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GorisTheKing
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Hugs

Post by GorisTheKing » Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:18 am

I have discovered that whenever I sit down to write something, I will inevtiably write something else, case in point below. I didn't mean to write this, it just happened. Mostly a direct clone from Hanako's route, taken from the birthday party to the night out with Akira. I didn't like some of the choices in the vanilla route so made a few changes. Text that I didn't write is in red and more or less intact, I made a few changes so the translation from the visual novel actually worked and shifted a few pieces for better flow. I included them just so the story isn't broken, if you are familiar with the plot you can safely skip these.

Synopsis:Hisao is more forward with Hanako after her birthday party, which leads to a more rapid development of their relationship.



Hugs(props for clever and exciting title?)

“Hissao, would you please?” Akira looks a little surprised, and I have to admit that I am as well. I don't mind the request at all, let alone when it's said with such a smile... It just comes rather unexpectedly.

“S-Sure. No problem.” I pick up the chess set and help Hanako stand up. I do feel somewhat responsible for her considering that, other than Akira, I'm probably the most sober person in the room. She nurses ther doll in one hand and offers me the other.

We stumble out of the door, into the hallway, and into Hanako's room, Hanako bumping into me a number of times on the way. Inside the room I flick on the light as Hanako turns her attention towards a shelf on her dresser. An elegant doll is sitting on it, staring into the bare room.

“There you go... you'll be safe in here.” Hanako gingerly places the doll next to the other one and straightens its dress. They sit in silence, hair and clothes perfectly arranged. Just like the teapot in Lilly's room, they serve as a distinct contrast to the dull whites and greys that permeate her bedroom.

Satasfied that her dolls, her only two real possesions, are safe, Hanako takes a step back and stands up, staggering slightly. I step forward to catch her if need be, but she regains her balance without my help.

For a while, both of us stand in sileence as Hanako looks downwards towards the cupboard.

After a minute or two she begins to sway a little from side to side. It's very off-putting.

“Are you... going to be all right?”


Hanako raises her head, and turns around to me as if she's only just remembered that I'm also in the room. What is unexpected is that she wraps her arms around my body, her head coming to rest against my chest. I feel my heart beating as all of my senses feel like they're coming alive again after their deadening through the previous drinking. The smell of wine on her breath, the feeling of her fingers through my clothing, the scent of her hair underneath my chin... I take a deep breath and place my hands along her back, gently holding her while she grips my sides.

“But I want to staaay with you.” Hanako's slurring reminds me a bit of Misha. She probably wouldn't be pleased to hear that.

“You know I can't Hanako, Lilly and Akira will start to think things if I take too long.”

She gives a disappoint groan. It's so strange for her to act so forward.

“Don't worry, I'll see you again tomorrow, okay?”

I move a hand to the top of her head to reassure her. She nuzzles her head against my chest, making my heart beat faster. The scent of her hair wafts upwards and and I am unable to resist, I bring my face to her silky hair and breath in her intoxicating scent.

We stay together, embracing each other tightly until a hiccup shakes her body. I cant help but laugh. I move my hands to her shoulder's and push her away from me, just far enough that I can see her face. She look at me, giving a brilliant view of her stunning purple eyes. Slowly I raise a hand to her scarred cheek, brushing her hair to the side and giving me a glimpse of the rest of her face. Stroking her scarred cheek I lean towards her, thinking of nothing but the beautiful woman before me.

I stop myself before reaching her lips, what am I doing. She is drunk and has lowered inhibitions. I shouldn't, can't, do this while she is in this state. It would be wrong and disrespectful. Hanako is just a friend, she might be compliant when drunk but I have no idea if she would like me when sober.

Hanako stumbles forward and her face collides with mine, her moist lips hitting my cheek and then falling off as she collapses asleep in my arms.

I try to support her body while dragging her into bed. She isn't very heavy but being in the hospital for so long caused me to loose most of my muscle mass. I hear a knock on the door and stammer out an answer, “W-who i-is it?”

“Akira, I was just leaving.”

“Just a moment Akira.” With a grunt I heave Hanako onto her bed and pull the sheets over her body. I straighten the sheets and brush a stray strand of hair from her face before whispering goodnight and opening the door.

Akira is standing outside and gives me a knowing look, one eyebrow cocked upwards. “Everything all right?”

“Y-yeah. She's in bed now.” I brush my cheek with my hand and wipe off a patch of wetness, hoping she didn't notice. “So you're leaving?”

“I could only get a few minutes off work, so back to the long slog. Probably be midnight before I'm finished... but, work is money.”

“Well, I'll see you around then, Akira. It was a pleasure to meet you.”

She bows her head, “You too. Say goodnight to Lilly, she's looking pretty tired. Then get some sleep yourself. You mightn't have drunk that much but you'll still feel it in the morning if you don't get enough beauty sleep.” She walks down the hallway and waves her hand. “Make sure it's your own bed, too.”

I wave back and cringe at her last comment. I spent far too long in Hanako's room and Lilly would have noticed as well. Nothing happened at least. Well, not much.

I steel one last glance at Hanako before flicking off the light and closing her door. I take a deep breath and then knock on Lilly's before entering.

“Is that you Hisao?”

“Yeah, I just said goodbye to Akira. Hanako is asleep In her bed.”

“That's good. I have to admit I hadn't thought she'd drink so much.”

