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

WORDS WORDS WORDS
bhtooefr
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by bhtooefr » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:56 pm

Just a side comment unrelated to brythain's writing... you actually slash your zeros in handwriting? I thought I was the only person to do that!
bhtooefr's one-shot and drabble thread
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by Leaty » Tue Apr 07, 2015 7:04 pm

It's what classy people do. Though I once had a math teacher try to dissuade me from the habit because the computation zero looked too much to her like the empty set symbol (∅). Long story short, I didn't stop.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by brythain » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:15 pm

Leaty wrote:It's what classy people do. Though I once had a math teacher try to dissuade me from the habit because the computation zero looked too much to her like the empty set symbol (∅). Long story short, I didn't stop.
There must be some kind of similarity between our 'waveforms', so to speak. You happened to pick on the two pieces I've always felt I've never managed to get right even though they looked complete to me. You're uncannily spot-on when it comes to thinking about what might have been; perhaps it was I who had been lazy because what was at the back of my mind appears to be what eventually came to the forefront of your analysis. As I did with some of the others, I'll probably do a rewrite, and if or when I do, I'll credit you for the inspiration (and motivation).

Also, that makes three of us who slash our Os. Although I've stopped since my bank pointed out that some subliterate cheque processors (human and non-human) couldn't scan the slashed Os and that was why some of my cheques bounced.

EDIT: I added the deleted portion of 'Fighting Words' back in. I'm not sure it helps, but it's there if anyone is interested!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by Path » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:00 am

I’m thirsty, very thirsty
That made me laugh a little bit after reading how sexually interested Hisao is lying in bed thinking the over the events.

This is one interesting read I have read from you where I'm a little confuse on what is happening with Hisao. The second half seems like some lucid dream sequence that reminds me of Dumbo, where Dumbo gets drunk and has a weird hallucination. Its interesting to say the least.

And that ending, that M. Night Shyamalan twist. Kind of reminds me of Who did Hisao Marry? piece.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:32 pm

Path wrote:
I’m thirsty, very thirsty
That made me laugh a little bit after reading how sexually interested Hisao is lying in bed thinking the over the events.

This is one interesting read I have read from you where I'm a little confuse on what is happening with Hisao. The second half seems like some lucid dream sequence that reminds me of Dumbo, where Dumbo gets drunk and has a weird hallucination. Its interesting to say the least.

And that ending, that M. Night Shyamalan twist. Kind of reminds me of Who did Hisao Marry? piece.
Heh, I was trying to really get into the physical frustration that Hisao must feel, surrounded by all these interesting young ladies and yet knowing it could kill him. And all those drugs! — he must have some rather unusual dreams... if they are dreams at all.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by brythain » Tue Apr 28, 2015 12:20 am

I don't know where this continuity came from.
It strikes me that AtD would have been very different if any of this were 'true'.



Warmth—Five Stages

“H-Hisao?”

I look up, my musings on polymer chains disturbed, and yank the earplugs out of my ears. A cautious eye is peeking around the corner of my study carrel. The library before finals is like a morgue, generally. The air-conditioning makes the winter air less biting, somehow, but all of us are in heavier clothing.

More comes into view. The beautiful girl at the door is wearing a rust-red cardigan. I’m familiar with it because I gave it to her after Tanabata. It doesn’t go very well with the green of the school uniform’s skirt, to my everlasting regret. But she wears it anyway, to my great happiness.

“Hi, Hanako!” I whisper. In the deathly intensity of this pre-examination atmosphere, it sounds overly loud.

“Take a break?” she mouths, always unwilling to break the silence in her place of stillness.

“Sure,” I mouth back, getting up.

She smiles, and my whole world feels so much warmer. That warmth reminds me that I’ve come a long way from the previous winter, with its unexpected confession and long, dreary stay in a hospital ward redolent with the faint pervasive odour of disinfectant. It’s only one of the many things about her for which I am grateful.

As we walk out of the library, I sense the confidence in her stride. She’s leading the way, her arm possessively crooked around my elbow, and juniors scatter around us like startled pigeons. She’s still my shy Hanako, or so she claims. The ‘pigeons’ might beg to differ.

