Learning the blues. Act 3: Scene 2 revives from the grave

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HazelKim
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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Scene 14 up!

Post by HazelKim » Tue Nov 11, 2014 12:04 pm

I guess. I think I'm just too caught up in the story, I don't want to guess where it's heading. I'm worried where it's heading because I want this story to end well. I guess bias is involved and I'm a bit of a dunce sometimes. I dunno, I can't defend myself solidly, the only rhing I picked up on was Arashi being maybe married away. But I'm looking forward to the next chapter regardless :)
Longtime Lurker Converted --- Trash Minor --- Coffee-senpai is best horse --- Not Enough Rin

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TheTealeaf
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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Scene 14 up!

Post by TheTealeaf » Tue Nov 11, 2014 2:10 pm

Don't panic Hazel!

This is just the end of Act 2, there is still Acts 3 and 4 to come respectively!

Act 3 is, Singing in Harmony

Act 4 is tentatively titled: Soul music

I'm very, very glad people are enjoying the route. I admit it has strayed from KS itself but I think that the message of KS itself still stays true, at the end of the day, we are all only human with our own worries, hopes and fears.

First thank you for all the reviews, second a HUGE thank you to Mirage for beta reading. You've been a star.

Scene 15 is in the works, should be ready for beta reading by Friday.

Thank you again for all the kinds words so far, you guys are why I keep writing!
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

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Minion of Chaos
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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Scene 14 up!

Post by Minion of Chaos » Tue Nov 11, 2014 3:42 pm

TheTealeaf wrote:I admit it has strayed from KS itself
I think being able to write a compelling story here WITHOUT essentially toeing the KS line is more often than not a good thing. It allows a wider story to be told which I find more entertaining (and most of the "straying" stories here are well done, a la the Hoitash-verse, TD, or Developments). So keep up the good stuff, man

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TheTealeaf
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:43 pm
Location: England

Act 2: Scene 15, part 1.

Post by TheTealeaf » Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:18 pm

Act 2

Scene 15


“Because it’s time to say goodbye - to the things we love and the innocence of youth.”

I flee from the veranda, leaving the horrific scene behind me.

Akihiro’s bloody nose and Hisao’s look of shock are permanently engraved in my memory as I fly into the night.

The music and the lights from the ball recede into the distance behind me as I hurry across the grounds, tears streaming from my face.

I think I hear voices behind me in the night, but I do not respond. I do not deserve to respond.

Hisao’s stunned face is still in full view of me every time I close my eyes.

I’m a monster.

I could’ve killed Hisao, the man that I’m steadily falling in love with - have fallen in love with, it was only due to chance that I didn’t hurt him or kill him.

I still hurt my big brother, the man who only earlier this morning smiled at me and said, “I’m your big brother you idiot.”

I continue to race across the lawn, ripping my mask from my face and throwing it behind me, and in the process, tripping and ending with mud all up me and over me. I pant for a minute, throwing my heeled shoes away as well, they’re slowing me down.

I want to be anywhere but here. I can still hear some voice from behind me, and I get up from the grass and hurry off again.

The moon above me dimly lights my path, and I realise that I’ve made it to the edges of the lawns. The old gate to the forest gleams in the night, and before I’m even conscious of making the decision I’ve wrenched the gate open, a squeak of hinges echoing in the night.

“Shit!” A voice cries out from somewhere behind me. Akihiro’s voice, but sounding more nasal than usual, “she’s opened the fucking gate.”

I bolt into the woods, feet in pain as gravel and wood jab into the soles of my feet. I bite my lips and keep hurrying further into the woodland, hearing the gate open up again.

I pause for breath and hide behind a tree. Akihiro’s voice carries; even at this distance, and I can hear him sigh in resignation. “Hisao, we need to get Arashi.”

I don’t hear Hisao’s reply, but I hear Akihiro’s. “Because you fuck wit, the only person who knows these woods as well as Ayane is her brother. Go get him.”

There is a pause, and then Akihiro says, “I’m not going because my ribs feel like they’re on fucking fire. Stop asking stupid questions and go.” There is more silence for a time as I regain my breath, and then Akihiro speaks up. “I know you can hear me, Ayane.”

The urge to respond is strong, but I keep my mouth shut and begin to move deeper into the dark, wincing every time I take a step.

“Look, it’s all forgiven alright? We all do stupid shit when we’re angry, I mean I’m the fucking poster child for it, Ayane! Just… come back?” The plea is there in Akihiro’s voice, but I shake my head to myself.

Akihiro doesn’t understand. I could’ve killed Hisao, and it would’ve been over in a second. I move further into the woods and look at my hands. There are smudges of blood on the knuckles, looking like black treacle in the dim light.

I feel sick looking at them. I raised my hand against my family. I won’t sugar coat it, I hate my mother, but I’ve never actually thought I’d raise my hands at her.

I’m not sure what would’ve happened if I had actually made it to mother.

I don’t think I want to entertain that thought any further.

I’ve always known that I have something of a temper; I’m liable to burst and lash out. It’s similar to my Dad; he always had a rather short temper with loud, but never violent outbursts.

In the darkness and with my distracted nature, I realise that I’ve ended a little off course. In my wanderings I’ve ended up going down the literal dead end. I’m nearly in the family graveyard.

I freeze up, breath condensing in a foggy plume due to the cool evening air. I feel myself take a hesitant step forward and then another.

I come forward into the clearing. It’s well maintained and looked after, the grass trimmed and neat, clear from falling leaves and blossoms.

It is silent here, almost too quiet. There is no animal noise or rustle of leaves, and even the wind has died down to nothing more than a gentle tickle across my scalp.

There are four grave markers here, four cold slabs of grey stone with Kanji etched on all four of them, English also etched on the last one.

There are flowers on the one with both English and Kanji on and a small picture on top of the marker. There is a small vase of flowers on the other three stones, but the one that’s had the most love and attention is my Dads marker.

I’m at the marker before I even realise that I’ve moved. I kneel by the marker and trace my hands over the engraving, both the Kanji and the English.

Both state the same thing.

“Here lie the remains of a loving and proud father, Connor Tsukino. He was taken before his time and will be missed by all who knew him.”

A simple epitaph but one that speaks volumes; he will be missed, still is missed by those who loved him. I can feel tears rolling from my good eye.

I still do miss him. We all do.

Is there a way to describe the loss of a loved one? Is there a way to describe the hollow feeling that is left in its place?

I’m no longer kneeling instead more collapsed on the grass, fingers still tracing the etching on the stone.

The flowers’ perfume reaches me and I look blearily at them. Purple Hyacinth, Marigold, Poppy and a dark crimson rose are arranged in the vase.

Half remembered lessons from grandmother filter through my head, and I think I understand the message in the flowers. Grandmother had always loved using flowers to send messages and always gave me a bunch on my birthdays, and I had to translate the message.

I’m a little rusty but that arrangement seems to translate to Sorrow, Grief, Eternal Sleep and Mourning.

Even though there is nothing of father here apart from bones and dust, I linger, trying to seek solace from the cold stone, hoping for some trace, some lingering presence, something and anything to comfort me.

But there is no guiding light, no light touch on my shoulder, no voice whispering in my ear and no sign of anything.

As much as I read fantasy, even I know there’s no coming back from the dead. You die and become worm food or ash. There is no shining light, no rebirth or paradise, you simply stop and cease to be.

Life can be taken from us in a brief moment.

I’ve got used to that fact being at Yamaku. Any number of students there could have a complication from their conditions and take a turn for the worse.

I could have a fit and hit my head at an awkward angle and break my skull open, or break my neck.

Hisao could have a fatal heart attack… like the one I could’ve given him.

Death is final. It is irrevocable and endless, and it can strike at any time.

A sound echoes throughout the clearing, and I realise it is coming from me. It’s hollow, empty laughter with a slightly crazed edge. I feel nothing; I’m just so drained and wrung out from the last few days, and my laughter peters out into silence.

At the moment I’d probably just giggle if someone set the house on fire. I’m that out of it.

I take one final look at the grave marker and then look at the picture on top. It is of Dad, when he was much, much younger, when he was still in England with my grandparents. He’s sitting astride a motorcycle, his blonde hair cut short and framing his face. There’s a pair of sunglasses in the nape of his t-shirt, and his arms are bared to the sun and the blue sky above.

His expression is one of wide-eyed joy and innocence, blue-green eyes glimmering in a very familiar expression, one I see sometimes on my older sister. He looks so happy and carefree, and for a moment I feel a small surge of anger.