“I just hope she doesn't regret it in the morning.”

“Indeed, I doubt any of us have much experience with hangovers.”

“I get the feeling your sister is used to them. She might as well have been drinking water the way it affected her.”

“Yes, Akira is known to have a fondness of alcohol.”

“Your sister is... something, all right.”

I probably should have thought that comment through before saying it. Regardless, Lilly seems quite amused at my appraisal.

“What about you. Are you okay after all that drinking, not drunk and just hiding it well?”

“I assure you, I am quite right. I can moderate myself. You seem quite self-possessed as well, if I do say so myself.”

“Yeah, well, I guess your moderation applies to me as well.”

With a little hesitation, I take a seat at the table in front of Lilly. I want to address this directly, if for no other reason than to settle my own thoughts.

“I've been meaning to ask this, but it took me a while to make up my mind... Do you have any idea about what triggered that panic attack? I gathered it was something to do with her birthday, but I don't know anything more. Even Akira was being really careful around her, so I assume she knows as well”

Lilly's smile drops, the gaiety of the birthday party now well and truly over.

“To be honest, I'm not sure of the details myself. Hanako told you that she was in a house fire. She told me as much, after we met and spent a lot of time together. Other than that... she quite simply never told me.”

“She never told you...”

“Assuming the worst, what does she have to look back upon? A life of isolation and possible even the death of her family? Maybe even going as fat as blaming her existence for their deaths?”

Even thinking about what little I know of Hanako's past is bleak. To have lived through all that, and to live on with those memories, must be infinitely worse. Lilly looks similarly depressed, but I can see her rebuild at least some of her composure before my eyes. I get the feeling that both of us are talking more frankly than we might otherwise do thanks to the wine, but it feels like just talking this out is a good thing anyway. “I feel kind of helpless about it. When it's put like that, what can I possible do for her?”

“I'm not wholly sure I should tell you this, but Hanako told me that you visited her the day after we both went to check on her. I must admit that I did not predict she would take such a step so quickly after what happened, not did I expect you to. I think it was a nice gesture on your part.”

“It wasn't much, really. It's just... at times like this, I sometimes think it would be better if we never had to leave Yamaku, or at least this town. Things are so much easier without others around.”

I didn't expect Lilly to look quite so troubled at what I say, and for a while she looks lost in thought. She moves to speak, but stops herself as soon as she does, and rethinks. It's a bit off-putting.

“I think...Tell me, do you have anything planned for Friday evening?”

“Friday evening? no...Isn't your flight to Scotland the next day? I don't think it would be a good Idea to tire yourself out before you even get there.”

“I'll be all right, you needn't worry about me. I'd do this tomorrow evening, but I imagine Hanako will be feeling rather off for a while.”

The thought of how she's going to be tomorrow makes me grimace, Maybe we should count our blessings that she didn't end up simply throwing up from drinking so much while having such a low tolerance. “Well, I'm going to be able to attend whatever you are planning. What is it?”

“nothing unusual, I assure you. Just a little excursion. And you'd better be off, Hisao. I can't imagine it's long at all until curfew is here.”

Oh damn, curfew. I'd completely forgotten. I look at the clock next to Lilly's bed, but it seems to be some oddity without written numerals. Which I suppose makes sense, given Lilly's condition. Not wanting to risk a haughty security patrol giving me a scolding, I get up and decide to go to my dorm as she says. “Well then. I guess I'll see you and Hanako tomorrow, assuming both of you manage to get up in the morning.”

“Thank you for your concern, Hisao. Until then.”

With that, I make my way out of the door and into the hallway. I hope her idea will be a good one.


****

The hammering of a fist against the door feels like a nail being pounded into my head. Once, twice, three times, I let out a long, annoyed breath and bear it while pressing my eyelids shut, fervently hoping for whoever it is to just go away.

I feel pretty damn awful. My face feels like it's cast out of lead, my arms feel heavy, and I feel very queasy. It's been like this since I woke up half an hour ago, and I can't summon the energy to pick myself up out of bed. So... this is what they call a hangover.

I wonder if perhaps this is the best treatment for teenagers who desperately want to try drinking as a way to feel like an adult. Considering how unpleasant this is, It's not something I want to repeat.

A series of thumps rings out again, reverberating around the small room. I wish they'd just give up already; I have no intention of getting out of bed for them. Seconds pass, turning into minutes. Since no more knocks are coming from the door, whoever it was must have left. Thank goodness.

Looking to my clock, the time when I really should think about getting dressed and ready for class is approaching. I don't think I can manage it, though. I have cutting class, but I don't think I'm going to be able to get much done at this rate. I can tell I look like a mess without needing to look in the mirror to confirm it, too.


****

The next day I find myself waiting outside class in the morning rush. I don't want to go in early and give Mutou a chance to talk to me before class. I needed to avoid any awkward questions about my not attending school yesterday. I was sick, that much is true, it's just the reasons of it that I have to hide. Confident I can get by with a tactical omission of certain truths, I stride into the classroom doing my best to appear normal.

The instant I open the door and take a single step in, I feel a dozen eyes looking at me. There is no way I'm imagining this; they're not even making any attempt to hide it. My eyes take a quick sweep around the classroom, and I spot Hanako. We make eye contact momentarily, before she looks down and stares very hard at her desk. Hopefully she forgives me for the other night, I don't want thing's to become awkward between us. I should talk to her after class and straighten things out.

