way. Don’t be ridiculous.”

“There’ll be no nepotism. Just remind her that I’m not ‘Uncle Akio’ or something like that.”

“Akio, you are her uncle.”

“I’m her aunt’s husband. Michi, I’m also a professional. I know how things work around here, and I don’t want them to work the way they usually do. Listen, I’ll look after her, but nobody is to know. I don’t want to be owing favours to others, and I don’t want your family thinking they owe me favours either.”

“Yes, it’s always professionalism with you, isn’t it? You’re always better than others, a model teacher. I think you love your job more than you love me.”

She smiles, thin-lipped, really angry now. There are two deep red spots in her cheeks, but her face is as white as a Noh mask. I remember this particular conversation in great detail. Throughout, she never raises her voice. It’s the way she was brought up, I think inanely to myself.

“I shall be sure not to mention any more such matters to my excellent husband. One should not fill a busy man’s time with family trivia.”

I begin to reply, perhaps even to apologise. But she moves her hand just a little bit, as if to show that I’d be wasting my time.

“Thank you for dinner. I am so sorry, Mutou-sensei, to have wasted your time.”

I nod stiffly, my pride hurt. I say nothing, and to this day, I regret that.

And she is gone again. In hindsight, there won’t be many more such occasions, before she is gone for good. For the Akio Mutou of that time was a damned fool.

*****

Back in the present, we’ve been talking a while. It’s the kind of conversation in which one person has asked a question to be polite and the other person is answering to be equally polite, and both are getting nowhere. I think I’ve brought her up to date on Yamaku and the last few years.

“She liked you, you know.”

I smile apologetically. In the past, the old Mutou wouldn’t have heard a thing; he’d be totting up test scores in his head, planning the next semester’s lab projects, all the little things that brought his marriage to the brink of death.

“My apologies, Michi; I beg your pardon. You were saying?”

She actually smiles back.

“Accepted. I was saying that she used to tell me how you were such an interesting character, and that most students came to like you. Apparently she used to tell new students this.”

“Really? That’s sweet… but it does make me a little uncomfortable.”

“Come on, Akio. She made every effort to avoid you, and I’m certain nobody knew she was your niece. I told her you’d be angry if anyone found out, and she said in a very solemn voice that she wouldn’t want to make you angry because she wanted to grow up and marry someone like you.”

I grimace. Some wounds remain fresh for too long. Sometimes, they vent their poison into the future and ruin people’s lives.

“Ah. Well, it took me years to find out that there was another one of them. How was I supposed to connect the dots between your eldest sister and some angry little girl whose father refused to speak to me when she had problems in my class?”

Families. They can be the source of so much confusion and grief, when dysfunctional. Family events, a bad cluster of genes, a death too soon; all these things can make or break us. I remember the breaking point.

*****

“Akio, it’s bad news.”

“You had amniocentesis without telling me. How could it be good news?”

She moves her head as if I’ve slapped her. I feel terrible. But I don’t know what to feel, when I’m told something like this. The procedure can be dangerous, and I would have preferred that it had not been carried out.

In a very small voice, she says, “Our child has my fragile-type X. It runs in the family.”

“But the girls are fine.”

Then I realize what I’ve just said. The girls are fine because girls have two X-chromosomes, and if one is normal, it offsets or ‘covers up’ for the abnormal one.

“Yes, it’s a boy,” she whispers.

Working at Yamaku steels you to be a better teacher because you deal with human frailty and build normality out of it. If our hearts were broken each time that they should be, the Yamaku staff grave would be bottomless. But what if the child is yours? It is harder than it should be, I can say, because I’ve been there.

In Japanese males, ‘fragile-type X’ makes the child grow large and foreign-looking. There’s a tendency to autism, and many other neurological difficulties. Girls may suffer neurological deficits, but they generally work out fine.

Yet, this is not the breaking point. We will survive this. It’s a challenge that this version of Mutou-sensei can handle. His mistake is that he thinks of it as his own challenge, not theirs, shared. So what happens two months later bends our strained marriage, and then snaps it like a twig.

It’s just a bit further on, round a blind corner on our lives’ road. It’s right after we walk down the long hill from the small grave that should not be there. That’s where our one road becomes two, both sloping away in different directions.