He no longer has to worry about this world, about who and what he’s left behind. I take a deep breath and slowly place the photo facing down on top of the headstone.

Noise from deeper in the woods stirs me from the apathy. People looking for me possibly, and if I stay here I’ll easily be found. I don’t want to be found - not yet - let me wallow in my guilt for a little while longer and self-flagellate a bit more.

I have caused harm to those that love me, and I do not deserve their pity, if anything I deserve their scorn and hatred.

At least I feel that I deserve it.

I get up, feeling returning to wobbly limbs, dress grass stained and stagger out of the clearing and off the beaten path. My bare feet protest, but I ignore them and move further into the forest, my path already mapped out.

Before Dad died, mother wasn’t a total bitch but could be overbearing at times. She was determined that my brother and I would be the best at everything. So, Dad built us a retreat deep in the woodlands, somewhere for us to relax and get away from some of the pressure mother put on us.

I’m pretty sure Arashi remembers where it is, but he may have checked there already, meaning I’ll be in the clear.

I’ll be found sooner or later, but for the moment I’m alone, darting through the trees.

There it is. I’m not sure what state it’ll be in, I haven’t exactly been here a lot over the past three years, so who knows what I’ll find in there.

It does look pretty ramshackle, leaning against a big cherry tree. It is still in one piece, and that is the part that counts I guess. I approach with caution, the wooden boards looking slightly mildewed and aged.

I really hope this doesn’t fall apart around my ears.

I pull the door open, and it creaks in the quiet. Still the place doesn’t fall apart around my ears so it’s a start at least.

The furniture in the retreat is covered in cloth to protect it from the elements, but dust and leaves have gathered on the covers over the time I’ve been at Yamaku.

I draw off one cover, sneezing at the cloud of dust that erupts from it as I whisk it past me and throw it to the leaf-covered floor.

I slump boneless in the seat, head in my hands, even as it gives an ominous creak beneath me.

What have I been doing with myself? I feel a shuddering sob heave through me and feel tears trickle down my face and fall steadily through my fingers to the floor.

I’m nothing but a mess of anger and rage, lashing out blindly at the people around me, hurting those I love.

There’s a term for people like me.

The word is ‘animal’.

More sobs wrack my frame, and I try to bring myself back under control. I need to consider my options. I’ll need to go back to the house at some point and face the music, that or someone will find me sooner or later.

I’m not sure how long I sit in the dark, grim thoughts whirring around my head like evil little gremlins. It’s a never-ending cycle.

I start getting better then I spiral back down again. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again – it is happening again – but I never come close to killing anyone before.

That one’s new to me, possibly killing someone that is.

I hear noises from nearby and look up from my rumination. No one approaches just yet, but I can hear close movement from nearby.

Guess Arashi did remember where this was.

I hear the noises get closer, and then the door is wrenched open. A grim looking Akihiro and Arashi stand in the doorway next to each other.

I stare in surprise at Akihiro mainly. His nose is crusted by dried blood, streaks of blood over his white suit. His eyes fix on me, searching for something. I’m not sure if he finds what he’s looking for, but as his eyes roam over me I hear him suck in a breath. “Fucking hell Ayane, what’ve you done to your feet?” I hear Arashi make an odd noise, and I realise he’s staring at my feet as well.

I look down, belatedly realizing that my feet are throbbing in pain. My feet are rubbed red raw, skin cracked, peeled and bleeding, caked in dirt, gravel jabbing into skin and leaves and twigs stuck in between a couple of toes.

“Left my shoes behind somewhere.” The voice speaking isn’t mine. It’s flat and toneless, defeated.

“I can fucking tell,” Akihiro growls, moving forward into the retreat, coming closer to me. He takes one of my feet in his hand and runs his hands gently over my feet before shaking his head. “You’re not walking on these Ayane,” and before I can protest, he sweeps me up bridal style in his arms, grunting under his breath.

He leaves the retreat, Arashi following behind, and Hisao is just outside, his face lightening in relief at seeing me. “You’re alright, that’s good,” he heaves a sigh of relief, one hand on his chest, over his heart.

I look away in shame. I don’t deserve someone like Hisao. He’s been unfailingly supportive, would most likely follow me to hell and back, and I repay him by nearly killing him. “Ayane?”

He sounds like a kicked puppy, one that doesn’t understand why its master has turned on it and left it out in the cold. I curl further in on myself and then feel a rap on my head. “Don’t you fucking dare,” Akihiro glares at me. “You made a fuck up, so what? Now deal with it. You do not get to do this shit to Hisao.”

There is silence as we walk back to the house, carried in Akihiro’s arms. We’re just getting to the edge of the forest, near the gate when Akihiro sighs and presses a kiss to my forehead. “Idiot,” he whispers softly, “don’t push Hisao away. Don’t push us away. You get a free pass once and you’ve already used it. Not again sister.”

“Then what do you want me to do?” I ask weakly, sniffling slightly.

Hisao is the one that answers. “Talk to us. You’ve been opening up little by little Ayane, don’t stop now.” The plea is as plain as day in Hisao’s voice, and I feel the guilt pile up more.

“M’sorry,” I mumble in Akihiro’s chest as we step through the gate, the smell of tobacco, blood and whiskey filling my nostrils.

He sighs deeply, and then winces. “Don’t be sorry,” he murmurs. “Just don’t shut down.”

The progress across the lawn is slow. “Is there a side entrance?” Hisao asks as we pass the fountain, “we don’t want to cause a scene, the ball is still going.”

“It is?” I ask quietly.

“Seems so,” Akihiro grunts. “Back entrance by the guest wing. We can skirt round in the dark and avoid the lights.” We carry on in the dark before a question surfaces in me.

“What about mother?”

There is silence for a moment and then Hisao speaks up. “She had just gone back into the ballroom when you… lunged,” he explains tactfully. “She doesn’t know you ran, we managed to cover that up. Akihiro said he fell over when anyone asked what happened and Rin covered for us when we went after you.”

So mother isn’t aware of my attempt to wring her neck. A small relief to be sure but a relief none the less.

We make our way past the ballroom and Akihiro addresses Arashi. “Go ahead and let us know if the way is clear.”

Arashi darts ahead momentarily, a white figure in the dark appearing briefly before vanishing again.

We wait for several moments and the Arashi reappears a little way ahead and makes a beckoning motion.

We hurry on forward, taking the back entrance and head up into the guest wing. Akihiro takes me up the stairs and navigates the twisting corridors to my room, Hisao opening the door for Akihiro. He gently puts me on the bed.

I hear water running from the bathroom and both Rin and Shizune step out. Rin’s look is not a friendly one but she softens when she sees Akihiro.

“I ran a bath for her and there’s a first aid kit on the table,” Rin speaks to Akihiro, ignoring me. “Do you want me to put her in the bath?”

I’m not sure that would be a wise idea. I think Rin might drown me in the process.

I speak up from the bed as Hisao bustles around the room. “Hisao can do it.”

The room freezes. Hisao looks like a rabbit cornered by a fox, as Akihiro levels his gaze at him. Rin has an evil chuckle hidden behind her hand as Akihiro judges Hisao. Arashi shoots a look at me but simply sighs in resignation before signing at Shizune. She nods, and they leave the room, Shizune placing a hand on my cheek as she passes, giving me a small nod.

The moment passes, and Akihiro’s shoulders slump in defeat. “I’ll leave her in your hands then Hisao.” Akihiro leans in very close to Hisao, whose eyes widen as Akihiro gets closer and closer. “But she leaves that bathroom still a virgin, understand?”

“Crystal!” Hisao squeaks as Akihiro leans back from Hisao.

Akihiro nods once and then leaves, Rin sliding her shoulder under his armpit and helps to support him and the pair leave the room.

Hisao sags in relief once Akihiro leaves the room. He comes over to the bed and sits me up, I don’t resist, my body feeling sluggish and tired. He removes my eye patch with infinite gentleness and does the same with the rest of my clothes until I’m naked.

He doesn’t look at me with lust, not this time. His eyes are simply full of warmth and caring and he gently helps me into the bathroom, sitting me down on a stool and turning the shower on me.

Hot water cascades over me, soothing aching muscles. Hisao pads out of the bathroom and then comes back in, undressed as well. He gently lathers soap into my hair and washes my hair, running his hands through the tangled knots, getting leaves, grass and muck out of my hair.

Nothing is said between us, he simply carries on, with his soft motions and touches, relaxing me little by little under the shower. He runs the shower over my feet, washing away the dirt, my feet protesting at the feeling.

