Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#58—'Compromise')

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (04—Curiosity) (20141015)

Post by brythain » Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:02 am

AntonSlavik020 wrote:I liked it. I like scenes from different perspectives, and this take on the shop keeper was interesting.
Thanks! Hopefully, more to come from other perspectives.
forgetmenot wrote:Hoo man. And the shopkeeper complains that he doesn't have as much fanfic as other side characters. Glad to see you took a step in rectifying that.

It's a fun little one-shot; admittedly, I'm not sure it would have worked as anything else. Quite well done.
True, true. I wrote a tonne of short little sketches for almost all the characters, some more than once. It helped a lot. Thank you!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Alt Dreams (05—Ending/Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by brythain » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:12 pm

This is in honour of All Hallows' Eve.
It's a day on which worlds collide and blur, and what might have been rubs shoulders with what might yet be.

So here is the other ending that I planned for 'After The Dream'. It has ghosts in it. Enjoy.
Note: Lilly's 'actual' ending can be found here.



After The Dream
(Hisao's Alternative Ending)


I never thought I’d live this long. Long enough to retire from Yamaku, long enough to find a life and slowly, regretfully, lose it. But one thing I’ve learnt is that if you are given a chance at life, you must take it.

I turn away from the grave. I am already a seed in the wind, the loosed little parachute of a dandelion’s last orgy. I look toward the sky, just as my artist friend, gone and forgotten, would have wanted me to. I see nothing there.

I’m old. My mentor, Akio Mutou of beloved memory, is many years in his own grave. I haven’t many friends of my own. My earliest friends, they are long forgotten; my wife’s family is dead, my own likewise.

But today, there are two people here to provide support and kindness. A man, a woman. They are husband and wife, and of all the unlikely things—including my own long-extended lifespan—their marriage ranks among the most improbable.

She walks with poise, not loudly, but quietly; always, my lady of flowers has been that way. She can also be stern and severe when she wants, but she is not the shy and nervous girl I once knew. When Hanako Ikezawa married Hideaki Hakamichi, it was at a small service in a secret chapel in the mountains.

We could have been family, I suppose. It was not that I never loved Shizune; it was that she had been my boss. To her credit, she had behaved with perfect decorum for many years, never seeking to break my silent mourning after Emi’s untimely death. She, the Principal of the Academy; I, her Head of Sciences and then her faithful deputy.

I remember faintly the day I knew my mourning was over. I woke up. I was seventy-five years old, and Shizune too had been taken from me, years before. It is sometimes the case that love grows on you like moss, and you do not know it. Then along comes life, like a tsunami. It turns the land over, washes the house away, leaves you naked, blinking in the terror of it all.

I buried Emi when I was forty-five. I had told her many times of my love, and all I said had been true, and she was all I had. Shizune was buried for me, when I was seventy, and I’d never told her that I had come to love her, because I didn’t know if that was indeed the truth, and it wouldn’t have been fair to Emi, anyway.

I am eighty now, and I admit I have nothing left. I am frail, and old, and a dandelion seed in the wind. Hana and Hideaki are bringing me home to the mountains, to Andorra, so that I may die with my last friends, and no strangers. I say my last farewells, and hold their hands, as withered as mine, and go.

*****

It is a long flight, through Amsterdam and Toulouse, and then by winding roads for another three hours. It is cold, and I dream of another winter’s day more than sixty years ago, a day that changed my life. Old ghosts, these ghosts. Shin, Mai, Takumi, you don’t forget the names of some ghosts—least of all do I forget Iwanako. Her dark hair, her scent of warm flowers in the white snow, these are things I remember. My mind, it rambles, skipping the worst memories, the hospital and the stench of topical antiseptic and corridor bleach.

Hideaki is still strongly built. He took after his late father (oh, that infuriating man, but so kind to me in the end!) and became burly. He comes round to the door on my side, helps me down from the chunky SUV that has brought me to my new home. I can hear Hana already opening the door.