And this is why, as our conversation moves on, old sorrows colour everything we say. How does one forget the death of a child who hasn’t been born? Is there such a thing? As I tell my students, you can assess a phenomenon from the effects it has on its surroundings, even if you can’t perceive it directly.

*****

“So how are they? They don’t know I’m here, and they’ve no reason to know.”

I’m snapped back into a more pleasant present. Michiko looks dignified, precise; she’s someone who knows where she’s going. There is a single star sapphire on a fine gold chain around her neck. I know it well.

“Your other niece has grown up a lot like you, but with dark hair. Your nephew has grown up looking a bit like your sister’s husband. They are both very bright and will go far.”

A thought crosses my mind.

“Did your family let them know about… us?”

“No, I don’t think they’ve put it together. Remember, my sister is… was more than a decade older than I. Nobody really cares about the youngest sister in the fairy-tales…”

Michiko looks down at her food. She absent-mindedly snares a morsel of pork and pops it into her mouth. There are crows’ feet beginning around her eyes. She doesn’t look at me after she swallows. Instead, she sips tea and pauses before continuing.

“She missed them a lot, you know. They were very young when she… left them. My brother was an ass about it later on; he said that since they were in the enemy koseki, there’d be no point telling them. So she was buried before they could have known. A terrible thing to do to young people, I’ve always thought. His own daughter stormed out of the house and didn’t return for weeks. She was dragged home by the police.”

I listen. It is her story, not mine. What else can I do? Science or not, humans honour the dead. We have empathy, we feel for the living. And at the end, we all have our gods—of old chaos, of cheerful serendipity, of constancy and uncertainty. I’ve done what I can for my nieces, as I would have done for any of those placed in my care—one who has received it only as a teacher’s kindness, one who has pretended it was nothing because that’s what she was told to do.

“I believe your sister’s husband was profoundly affected. But she was no longer his wife when she died, and your brother ensured he had no outlet for his grief.”

“Well, that’s the past. I have nothing to do with that family, and apparently, not much more to do with mine either.”

“May I ask why that is?”

“Family matters. My brother can’t be bothered with Japan now, so I’ve taken possession of the northern residence. Bought it from him, the stingy bum. I’ll be there if you need me, but otherwise, don’t bother.”

It’s a bit hard-edged, even coming from her. I wait, because with Michiko, it’s always been better to wait.

She sighs. It’s a long, unsure kind of thing, almost forlorn, as if her breath doesn’t know quite what it wants to do.

“Akio, we did have good times. Your work, unfortunately, was too much for me. I still think of you as a friend. I think of myself as your friend. You need anything, I can be there for you.”

“I appreciate that. I do.”

Indeed, I do. I also note, with sadness, that it’s about my work, and not about the event that we cannot talk about.

“I’ve come to believe that we hurt each other, but there’s an end to that. So, friends. But not more, mind.”

I blink. It’s never easy figuring out a woman. You cannot just plug in the equations and calculate the right frequency and intensity of absorption.

“One last thing? I never told you, but I had to put you on the Register before we were married. You have as much a vote as any other Family member. You’re even qualified to hold Family assets or transact Family business. You deserve to know, Akio—you’re a decent man and there aren’t enough of them in the Families.”

I bow my head to her and I’m silent for a while. It’s a valuable confidence that my former wife has shared. I have nothing of comparable value to return to her.

She sees it confirmed on my face when I look up, but she has already sensed it.

“No, no. It’s something from long ago, it’s nothing new. But as you’ve always said, ‘information determines capacity; knowledge determines power’. Think of it as part of my family’s betrothal gifting.”

I smile at her, a more genuine version this time. I used to lecture her because it was the only way I knew how to speak to people. One day, she blew up at me for ‘treating her like a student’. It seems this is no longer a sore spot with her.

“Thank you, Michiko.”

As I settle payment, she digs around in her small black purse. I turn to her to see if I can help, but she only hands me a simple card with her name and some contact information on it.

“For emergencies only, Akio.”

She is beautiful in that dove-grey dress. Me, I have nothing left but Yamaku.

*****

It’s almost midnight when Goro’s call interrupts my journal-reading. I look up with a start. My notepad has little sketches of Michiko on it. I click my tongue with irritation and answer the phone.

“So, how was your date with the ex-wife?”