“Come on, time to get in the bath.” He breaks the silence between us and leads me to the bathtub. He sits me at one end and then sits down at the other.

Hisao gently takes one of my feet and inspects it closely. I hiss in pain at the sensation – for even with all his gentleness, it still stings – as he cleans the last of the grime off, what the shower hadn’t caught and inspects the damage I’ve inflicted on myself.

“Why are you doing this?” I ask softly.

Hisao looks up from his task and frown. “Why do you think I’m doing this?” he asks instead.

I shrug melancholically, splashing water in the bath.

Hisao smiles softly and gathers me in a hug, whispering in my ear, “I’m doing this because I love you.”

Those words break the dam that’s been keeping everything at bay. I begin to sob again, big body juddering sobs, as I seize Hisao in a hug. “I’m sorry!” I wail loudly, my voice echoing in the bathroom. Hisao waits it out, gently rubbing my back as I sob in his arms.

“I could have seriously hurt you,” I whimper eventually.

“Could have,” Hisao says firmly, “but you didn’t, and that’s what matters.” He pauses for a moment, thinking over his words, “You did scare me a little, Ayane. I’ve never seen you like that, and it’s… impressive and terrifying all at once.”

I cringe at his words, even though there is no malice to them. I snuggle further into him, the water sloshing around us as I squeeze him tighter. “I just wanted to shut her up,” I whisper guiltily, “never wanted to hurt Akihiro or you.”

Hisao says nothing and gently hugs me back, before pushing me away and inspecting my other foot. “You’re going to need to bandage these up after we get out of the bath.” He looks critically at my feet again. “You’re going to be in a lot of pain for a while.”

I shrug. “Deserve it. My own stupidity led to it.”

Hisao simply sighs and washes the foot he has in his hand, drawing a grimace of pain from me. It stings even with Hisao being gentle.

After washing my feet, we get out of the bath and dry down. I’m feeling more ‘with it’, and after I dry myself I change into my sleep wear. At Hisao’s prodding I sit on the edge of the bed, and he bandages my feet up for me. He does a decent job of it, but he reminds me to see the medical staff for a proper attempt as soon as we’re back at Yamaku.

Hisao changes for bed himself - we’re both worn out after this long and trying day. He slips into bed next to me and hugs me from behind as I lay on my side.

Silence hovers between us. Not one of the normal, comfortable silences that we share, this is a heavy lead-like silence.

The silence stays, like an ominous spectre until we both drift off uneasily into sleep.

End part one of scene 15.
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

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TheTealeaf
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Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 3:43 pm
Location: England

Act 2 Scene 15 part 2

Post by TheTealeaf » Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:23 pm

Scene 15: It's time to say goodbye - to the things we love and the innocence of the youth, part 2

I wake up when a loud bang rattles the bedroom windows.

Glancing wearily at the clock, I can see I’ve only been asleep for an hour or two. I get out of bed, wincing as I slip on my slippers and head to the curtains. I open the curtains and am greeted by starbursts of colour and lights in the night sky.

I’d forgotten that the ball finishes with a fireworks display. Dad used to light the fireworks himself, he loved lighting the fuses and watching the fireworks streak heavenward and explode in a cacophony of light and sound.

I watch the display for a moment and realise that Hisao hasn’t even stirred from the bed. Guess he’s more exhausted than I thought.

Watching the fireworks has got me thinking about Dad again.

This is a more melancholic feeling than anything else as I watch the brief illumination of the night skies. The last display he did was one of the best he’d ever done, a riotous display of colour, sounds and lights across the starry night sky for a solid twenty minutes.

My feet carry me out of my bedroom, without me even really being aware of my destination. I traipse the long hallways aimlessly, simply walking, recalling small snatches of memories at familiar sights.

A staircase where Arashi and I played when we were younger.

The library, where I fell in love with fantasy novels that my father read to me.

I pass by Arashi’s room, where he and Shizune currently reside.

I look at the hall of portraits, looking at faces and paintings. I spend a lot of time in front of Dad’s portrait, soaking in his image.

Eventually my aimless wandering gives me a destination, and I find myself in front of Dads study. I’m not sure why I ended up here, I wasn’t totally aware of where I was going.

I place my hand on the doorknob and take a deep breath. I’m tired of the ache that is in my chest whenever I think of Dad.

The study was where we practiced singing together and where we learned sign. It’s a room of happy memories, but memories tainted by the loss of Dad.

I exhale and then twist the knob and push the door open.

The first thing that hits me is the smell. The room, although musty, still smells of Dads distinctive aftershave. Cinnamon and leather fill my senses, and a bittersweet smile flickers across my face.

I step into the room. It looks like it hasn’t been touched at all, apart from dusting. Everything is exactly as I remember it, Dad’s oak desk, made by his father, stretching across one wall, a bookcase across another wall, groaning under the weight of volumes upon volumes of novels on its shelves.

His chair, the big black swivel leather one, - that Dad jokingly referred to as his ‘Bond villain’ chair – is by the desk. A brass lamp is on the desk, ancient and clockwork looking, a replica of a piece Dad saw in his youth. A pot of elegant fountain pens sits next to the lamp, paper nearby.

A cunningly hidden set of speakers lurk in the corners of the room, built into the walls and the actual player itself is hidden in the bookcase, behind a set of fake books. Very melodramatic but fitted Dad perfectly.

The room looks like Dad never left. It seems that at almost any moment, he’ll step into the room fresh from work, ruffle my hair and put some music on for us to listen to before breaking out some boiled sweets from his drawer in the desk for us.

But that’s not going to happen. Not ever again. I feel a soft sigh escape me as I come into the room fully and shut the door behind me. The faint noise from the rest of the house disappears as the door closes, sealing the room.

I sit gently in Dads chair, almost feeling like an intruder in the room somehow. The smell of cinnamon and leather bathes my senses, and I feel a little lightheaded. I run my fingers across the desk, delighting in the sensation of varnished oak on my skin. The chair leather is soft and comfy, and feels almost like it’s sucking me into the body of the chair.

I run my eyes over the room. My earlier outbursts have drained me emotionally and I feel oddly relaxed in here, when normally I would be a sobbing mess.

I relax in the chair for a few moments, watching the fireworks still occasionally going my back to the door and suddenly I hear noise from the rest of the house. I swivel in the chair and find Hisao standing in the doorway, a concerned look on his face.

“Hi,” I say softly, not meeting his gaze.

Hisao steps into the room and shuts the door, sealing the noise off again. “Hi,” he replies. “Couldn’t sleep?” he asks.

I shrug a little then think better of it. “I wandered. How’d you find me?”

“I thought you might be here, you reacted quite strongly to this door when we first arrived, so I thought I’d try here first before heading anywhere else.”

And there be Hisao, the Master of Science and logic.

I crack a small grin at him and beckon him to the chair. I stand up, sit Hisao in the seat and then sit on his lap.

“What was this room?” he asks.

“My Dads study.”

“Ah,” Hisao responds. I feel him moving under me as he looks around at the room, taking in the room.

“We’d learn sign in here, I’d sing in here too, practice, or just sing along with Dad. He had a nice voice - a smooth baritone - and it would make interesting harmonies with my own voice.” I sigh and settle back against Hisao’s chest.

His arms wrap around my stomach as he gives me a gentle squeeze of reassurance. “Good memories?”

“Lots,” I reply, getting up from Hisao’s lap and limping over the bookcase. I trace the books and find the hidden switch and press it and a small section slides up to reveal a music player and a rack of music. My fingers skim over the titles, taking in familiar names that make my heart skip a beat in fond remembrance.

Dad loved his musicals. It was one of the reasons he’d bonded with Akihiro and Akiho’s mother, they both loved musicals. The pictures that Dad used to have in here have been removed. He used to have two framed pictures on his desk of his first wife but there is a framed picture of Dad, Arashi and me at our tenth birthday party with our birthday cake, right near the end of the table. Dad has his arms over our shoulders kneeling in between the pair of us, a cheesy grin on face, as we smile at the camera, forever immortalized in the act of blowing our candles out .

“Are you going to put something on?” I think about it for a moment as Hisao gets up from the chair.

As he gets up, his knee knocks into the table and the photo tumbles to the floor and the glass cracks and shatters.

Hisao picks the photo up, hurriedly apologizing but I stay frozen, locked in place looking at the shards of glass.

The glass is cracked and broken over my Dads face, obliterating it from view and the shards have shredded a small part of the photo.

