Yes... it's back.
Welcome to Act 3: Singing in Harmony. Just as a warning there is a bit of an H scene early on in this scene.
I'll do the first part of 'Masks' next.
Singing in harmony
As soon as we arrive back at school, Hisao bundles me off to the on duty nurse. She takes one look at my feet, clucks in disappointment and unravels the bandages on my feet, before washing them gently in antiseptic - which stings like you wouldn't believe - re-wrapping them and giving me some broad spectrum antibiotics. Then to compound the humiliation just one step further, she tells me to use a wheelchair to reduce the strain on my sliced up feet.
Hisao wheels me back to my room, using the lift to get me up to the correct floor, and the whole time I feel shame burning a hole in my stomach.
Hisao doesn't complain once throughout the whole ordeal, simply taking the whole thing in his stride.
I can’t believe he’s helping me. I could've killed him if I’d hit him. He knows it, and I know it, so why is he still doing this? Why hasn't he run for the hills leaving me like I deserve?
I don’t speak any of my morbid thoughts, simply stewing like slow cooked beef, the slight squeak of the wheelchair being the only noise in the deserted corridors of the dormitory.
We reach my room, and I unlock the door, Hisao wheeling me in. I begin to stand to walk to my bed, but a light touch on my shoulder presses me back down. I look back at Hisao, and he simply has a gentle smile on his face.
He comes around to my side, lifts me up bridal style and carries me over to my bed. He then gently places me down on my sheets, as though I'm some kind of precious treasure he’s unearthed somewhere.
I'm no jewel, just a cracked and battered old piece of glass.
He gently lays me down then smooths my hair out and kisses me on the forehead.
I break the silence with a croaked “Why?”
Hisao shrugs, and smiles gently again. “Because I can,” is the simple reply, and I feel tears begin to well in the corner of my good eye.
I grab the collar of his dorky sweater vest and drag him down to me, before he can do anything further. I kiss him hungrily, my mouth seeking to devour his. For a moment Hisao doesn't respond, then surges back into the kiss, his mouth matching mine, motion for motion.
The kiss draws on, and I drown myself in the sensation, seeking Hisao, something - anything to distract me from the guilt worming in my guts.
The kiss goes on further, tongues twisting and meeting each other. I tug Hisao again, and he falls on top of me on the bed, a muffled noise of surprise as his lean body meets mine.
“Ayane -” anything else is cut off by me flipping him over, mounting him and then diving back into the kiss.
I'm not sure why I'm doing this, it just feels right. I need to atone for what I did, and this seems like a good start.
As we kiss, one hand deftly slips under Hisao’s shirt, fingers lightly tracing his abdomen and through our kiss, I hear him suck in a surprised breath.
I can also feel his response to me attacking him. The hand that was tracing his belly breaks off and slips down to his trouser buttons and pops it open, quietly and slowly unzipping his fly. I caress him through his boxers, his gasp of surprise short lived.
Hisao draws back from the kiss to speak, and I cut him off again, my mouth closing over his. I unbutton the front of his boxers to free him from the cloth confinement and wrap my hand around him.
He’s hot and hard under my hands, and I feel him make a strangled gasp as he pulls back from the kiss again. I don’t mind too much, and move my hand up and down him, enjoying the reactions from him as he moans and writhes under me.
His face is flushed, and he’s shaking slightly as I stimulate him, gasps and moans coming unbidden from his mouth. This still isn't enough though, I need to do something more.
I look down at his organ in my hands. It’s pulsing and needy in my grasp. I steel myself and then take him in my mouth.
It feels even warmer in my mouth and I begin to bob up and down, careful of my teeth. I've read about this before in some dirty fiction and even seen a couple of videos but I still have little to no idea what to do exactly.
I decide to go with my instincts and use my tongue, caressing the head of Hisao’s penis with it. There’s no real taste to it, just the taste of skin, slightly salty from the day's exertions. Hisao’s reaction though is good.