He sounds cheerful, which is more than I can say for myself.

“Good. Settled a lot of things, I think. How was yours with the not-wife?”

“Ha, you’ll never believe it. Meiko got rid of me because her daughter’s coming home tomorrow to stay for the weekend. Apparently Emi sounds as if she has something on her mind and Emi’s mother needs to sleep so that she’ll be ready for whatever it is.”

“Kaneshiro-san, how sad for you.”

“Mutou-san, not as sad as you must be.”

That hits a nerve. I look at my notepad again and absent-mindedly sip some brandy.

“Yes. Well, not all of us have opportunities to be Doctor-san and heal the world. I need to sleep too. Night.”

“Sleep well, old trenchcoat!”

I grimace and flick the phone off. And I think very carefully about Michiko’s gift. It means I am technically Family. I should be taking a greater interest in the doings of the other Families.

No, I don’t think I will be sleeping that well tonight.

=====
prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Mon May 15, 2017 12:42 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1220
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou2 up 20140503)

Post by dewelar » Sat May 03, 2014 11:21 am

Heh...good writing excuses a lot, but the...incestuousness of all this is starting to get a bit ridiculous :) . Next installment: Sae turns out to be Hanako's aunt who had been staying with her family, and when the fire happened she was away to attend her husband's funeral.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou2 up 20140503)

Post by brythain » Sat May 03, 2014 11:24 am

dewelar wrote:Heh...good writing excuses a lot, but the...incestuousness of all this is starting to get a bit ridiculous :) . Next installment: Sae turns out to be Hanako's aunt who had been staying with her family, and when the fire happened she was away to attend her husband's funeral.
No no… I wouldn't do that to anyone! Here, Mutou's just letting me know what his interest in Shizune really was… :)

Edit: Legit foreshadowing in the first paragraph here:)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1220
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou2 up 20140503)

Post by dewelar » Sat May 03, 2014 11:55 am

brythain wrote:
dewelar wrote:Heh...good writing excuses a lot, but the...incestuousness of all this is starting to get a bit ridiculous :) . Next installment: Sae turns out to be Hanako's aunt who had been staying with her family, and when the fire happened she was away to attend her husband's funeral.
No no… I wouldn't do that to anyone! Here, Mutou's just letting me know what his interest in Shizune really was… :)

Edit: Legit foreshadowing in the first paragraph here:)
Hmmm...knowing that's the reason for his interest...diminishes Mutou just a bit, then. :(

Anyway, I can't help but feel like this is turning into its own little Wold Newton Universe, and that saddens me for some reason.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou2 up 20140503)

Post by brythain » Sat May 03, 2014 11:57 am

dewelar wrote:
brythain wrote:
dewelar wrote:Heh...good writing excuses a lot, but the...incestuousness of all this is starting to get a bit ridiculous :) . Next installment: Sae turns out to be Hanako's aunt who had been staying with her family, and when the fire happened she was away to attend her husband's funeral.
No no… I wouldn't do that to anyone! Here, Mutou's just letting me know what his interest in Shizune really was… :)

Edit: Legit foreshadowing in the first paragraph here:)
Hmmm...knowing that's the reason for his interest...diminishes Mutou just a bit, then. :(

Anyway, I can't help but feel like this is turning into its own little Wold Newton Universe, and that saddens me for some reason.
Actually, you may be right, now that I've looked at my notes. :(

Time to do something about it then...
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Yukarin
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:42 am

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou in progress)

Post by Yukarin » Sun May 04, 2014 1:24 am

If you don't mind me asking, why ruthenium?

In a part of Hanako's route Hisao mentions ruthenium and I immediately remembered this.

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou in progress)

Post by brythain » Sun May 04, 2014 4:24 am

Yukarin wrote:If you don't mind me asking, why ruthenium?

In a part of Hanako's route Hisao mentions ruthenium and I immediately remembered this.
Ruthenium-based research has partly been in areas which are useful for my plot. Also, it's a lovely metal and I've spent time working with it and its compounds. Lastly, it's a kind of hat-tip to Tony Stark's arc reactor that's keeping his heart alive — that one uses palladium, another metal in the ruthenium group. Didn't want Stark Industries to get into an intellectual property war with Hakamichi Industries over that. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Yukarin
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Jan 12, 2014 10:42 am

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou in progress)

Post by Yukarin » Sun May 04, 2014 4:31 am

Interesting. So that means you are a scientist yourself then or no?