It broke so easily. Gone in a second… just like Dad left us.

Left me.

All alone.

A sob bubbles up from me and Hisao looks at me as I begin to sob. All I seem to have done this evening is cry and I am sick and tired of it.

The photo breaking tugs at something deep in me and the anger I felt earlier - at Dad’s grave marker - bubbles forth, and along with the sobs overwhelms me and I’m suddenly screaming and ranting incoherently frustrated at myself, my dad and the whole of today, music gets scattered onto the floor, books pulled down from the bookcase in a torrent of blazing anger, at the sheer injustice of one simple, inescapable fact.

HOW COULD HE LEAVE ME?!

I stop as my anger begins to deflate, and a reedy wail escapes from my throat as I stagger to Hisao who catches me in his arms, and we sink back into the chair. “Why did he have to die?” I ask aloud, “Why did he have to leave us – me – alone? How could he! How could he just die on us?” I sob, into Hisao’s chest, my loud lament muffled by his sweater vest.

One hand curls into a fist, and I thump the top of the desk on my left. Suddenly my anger peters out totally. In the sudden quiet after my outburst, the rattle of the desk and a quiet noise of mechanical gears shifting are heard.

Both Hisao and I look at the desk as a small, hidden drawer slowly cranks open. It’s a small thin drawer, only big enough to hold a couple of small photo’s and four small envelopes, coloured with age.

My name is on one of them. Akihiro, Arashi and Akiho are the other recipients of the letters. I touch the envelopes gently, not believing the sight before me. My name is written in elegant cursive – English cursive – my dad’s distinctive handwriting.

I’m suddenly afraid to pick it up. I stand again, go over to the bookcase and lean against it.

I’ve only really got one choice.

“Hisao,” I ask softly, pleading with my eyes and voice. “Can you… open it for me?” He looks at me, probingly and eventually gives a nod. He slides the envelope open and with me watching him, two old Polaroid’s fall out onto the desk. Hisao picks them up and a smile erupts over his face.

“You were a cute baby,” he says with a small snicker.

My jaw slackens in disbelief, and I look at the photo. It’s a picture of Dad in this very office, in the same chair, holds a small blanket-swaddled child, a massive grin across his face. His eyes are dancing with gentleness and so much love as the child in the blankets grips his little finger in it’s tiny hand. There’s no denying who the baby is, the hair is unmistakably mine, even from a young age I had a nearly uncontrollable mane.

On the back of the picture is scribbled, “My second daughter, aged three weeks.” A little cartoon heart is doodled next to it and I feel a little burble of laughter bubble up from me. It is very like my Dad that little doodle.

The next photo is one of an older me, about eleven years old, in a dark blue dress, holding tightly onto a microphone. At the bottom of the photo again in Dad’s very distinctive handwriting is written, “My little song mistress, aged ten.”

“Do you want me to read the letter?” Hisao asks, jolting me from my reverie at the photos. I nod, my mouth suddenly dry and parched. HIsao clears his throat and then haltingly, begins to read.

Hello my little song bird,

I know at this moment in time, you’re probably not feeling too good. You’re probably angry, confused, and more than a little lost.

I’m sorry.


Hisao looks up at me from the reading. “Are you sure you want me to do this?” He asks again.

I nod stiffly, and he takes a deep breath and continues.

I’m sorry that I never told you the truth Ayane, my darling daughter, all I wanted to do was to protect you.

When you were first born, you filled the hole that my first wife left. It was a joy seeing you grow and learn along with your brother. You were the apple of my eye, my pride and joy, and I know I shouldn’t have favourites out my children but I did.

Sometimes it was too hard to look at Akiho. She resembles her mother so much.

As of now, as you’re reading this, I will be dead.

Several months ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Fast acting, malignant and ultimately, very fatal.

I haven’t even told your mother, my own wife that I’m dying.

Even with treatment, all I will gain is a few painful months, months that would be painful for you my daughter.

Painful for all the family to watch as I waste away, dying from the tumour and the therapy, and I have no desire to put my family or anyone else through the same thing I’ve already suffered through once.

As my parents have already suffered through once.

My older brother died from the same thing, and his final few months were horrific to behold, it tore at my mother and father, which is part of the reason why they left with me to Japan.

You’re probably horrified that I never told anyone, never told you.

I’m obviously not sure how I died, but I pray my darling that I passed in my sleep.

If not I hope that you can forgive this naïve old fool for not telling you the truth.

Keep singing my little phantom, keep singing and look after your brothers and sister.

Goodbye.

All my love,

Your father.


Hisao stops reading and looks up from the letter before saying softly, “there are stains on the letter.”

That hits me in the gut like a well-timed sucker punch. I shakily hold out a hand, and Hisao wordlessly hands me the letter. I look over the paper, and Hisao is right, there are fading stains on the letter, spattered droplets, that aren’t ink I think and judging by the contents of the letter… I suck in a breath as realisation dawns. Dad was crying while he wrote this.

My Dad was crying while he wrote this letter.

“You stupid bastard,” I whisper into the room, “why did you not say anything?”

My mind involuntarily flies back to that memory. Blood trickling from his nostril as his glassy eyed stare bores into mine. It was the tumour. I had never known - or to be more precise, I was never told what had killed Dad and now I have my answer.

I don’t think mother even knew about these letters. They were well hidden, and I get the feeling that these were hidden, and he never had the chance to tell anyone. This was his domain - the study - and even mother respected that fact. Even though the place looks dusted, the maids probably came in, dusted and left in short order.

Dad… You lied to me over those last few months. Retrospectively, I can see the signs now, the little nuances, the melancholy looks you’d get at times and the fact you pushed for Arashi and me to go to Yamaku.

Dad had been aware of how mother had been getting, that’s why he pushed for the school, to give us some distance.

Things start falling into place, like I’ve finally got the missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and I’m now seeing the whole picture.

I sit down in the seat heavily and shake my head. I’m all cried out, I’ve got no more tears left to shed.

“He was selfish wasn’t he?” I ask Hisao who is watching me carefully.

“He did it to protect you,” he begins, carefully choosing his words, “but in the long run, it only complicated matters. He did what he thought was best for his family because he loved you, loved all of you very much.”

I sigh and then get back up from the chair, ignoring my complaining feet; I can’t stay still, too much whirling through my mind. I walk to Hisao and embrace him. “Thank you.”

Those two words mean more than just a simple gesture of thanks, and I think Hisao realises it. I look up at him and kiss him deeply. I break away from him and he asks, puzzled; “What was that for?”

“For being you,” is the smiled reply, “Hisao?”

“Yes?”

“Listen to some music with me?”

I disentangle myself from the hug and walk over to the music selection. My fingers hover over certain ones, nervous trepidation thrumming through me at the familiar titles.

I eventually settle on a collection of titles from various musicals. I slip it into the player and hit play.

Music erupts into life from the hidden speakers, and I pull Hisao into my lap after I sit back down on the chair. The music swirls and surrounds me, and I lose myself to it, Hisao holding me close.

This is it, I suddenly realise as it sinks in. Dad is gone and never coming back. It seems silly to say so, but it has only just really sunk in. I said goodbye to Dad on that rainy morning when he was buried, but he never got the chance to say his goodbye to me until now.

That’s what the letter was, his way of saying goodbye to me, and with the letter; everything feels… resolved in a way.

I still miss him, I always will miss him, but the ache is a little less prominent, a little less raw.

There are still things to do though I make a resolution for when we get back to school.

As the first track builds to its climax, it almost feels as if Dad is in the room with us. I sigh and relax into Hisao. It feels good to be listening to music again. The selection does avoid a certain musical, though. I don’t think I’m quite ready for it yet.

The music continues, the second track coming on, and I sink into the music, savouring its return, like one would greet an old friend.

It’s partway through the seventh track when I think back to what Hisao said to me in the bathroom. He seemed so very sure of what he was saying, and I have to admit that I’ve fallen in love with him too.

It’s more than a little crazy, but it feels so right for him to be here with me. He’s carved a little niche into my heart and occupied it fully. As the music quietens and the track changes I turn to Hisao and say simply.

“I love you.”

The smile that he gives me threatens to split his face it’s that wide. “I love you, too.”

“I know.”

It’s oddly fitting that the next track that comes on is Love changes everything.

***

Sunday morning, I feel a lot lighter than I have for a long, long time. Even with my feet complaining at every step, I feel good.