As we walk to the cafeteria together, I feel a glow that tells me we can do anything as long as we do it together. I grin, and she turns to face me as she senses the slowing of my pace. We come to a stop, almost like two dynamos spinning down together.

I notice her skirt twirl slightly, and then she’s too close for me to see much else. “I love you,” she mouths, her left eye crinkling slightly. It’s a very silent public display of affection, but it means much in our society.

Finals? What finals?

*****

[I never guessed you would be so good.]

Tomorrow, the girl before me will graduate top of her class in the Faculty of Economics. But as we have a drink after dinner, her dark eyes sparkle as they usually do when engaged in competitive activity. We were hardly friends when we graduated from Yamaku in the same year, but we are friends now.

[Good, means what?] I sign clumsily, my few years of progress betrayed by poor late-night coordination and alcohol. Is that one of her famous double-entendres?

She produces the endearing sound that passes for a chuckle. [Good in many ways. Top biomedical student. Faithful fitness freak. Are you sure you won’t come home with me?]

She takes pleasure in spelling out some of those terms. She has always enjoyed her peculiar brand of sharp humour. It was infuriating in the past, sometimes. She irritated me a lot. But she was very generous in allowing my girlfriend to share an apartment with her.

And my girlfriend… she grins and very deliberately sets her sake cup down. It’s her third of this session so far. She tosses her fine long hair to one side, momentarily revealing old scar tissue. Then, in the amber light of the quiet restaurant, she begins to sign. [Shizune, if he goes home with you, I’m coming too. It will be fun. But you’ll be second best.]

I try very hard not to laugh as I watch Shizune’s expression. But on closer inspection, I see the initial mixture of chagrin and surprise replaced by a touch of… regret? resignation? —whatever it is, it vanishes and is replaced by an impassioned warmth. [As far as Hisao is concerned, I concede. You’re both my friends. To be frank, I envy your good relationship.]

She points to our cups and picks up the sake container. [I pour, you drink.]

Hanako chuckles and returns the favour shortly. [Kanpai] she signs, raising her cup to exactly the same level as Shizune’s. [Can we envy your good results too?]

Over the last few years in our august institution of higher learning, she’s developed a decidedly robust streak of dry good humour. I have no idea where it came from, but I’m not in favour of sending it back.

Much later, I do go home with them, but only because it’s late and I’m in no condition to be exerting myself. Yes, I sleep on the couch, alone.

*****

Lilly’s fingers walk slowly over her friend’s new face. I watch, as puzzlement creeps into her distant blue eyes. There’s a slight frown now.

“Hmm. It’s smoother than it used to be. I suppose it feels much like the left side, which makes it more symmetrical. You must be very happy.”

Restraining myself, I think, “Hana looks even more beautiful than before!” I can’t say that out loud though, because Hanako was sensitive about that matter defining her, and Lilly of course has no direct aesthetic sense when it comes to visuals.

With a tinge of embarrassment and some sort of strain colouring her voice, Lilly says, “It’s just not quite the you I’m used to, in this particular way. Everything else about you is as pleasant as always, and your posture’s a lot straighter.”

Because Hana’s lost the asymmetry, of course. I wonder about Lilly, watching her lower her fingers from her friend’s face. When things change, our blonde friend sometimes seems so uneasy.

It’s especially true if the change is one that’s sudden, of course. To Lilly, who has somehow managed to not be around for some years, this does seem abrupt. In a way, the new face, the new hairstyle, these must be jarring to her sense of Hanako’s physical reality.

It’s with some sadness that I realize that we’ll never be the young innocents we once were in a warm, sunlit tea-room back at high school. Hana appears to feel the same way—I can see it on her face.

“Hey, dear friend, you’ve changed too,” she says. “Shorter hair, and… muscles?”

Lilly reflexively raises a hand to her mouth to suppress an unseemly giggle. “It just seems shorter, braided up behind. More convenient for riding.”

“Riding?” I ask.

“Indeed. Akira got me a horse for my 30th birthday. His name is Warlock, and I’m told he’s as black as night, except for the odd-shaped star above and between his eyes. It’s good exercise, and he’s specially trained to be an extra pair of eyes for me. When I first started lessons, parts of me were sore for days.”