More moans and groans and vague mutters that I can’t quite hear clearly come from him as I focus on the task in hand - or rather, the task in mouth!
I keep bobbing up and down his length, not taking it all, about half, before backing off and using my tongue. I don’t want to trigger my gag reflex after all.
I look up from what I'm doing and Hisao is staring at me. Self consciously, I release him with a small ‘pop’ noise and aware I'm steadily going red. “Why?” Hisao asks, breaking the awkward silence.
“Seemed like a good idea,” I shrug, not meeting his eyes. The silence goes on, and I sigh, before speaking softly and more than a little ashamed. “I wanted to apologise.”
Hisao looks stunned at the little confession and blinks owlishly at me. “Apologise? What for?”
My tone is brittle. “For potentially nearly killing you!” My voice is rising in volume as I feel my temper beginning to slip, Hisao looks like he wants to say something, but I steam-roll on, “If you had been the one to grab me on my blind side I would've hit you Hisao, hard -” my voice chokes as I begin to feel the heat of shame on my cheeks, and I croak out, “I could've killed you Hisao, or at the very least given you a heart attack. I gave my older brother a bloody nose, and you guys just write it off?! What the hell is wrong with you -” I break off into a pained sob and sink to Hisao’s chest, wetting the front of his sweater vest.
Hisao gives a deep, heavy sigh and runs one hand through my hair. “Yes, it could've been worse, a lot worse, but it wasn't.” A beat of silence and then Hisao chuckles. “And as for the why, Ayane, it’s because I love you, that’s why I'm forgiving you.”
His simple words soothe me, and I sniffle. “One thing though,” Hisao says, and I hear embarrassment in his voice. “You don’t have to go that far to apologise.”
I snort. “You still enjoyed it though.”
Hisao says nothing but gently lifts me slightly rearranging himself and putting everything back in place before pulling up his trousers. “You don’t need to do that kind of stuff to apologise.”
“A blowjob you mean?” I can’t resist teasing him slightly but the serious look on his face has me swiftly back-pedalling. “Sorry, couldn't resist.”
Hisao moves beneath me as if to get up, but I stubbornly keep him down. “Stay,” I whisper in the quiet. “Just stay please.” Hisao smiles again and kisses me softly and sweetly, before encircling me in his arms.
We fall asleep together like this - safe in each others arms, and I feel… content.
I wake later, the sun beginning to set in the distance through the window, to the smell of freshly cooked food.
The first thing I notice is that Hisao left the bed at some point and covered me in the blanket.
The second thing I notice is that I also have company. I blink for a moment, a little off kilter, but in my room, sat on various cushions and chairs - the cushions retrieved from Fujiko’s room no doubt, is the little family that I've assembled entirely by accident here at Yamaku.
No one has realised that I'm awake yet, so I take the moment to watch the scene before me. Arashi signing something to the triumphantly grinning Shizune, Misha making Fujiko blush and Hisao quietly reading a book and occasionally shaking his head at the madness around him.
Misha notices I'm awake first, and her squeal of, “Ayachan!” gets the whole room's focus on me.
“Evening,” I say through a yawn and glance at the clock. I've been asleep for about six hours give or take. “Not that I mind but why is everyone in my room?” I pointedly look at Hisao.
“Hisao wouldn't leave you alone,” Fujiko chimes in, smiling softly.
“You mean you all barged in,” Hisao grumbles, “Arashi used his key.” Arashi at least has the decency to look a little embarrassed. Traitor of a brother.
[So we came here,] is the firm declaration in broad swift hand signs from the ever fierce Shizune.
Misha mock swoons and sighs, “so romantic, bringing you food.”
At the mention of food, my stomach growls, and I feel a blush creep up my face.
Forget a growl, it’s more like the roar of a hungry beast!
The room promptly bursts into laughter, and still blushing I move to get out of bed moving the covers away from me, and the room goes quiet at the sight.