After the normal morning rituals, Hisao and I pack our belongings up into the suitcases. No train ride back today, we’re getting a lift from Akihiro, Shizune and Arashi are getting a lift from Shirou and Akiho.

Breakfast is a quiet affair, especially when I hand the letters over that were found last night. No one pries, or asks where I found it, although I suspect that they all realise or at least can guess where I found them.

Akiho excuses herself from the table to read hers and comes back later red-eyed and sniffling, Shirou going to comfort her. We don’t ask what was in the letter, simply leave her to Shirou, as he seems to be doing a good job of calming her. “Not going to read yours?” I ask Akihiro.

“Later,” he grunts, “It’s… something that I’d rather do in private.”

I dip my head in understanding and tactfully change the subject. “We’re all packed and ready Akihiro, ready after we visit grandad and grandmother.”

“Half an hour after the visit then, we all want to see them before we leave but the sooner I see this place in my rear view window, the fucking better.” Somehow, Akihiro’s gruff reply cheers me up, although I feel guilty at the fact he looks a little like a panda with the bruising around his eyes, courtesy of me.

The remainder of breakfast is eaten in quiet, and half an hour later we’re all packed into grandmothers room, saying our goodbyes, it’s a sombre affair, all of us knowing - somehow - that this is likely the last time we’ll see our grandmother before the end. Grandfather knows it too, so we keep the farewells brief.

No need to draw something out that hurts already.

Grandfather understands this, and ushers us out of the room with a tear in his eye, wishing us a safe journey as he begins to feed his wife breakfast.

A short while later, all our bags are packed into Akihiro’s car and we’re strapped in and ready to go.

Mother doesn’t even see us off, which doesn’t entirely surprise me.

The trip back is fairly quiet, both Hisao and I reading our respective books while Rin writes in a notebook, possibly notes for work or something. It’s a long drive, and most of it passes in silence, until both Hisao and Rin are asleep in their seats.

Hisao is leaning on my shoulder and while it is adorable, he’s also drooling on my shoulder.

Yuck.

“Brother?” I ask, meeting his eyes in the rear view mirror, I can hear him trying to hold back a chuckle at Hisao drooling on me.

“Yeah?” He asks, concentrating on the road after having a brief laugh.

“Can we get some fireworks soon?”

I see Akihiro’s eyebrows rise in the mirror. “Fireworks?”

“Dad always did the displays didn’t he?” Akihiro makes a noise of agreement. “I want to do a small display of our own. Nothing huge, I know the shops won’t sell big stuff but I’d like to do something. Something to send him off. Our own goodbye.” My voice trembles a little but I hold it steady.

Akihiro’s gaze meets mine, and I can hear the satisfaction in his voice. “I’ll see what I can do and we’ll organise a time and place. Sounds good?”

“Sounds good. I love you big brother.”

“Love you too my stupid little sister.”

End Scene 15 and Act 2.
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

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by azumeow » Tue Nov 18, 2014 5:59 pm

Love the title choice. You a RWBY fan as well?

As for the chapter....wow. Melancholic, bittersweet, and just a ride from start to finish. Geez. That fuckin hurts.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by TheTealeaf » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:04 pm

I am indeed a big RWBY fan, impatiently waiting for the Volume 2 soundtrack.

The title seemed oddly appropriate for what was happening.
azumeow wrote:
As for the chapter....wow. Melancholic, bittersweet, and just a ride from start to finish. Geez. That fuckin hurts.
I aim to please! 8)

Glad you enjoyed it!
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

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Tue Nov 18, 2014 6:32 pm

Great chapter. I was kinda wishing we would get one last conversation with her mother, but I'm not surprised it didn't happen. I really can't describe it better than the above poster, so I'll just say it was a great chapter that hit all the right emotional points.
Best girl
Hanako=Shizune>Misha>Lilly>Rin>Emi

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Hanako>Lilly>Rin>Emi>Shizune

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by azumeow » Fri Dec 05, 2014 2:08 pm

TheTealeaf wrote:I am indeed a big RWBY fan, impatiently waiting for the Volume 2 soundtrack.
Well, now that the soundtrack is out, what are your thoughts? My favorites among the new are 'Die' and 'Caffeine', though I think most of them are good.

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

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by TheTealeaf » Sun Dec 07, 2014 10:26 am

azumeow wrote:
TheTealeaf wrote:I am indeed a big RWBY fan, impatiently waiting for the Volume 2 soundtrack.
Well, now that the soundtrack is out, what are your thoughts? My favorites among the new are 'Die' and 'Caffeine', though I think most of them are good.

Except the remixes. I don't like remixes.
The acoustic remix isn't bad of the S1 opener.

Sacrifice is excellent too!

I'm loving the tracks. The time to say goodbye remix is ew though.

But Boop I've fallen in love with (my year 7 form group saw me singing along to it... that was awkward), also going to steal it for the brownie route.

All of our days had me in fucking tears and has got me hugely inspired for Act 3.

But yeah loved the sound track! It's been on a loop since pretty much day or release.
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

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by griffon8 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:10 pm

RWBY? What the heck is that?

A little search on TVTropes and…

Wait, Monty Oum? As in Dead Fantasy? :shock:

Great, something else to spend my money on. :x I have now purchased Volume 1, Volume 2, and the Volume 1 Soundtrack. I did watch the trailers, and they are as Awesome as I would expect.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:15 am

I think you can watch it for free on crunchyroll - not sure if the first season is still on, though.
I agree it's hilarious - especially the food fight at the beginning of season 2 and the following exchange:
Oobleck "As a huntsman I've had my fair share of tussles."
Ruby "Like the mushroom?"
Blake "Those are truffles."
Ruby "Like the sprout?"
Yang "Those are brussles."
So there are DVDs out already? Something for my wishlist...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Learning the blues. Act 2 Complete

Post by Silentcook » Mon Dec 08, 2014 8:57 am

I love it too, but this isn't the right place to discuss it.
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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A feely christmas gift: An interlude part 1: All our days

Post by TheTealeaf » Wed Dec 24, 2014 5:58 pm

I'm not dead. Here! Have an unbetaed one shot piece as a slightly early christmas gift. Warning: watch out for Ninja's cutting onions.

Listen to this whilst you're watching as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgXsRlZ7xhA

Interlude piece 1

“All of our days”

Hospitals are so bland, so stark, so white and sterile, that when you get world shattering news, it comes as all the more surprise.

Words I’d never wanted to hear but always dreaded rebound and reverberate throughout my skull, my whole being focused on those earth-shattering lines.

“I’m afraid, Mr. Tsukino that it’s cancer.” The doctor is cool, calm and collected even saying those words. No doubt trying to keep me calm, to stop me from freaking out.

Don’t panic dear doctor, I’m not freaking out, I can already guess what type of cancer it is. “Let me guess, brain tumor, malignant and fast acting?”

The doctor nods once, somberly, “You seem unsurprised,” he remarks, watching my facial expressions.

“My older brother,” is the short clipped response and I see the facts fall into alignment behind the doctor’s eyes.

“Then you know that we can offer –“

I cut him off with a curt, “no.” The doctor blinks in bafflement and opens his mouth but I override him. “No thank you, I’ve seen what these cures and treatments do. Yeah they extend the remains of a life but at what cost to the people around me? I’ve seen the damage it inflicts doctor; I’m not about to put my family through it. Again.”

“You are aware that if you do not have treatment I can only give you an estimate of several weeks to two months maximum.” The doctor is deadly serious, no longer trying to exude calm and peace, instead warning me about the perils to come.

“Like I said before, no thanks.”

The doctor seems almost puzzled but sighs in defeat. “Very well, but if you ever change your mind…”

I shake my head. “I remember my brothers final weeks. He looked more like a corpse before he died, thin, ill and nothing like the brother I knew. I’d rather my family remember me as I am now, not sickly and frail on a hospital bed.”

It had been hell watching my brother die, inch by inch. Hell on the whole family. No, if I was going to go the same way, I’d rather it be on my own terms.

“Well, I cannot do anything else, apart from recommend that you update or create your will.” I snort at his comment and rise from the chair and thank him for his time, before rapidly leaving the sterile room.

All down the corridor I have one word ricocheting round my head.

Cancer.

The thing that took my brother is now going to claim me. Runs in the family I guess. I heave a sigh and clear my head with a slight shake and leave the hospital into the sunlight. I pull my phone out of my jacket pocket and punch in a number.

Three rings, then a gruff voice answers, “Iseri speaking.”

“Kiritsugu, it’s me, I need something done short notice.”