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

A Mutou-poem

Post by brythain » Sun May 04, 2014 4:50 am

Yukarin wrote:Interesting. So that means you are a scientist yourself then or no?
Trained as an organometallic chemist for a while. :)

Here's a 'Mutou' poem—something I wrote when I was feeling a lot like Mutou. In the AtD universe, it would've been Mutou writing it. :)

Hawking

Introduction

An electron has four quantum numbers,
A human being made of dust has five:

Friendships - number and degree, deception;
Hardships - in sense of quality and weight;
The will - to live, or die, or vegetate;
Strangeness - of the inner mind's perception;
Magnetism - attractive kinds of state.

These are the things which keep our songs alive,
Distill the stuff of dreams from our slumbers,
Make sense of both pre- and post-conception.

Deduction

Given that electrons exist
Here is a little human list:

Humans can be bond-paired
Humans can be non-bonding
Humans can be so very scared
When other humans are responding

Humans can be lone-paired
Humans can be radical in bent
Humans can be startlingly shared
By what seems a human accident

Reduction

I realise I am a singularity
I look out of a window which cannot be:

And I see at once with blinding clarity
Electrons are fortunately not like me.

=====
{source}
Last edited by brythain on Tue May 06, 2014 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Curator's Update (20140505)

Post by brythain » Sun May 04, 2014 1:07 pm

The problematic Mutou-2 chapter has been wrestled with and now should be less problematic. It's back up here. Enjoy!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3439
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

AtD—Mutou3 (20140506)

Post by brythain » Mon May 05, 2014 11:40 pm

This is the third part of Mutou's arc from my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic, 'After the Dream'.
In that continuity, it takes place in 2015, between the Hisao vignette here and this part of Rika's arc.



Mutou 3: Theories of Humanity (T -9)

Could this young lady have been his daughter? Could this young man have been his son? In some fantasy world, perhaps—in some visual novel of the kind he has no time for these days. The truth is that she is his niece, although she probably doesn’t know it—and that young man might yet become his nephew.

He looks upon them with kindness, but also with humility. That’s because whatever other relationship they might have with each other and with him, they were also his students, and they are surpassing him in every way. He is proud of them, but as always, he wonders if he has the right to feel that way.

*****

[Only the two of you?] I sign slowly and deliberately, with a hint of mischief, arching an eyebrow at them.

Hisao looks flustered; it’s a habit of his when dealing with awkward social situations. I think that by overdoing his outward confusion, he buys time to settle his internal equilibrium. In contrast, Shizune freezes a little, but the two small spots of increased blood flow to her cheeks betray her inward turmoil.

She replies: [Hanako’s still in Europe. A strike grounded the L-U-F…] —she gives up here and just signs [… German planes].

[It’s nice to see the two of you together.]

Is it right to tease these young people so much? They look a little embarrassed already. I chastise myself for taking too many liberties, but Hisao is already responding. Silly Hisao, as usual.

[I would’ve brought Emi along too, but she’s in training.]

Beneath Shizune’s even more frozen exterior, I sense the angry young girl I used to know. I regret my teasing even more, because I know how she feels about him, and I wish I could make it easier, not harder, for her.

[Yes, she’s always training, so there’s just the two of us for today. We wanted to thank you for all the time and effort you’ve given us over the years.]

That first sentence has a sting in it, but her signing becomes more fluid and less angry towards the end. It’s a very Oriental thing that we are doing here. Teachers are still respected, in many ways. However, the Yamaku set-up breeds more of that because the degree to which teachers get involved in their students’ lives can be much more intense.

[In return, I’m very grateful to have had such wonderful students. Hisao here is doing very well at Yamaku, and he’s probably been too modest to tell you. In two years, he’s done well enough to look like he should be my successor.]

[That’s good to hear.]

While replying, she gives Hisao a sidelong glance, which Hisao avoids with the ease of long practice. Clearly, I’ve scored a hit. He was always one for not telling people things until matters reached a critical point.

[But what about you, Dr Hakamichi?]

She smiles. Her eyes are lively, like her aunt’s. Unconsciously, she sticks her chin out at me, the way she always does when about to supply a point for discussion.