All around me, I feel the old ghosts leaving. This is my last home, and Japanese ghosts have no place here. I strain my hearing to listen, and my ears are preternaturally sensitive in the high mountain air, but there is nothing, and I am very, very tired.

That night, I awaken. I do not know what has woken me, at first. But I listen, and the fear begins to build. It is music, and not from any earthly violin or piano. It is something half my mind refuses to remember, and the other half refuses to hear.

It is the sound of a music box. If I am right, it is small, crafted from plain and undistinguished wood, and yet charming in appearance. It holds the ashes of my past, if things are as I think they are.

My body refuses to act. In the complete darkness, it is as if I am buried in the earth, dead and yet alive. I don’t know how long the music plays. I have never measured the time it takes for the mechanism to run down. Mutou would have chided me for that, my irrelevant neurons tell me randomly.

Eventually I fall asleep. It seems that at least one ghost has followed me here. You cannot run forever. But one is better than a multitude.

*****

In the morning, I hear Hana and Hideaki whispering about something, but that’s their life, they’re a couple, I don’t have to eavesdrop. I have breakfast before me, something simple, tasty. A porridge of sorts, a poached egg. Thyme! I raise my head and I know Hana knows what I’ve just learnt—she’s finally perfected one of her recipes. I smile.

It’s a cold day, although the sunlight prickles along my skin. Then, there’s another presence in the room. It cannot be. I let my spoon drop. It clatters on the plate. “Lilly?” I whisper.

The room has gone silent.

“Is that… Hisao?”

The room goes more silent than silence itself.

My heart shudders. You think that heartbreak is a metaphor, a dramatic turn of phrase? Oh, no, it is not. My breath catches as it did thirty-five years ago, when I thought I’d never breathe again. I forget to move. My blood is silver in my veins. There is no air, no air at all. Perhaps that’s why all the voices are old and whispery.

“Hisao?”

And then, there’s nothing. Or at least, nothing much. Fortunately, I retain some sense of humour. Of course it’s Lilly, if anyone’s ghost would be the last, it’d be hers. Last as she was first, in some wilderness cottage. My life unwinds, as they say it does at such moments.

“Hisao!”

My heart clenches. What, I still have a heart? Hnngg. This dying thing, it takes too long. It’s like that old Titanic movie. It goes on and on and on. Maybe I’m dreaming, still lying in bed somewhere, in some hospital, with Iwanako sitting beside me.

Let’s just agree to have this continue a while, I say, offering an amused prayer to whatever gods sit in these old mountains. Somewhere, an icy spirit laughs like the breaking of clean crystal.

Dimly, I hear movement. Then, a presence at my side. Cold, spectral fingers brush across my face, across my heart. So. I am to be tortured in the afterlife. I resign myself to my fate.

“It –is– him! That’s your mystery guest!”

Hideaki’s voice replies. “Well, birthday surprises and all, cousin.”

Silence. Then, “It’s not fair to him. His heart sounds all right now, but the journey is a lengthy and arduous one. The poor man must be exhausted.”

“It’s not only for you, Lilly,” Hana says, a little sharply.

Another little package of silence fills the room. Possibly, with a ribbon on top. Her birthday? Oh, yes, so it is. Memories fade, don't they? I let myself go, and the dandelion seed floats away.

*****

There is a little tea-room, redolent with the fragrance of the fine tea brewing in one corner. A chess set has been placed upon the table, the pieces all arranged. There I am, on one side of it. The radiance of the summer sun warms the room a bit. Lilly is sitting next to me, and I think her warmth is greater.

I reach out for a particular pawn. I haven’t played for a long while, so it takes me time to find the piece. I say out loud, “… d4,” moving the white queen’s pawn up into the fray for my third move of the game. Hanako takes a short sharp breath, surprised by my new opening, suddenly very different from the Giuoco Piano of the last few weeks.