There’s an exhale of breath down the other end of the phone line; knowing Kiri, he’s probably smoking in his office. “What do you need doing?” he asks slowly, his voice laced with idle curiosity.

“I suddenly find myself needing to write a will.”

The silence that follows that statement says it all.

“I’ll see you at your office!” I chirp cheerfully, then hang up, savoring the feeling of getting one up on my friend.

---

In under half an hour, I’m sat in Kiritsugu’s office down town, the dark haired, dark eyed scruffy man eyeing me intensely. “Explain to me, why you need to write a will now,” he says calmly, smoke wafting around his head like a small, demented halo.

“Cancer,” I say bluntly, the normally calm man opposite me sucking in a breath at my words. “Malignant tumor in my brain,” I steamroll on ahead, getting the initial shock out of the way, “Doctor gave me a few weeks, maybe two months tops without treatment. I refused treatment.”

Kiritsugu stubs his cigarette out and regards me gravely. “Why did you turn down treatment? I know you have enough money for treatment so why refuse?”

“I’m not putting my family through seeing me wither away via a treatment that won’t cure me, instead just let me cling on for a few short, painful months.”

Kiritsugu leans back on his chair and muses internally for a few moments. He nods, then stands and heads over to a filing cabinet and rummages around for a few moments then sighs. “Give me a moment.” He leaves the room, the door closing behind him, leaving me in the quiet of the room.

Iseri and I have an odd relationship. I first met the man when I was initially setting up my restaurants in Japan. I had come to Iseri, who was only a small time lawyer at the time to get some advice on business law. I’d been recommended him by my first wife’s family as they had done some dealings with him as well. We’d rapidly become steadfast business associates and friends, him helping me with the legal side of things for a few free meals for him and his family.

The man, although seeming as aloof as an iceberg has a kind heart and he would go well out of his way for those he considered friends. Point in case, the way he’d cleared his appointments for me as soon as I’d asked to see him.

My idle thoughts snap to attention as the door opens and Kiritsugu steps into the room with a younger woman behind him. The young woman has her dark hair tied back into two ponytails, dressed in a dark red business suit and dress. Her crystal blue eyes flicker over me, analyzing me in rapid order.

Kiritsugu introduces the young woman as his daughter, Rin. She smiles at me, confers with her father about the papers they’re haggling over and then scowls at something he says before she leaves the room in a whirl of hair and a flash of red. “My daughters specialty lies in will making and family affairs area of the law,” Kiritsugu says slowly, “she was a little put out over the fact I was doing her normal work.”

“I wouldn’t want anyone else doing this Kiri,” I say softly, “not even your own daughter, no offence intended.”

“None taken,” is the affable reply. “Now, lets get down to this… morbid business.” Kiritsugu goes through the paperwork first, checking a few things before nodding. “Lets get the basics down first. Who gets what?”

“A little bit of a mercenary way to put it don’t you think?” Kiritsugu simply raises one fine eyebrow at me and I sigh in defeat. “Fine,” I mutter childishly, “give me a moment to think.”

It doesn’t take me long to decide. I nod at Kiritsugu and he clicks his pen into a ready position. “First, I’d like Akiho to get my old bike, she’d look after it and appreciate it.” As I speak I’m oddly aware of the scratch of the pen that Kiri wields on the paper in front of him. “I also want her to receive an allowance every month. I know she’s earning but teachers don’t always earn much, so I’m sure she’d appreciate it.”

I gather my thoughts for a moment. "Akihiro gets a monthly shot as well; I also want him to get a cash sum on my death to help him set up his own place. He can also get the keys to the old flat that I kept, he’d like that, a place of his own.”

I sigh, this part was the hard part. The twins. The apples of my eye. “Arashi gets my old car when he’s able to drive. Once he leaves Yamaku he gets a monthly payment too, at least for two years I know my account is good for that. I know that he’s got ambitions to go into the family business like Akihiro, so I’ll set him up for an apprenticeship with some of the best, if he wants to take it.”

My throat feels dry. I take a sip of water to ease the scratchiness and then cough once. Ah, my dear sweet little phantom. My passing is going to hurt you the most.

Akiho semi estranged herself from me several years ago, due to the distance that I began to keep from her. She looked so much like her mother but with my hair, at times, though it pains me to admit it, it hurt to see such a reminder.

Akihiro see’s me more as a brother than a father figure, due to us working together for several years.

Arashi has always felt that I doted on Ayane more than him, that Ayane was the golden child. In some ways he is right, I did give her more attention, to nurture her talent but I loved both of them equally. Arashi has always been cool to me, wary, not as fiercely attached as his sister.

I begin to speak again, thoughts clicking into place like building blocks. “Ayane gets mostly the same as her brother, they can share the car, no wait, she won't be able to drive it due to her epiliepsy. I also… I also want Ayane to inherit the company.” The pen stops and I look up to see Kiritsugu staring at me.

“I had assumed you would want Akiho or most likely Akihiro to inherit,” he says after a moments pause.

I shake my head, “Akiho would rather remain as a teacher, and Akihiro has already made it clear to me that he’d rather build his own legacy then inherit mine. Arashi wants to follow Akihiro in the chef steps, and it would be… difficult for him to manage the empire. Ayane makes the best choice and she has the talent, like her brothers but she I feel is better suited to lead.” I take a deep breath, “So I want her to inherit my chain of restaurants, either when she leaves Yamaku or after university, whichever she takes.”

“What about your wife?” Kiritsugu asks softly.

And now we get to the bone of contention. Kiri has never liked my second wife and at first I thought he was mad, but lately… Well let’s just say that I’m glad I sent the twins off to Yamaku. “She gets her own account, filled with enough to see her comfortable for the rest of life and to help look after the children, on the stipulation that she manages my estate until Ayane takes over. If she doesn’t look after the estate then the money gets sent to Akiho and she can manage the estate temporarily.”

“And the executor?”

“My wife,” I state with a final bluntness. “Look Kiritsugu as much as you don’t like her, she’s my wife and I love her –“

“As much as Amaya?”

The mere mention of her name cuts me to the bone. Even now, years after he passing, my heart still aches for her. “No nowhere near as much as I loved Amaya,” I admit bitterly, “but I love her enough.”

I can see the disbelief in his eyes as Kiritsugu begrudgingly writes down my second wife as my wills executor. I know Kiri thinks that I married her out of a sense of responsibility and he is right.

Too much wine and the loneliness got to me and in my weakened, grief and alcohol addled state, she comforted me and one thing led to another. It only takes the once and we were both drunk enough to forget any form of protection and well the end result of our dalliance is now attending high school.

I couldn’t leave her in the lurch, simply blame it on the moment, the loneliness and the alcohol and condemn her and my unborn children. Being a single mother is frowned upon here, not like back in merry old Blighty, so I did the right thing and took responsibility like a man should.

I didn’t marry my second wife for love, but in time I’ve come to love her in my own way.

“Well,” Kiritsugu states a few moments later after he finishes his scribbles. “I’ll document this properly later, but we have the basic details down. If you want to add anything more, best to do it know especially with your ah…”

“Impending death?” I remark flippantly, wincing when Kiri turns a dead eyed glare on me. Guess he didn’t appreciate that joke.

He sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. “Sorry Connor, but you’re a friend and knowing this… and hearing you be so casual about it gets to me.”

I sigh and apologize. I shouldn’t be so flippant, but now I know I have a time bomb in my skull I intend to live each day as my last. The masquerade is in just over a week, so I’ll make the firework display the best yet, get a proper crew in, do the whole works, really make it an evening to remember.

“If I think of anything Kiri, I’ll email it to you and pay any necessary fees.” I stand and to to my surprise, Kiri grabs me into a hug and then steps back hands on my shoulders.

“You’re a braver man than me,” he admits, “I would probably be a wreck by now.”

“Still in a semi state of shock to be honest,” I confess, “how much do I owe you for the time?”

“Nothing,” Kiritsugu states with a tone of finality. “Think of it as a favor for a friend.”

The gesture touches me and I feel tears pricking the corner of my eyes. “Thank you,” I say gruffly, “you sappy bastard.”

Kiritsugu grins back, small pinpricks of moisture gleaming in the corner of his eyes. “You’re the one that’s got tears in his eyes!”

“So do you!” I retort.

We laugh at our stupidity and I seize him in a gruff man hug. “Drink?” I ask roughly.

“I can bunk off early, perk of being the boss. I know a bar that serves some excellent whisky not far from here.”

“Lead on dear sir! Lead on!”