I wonder if the class somehow found out about our drinking, that's the only reason for them to be staring at me like that. I look to Mr Mutou with some trepidation. He says “Feeling better today?”

“Yeah. Thank you.”

He motions for me to take my seat, my legs feeling like sticks as they carry me there. This is going to be a long day.

As soon as the lunch bell rings, I'm on my way to Hanako's desk to ask her if anybody knew about the drinking. Something was amiss with all those eyes on me in the morning. “Do.. Do you know why everybody was looking at me?”

She looks up at me and nods her head. “W-we were all...”

Hanako is cut off as Misha taps me on the shoulder, “Why hello there, Hicchan. It's nice to see you again today~!”

I grimace and turn towards the unmistakable voice coming from behind me. That was way to upbeat a tone of voice to feel comfortable, even from Misha. Her happy smile is nothing out of the usual. Shizune's, though, is a very bad sign. The one she wears had become notched into my brain as her 'I have got you seven ways from Sunday' smile. “Hi Shizune, Misha. You uh... you look happy to see me.”

Shizune signs something and Misha immediately translates, “Not feeling well yesterday, Hicchan~?”

“No, no I wasn't. But I'm feeling better now, at least.”

“That's good to know, Hicchan.”

Why do I get the feeling that Shizune is leading me into a trap? “You sound like you're not being completely serious.”

“Oh no, Hicchan, we're genuinely pleased that you're better now~.” Shizune is positively overflowing with happiness. There's only one reason why she would be like this. Oh no. “In fact, we were quite worried about you. After all... You, Hanako and Lilly were all absent from class on the same day.”

Yep, she's got us. So thoroughly that all I can do is sigh in defeat. “I guess you have your own theories about this. Could you just kinda... not tell anyone?”

“It's a bit late for that, Hicchan~.”

I suppose she's right, considering the looks I got as I entered class. Still, things only seem to be at the level of vague suspicion rather than outright accusations, so we'll probably be fine.

Hanako's face sinks a little further. Such attention is troublesome enough for me, let alone for her. Going by Shizune and Misha's reactions, I think they notice this as well. “The only reason why we're giving you such a hard time is that you ignored us yesterday morning~!”

Yesterday morning? It takes a while to recollect what happened then, given the haze induced by the generally awful state I was in at the time. “Oh, right, the knocking. That was you two?”

“It was, and you left us there for ages after we'd taken all the effort of coming to your dormitory early in the morning.”

“Sorry, I was having a... problem with nausea? A problem with nausea.”

They're not buying it. I can't blame them. Shizune's head drops in resignation before she reaches into her pocket. Something white and yellow can be seen sticking out a little, and as she pulls it out, it turns out to be an envelope with very bright decorations on it. She points it towards me and I duly take it.

“This is what we were trying so hard to give you, Hicchan! You don't check our...”

I tune out the sound of Misha's voice as my eyes register what's written on the envelope. “Iwanako...” I stare at the envelope for a moment, before suddenly remembering that there are people around me. There's a very strange, somewhat invasive feeling about their expression. I kind of want to be alone right now.

Hanako speaks, “Iwanako...?”


“I... I-ll tell you later. Thanks for bringing me this, you two.”

“I should think so, after what we went through to get it to you~.”

I step back and say my good byes. Misha theatrically pouts, even as I go through the door, but Shizune and Hanako remain very visibly curious about my reaction. I stop outside the door and stare at the gaily decorated envelope. Iwanako... She can wait. I need to talk to Hanako and fix what happened the other night. I turn around and poke my head through the door. Once more the stares of the class rest one me, thankfully most people have already left for lunch. “Uh, Hanako... Did you want to get something to eat?”

Her face lights up with a smile and she nods her head. She reaches for her bag and slings it over her shoulder. We leave the eyes of the class room behind us and walk side by side.

“I was wanting some fresh air. Is it okay if we eat outside today?”

“Y-yes. Should we g-get Lilly?”

“I was wanting to talk to you... ah... alone... i-is that okay?”

“...Yes. I-I brought some food with me... if you w-want anything.”

“Fine idea, I forgot to bring anything myself so was just going find something on my way. Your cooking is much better that whatever the vending machines stock.” The compliment made her blush and look down at her feet. While it's definitely true, it doesn't take much to best the vending machines in culinary arts.

We find a quiet bench away from the busy walkways of the school. The smell of the garden's is, as always, a very pleasant sensation. Some of the most visible signs of how well-funded this school is, aside from its sheer size, are the expanse and condition of the grounds. A good number of students can be seen eating lunch, chatting, and playing on the bright green lawns. Even some of the staff walk along the long concrete paths. I'd never seen a sight like this in my home city. On excursions, maybe, but certainly never in the school or anywhere near where I lived. The bench me and Hanako are sitting on is warm thanks to the summertime sun, reminding me of why I haven't worn the school blazer yet.

Hanako cracks off the lids on a selection of clear plastic containers, each containing an appetising selection of vegetables, meats and rice. She hands me a fork and I gladly accept. We eat in silence while watching people mill about the school grounds.

I wonder how I should approach the other night with Hanako. She may not even remember what I did. If that's the case then talking about it would just make our relationship worse. I stop eating and look towards Hanako. She is looking at a couple lying together under the shade of a tree. Is it possible she could want that with me?