I try not to think of which parts those were. But Lilly’s leathers are close-fitting and, as Hana mentioned, they make no secret of her new muscles. We have all changed, and this is further driven home when the two old friends begin to exchange stories about our children.

The children… I remember a long-ago day on which I wondered what my children might look like if Lilly were their mother. I feel my cheeks warm with the memory of those tumultuous days. But everyone grows up, and my dark-haired, cheeky wholly-Japanese kids will some day learn that too.

*****

“H-He’s your son!” she says firmly, stuttering a little as she does when feeling strongly about something. “It’s scandalous!”

“Well, it’s not as if they’re having an affair,” I say defensively. I listen to myself and wonder when I became a boring traditional Japanese man, like my father. Maybe worse.

“No, they’re not. But it looks b-bad for him!”

“Hey, he likes her. He learns a lot from her, and she’s got no designs on him. Besides, we sort of know her.”

“Yes, but… but…” she runs out of words momentarily, and I’m sympathetic, because everyone does that in this particular case. “But she’s impossible to know! What if she…”

Our son Kenichiro is into politics. He’s been listening too much to his ‘Aunty’ Shizune, but we’ve tolerated it so far. When she started financing his campaigns, that was uncomfortable, but we couldn’t very well say ‘no’, because it might have seemed unsupportive—and we have always been proud of both our children.

This situation, however, has nothing directly to do with politics. Some time ago, the dear boy developed a taste for the visual arts. These days, he spends his limited free time in a little studio in Tokyo, where he claims he is being inspired by the great (and rather weird) Rin Tezuka.

Neither of us realized how much of a fan he’d become over the years. Apparently, Tezuka’s talents had been much appreciated by the gaming industry, looking for less-traditional digital visuals. The day she learnt to use a full suite of digital tools was the day several gaming franchises found new life.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing for his career or not. Climbing down from my ‘old Japanese man’ position, I can see how being a more interesting person might win more votes. The problem is that Japanese politics is still full of old men who don’t understand that.

“These days, can’t they do this online? I remember in our time, file transfers took forever. But now, you swipe and the damn thing moves a few terabytes in a flash.”

“Husband, Nakai-san, Kenichi says he needs to SMELL her warmth!”

“Her… warmth?”

“You h-heard me,” she says grimly, tossing her hair back.

Oh dear. Can’t they do that online too? I almost say it, but realize that my wife’s not one to handle such jokes at times like this.

*****

“It was funny, dear,” she says, running her slim hands over my chest. “I laughed a lot.”

I smile up at her, although it’s pretty dark and I can hardly see anything. I scent the familiar fragrance, which has been sometimes stronger, sometimes fainter over the years. My lovely Hanako hasn’t changed in some ways, and every way she has changed, has been for the better.

“Well, she hadn’t seen you for decades.”

“She actually…” Hana can’t take it anymore and grabs my shoulders just so that she can laugh into my neck.

“Auuuw,” I say softly. “Stop whiffling, woman. Ticklish!”

It had been funny, indeed. We’ve just come home from the JAAF annual awards ceremony. Young Mikoto, our long-legged lass as Lilly once put it, won some award in the unaugmented human category. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I think it was a long-distance thing: these days, who watches mere humans race? Apparently, some people do.

And so, there we were: me in a slightly tight formal suit, Hana stunning in a long dark-blue backless gown with tiny points of starlight in it, Mikoto slightly nervous in her plain black outfit. We part ways some distance in, as Mikoto goes to sit with the other awardees.

Idly, I pick up the programme while Hana looks around, her journalistic instincts requiring her to identify every person who can be identified and to feed the information to me. Of course, this occasion will be livestreamed to whoever wants to see it, and anyone who wants to be ‘here’ can be here. But I suspect that Mikoto would never forgive us if we weren’t with her in the flesh.

Then it hits me as my old-fashioned finger runs down the plastic parchment and shift-zooms a little text stub into my scanning eye. A picture appears, and I tap my Hanako’s shoulder, ensuring that she sees it too.

“Dear, maybe we should meet the guest-of-honour in person after this? Very remiss of us not to have noticed. Did Mikoto tell us?”