The headache I nurse the following morning is so worth it!

***
The following morning standing with a pounding headache in front of my mirror in the bathroom, I really begin to process things.

It’s an odd feeling having your own death loom over you. In some ways it feels oddly liberating, in others, I darkly feel the touch of the reaper and the fear it brings.

It’s also oddly melancholic and depressing, knowing that I’m never going to get to see my any grandchildren, or walk any of my children down the aisle, or help my boys get plastered on their stag nights, or horribly humiliate them with speeches at their weddings.

I will not see any of these things. I will be long gone by the time these events occur.

Today is a Saturday, so Akiho will have a half-day. The wife is still sleeping, so after my morning routine, I take a gentle brunch on the veranda, answer a few emails, ensure the empire is still running smoothly and then drive into the city, to see my eldest daughter.

***
I wait outside her school gates, and about an hour after the students are let out, I see her distinctive blonde mop of hair, that she inherited from me, bobbing towards me.

She recognizes the bike instantly and does a double take.

“Dad?” She asks hesitantly, adjusting her glasses.

I remove my helmet and grin widely at her. “Afternoon sunshine!” She flushes an adorable shade of red at the childhood nickname.

“Can I ask why you’re here?”

That’s Akiho for you, always prim and proper, with a rigid bearing. “Can’t a father come and see his daughter?”

Akiho purses her lips. “It is… unusual and out of character for you,” she watches me shrewdly as we talk, her emerald green eyes – her mothers eyes and oh how it lances through me to see Ayama’s eyes watching me so carefully, so guardedly – until I finally gave and make up an on the spot, bullshit excuse about checking that she’s attending the ball next week and that I wanted a drive.

She sighs at my confession and regards me with a look that I suspect she reserves for her misbehaving students. It makes me feel like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

I grin as a wicked idea latches onto me. I toss my bike keys at her and she instinctively catches them and looks bewildered for a minute. “Fancy taking a spin?” She stares at me for a moment, her brain still catching up. “Take a spin on mine, I know you’ve always wanted to.”

“But what about…”

“I’ll take yours, we’ll go for a spin. Sound good?”

Her grin is bright enough to fuel a power plant. She spins on her heel and heads back into the school, and less than five minutes later comes out from the school car park wheeling her bike with her gear on.

“I bet the kids think you’re the coolest teacher they’ve ever had,” I remark off handedly and I hear a muffled splutter of ‘Daaaaaadddd’ from under the helmet and I grin to myself, still got it.

We trade keys and I hop on her bike. It’s lighter than my old and battered Harley, so I’m going to have to watch the corners and gun the throttle less than usual. Akiho looks like a kid in a chocolate factory, cooing over the seats, leather, lights and chrome finishes and most importantly the monster of an engine. “Careful,” I warn her, “kicks like a pissed off mule at times, so be respectful.”

She nods curtly, does some pre drive checks then asks “Where are we going?”

I consider it for a moment then grin, “how about that hilltop drive that you passed your test on? We can stop at the top for a bit then head home.”

Akiho nods after a moment’s consideration, finishes adjusting the mirrors, then straddles the bike and then we’re off.

Watching Akiho drive my bike is like seeing another person. Under all the prim and ‘teacherness’ is a wild child and she lets loose on the bike. The engine roars at her command, the strands of blonde hair not under the helmet, fluttering in the wake of the breeze. At points I think I can even her laughing, and shouting in sheer undeniable joy as we race out of the city and up into the hills outside.

I think we break a few speed limits once we’re outside the city proper. It doesn’t matter to us as we duck and weave past cars, pushing machines to near limits and laughing as we do so. When we reach the peak of the hill, we skid to a halt and after sitting still for a moment, dismount the bikes and remove our helmets.

Akiho’s skin is flush with a pink sheen of excitement and she leaps on me in a hug and I spin her around on the spot, laughing in unison with her. “That was awesome!” she near shrieks and then tries to compose herself hurriedly. I laugh and rummage in one of the saddlebags and toss her a bottle of water. She takes it gratefully and gulps it down in five large swallows and then sighs in contentment. “Why?” she asks eventually, gesturing at my bike.

“Because one day it’ll be yours and I need to know how well you’ll handle it.” I offer her a crooked grin. “I don’t think I have anything to worry about,” I say with a small laugh, “you handled her like a pro, took me a couple of years to fully get to grips with the power and handling of it. Good job.”

It’s the truth, all of it. It will be hers ones day, just a bit sooner than she thinks unfortunately. This time Akiho flushes from embarrassment and the praise.

We say nothing for a few moments and then I hear a quiet, “thank you,” from my daughter. I’m so proud of her. She’s done so well for herself in just a few short years. “Dad?”

“Yes oh darling daughter?”

I hear a small scoff from Akiho before she continues. “What was that lullaby you used to sing us?”

“Odd question,” I reply as I rummage through my memories.

“Something one of my students is doing for a music projects, asking about lullabies.”

“It’s called all of our days,” I blurt out, the memory pouncing upon me.

“Do you have a copy?”

I grin at her. “Give me a couple of weeks, I can do a fresh one sung by yours truly.”

Akiho snorts but gives me a grin and we shake on it, before heading to our original bikes and peeling off into the fading dusk.

***

One week later

The chain of restaurants I manage sometimes requires the personal touch.

Today I’m at one of my best performing restaurants, and after all, it should be my best, as my own boy runs a tight ship. It’ll be a shame when he strikes out on his own.

It’s a bright bustling place, with plenty of hustle and bustle as chefs in their whites scurry around the steam wreathed kitchen, my boy Akihiro issuing commands and bellowing as needed.

I wince at some of the choice words he employs though. He certainly didn’t get that habit from me; he acquired it while he was out on his apprenticeship. That choice language, even delivered in another language, is eerily familiar of one of my old chef colleagues that I was out on apprenticeship with myself many years ago.

“That language really necessary son?” I call out over the general din. The bustle stops as Akihiro turns and blinks wide-eyed at my appearance.

“Dad?” he asks puzzled, “The fuck are you doing here?”

“Charming language,” I reply.

“Get the hell back to work, lunch service is in an hour,” Akihiro barks at the gawking chefs as he strides over to me. “Seriously Dad, what are you here for?”

“Just the personal touch, wanted to see how things were doing.” I give an easy grin, and then add, “and to check your still coming to the masquerade, it’s only in a couple of days after all.”

Akihiro gives a pain sigh of the long suffering, “yes I will be there Dad.”

“With a partner?” I needle gently.

Akihiro growls under his breath before uttering a curt and brusque, “no, coming stag, exactly the same as the past few years.”

“A shame, dashing specimen such as yourself.” I chuckle at the aggravated expression on Akihiro’s face before throwing my arm around his shoulders and we walk into his little office.

The office is small, a desk, two chairs, a phone on the desk and a large filing cabinet and a stretching to the ceiling a bookcase, groaning under the weight of paperwork and recipe books.

There is no semblance of order to the mess and it makes me cringe to look at it. I like my paperwork organized, needless to say Akihiro takes after his mother on the organization front. It’s oddly nostalgic seeing a mess of paperwork like this, Amaya left things everywhere and when we first lived together, in England, I’d often end up tripping over books and files that she left scattered over our small flat.

Whilst I’ve been looking around the office, Akihiro has been on the phone, making an order judging by the paperwork under his fingertips. He hangs up and looks at me expectantly. I pick up a plain piece of paper lurking under the chaos, easily spotted under the colored order forms and health and safety jargon.

It’s a hand written menu. I scan over the contents and I can clearly see where Akihiro has got his inspiration. I’m flattered by it to be honest. “These look good,” I comment idly, Akihiro’s eyes lighting up at the praise.

“Some ideas I was throwing around, they still need some testing and refinement,” he says off handedly.

“Well, no time like the present,” I say with a grin. “What say you chef?”

Akihiro barks a laugh at that and bounds off into the kitchen and I hear him bark an order. “SHIROU! FRONT AND CENTER!”

I poke my head out of the office and see a red head standing in front of Akihiro. “You’re in charge of the dinner shift today.” Shirou’s eyes widen in disbelief and Akihiro gently places a hand on his shoulder. “I’ve been watching you Shirou over the past couple of months and I know you’re a damn good chef. When I open up my own place, and that will be in a year or two, I want you to be my sous chef.”

Shirou’s jaw drops. “He can be your sous chef now,” I chime in, watching the lads eyes bug out even more.

“Excuse me?” Akihiro speaks up, regarding me with an eyebrow raised.