Her head turns and I look down after catching her eyes. I gather my courage and decide to speak, playing a game of gaze aversion wouldn't change anything. “Hanako... about the other night. When I took you to your room...”

Hanako's face frowns slightly “...s-s-sorry... I-I...”

Why is Hanako apologising? It should be me, I took advantage of her... “You don't need to be sorry Hanako. I shouldn't have...” Shouldn't have what? Hugged her and almost kissed her? I was going to apologise for my imagination. What I wanted to do, what I very nearly did. “I wasn't very... gentlemanly... I should have just gotten you settled and then said goodnight. I.. I feel like I took advantage of you...”

“T-thats o-okay... I s-shouldn't have... d-drank so much.”

“I didn't mind. It was nice to see you loosen up... even if it was just the alcohol. I like you Hanako, and I don't want this to come between us.”

Hanako looks happy for a moment, then frowns again. She looks as if she is on the verge of saying something but is holding herself back.

“What is it Hanako?”

“Could you t-tell me who I-Iwa... n-nako... is?”

“Iwanako...? Oh, the letter.” I'm surprised she brought this up now, she did look curious when Shizune handed me Iwanako's letter, but I assumed any interest would pass. I don't feel comfortable spilling all my feelings about Iwanako, but I did say I'd tell her. “You know how I got my heart attack? That girl that confessed to me... she's Iwanako.”

Hanako looks away from me and grips her arms.

“She came to see me in the Hospital for a few months after my attack. We never talked about her confession, I suppose she felt guilty about causing my heart attack, and I didn't want to be a burden to her. After a while she stopped coming, and I haven't heard a word from her until today. It came as a bit of a surprise.”

Hanako looks back to me and stammers out another question, “Wh-what d-does the... l-letter say?”

I reach into my pocket and find the letter. Opening it I am greeted with her familiar pink handwriting. She was always a very 'girly' girl. I read over the letter, most of it being updates about her life and school. The last few paragraphs catch my attention. A neat summary apology for not trying harder when I was in the hospital, and at the very end, an invitation to contact her. I don't know if I could do that, it feels like Yamaku is a new chapter of my life and replying to Iwanako's letter would just open old wounds.

I pass the letter over to Hanako. She gingerly takes it in her hands, scanning her eyes over the text. After getting to the end she hands back the letter. “W-will y-you...”

“Will I contact her?” I fold the letter and put it back in my pocket. “I don't think so. I have enough friends at Yamaku, I don't feel the need for any more company. Talking to her would just bring back bad memories.”

Hanako looks me in the eyes, her purple unblinking eyes reminding me of when I almost kissed her. “Hisao... Wh-when y-you s-s-said...” She shakes her head in frustration before forcing the rest out “Y-you like me. D-did you... mean it?”

I realise what she is asking and offer her my hand. She places her own in my palm and I grip it firmly, using my thumb to stroke her smooth skin. “I like you a lot, Hanako... and I hope you feel the same way.”

Immediately she bursts into joyful tears and leaps at me, her arms wrapping around my body. I reciprocate, and run my hands across her back, feeling the soft muscles underneath her blouse. After calming down she pulls back and looks me in the eyes again. This time she moves slowly towards me until our lips are pressed tightly together. I know this is a public place, with eyes everywhere, but I don't care. Right now I can think of nothing but Hanako.

****

The feeling of walking through the streets is one of very deep nostalgia. While Yamaku may be like the reverse of where I've lived in the past, the city at night is amazingly familiar. My eyes are moving constantly from the bright electronic screens glowing high in the night sky, to the street lamps piercing the darkness with their light, to the businessmen enjoying themselves after work and busily talking couples on dates. Even if I wanted to, I can't help soaking in every aspect of the city. I savour its familiarity like as sweet candy sitting on my tongue.

Lilly is walking to my left with her cane swaying to and fro, holding onto her sister's arm for guidance while talking to her.

Compared to travelling by taxi or bus, being driven by Akira in her rather nice car was a much more enjoyable experience. Maybe not for the person to my right, though. While Lilly was used to her sister's driving style, and I quite like a bit of excitement, Hanako was holding very tightly to the door for most of the trip.

“E-everything looks so p-pretty at night...” Hanako quickly looks down yet again as she accidentally catches someone's gaze.

“Yeah, it does.” My answer isn't very thoughtful, since I'm distracted by so many thoughts that I find it hard to keep up on small talk.

One of those distractions, aside from the city sights, is how Hanako looks. This is the first time I've seen her in something other than her school uniform or her pyjamas. It gave me pause when I first saw her outfit, when we met up at the school gate. Considering how much her head is lowered when people walk near us, I imagine that the hat she wears is more than a fashion statement.

While initially I was wary of Lilly's plan to take us out into the city, when night fell it became obvious she had thought about this. Not many people have paid Hanako much heed, since the darkness hides her scaring well.

“So... We're in the city. Any ideas on what to do?” I ask.

Akira beams a smile. Something tells me that she's the one who is making this particular decision, even if her sister may have proposed the outing in the first place. “You'll see. Just follow us.”

I nod, and try my best to stifle a grimace. After what happened during Hanako's birthday party, I don't trust Akira's judgement all that much. We keep walking, and I notice that we're passing more and more cafés, restaurants, and other eateries.