Fujiko breaks the silence first as Hisao gives me my tray of food. It’s just some sandwiches and onigiri, enough to settle my hunger but light enough not to keep me up later. “Ayane what happened at the ball?” I see Misha signing to Shizune, and she just shakes her head in response.
I look at Hisao and my brother and sigh. “I made a rather large error in judgement,” is all I say. “I got injured in the process, so I'm wrapped up like the start of a bad mummy flick, and I have the squeaky wheelchair of doom over in the corner.”
The dry sarcasm does not fly with Fujiko, and she crosses her arms with a small huff of disappointment. I simply shrug and take a large bite out of the sandwich, nearly half in one go.
Fujiko is still staring at me, and I feel like a child that’s been caught with the hand in the cookie jar. “I might’ve… lost my temper a little bit.”
Fujiko just looks at Hisao, and he collapses like a bad tower of Jenga blocks, the traitor. “She got a little… agitated.”
Fujiko’s not dim, and she’s had some experience with my family before, so she simply nods and says, “I think I can see the picture. Mt Ayane erupts, someone restrained her, you flipped out afterwards, probably ran away into those woods near your house.”
[Nail on head, pretty much,] Arashi signs, and Misha translates for Fujiko, as my cheeks bulge like a hamster’s with food. I was hungry after all.
Fujiko clicks her tongue and sighs, “So I guess you’re wheel-bound for the next few days, yes?” I simply nod and Fujiko gives me a thumbs up. “Cheer up, you know we’ll all help out.”
“I know,” is all the response needed, and we happily dissolve back into a group of friends, catching up after the three day weekend.
Being back at school after the three day weekend is very jarring, especially after the surroundings I was in. Still even though the change back into routine is a bit of a shock, actually being back in the academy is nice. It feels more like ‘home’ than that house ever was.
Fujiko has been on cloud number nine ever since I've seen her. She cannot stop babbling about the hot springs resort. It’s adorable but after listening to it for several minutes, I beg off from hearing every single excruciating detail repeated to me.
There’s only so much sweetness I can handle before I begin to feel nauseous.
It is good to see her so happy. Fujiko deserves it really; she’s such a sweet girl, and if Misha makes her happy, who am I to complain about it?
Although if Misha does ever break Fujiko’s heart, I shall be having words with the pink haired girl. Words that will not be pleasant.
Not that they’re officially dating. Everything's being kept very low key and quiet. For a school for disabled children, some people can still be very old fashioned in certain aspects.
I feel better, too - lighter as if a large weight I had not been aware of has been removed from my shoulders. It’s a good feeling, liberating and refreshing, although a coal of guilt does still burn in me for what happened.
I know Hisao has forgiven me, but I still can’t let go of the fact that I could’ve seriously hurt him. I chew over that thought like a dog would gnaw on a bone.
I know that I have a temper, god knows I’m aware of it.
The question is what do I do with it?
What do I do with myself?
And how can I stop myself from causing another situation like the one that happened?
Days pass by slowly, blurring together in a haze of memory. Routine becomes the norm - wake up, coffee, pills, breakfast, lessons, lunch, lessons then homework, dinner and bed.
Of course time is spent with Hisao and the rest of the little family I’ve made here, and everything is good - better than good in fact.
But I still feel troubled by my temper.
I’m noticing now how I can snap easily or what particularly pushes my buttons. Controlling my temper is harder than it seems.
But I’m too stubborn to admit that I need help.
And so the days go on.
It’s a little over two weeks after the ball when the routine is broken.
The break comes in the form of the lovely Mr. Nakai.
“My English grades are still low,” is how he greets me when he finds me in the library this sunny afternoon.
“Afternoon to you, too, sunshine,” I respond dryly as I put my pen down from my maths homework. Hisao looks tousled from being outside in the wind. He plonks himself down at the table and sighs, rubbing his eyes. I frown and lean across the table to give him a quick peck on the lips.