[That won’t be for another two years, if all goes well. It’s hard work. After that, I’ll probably come back to Japan and work for Hakamichi Industries.]

[Forgive me, I’m getting old; what is your dissertation about?]

[Methods of estimating the impact of hidden oligopolies on industrial research and development expenditure in Japan] she signs without a stutter.

She must have had to do this quite a lot. It takes me time to recognize ‘oligopolies’, though. It is an unusual word. In my mind, I paraphrase this as ‘how we can figure out what the Families have been doing in science and technology’. I wonder how much primary research she’s undertaken, and what (or whom) her sources have been.

We settle down to the important business of ordering lunch. Gone are the days when poor Yuuko used to attempt to serve customers without losing her composure. The Shanghai now has different staff, and there’s a certain increased level of polish and style, although this has come at a cost to character and atmosphere.

*****

I mull over the theoretical difficulties in my head. I can’t talk about Emi, because that would be—in my mind at least—painful for Shizune. I shouldn’t talk about Yamaku, because Hisao knows most of it, and what he doesn’t know would perhaps be unprofessional for his Head of Department to share.

My theory of humanity says that if two dimensions are prohibited, a third may yet be acceptable. This gives me a little list. I can talk about Hanako, or ask about their families as a matter of proper social courtesy. Or both, in turn. The decision is still the human’s to make.

[So, how has Ikezawa-san been? Please, tell me about her doings. It’s a pity she’s not here to tell me herself.]

I read their body language. My niece looks somewhat conflicted; Hisao looks somewhat wary. However, it’s Shizune who goes first.

[She was supposed to room with Misha at International House when they were in New York. I think you know she was doing a Master’s degree in journalism at Columbia? They spent time shopping for stuff. Became quite good friends. But Misha got transferred to The Hague. Hanako went to visit my cousins in Scotland this year; she was on the way back after visiting Misha when she got stuck at Frankfurt.]

She cracks her knuckles, looking satisfied at her info-dump. Those fingers are very strong, as far as I can remember. Shizune once got excited and snatched a pile of folders from my hands; I had to let go to avoid paper burns.

She’s left me an entry, so I take advantage of it before Hisao can frame his own thoughts.

[And how are your cousins in Scotland? These would be Akira and Lilly, yes?]

She frowns, and for a moment I worry that she’s wondering how I know about Akira. Most students put such things down to ‘teacher omniscience’ (another name for common-room gossip) though, and the moment passes.

[You remember correctly. They’ve started a restaurant business. Apparently Hanako got Lilly interested in computer-based management or something, and she visits them every year to see how it’s coming along. I would never have thought them capable of it, but I confess I underestimated their capabilities.]

When Shizune uses such language, I always feel a momentary pang. My ex-wife used to sound like that too. They are very much alike. I smile carefully, making sure my niece will know I am not laughing at her, but along with her.

[Hana spent her time at Todai very well, I think. She and Shizune spent so much time taking extra courses and studying together that I felt like an idle layabout with the good fortune to have lunch with them once in a while.]

I sense the familiarity between Hisao and Hanako, and I really wonder how he managed his relationships with the two young ladies. I’ve heard some of this from Rika Katayama who, as one of their juniors at Tokyo University, was able to observe them. Apparently they were wonderful role models as a group.

Group dynamics, or perhaps group theory. I watch as the two young people sign rapidly at each other, chatting about life back in Todai and how it compares with life now—Hisao the master teacher, Shizune the doctoral student. They are animated, clearly good friends. It strikes me that Hanako’s absence has relieved their relationship of much tension by breaking a hidden symmetry.

Perhaps Hisao was like a particle caught between two equally powerful forces. In such a situation, his only possible movement would have been to escape perpendicular to both. I think to myself that Emi Ibarazaki is a very fortunate young lady, if that theory is correct.

*****

Too soon, they’re ordering desserts. I decide to join in with a chocolate mousse. Over the years, I’ve come to like my sweets bitter and dark. Much of life is like that, and one should learn to appreciate the balance.

Shizune thumps Hisao on the shoulder, and I wonder what I’ve missed. He laughs, places a familiar hand around her wrist and gently avoids a second thumping. She makes a face at him, seems slightly upset. How old are they now? I make a quick calculation, guess at 26. I was soon to be married, at that age.