Lilly giggles unexpectedly. “You’re improving, Hisao. Or at least, your repertoire has broadened. That is a rather… eloquent opening.”

“With you teaching me how from Braille chess manuals, I don’t see how it could be otherwise.”

She laughs. Her hand finds its way to mine, holds it tight. “I must confess that the role reversal has felt rather odd to me at times. But some things don’t change.”

I feel a little blush as I realize my faux pas. And then I figure out that she’s joking. I turn to her, feeling the heat that rises from her body.

Across the board, Hanako whispers, “… exd4,” capturing my adventurous pawn.

“Lilly,” I say, speaking to this ghost who is no ghost at all, “It’s probably too late to make any promises at all. But… may I make a request instead?”

“Go ahead, Hisao. I promise you that we’ll remain friends regardless.”

I smile at her, knowing she’ll be able to hear it even if she can’t see it. “I know I can't promise you that I'll always be around, or that we'll be together forever.”

“Go on, old man Nakai.” There’s a teasing lilt in her voice.

“Will you celebrate Tanabata with me this year? It’s to make up for one that we missed sixty-three years ago.”

I hear surprise, perhaps tinged with wonder. “You… remembered that?”

“I may be old and blind, but I haven’t lost all my memory yet!”

I hear her raise her head a little as she places her other hand on my cheek, giving a small, amused giggle. I smile absentmindedly at how earnest it is, almost girlish in its lightness.

“I will.”

*****

And they lived happily ever after.

=====
alt index
Last edited by brythain on Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:28 am, edited 5 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams (05—Ending/Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by Rhodri » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:43 pm

Damnit Bryhain, why must you fill me up with feels from your Sorry Corner (more like a mansion now)!
"She also ties you up to a chair. You're gonna like that. Chairs are good. Chairs are your friend."

BeeFhGhost, Jan 15th 2012.

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Re: Alt Dreams (05—Ending/Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by brythain » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:05 pm

Rhodri wrote:Damnit Brythain, why must you fill me up with feels from your Sorry Corner (more like a mansion now)!
That's not my sorry corner, it's my Andorra corner!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams (05—Ending/Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by Serviam » Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:15 am

Something tells me that's actually Misha's last chapter and not some alternate ending.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

In order of completion:
Lilly > Hanako > Rin > Emi
Currently on: Shizune

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Re: Alt Dreams (05—Ending/Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:21 am

Serviam wrote:Something tells me that's actually Misha's last chapter and not some alternate ending.
What? Even I couldn't see that! :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (05—Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by Rhodri » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:29 pm

So where is the divergence point?

In the main continuity, Hisao sight was the first to go when his implant failed, so in this timeline did Shizune and Nurse get him to MGH in time to save the rest of him? Or was it something that happened with age? And without Hisao's death, the Nakai Foundation isn't kickstarted into action so none of the progress in medical science, which effects A LOT of the other characters (Rin and Miki most prominent in my mind.)

Plus, there's this
my wife’s family is dead, my own likewise.
The lack of Akiko and Akira would suggest that...
A: The divergence point happens further back in the time line in that Hisao and Emi never had kids.
B: The 'untimely death' that claimed Emi also took the kids. Knowing how evil you are, it wouldn't surprise me.
"She also ties you up to a chair. You're gonna like that. Chairs are good. Chairs are your friend."

BeeFhGhost, Jan 15th 2012.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (05—Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 31, 2014 7:35 pm

Rhodri wrote:So where is the divergence point?

In the main continuity, Hisao sight was the first to go when his implant failed, so in this timeline did Shizune and Nurse get him to MGH in time to save the rest of him? Or was it something that happened with age? And without Hisao's death, the Nakai Foundation isn't kickstarted into action so none of the progress in medical science, which effects A LOT of the other characters (Rin and Miki most prominent in my mind.)