“You’ve never picked a sous chef for this place. I am as close to god here anyway and I approve whole-heartedly.”

I think Shirou is about to have a heart attack from the attention he’s having. Akihiro grins at me, nods and then says, “Well, word from god it is then. From now on you’re my second Shirou. Your word is as good as mine.”

“I… I don’t know what to say,” Shirou splutters out.

“How about yes…” Akihiro offers with a grin and Shirou laughs and shakes his hand. “Then all we have to do is organize the paperwork.” He turns and then raises his voice.

“RIGHT YOU LOT! AS OF TODAY SHIROU IS MY SOUS CHEF! HIS WORD IS AS GOOD AS MINE WHEN I’M NOT HERE!” The chefs’ hustle and bustle dies as they regard the steadily shrinking Shirou. Akihiro mutters something to him and he stands straighter, staring evenly at the other chefs.

“Well?” Akihiro adds a moment later. “Dinner isn’t going to cook it’s fucking self is it?” The kitchen bursts back into life and Shirou grins at Akihiro and says something that I can’t hear. “I know you won’t let me down Shirou.”

“We going to do some testing or what?” Interject with an easy grin and Akihiro laughs.

“If you can keep up with me old timer.”

“Ha! Remember who taught you most of what you know!”

We spend the rest of the evening experimenting with techniques and flavors and bonding over food, dirty banter and insulting each others cooking technique.

I’m sorry that this is the last time we’ll have like this my son.

***
The day of the masquerade.

“My little phantom! There you are!” Ayane squirms under my praise and the hug I grab her in. “And who is your delightful companion?” I ask, regarding the smaller girl besides my youngest daughter.

“Jakuzure Fujiko, at your service,” she says with a small curtsey.

“She’s adorable,” I stage whisper to Ayane who flushes with embarrassment at my antics

“Dad!”

Fujiko just giggles and I grin in triumph at my youngest daughter. She sighs in long suffering at my antics. “Home come there was a last minute change Dad? Normally I do a piece for the masquerade.”

“Last minute change of plans, my dear, I am the ringmaster of this party after all!” I wink at Fujiko who laughs demurely, behind one of her hands.

Ayane sighs and places her head in her palms. Ah the joys of fatherhood, humiliating your children – it never gets old!

“You’ll find out in good time. Now, have you seen your wayward brother?”

“Which one?”

I sigh, “Arashi of course.”

“Skulking over by the drinks. Uncle Gin’s kids said something.” Ayane clenches one fist and her chin juts out. This is going to get ugly. Ayane’s reaction to defend her brother is to punch first and ask questions later, so seeing her issue some kind of restraint means Yamaku is working some kind of wonder on her temper.

I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose. “I’ll go and speak to him, go dance with Fujiko, sure she’ll appreciate it.” The delicate flush that spreads across the girls face makes me cackle inwardly. Crush on my daughter eh?

I slip through the dancing crowds leaving Ayane and her blushing dance partner behind and slink up behind Arashi. I’m about to clap a hand on his shoulder when he turns and gives me a very cat like grin and waggles a glass at me.

Ah he must’ve seen me in the glass. Clever lad.

[Hi dad,] he signs, taking a sip from the glass. I get a whiff of fruit juice from the glass and I breathe a sigh of relief.

[I heard Gin’s kids were bothering you.]

[Ignored them,] is the shrugged response, [they haven’t got two brain cells between them.]

[Ayane was worried about you.]

Arashi cocks an eyebrow, [I can look after myself.]

I dip my head in acknowledgement and leave it at that. [How’s the new school holding out?] School had always been a tricky issue for my youngest son as bullying for his lack of speech had always led to confrontations, especially from his overprotective sister and it had led to them changing schools several times, but hopefully Yamaku was a new, fresh start for the pair of them.

[Good, but I got in trouble with the student council.]

I process that statement and then shake my head. [How?]

[The president likes to make wagers. I challenged her… lost and am now working for the council.]

Her? How interesting. [She?] I ask, [Is she attractive?]

Arashi glares at me and I chuckle under my breath. I guess that’s a yes. [Glad to hear that you’re finding your feet. Look out for your sister though.]

Arashi frowns at me. [She’s normally the one looking after me,] he remarks.

[She’s not as strong as she looks,] I say, leaving Arashi to chew over that remark as I swim back into the crowd. “She’ll need you sooner rather than later Arashi,” I remark under my breath, once I’m well out of earshot. I feel old and weary as I make my way through the crowds.

I check my watch. I’ve got an hour to liaise with the fireworks crew and get on stage. Nearly time for the show to begin…

***
An hour later

Standing on stage, even in front of a smaller crowd is still nerve wracking. I don’t know how Ayane does it, I really, really don’t.

I step up to the microphone and give it a tap, and the noise draws everyone’s attention. “Good evening everyone. Normally at this point, Ayane, my youngest daughter would take to the stage and regale you with her musical talents but this evening I’m going to be taking the reigns for one number.” I clear my throat and look out into the crowd. I see Akiho and Akihiro lingering near the back with their younger siblings, watching me with puzzled expressions.

“A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to my eldest daughter, Akiho and she reminded me of a lullaby that I used to sing to my children, many, many years ago. I’ve gone back to this lullaby, reworked it into something more suitable for this evening.”

I take another sip of water and as I reach for the microphone I chuckle and add, “I know we have an international crowd, but I will be singing this in English, so I hope you can understand.”

I gesture to the orchestra and they begin, the note rising and falling and I suck air into my lungs… and begin.

This song is for you my four beautiful, magical and fascinating children.

Long ago, before we met
I dreamed about you
The peace you’d bring,
The songs we’d sing.
The way you’d make things new.


I did dream about you my children before we met and I hope you dream about me when I’m gone, remember me when I’m gone.

Then one day, you arrived
I heard your angel cry.
Helpless, small and perfect
Welcome to your life.


I remember each of your births my children.

Akiho, long, drawn out, endless worrying and a whole pack of twenty smoked in impatience and nerves whilst Amaya screamed in pain.

Akihiro was easier, quicker but he screamed his lungs out when he entered the world.

The twins were silent when they arrived, but what I remember most about the events was holding these little bundles of perfection close to my chest and marveling at life created, in these tiny squirming batches of frail flesh.

And on that day, I made a vow
Whispered and true.
No matter what, no matter how,
I made this promise to you.


I remember singing this to you all at points, rocking you to sleep.

I can feel tears pricking the corners of my eyes as I continue to sing.

I will cling, I will clutch,
I’ll hold onto you, I won’t turn away.
I won’t leave, I won’t go,
I will stay with you, all our days


I’m such a liar.

Year of joy, have passed since then,
With time I’ve seen you grow
Watched you play, new each day
I begged the time to slow.


Oh my children, I’ve watched you grow, so quickly it feels, from your first words, to your first steps and everything else and all of it has been a joy, but I will never see weddings, grandchildren or anything the further future holds.

And though I miss the little girl,
You’ve made me awful proud,
Funny how our lives change,
Cause you’re my hero now.


It’s true, although I miss the little ones they once were, I’m so proud of what they’ve achieved and all of them are my hero’s.

But things in life will rearrange
Friends come and go
Don’t ever doubt, don’t ever fear
I’m always here and you know.

I will cling, I will clutch,
I’ll hold onto you, I won’t turn away,
I won’t leave, I won’t go,
I will stay with you all our days

I will stay with you all our days.


As the notes vanish into the air from the final strains of the orchestra, I sigh bitterly. I’m such a hypocrite.

I will stay with you all of our days.

I’m sorry my children…

But I can’t.
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

azumeow
Posts: 409
Joined: Thu Jul 03, 2014 1:04 am

Re: Learning the blues. Interlude 1 up.

Post by azumeow » Wed Dec 24, 2014 10:44 pm

Well, Brythain 2.0, I enjoyed that, even though it got the tear ducts revved up.

Also, Kiritsugu and Rin? Driving me up the wall, good buddy. Driving me up the wall. See you definitely got some ideas from All Our Days.

Personal story time: Probably not gonna get to do those things with my dad. He's 62 already, I'm 20, and he's not getting in any better shape. My mom's at least got a decent heart, so she might make it if her lungs don't implode and her liver doesn't dissolve. If my dad picks up after his own father, he's got enough time to at least meet the grandkids, but reading Connor go through all that in his head...it's making me tearbend. I feel so, so terrible for this whole family. They don't deserve any of this.
Last edited by azumeow on Thu Dec 25, 2014 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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