Every once in a while a drunken man in a suit comes out of a bar, usually being supported by another, but for the most part the customers around this part of the city look young and fashionable. Different kinds of music come and go as we pass by each business. The discord created by the overlaps should be grating, but it reminds me so strongly of the times I spent in the city with my old friends that I don't mind.


I see Hanako starting to lag behind and move next to her, she smiles at me as I offer my hand. She presses herself against me and we happily walk together. We haven't told Lilly or Akira yet, neither of us sure how to broach the subject. A few visual cues should let them know without any awkward conversations.

A businessman talking on his cellphone marches towards us, his eyes clearly pointed elsewhere. We move to the side and let him pass before catching up to Lilly and Akira.

After a couple of times when I'd thought we had arrived at Akira's destination, we reach our target. By now we're below the elevated walkways, and past the most garish and brightly-lit places. I'm a bit surprised. The average age of those around us is distinctly older, and the smell of cigarette smoke is petty thick. The area is far from seedy though, and it's a little amusing to see Lilly's reaction to the smell of smoke. While it's masked by the low talking of those around us, jazz music can be heard emanating from the inside. Looking up at the dimly-lit sign it becomes obvious why. “A jazz club. I have to admit, this isn't what I expected.”

Lilly gives an amused snort and a smile. “Somehow I feel like I should have known it, Akira.”

As we talk outside, I notice more and more odd sideways glances directed our way. People awkwardly catch themselves staring and look away, but that just makes it more obvious. I had noticed this occasionally when we were walking, but it's more pronounced now. I've never experienced anything like that in my life. An average-looking Japanese teenage guy, just a little taller than normal, isn't the type to draw attention without making an effort.

It's hard to read Hanako's face as she keeps looking downwards. It's little wonder if she doesn't often come out to the city because of this, and it makes me a little thankful that my own scaring is easily hidden.

Lilly has a similar way of attracting people's gazes, but the reason for it is clearly different. She hardly looks like a native, and the same can be said for her sister. That much is far more noticeable than her blindness, from a distance. She may not be able to see this for herself, but I have little doubt she can hear the odd whispered phrase from people who think they're out of earshot. Be that as it may, she doesn't seem to show any sigh of either annoyance or pleasure at the attention.

“Hey, c'mon. Just because you're teenagers, doesn't mean you can't have a taste. Right?” Akira teases.

“Well... I don't really mind the music, if that's what you mean.”

“I-I don't mind it either.” Hanako says.

Akira's still as confident as ever, though. Flashing a smile, she strides in with Lilly by her side and the two of us following behind.

I had expected my eyes to need adjusting to the light inside, but it's not so much brighter than outside. The music we'd heard is clearer now, mixed in with the sounds of glasses moving on the tables and counter, And the husky chatter of the patrons. Looking to my right reveals the music's source, a jazz group playing beyond some tables. The patrons seem to be mostly men, and there's a handful of women, nobody looks under thirty. Aside form us, of course.

It feels a little like we've stepped into the 1920's, and the atmosphere is quite agreeable. I'm not completely comfortable simply because of my age, but were I older, I would probably feel quite at home.


Hanako seems loosens her grip on me when we get inside, relaxing slightly.

Akira casually takes a seat at the counter without even glancing around. She's probably come here before.

Lilly retracts her cane, feeling out the bar stool and the edge of the counter before taking a seat beside her sister.

The bartender takes a brief break from polishing a glass to watch her, before putting it down and coming over. “Good evening, ladies. What'll it be?”

“Just a scotch, thanks. Lily?”

“May I have a glass of cham-,”A black-suited elbow hits her side sharply. “Orange juice, please.”

“No problem, coming right up.” The bartender starts to pour their drinks.

A couple of seconds pass before Akira suddenly remembers that Hanako and I are here and turns around to us, about to say something, but stops in her tracks when she spots how close we are. Hanako and I immediately break apart and start blushing furiously. Akira grins but doesn't mention it. “You two want anything, or are you just gonna stand there?”

Looking around for a place to sit, I notice there's a games section to our right. A couple of billiards tables can be seen in the corner, and nobody's using them either. I glance to Hanako, about to ask her if she'd like to play, but she's already looking longingly in the same direction. Maybe it says something that we can get by with so few words nowadays. “We'll go play pool over there.”

Akira leans back to see past me, before shrugging and sitting back up. She gives a wink and waves us off.

“It seems you'll have to put up with only me for company. How unfortunate.” Lilly says

“Have fun, you two.” Akira replies

We turn and set off for the abandoned corner, with Hanako taking the lead. The prospect of a nice quiet game away from everyone makes her walk noticeably faster. Her eyes stay firmly fixed on her prize. The table's full-size and well lit despite the surrounding darkness, thanks to the bright overhead lights. A huge painting of... something... covers the wall. There aren't many people milling about this corner of the club, and I can see Hanako becoming a little less tense as a result.

“You... kn-know how to play?”

“I'm no expert, but yeah, I do.”

“Then um... eight-ball?”

“Sure.”

Hanako gets the chalk and two cues from a set of hooks against one of the walls, while I fetch the balls from the tables pockets and grab the rack from a shelf underneath.