“What’s wrong?” I ask him softly, taking one hand in my own.
Hisao looks up from the table. “Remember how I ended up in Yamaku?” he asks, and I nod gently. “I missed out on a fair amount of school and English has always been my weakest subject. Your sister says I need to get my grades up as it’s beginning to affect my overall performance.”
“Akiho is not someone to just tell you that and then walk off. She gave you some options right?”
Hisao sighed and nodded. “Yeah she gave me an option to do an extra credit assignment.” I raise my eyebrow, and Hisao elaborates further. “A reading of one of the circles of hell in Dante’s inferno,then she’ll quiz me on it.”
Ouch. “Wow, that seems a little over the top.”
“Tell me about it,” Hisao moans. “I don’t even know where to begin!”
“A copy of the text would be a good place to start,” I say as I give his hand a squeeze.
“You’re telling me that,” Hisao grouses.
I grin and wiggle my eyebrows at Hisao. “Although I do know who might have a copy…” I let my voice trail off as I tease him.
“Who!” Hisao seizes upon my comment with glee.
“Three guesses,” I tease further, giving him another quick kiss.
Hisao grins at me, mood cheering, “Well, give me the first clue then!”
“Blonde hair, teaches you English.” I see the lightbulb go on behind Hisao’s eyes, and he grins and gives me a quick kiss, before darting out of the library, startling Yuuko as he does so.
Dantes Inferno. I muse over that little tidbit as I pack my stuff up. One of Akihos favourites if I remember correctly. She loves the imagery and the metaphors that the author uses. I’ve never read the whole piece - snippets yes, and I’ve heard Akiho quote parts of it, but I’ve never read the whole thing.
As I go to leave the library, Fujiko is waiting in the corridor, fiddling with her sleeves, a sure signal she’s feeling guilty over something. She sees me, and the fiddling increases in intensity. Oh boy, what’s happened now?
“Ayane…” Fujiko trails off lamely, poking her index fingers together, “I… er… well. Kiko and Daichi want to speak to you!”
Date Kiko and Kato Daichi are the joint heads of the music club. Kiko oversees the vocal part of the club and Daichi specialises in instruments. Daichi used to be a bit of an ass, especially in first year. He’s a type one diabetic, and his parents are the rich ‘career’ type. Job and money comes before their own child, and as they were often in other countries for their job, they shipped him off here, so he could be looked after.
Daichi was not amused and was really very vocal about, I quote: “Being stuck at a school for cripples” - at least until the end of first year where Kiko literally slapped some sense into him. She broke her hand in the process too due to her brittle bones syndrome, and ever since then, the pair has been as thick as thieves.
Last time Kiko tried to speak to me about the music club (Just before Hisao started at Yamaku if I have my dates correct) I scared her off, so I guess she’s bringing Daichi along for backup. I sigh and rub the bridge of my nose before giving in to the inevitable.
Kiko and Daichi are stubborn - as bad as me. It is immovable object meet unstoppable force - not a pretty combination.
“Fine,” I bite out, “where are they?”
“Why right here of course darling,” Kiko draws out the ‘ar’ in ‘darling’, and I sniff in response as I turn to face her.
“Your pronunciation is terrible Date,” I huff, giving her a sharp glance as she said ‘darling’ in English. Kiko always was one for trying to tease.
“Second person who’s said that today,” Daichi chimes in, his rough baritone a stark contrast to Kiko’s soprano.
“Let me guess, my sister was the other?”
Daichi chuckles, confirming my guess as Kiko pouts and pokes Daichi on the shoulder. Daichi rubs his chin, dark eyes under shaggy eyebrows watching me shrewdly. “Gotta say this conversation is already going better than I thought.”
A snort from Kiko, “normally you’d have walked off or yelled at us by now, have we caught you in a good mood or something? Freshly fucked possibly?” Kiko, all for looking like a pretty porcelain princess has the most indecent sense of humor I’ve ever seen, and that includes Akihiro.