Mutou, Mutou, I say to myself. The observer collapses the wave-function, according to one theory of the quantum universe. Best you do not make yourself the kind of observer that causes such a collapse. Let them find their own ways, through sadness and joy, happiness and grief—say the prayers for them to the gods of chaos and order, information and blindness, entropy and energy. But it’s okay to cheer them on from the sidelines just because they remain alive.

[Had enough, children?] I sign gently.

Hisao grins, making him look even younger.

[Shicchan was just saying that I’ve not been keeping in touch with her enough. So I told her you keep me too busy to do such things. Also, she’s probably so busy with her dissertation that she wouldn’t have time for me anyway!]

I wag a finger at him—no, not true. Shizune is looking mortified, and before either of us men can continue, her hands are moving.

[I always have time for friends. That’s very mean of you, even if it was meant to be a joke. It’s not a very funny joke.]

She adds a few choice phrases. Idly, I wonder if she ever told him she loved him, since it’s obvious to me that she does. And at that moment, I am filled with a sudden sadness. Her aunt was once like that; Michiko loved me and said so, and over the years of our marriage I slowly hardened her heart because I never returned that love enough. I hope these young people do not make that mistake.

[I’m sorry, Shizune. I shouldn’t have said that.]

Hisao looks appropriately sorry. Good, he is more sensible than I was: he has learnt to apologise. She looks a little less upset, and ends her tirade.

[I will come back to Yamaku and haunt you if you forget me, Hisao Nakai.]

She says it playfully now, but some faint intuition within me whispers that if it is at all possible, Shizune Hakamichi is certainly capable of it. Something tells me I have not seen the last of her. But is that such a bad thing?

[Shizune, why not come back to Yamaku anyway? Make a little time to see the old place, visit the few old friends you have there, see what the latest student council has done to your old room.]

She looks seriously at me, then gives that rare smile in which she shows her teeth for a moment.

[Mutou-san, that is an excellent idea. After I’ve finished with Chicago, I’ll come and see you.]

And thus does the slightest flapping of a man’s hands cause events to fall into beautiful chaos.

*****

Much later, I’m at home alone with my trusty Glenfiddich. It’s a gift from Akira, my eldest niece. In the background, the late Jacqueline du Pré executes a mournful cello concerto to perfection. You shouldn’t drink beer while listening to such music.

I am thinking of young lives growing old, of those that never got to grow old, and those in between. My phone howls the theme from ‘Doctor Who’, one of the few media productions with a longer history than I. Trust Goro to spoil the mood.

Of course, I answer it.

“So, old Mutou-sensei, how was your lunch with the adoring fans?”

“Ah, rubbish, doctor-san. They’re nice young people. Shizune might be thinking of coming back to Yamaku in future, she says.”

“That’d be nice. I hope she hasn’t got a crush on you? Very awkward, that. Have you told her about how you’re related?”

Trust him to put his finger on the most uncomfortable spot. Must be a thing doctors and nurses learn.

“No crush, last I checked. No telling either. I hope to take that secret to my grave.”

“Really? Fine then, I won’t say anything either. Meanwhile, I’ve been helping Emi and her team out with free medical support. Just so you know I’ve been useful too.”

“And of course, Meiko Ibarazaki has been watching training sessions, right?”

“That too! Mutou, you’re wasted as a teacher, should’ve been a detective!”

I laugh. All these wave-functions, these wild possibilities and probabilities. I’m quite sure that in some alternate universe, I might have turned out that way. As we conclude our conversation, I wonder what would have happened if Hisao had ended up with Lilly. I cannot help but think that this universe has a much more interesting future in store.

=====
prev | next | bonus
Last edited by brythain on Mon May 15, 2017 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1220
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: After the Dream—Others (Rika done, Mutou3 up 20140506)

Post by dewelar » Tue May 06, 2014 10:58 am

Definitely enjoying this, even if it still feels a tad...unsettled. Your Mutou reminds me of one of my old astronomy professors (a path I still sometimes regret not taking) so I can definitely relate to him. Admittedly, I find his conversations with Goro to be the highlights of these chapters, but that's because his awkwardness with his former students is realistically portrayed :) .
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

Post Reply