Plus, there's this
my wife’s family is dead, my own likewise.
The lack of Akiko and Akira would suggest that...
A: The divergence point happens further back in the time line in that Hisao and Emi never had kids.
B: The 'untimely death' that claimed Emi also took the kids. Knowing how evil you are, it wouldn't surprise me.
In this case, there was a tragic family outing which Hisao didn't go for, since he (like Mutou) became a school-is-my-life workaholic.
(There went Meiko, the senior Nakais, Emi and the kids, all at once. It was either that or drug-induced sterility.)
That explained two things: 1) he had no surviving close family; 2) he remained close to (but not intimate with) Shizune.

My first plan was very uncomplicated, very slice-of-life and no Family business. Some people might have liked that.
Also, not so many characters, since I hadn't thought as far as Kenji, Yuuko, Natsume, Naomi, Nurse, Akira, Mutou, Rika... and I wasn't so sure about Miki.
Hisao actually almost manages to forget Lilly, in the weight of his personal tragedies.

So Hisao lived to a ripe but lonely (and eventually blind) old age.
Then two of his friends decided it was about time, since a third friend had retired to Andorra with them... :)
The other alternate ending involved not Lilly/Hanako/Hideaki, but someone else. You can guess whom it was, of course.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (05—Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by dewelar » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:15 pm

I would have been Quite Interested to see how the mosaic Developed had it taken that path. I know of your fondness for first love über alles, so I expect its shape would have been quite different. I also wonder what path it might have taken had you gone from a particular Bad Ending instead of the Neutral one you chose. In fact, I could almost weep for What Might Have Been :wink:.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (05—Halloween Special) (20141031)

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 31, 2014 11:37 pm

dewelar wrote:I would have been Quite Interested to see how the mosaic Developed had it taken that path. I know of your fondness for first love über alles, so I expect its shape would have been quite different. I also wonder what path it might have taken had you gone from a particular Bad Ending instead of the Neutral one you chose. In fact, I could almost weep for What Might Have Been :wink:.
8)
Actually, my next major project might actually be something like that. I'll call it 'Until The End' or something. This time, better and wiser planning, perhaps—considering all the interesting and useful and outright more pleasing ideas that have been planted in my head by people like you. :)

And that's excluding this wondrous thing: yet another of my obvious and logical options was Misha ending up with Hideaki. :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (06—Shadow of Truth) (20141117)

Post by brythain » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:20 am

I had the idea for this about seven months ago, while wondering about Misha's arc.
Then someone posted a rather disturbing image on /r/katawashoujo over at reddit.
And I dusted off my notes and finished the piece.



Cold Comfort

She tossed naked in her sleep, the firmness of the mattress no cure for the aches of her heart. Clothes made her feel fat. It was unfair. She knew how Shizune did it; her friend’s school uniforms were tailored to fit and cost more than most of her own dresses.

And now this. She couldn’t sleep. Not with the constant memory of that brief moment of ambiguity and tension and pain.

****

“Please, Misha?” he’d said. “Is there anything I can really do about my life? Would you comfort me?”

The word ‘comfort’ was the problem. Comfort was something you gave and it led to other things. Comfort was something undefined and sometimes became something unfair for both parties. She thought of comfort as something like emotional prostitution. But then, she’d had a painful childhood.

“Hicchan!~” she’d replied. “It’s not like that between us! I’m Shicchan’s friend and we’re all friends and…”

She’d been too flustered to continue. Was it possible, she’d thought then, that Hisao Nakai was proposing a romantic relationship? She’d looked at him, seen his desperation, and decided it was too much to think about.

As she’d opened her mouth slowly to speak, he’d interrupted. “No, no, it’s all right. I get it. I arrived late in the year, you’re all busy with the festival, there isn’t much I can do to make you all like me. It’s OK. I’ll find something to do.”

“But you can always join~ us in the Student Council, Hicchan!~ Shicchan likes you around, she told me so, she said you could make yourself useful!”

“Heh. Shizune hates me. You can see it in her frown. Nice try, Misha. I should be going. You’re a nice person, even if your friend is a bit uptight.”