Even with augmentation, human memory tends to overload and refold over itself. But that name brings back its own cascade of memories. All of us knew her back at Yamaku: Emi Ibarazaki, the fastest thing on no legs.

Back to us, in bed, old but not particularly tired. Yet again, my lovely wife replays her memory to me, head to head: in our shared recollection, Emi turns from her circle of admirers to look at Hanako and at first wrinkles her forehead in puzzlement, wondering at why we look so familiar.

Then either her augments kick in or she remembers us—and in the next moment, she experiences another wave of puzzlement, which we notice because she looks at Hana’s face, first one side and then the other. She catches herself in the act, and realizes that we’ve caught her too. She blushes, then laughs, striding out and away from her coterie and clapping Hana on the shoulder.

“Hanako! Hisao! So nice to see you in person! Your daughter is a gem. A real hard-working old-school athlete. She doesn't take the soft approach or the easy way!”

Behind her, I notice our daughter wince at the praise, and yet turn red with pleasure. Softly, Hana says, “Ah, but she had a good coach to learn from.”

“True, true…” Emi says shamelessly. Then she stares at me. “Is Hisao still keeping fit? He’s looking good for someone in… our age-group.”

“Ha!” I grin. “Miko won’t let me stop. She tells me to imagine YOU nagging at me, and I think about that and keep running.”

*****

In the end, it’s the little things like these that really count. Fine memories, moments of a life well-lived. The years have passed. Hanako and I, we’re not the young people who fell in love in a library so long ago.

But here we are, sitting on a sofa in our small mountain home, watching the grandchildren play. The light is bright and the air is calm and cold. Hana is leaning forward, scrutinizing the actions of our children’s children.

Gently, I adjust the old rust-red cardigan. It still doesn’t match green very well, but that’s okay. She leans back into my arms, turns clockwise to gaze into my eyes. I brush her long hair back behind her right ear and look back.

This is all the warmth we need.

=====
alt index
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] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by Serviam » Thu Apr 30, 2015 5:43 am

Sounds a bit more like Hanako's good end to me...
"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 [One-Shots] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by brythain » Fri May 01, 2015 6:19 am

Serviam wrote:Sounds a bit more like Hanako's good end to me...
Yes, of course. I can do happy endings too, you know! :)
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] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by Solistor » Fri May 01, 2015 7:33 pm

Is cute and fluffy. I like it.
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by brythain » Sat May 02, 2015 9:52 am

Solistor wrote:Is cute and fluffy. I like it.
I'm happy! I'm trying to shake my reputation for sad melancholy whatnots.
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] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by Blank Mage » Sat May 02, 2015 10:16 am

brythain wrote:
Solistor wrote:Is cute and fluffy. I like it.
I'm happy! I'm trying to shake my reputation for sad melancholy whatnots.
Sad and Melancholy: 126
Cute and Fluffy: 1

Knowing you, you could probably even that number out in a few months, though.
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by brythain » Sat May 02, 2015 12:19 pm

Blank Mage wrote:
brythain wrote:
Solistor wrote:Is cute and fluffy. I like it.
I'm happy! I'm trying to shake my reputation for sad melancholy whatnots.
Sad and Melancholy: 126
Cute and Fluffy: 1

Knowing you, you could probably even that number out in a few months, though.
Aww c'mon, I'm sure there are more than that in the C&F column. :(
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] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by azumeow » Sat May 02, 2015 4:53 pm

brythain wrote:Aww c'mon, I'm sure there are more than that in the C&F column. :(
I kinda doubt that. This was abso-frickin-lutely adorable, though!
"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] (20—'Fighting Words') (20150407)

Post by NekoDude » Sun May 03, 2015 8:42 pm

blah blah off-topic, I'll keep it to myself.
Last edited by NekoDude on Wed May 06, 2015 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (21—'Warmth') (20150428)

Post by Alpacalypse » Mon May 04, 2015 3:58 am

I really haven't read enough of Brythrain's stuff, only the ones on this thread. That last one was still adorables! Hanako alt-good ending FTW :D

Also:
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I wish I remembered the rest of that title sequence so I could make a joke about it.
Damn, need to rewatch the Holy Grail again...
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