I stare at Kiko, and she sighs and shakes her head. “Prude,” she accuses me, her dark eyes glimmering with mischief.
I raise one eyebrow and then decide to go for it. I’d been considering this since seeing grandmother back home and the pair of unwitting idiots have dropped this opportunity into my lap. “Actually, I’ve been intending to find one of you two at some point.”
The two of them trade glances at my little confession and seem to be having a quiet conversation between them. It is slightly disconcerting to watch. “And what did you wish to speak to us about?”
Go for the throat Ayane. If you hesitate your fear will get the better of you. “I may need the studio at some point for some private practice.” I can feel my nerves jitter as I say it, and it’s not helped by Kiko grinning in triumph.
“And why should we do that?” Kiko purrs, wrapping an arm around Dachi.
I grit my teeth. “Because my grandmother has asked me to sing at her funeral you smug bitch, and the last time I sung for an audience my father died while listening to me.” My voice is like chips of ice, positively arctic in tone.
Kiko and Dachi both stop, and the eager expressions on their face give way to horror. Fujiko hurries over to me and wraps me in a hug.
“I…” Kiko trails off. My face is buried in Fujikos hair, unable to see her expression.
Daichi coughs. “We’re sorrying for treading on a… ah delicate subject in our enthusiasm to recruit you. Kiko once had the pleasure to see you perform a few years ago at one of your masquerade balls, and she was… very taken with your performance.”
I look up from Fujikos shoulder. “S’alright,” is my curt reply, “Not many people know… I’m rather private about this.”
Kiko nods, her lips set in a thin line, white from the pressure, “you can borrow the studio anytime you want Tsukino. Let us know, and we’ll arrange it so you have privacy and… I’m sorry for being so pushy.”
I shrug in response, anger ebbing away, “You didn’t know, not your fault.” The pair look at each other again, having another one of those fast paced conversations before they give a quick dip of their heads and hurry off down the corridor, rounding the corner and out of sight.
The tension leaves my body, and I sigh in relief and release Fujiko. She steps back and looks at me in concern. “Your grandmother asked you to sing at her funeral? That’s a little morbid Aya.”
“It’s the least I can do for her, if I can work up the courage to sing in public ever again.”
“Don’t force yourself.”
“I need to be able to sing again,” I hiss, “I need to, Fuji, so badly.”
She looks at me softly and nods. “You know I’ll help, we all will. You know that right?”
“I know,” I whisper and give her another hug.
Today has been a long day, and this last incident has been the straw that broke the camel's back. Time for bed.
Hisao and I have ‘study dates’. Contrary to popular belief, we do actually get some studying done - in between dinner and some making out of course.
Some days Hisao is the needier one, other times I am - it depends on each party's mood.
Today however, Hisao is fretting over his extra credit assignment set by my darling older sister. I swear she’s a sadist sometimes, I really do. Tired of hearing his muttering and almost actual hair tearing I drape myself over his shoulders and nibble on his earlobe, distracting him from his work.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, already knowing the answer.
“The text is all in English, and although Tsukino sensei assured me it was a more modern translation, it’s still… old fashioned, and I’m really struggling to make sense of any part of it.” The frustration in his voice is clear, and it’s obvious that Hisao is close to losing his temper, an unusual event.
I pull back from the hug I was giving and drag the other chair next to him and pull the text away from Hisao. “I’ll read, you write notes down you need for the quiz.” Hisao looks as if he’s about to protest; then he just nods, getting a pen and paper ready.
I look at the text, Hisao is right, it is in rather old fashioned English. “Where do you want me to start?” I ask, I’ll need to translate from Old English into Japanese for Hisao to understand, this could be an interesting test of my capabilities.
“Ah, I’ve done some research. There are nine circles but Tsukino sensei recommended the fifth circle, so we’ll start there I guess, books open on it.”