She’d wanted to smack him a bit. Shizune was not like that at all. She wanted everyone to do well, she wanted the new boy to feel at home. But now, it felt as if they were failing at this task. He didn’t seem to want to feel at home.

She’d needed to say something. But nothing had come out, and he’d turned away, his carelessly-maintained brown hair blowing in a sudden gust, walked through the crowds toward the cafeteria, and disappeared. Behind her, Shizune had finished discussing class matters with Mutou-sensei. The two girls had stood there for a while, silently, unmoving.

[What did you say to him, Misha?]

[Shicchan, I said all the right things! But they became all wrong, and Misha is sad.]

After a while, Shizune had carefully grasped her wrist, and held it for a while, and that had felt really comforting.

*****

It was no use. She couldn’t sleep. She looked at her fluffy rabbit clock, and it winked at her balefully: 2.15 am. As she gazed at it, it flickered. 2.16 am.

The summer air was suddenly stifling. Misha threw on a light nightgown, pulled the belt tight around her waist, quietly opened the door and stepped into the corridor.

Would you comfort me?

Maybe he hadn’t meant it that way. Maybe… too many maybes.

EMERGENCY ACCESS TO ROOF. She had looked at that sign so many times without thinking about it. Students went up on the roof to do so many things, to have lunch, to watch the world go by, to look at the sky in daytime—or with the Astronomy Club, the night sky.

Tonight, the roof was deserted. It was clear, clean, a platform of perfection underneath a vault of stars.

She sat down and waited.

“Thanks for meeting me, Misha.”

There he was, a little scruffy, a little the worse for wear. His gaze seemed a little distracted, his cheeks a little hollow. Everything about him felt belittled, as if the pressure of his existence was leaking out like the air from a balloon.

“Hello, Hicchan!~” It was the trill at the end that was hardest for her, but she made the sound anyway. “How have you been?”

“I’m okay, considering. I still don’t have any friends. The last time anyone did anything for me was… Kenji. At least he brought booze and pretzels.”

“Are you comfortable?” It was inane, but she couldn’t think of anything to say.

“I don’t think I can be comforted any more. I heard this voice in my head. It said something like, ‘If one of them had loved you, perhaps things would’ve been different.’ I think that you were the only one I wanted, Misha.”

“Awww. Don’t say that, Hicchan!~”

“Goodbye, Misha. I guess it might not have worked out anyway.”

The sudden tears surprised her. He’d only wanted what Misha herself had hoped for from Shizune. And she’d turned him away as well.

His silent footsteps receded from her. The sun was rising.

Misha sat there until she couldn’t see any more of him. He turned, towards the end, and waved once. Then sunlight stabbed through him and scattered his shadow into the wind. And all she could see was the brand-new steel chain-link fence, gleaming in the morning breeze.

=====
alt index
Last edited by brythain on Wed Dec 17, 2014 4:28 am, edited 4 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (06—Misha/Comforting) (20141117)

Post by Valjean Lafitte » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:58 am

If you and Anagram-Daine were secretly conspiring to make me cry, he with his fan art, you with your fanfiction..you've succeeded. :(
"I wonder what is it about the rain?"
"Everything."

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (06—Misha/Comforting) (20141117)

Post by brythain » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:07 pm

Valjean Lafitte wrote:If you and Anagram-Daine were secretly conspiring to make me cry, he with his fan art, you with your fanfiction..you've succeeded. :(
Hey, if it's any consolation, if I write something like this, you can be assured that I cried too. Me, I'm a soppy kind of guy at heart. My Shizune is always teasing me about it, calls me a 'big old softie'. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (06—Misha/Comforting) (20141117)

Post by azumeow » Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:39 am

I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!!!!

My poor heart...
"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: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (06—Misha/Comforting) (20141117)

Post by brythain » Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:43 am

azumeow wrote:I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I hate you I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU I HATE YOU!!!!

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

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