She patiently waits as I get the table set up. After slotting the final ball into the rack and doing some last adjustments, I end up having to fight my perfectionists urges in getting the bottom row of balls exactly perpendicular with the edges. With the balls arranged and ready for play, I step back and take my cue from her outstretched arm. I carry out a quick inspection of the tip before I'm satisfied that it's in good condition. “So you've played before?”

“Once... or twice. I j-just kind of... know the rules.”

The air between us feels a little awkward. She's still pretty nervous, understandably, given that we're in public. Eventually the silence becomes too much even for Hanako, and she begins to quietly stammer. “Wh-who'll... b-break?”


“The honour's all yours.”

Hanako nods, before taking up her position at the end of the table.

She's not usually this quiet around me, but I'm not wholly sure if it's because of the tidbit of information about her past that slipped out a few moments ago.

The cue comes back in a practised gesture before smacking dead into the centre of the cue ball with a thud. The white ball skates across the smooth green expanse before slashing into the carefully-arranged balls at the other end.

Balls skitter across the table at high speed. The break was good, with the balls being nicely distributed around the table. My eyes flicking from one to the other to pick out the easiest candidates to pocket. Hanako retreats from the side and I take my shot.

“Well done.” It's only after Hanako says this that I realise the ball I was shooting at was sunk.

I look at her and notice a small smile on her face. It's nice how playing games seems to loosen her up a little. “Guess I'm stripes, then.”

I take a step back and let her take the next shot, but she doesn't advance to the table. Rather she looks down a little and rubs her arm.

By now I can identify this as one of her gestures that mean she wants to say something, but isn't sure enough of herself to do it.

“What's up?”

“It's just... you had a... n-nice smile. Do you like... playing this?”

I sigh and lean back against the table. “I like playing, yeah. I think I was smiling because it's really nostalgic, though.”

Hanako tilts her head quizzically.

“Me and my friends used to play pool in the game centres near where we lived pretty often, and at night too.”

“W-wouldn't your parents...”

“My parents both worked, so they didn't mind me not being in the house. I stayed on top of school work pretty easily as well, so there was plenty of time to do other stuff at night.”

Our conversation dies down, with Hanako's timidity getting the better of her. In response, I get off the table and let her take her turn shooting. There aren't many solids in easy positions, so Hanako bends down and takes a while to line herself up properly. Hanako's expression is the same as when we play chess; a relaxed but focused concentration. Athletes sometimes talk about getting into a zone where nothing unnecessary enters their mind, and I wonder if that's something she can do. Her posture is good. Better than mine, to be sure. It's very close to a textbook method of playing, whereas I tend to contort myself into whatever position I feel is most natural for the shot I'm taking.

She lines up the cue. The cue comes back, and she does a couple of practice movements to make sure she's lined up correctly. Hanako takes games so seriously. It's the only real hobby I know she has, outside of reading. It feels good to be able to share this kind of experience with her. She takes the shot after careful consideration, and the cue ball zooms off towards a ball sitting at a slightly awkward angle near a corner.

Hanako's careful preparation pays off as the cue ball hits and sends the ball rolling towards the corner pocket. For a moment it looks like it'll stop just on the lip of the hole, but it eventually tilts just enough to drop in.

“Man, that was a hard shot. If you can pull that off, I don't think I have much hope.”

“I'm not.. th-that good...”

“It's not just that shot though; even when lining it up you looked really serious. You're like this with chess, too.”

The praise makes her a little flustered. She sets the cue against the table and stands, turning to me.

“I just... like those kinds of things...” Her fingers are twisting and turning tightly. “When I was in the orphanage... I just... k-kept doing the things I liked... Before. If I p-played games with the others, th-that was enough for the helpers there, so...”

I'd never thought of it that way. Staff at an orphanage would naturally want to have everyone socialise at least a little. “If it's okay for me to ask... what was it like for you at the orphanage?”

“W-why do you want to know?”


I've touched a nerve, but the fact that she responded at all shows that there's at least a chance she'll answer my question. Before, she likely would have just shrunk away from it without a word. “I want to know more about you. You're an interesting person.”

I move to take my own shot. The lack of talking between us is filled by the chatter of other patrons and the band at the other end of the club Spying a shot that doesn't look too difficult, I try and shoot for it. The cue ball taps the ball, and the trajectory is almost right, but I put in too much power. It grazes the corner of the hole and moves off to the side, just skirting the pocket. I grit my teeth. I was pretty good at this game, and it's frustrating to have deteriorated so much.

I step back and let Hanako take her turn, glancing towards the counter where Lilly and Akira are sitting. They're talking busily between themselves, and seem to be having a good time.

I turn back to hanako as she takes her shot. With the same force as before, she lines herself up and harshly pushes the cue. Just as before, she sinks the ball she was aiming for. It drops into the side pocket more cleanly than her last, though. It looks as if she's getting a bit more into the groove of the game.

“Nicely done.”

She hesitates a moment, and begins to address me without turning her head. “The orphanage... was nice. It felt a bit like Yamaku does... and the staff were r-really kind. But as th-the years went on, I realised something. I was d-different.”

It feels strange to hear her speak so candidly about herself. She's audibly forcing the words out. It reminds me of when she insisted she tell me about the fire. Hanako must feel that she has to tell me of these things, If I'm willing to tell her about my own past.