I shrug and look down at where Hisao had the book open. I begin to read about Dante’s trip into the fifth circle of hell.
The Fifth Circle of Hell is where the wrathful and sullen are punished for their sins. Transported on a boat by Phlegyas, Dante and Virgil see the wrathful fighting each other on the surface of the river Styx and the sullen gurgling beneath the surface of the water.
The wrathful fight and fight, while the the sullen drown in the river. As I read, a sick feeling develops in my stomach. If this was real, I’d be in that circle I think.
Wrath. My main sin - that and pride/stubbornness, call it what you will.
I finish the reading and put the book down. Hisao looks at me, and I give him a small, sad smile. “Just, hit a bit too close to home you know.” Hisao doesn’t quite understand, but he doesn’t press me for an explanation.
I’ve made my decision.
Although not much more studying is done that night.
The next day, after classes, I go and visit the nurse.
I decide that this needs to be done quick, like ripping off a plaster, so I don’t even knock, simply open the door.
In retrospect, that wasn’t a good idea, as I could have been interrupting something delicate, while I barged in like a bull in a china shop.
Two puzzled men stare at me as I barge in. One is the nurse, the other is a man I’ve never seen before. He’s older than the nurse, dark hair going silver, particularly in his beard, wide framed glasses over blue eyes. This is a man who enjoys the finer things in life, I can tell from the faint smell of cigar smoke and the slight gut he has.
He’s dressed in a tan suit, with an eye watering shade of green shirt and a yellow fruit patterned tie. I know Fujiko ribs me about my poor fashion sense but even I have some form of colour co-ordination.
This man apparently doesn’t have any sense of colour co-ordination.
The nurse recovers from his surprise first. “Ah Ms. Tsukino, everything okay? Or are we having some signs?”
I drag my gaze from the very green shirt and shake my head. “No, everything is normal on that front, I just wanted to ask you something if you had a moment, but I can see that I’m interrupting.”
I move to leave but a deep rumbling chuckle from the oddly dressed man stop me. “Ah, don’t mind me, I was only dropping off some notes. I’ll be out of your hair in a minute.” His voice is a rich baritone. The only comparison I can think of is silk sliding over gravel: Smooth but with a faint hint of roughness, probably from his smoking habit if I were to hazard a guess.
He hands over several files to the nurse and shakes his hand, before swiftly leaving the small office. The nurse takes the files and puts them in a filing cabinet, taking a few moments to organise the files.
“So what can I do for you then?” he asks cheerfully, taking a sip from his mug.
I fidget for a moment then sigh, “I’m assuming we have some kind of er… counselor or therapist on staff here?”
The nurse blinks for a moment. “No we don’t Ayane, not for what you're thinking of. Yamaku deals with mainly physical or genetic problems, life long conditions, not mental health issues I’m afraid.”
I sag, “oh -”
The nurses raised finger stops me, “however, for some students, especially in first year, or if the condition or injury is fresh, we do bring someone in for a few session to help iron things out. Losing a hand for example can be a traumatic event, and students need to be settled in.”
“Someone from outside the school?”
The Nurse grins at me from over his mug, “Why yes, you just missed him in fact.”
There is silence for a moment, and then I curse softly.
A clunk, is the only sound the nurse makes as he puts down his mug and regards me steadily. “Ayane, do you really think this is something you need? I can get you sessions but you have to be sure you want them.”
I simply nod mutely, unable to say anything, to afraid to voice my guilt, frustration and fears. Instead the nurse looks at me for a long, slow moment then dips his head in acknowledgement and pulls a sheaf of papers from a drawer near his chair.
“Let's get these filled out then and get the ball rolling.”
Tealeaf. Old cockney rhyming slang for 'thief'. That is what KS did to me. It tealeafed my heart straight from my chest. Especially you Rin. Especially you.
One cannot think well, sleep well, love well if one has not dined well
- Virginia Woolf
Cooking is like love. Enter with abandon or not at all