Her grip on the cue tightens as she continues to speak. “M-most of the children there were up for adoption, just like I was. But unlike me... they gradually left, o-one by one. By the time I went to Yamaku. I was... among the oldest children there. For a while, I h-helped with some of the younger children, b-but eventually...”


I lay a hand on her shoulder and pull her into a hug. She's forcing herself by now. “It's okay.”

She looks mildly surprised for a moment, but then nods before setting down her cue and turning towards me. “Do you... really think so?”

“Yeah, I think so. You turned out alright.”

Hanako looks at me and presses her lips against my own. This time it's a small thank you rather than a lustful kiss.

“Thank you.” She smiles and looks away a little bit.

I release Hanako and step backwards, knocking her cue onto the table and scattering balls in every direction. “Ah... whoops.”

Hanako giggles and picks up the cue. “T-that c-counts as a f-forfeit” She bends down and begins to shoot the remaining balls into the closest pockets. I almost ask if we could play another game, but a quick check of my watch confirms that the night is getting pretty late.

With the last ball sunk Hanako puts away her pool cue. She walkes up to me and wraps me in a tight hug, resting her head on my chest. “Thank you, Hiaso.”

I kiss her on the head and coddle her body, “What for?”

“Being here.”

“Thanks for being here too, Hanako.”

I hear a cough from behind me and turn to see Akira, “You two love birds ready to go?”

We nod and break apart. Lilly is still sitting at the bar so Akira walks over to fetch her sister. We all leave the jazz club, everyone with smiles on there face.

“I take it you enjoyed yourselves?” Akira asks.

Hanako and I both nod and agree. The game was good and the company even better.

Lilly looks to have something on her mind, her expression changing while trying to formulate what to say. “So Hanako, you and Hisao seem very... close tonight.”

Hanako immediately blushes. This was going to happen sooner or later. I should say something for Hanako's benefit, but I want to see how she reacts to the implied question.

“I-I a-asked him... at l-l-lunch.” She did ask me I realised. The socially reserved Hanako was the one that asked me to to be her boyfriend, not the other way. Perhaps she is braver than her appearance shows.

“Well I'm very happy for the two of you.” We continue walking in silence until Lilly speaks again, this time with a giggle, “When we get back to our rooms, I'm making tea and you're telling me everything, Hanako.”

With that, the four of us begin the walk to the car park where Akira's car is. We continue to talk between ourselves, but it's mostly just small talk.
Last edited by GorisTheKing on Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hugs

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 21, 2014 2:04 am

GorisTheKing wrote:Akira is standing outside and gives me a knowing look, one eyebrow cocked upwards. “Everything alight?”
This particular line looks a bit insensitive. Maybe 'all right' is better. There are a few minor typos elsewhere, but this one… heh.

I like the narrative flow, but it just collapses an already short arc into a shorter one. It's a variant rather than an alternative, at the moment. A reader would wonder if it were to diverge enough to form a true alternative in future.

Lastly, that jumping into Hisao's arms in the garden bit seems a little OOC.
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.
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Re: Hugs

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:37 am

I'll read this later. For now I'll just note that on my monitor it is almost impossible for me to see the difference between the font colours you used. Not that I think it's neccessary to use different font colour - just saying.
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Re: Hugs

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:01 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:I'll read this later. For now I'll just note that on my monitor it is almost impossible for me to see the difference between the font colours you used. Not that I think it's neccessary to use different font colour - just saying.
I'm unable to distinguish them at all. It's one of my disabilities.
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.
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Re: Hugs

Post by NekoDude » Fri Mar 21, 2014 8:26 am

brythain wrote:
GorisTheKing wrote:Akira is standing outside and gives me a knowing look, one eyebrow cocked upwards. “Everything alight?”
This particular line looks a bit insensitive. Maybe 'all right' is better. There are a few minor typos elsewhere, but this one… heh.
Every time I have tried to use "all right", the grammar checker has flagged it and suggested "alright". I remember being taught way back when that "alright" isn't a valid word and one should always use "all right", but it appears the rules of style have done a complete reversal on this point since I was in school. Just like the Oxford comma (which I still use anyhow, dammit). I tend to play fast and loose with the "elements of style" when writing fiction anyhow, and even more so when doing commentary like this. I strive for clarity over correctness.
brythain wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:I'll read this later. For now I'll just note that on my monitor it is almost impossible for me to see the difference between the font colours you used. Not that I think it's neccessary to use different font colour - just saying.
I'm unable to distinguish them at all. It's one of my disabilities.
Oddly, I can distinguish the font color easily... while scrolling. As soon as the motion stops, it all looks black. This makes me suspect the anti-aliasing (ClearType or otherwise) may be to blame. ClearType is kinda wonky on my setup anyhow (one landscape monitor, one portrait monitor), but desaturating font colors is one of the known drawbacks.
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Re: Hugs

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:00 am

NekoDude wrote:
brythain wrote:
GorisTheKing wrote:Akira is standing outside and gives me a knowing look, one eyebrow cocked upwards. “Everything alight?”
This particular line looks a bit insensitive. Maybe 'all right' is better. There are a few minor typos elsewhere, but this one… heh.
Every time I have tried to use "all right", the grammar checker has flagged it and suggested "alright". I remember being taught way back when that "alright" isn't a valid word and one should always use "all right", but it appears the rules of style have done a complete reversal on this point since I was in school. Just like the Oxford comma (which I still use anyhow, dammit). I tend to play fast and loose with the "elements of style" when writing fiction anyhow, and even more so when doing commentary like this. I strive for clarity over correctness.
Yes, but 'alight' is not a good word to use around Hanako… :)
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)

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Re: Hugs

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 10:11 am

I really enjoyed this. I was curious as to how Hisao's and Hanako's relationship would advance differently if he hugged her back on her birthday. That said, I do agree that her leaping into Hisao's arms seems a little forward for her, especially in public.
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Re: Hugs

Post by Frankyo » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:51 am

Beautiful Hanako story with no Bloodbath!?

Great work!

P.S. Are you still working on Bad Hanako?
Girls: Hanako/Misha > Lilly > Emi > Shizune/Rin
Routes: I realized that every route has its own charms, but felt that Shizune's was lacklustre. It has Misha though!

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Re: Hugs

Post by Mournful3ch0 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 11:56 am

A few minor typos, which I can list if you'd like.

I liked it. Seems to be more of a gradual diversion than anything else, which isn't inherently bad but does make the narrative more predictable as the same settings are used and dialogue only altered slightly in most areas. I have a bit of trouble with the bench scene as it seems the others do, where she jumps into his arms. The main problem for me is the visualization of how that would work, as a straight bench would force their hips to be parallel and would make a hug very difficult and/or painful. Second would be the suddenness of Hanako's... outburst. I feel as if that scene could have been fleshed out a lot more for what it was, as you have to keep in mind that there are no images in the background to provide the detail that the original VN would allow. Without images, you must use imagery to compensate.

Now, your Hanako is decent but could use some work in that scene. I don't know if it would be totally OOC, but Hanako was never really portrayed as being so extroverted. Expressive, yes. Don't think she would leap on the guy though.

Overall, it was a good summation of how an early confession might play out, though I had hoped Lilly would have been snarkier at the end of the scene. Fading off into small talk was kind of 'meh'. I enjoyed it.
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Re: Hugs

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:18 pm

Hanako and me immediately break apart
"Hanako and I"
Every time I have tried to use "all right", the grammar checker has flagged it and suggested "alright". I remember being taught way back when that "alright" isn't a valid word and one should always use "all right"
That is still correct. "Alright" is not an "official" English word. Never trust spell-checkers. (You could use a proofreader, though.)

As for the story... Well, I'm not too fond of stories trying to "fix" something the author thinks has been done wrong in the VN, and that's what this seems to be. If the story had been like this in the VN it would have been a boring path indeed. Pure vanilla and no tension at all.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Hugs

Post by TyronePotato » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:26 pm

Great story, I enjoyed reading about it.

Hanako does seem to get a little too comfortable with Hisao, though. But I guess sometimes we have to bend greatness to make great-er?-ness.
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Re: Hugs

Post by GorisTheKing » Fri Mar 21, 2014 9:39 pm

There's not too much differentiation between the two text colours, I don't want to change it either, if I do then I run into contrast issues. If you have good eyesight and a good monitor, then good for you, otherwise :lol:
brythain wrote:
GorisTheKing wrote:Akira is standing outside and gives me a knowing look, one eyebrow cocked upwards. “Everything alight?”
This particular line looks a bit insensitive.
I had a good laugh, thanks for pointing that out.

Now that everyone is mentioning it, I agree that the bench scene was a bit ooc. I could change it to a hug and a kiss on the cheek from Hisao, then break it up with the end of lunch, and leave further development for the night. I might do that if the urge takes me but for now I'm happy.
Mournful3ch0 wrote:A few minor typos, which I can list if you'd like...
The main problem for me is the visualization of how that would work, as a straight bench would force their hips to be parallel and would make a hug very difficult and/or painful.
... though I had hoped Lilly would have been snarkier at the end of the scene. Fading off into small talk was kind of 'meh'. I enjoyed it.
Not too concerned with minor typos, as long as everything is readable.

Sit in a chair and turn your shoulders perpendicular to your hips, and lean forwards. You shouldn't have much trouble doing that, unless I'm just overly flexible and a bad sample group.

I think you're right, the last line doesn't really fit. It was the last line in the VN so I decided to leave it in. As for a snarky lilly, I don't think that would really fit her personality.
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Re: Hugs

Post by Oddball » Sat Mar 22, 2014 1:10 am

Not bad. It fits the feel of the game alright, the problem is... there is no problem. Hisao and Hanako both seem far more open with each other here than in the game, destroying any real conflict their story had. The game Hisao didn't even want to talk about Iwanako. I can't believe he'd just had the letter over to Hanako like that.

This is actually something I've seen with quite a few attempts to change Hanako's route. Writers make things work to easily and go out of their way to aim for the happy ending without any struggle. It makes it feel cheap.

Also, I skipped over the large amounts of text you lifted from the game. I've already read it before and felt no need to read it here. Admittedly, that's not entirely your fault. it's hard to avoid going over the stuff the game already presented when you're writting something inbetween in-game scenes.
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Re: Hugs

Post by Guestimate » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:59 pm

Well, a problem isn't strictly required. Sometimes you just want to read something fluffy without all the drama :p.
EDIT: especially as I have gone and got myself addicted to some non-ks works that have a habbit of getting quite depressing. ;)

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