Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#65—'Unsaid')

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Feurox
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#64—'Unseen')

Post by Feurox » Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:55 am

Wonderful work Bry! Not sure I agree with Nuke’s judgement, seems plenty descriptive to me. Rin is adorable, and you’ve always had a talent for writing her. Many thanks for writing this story!

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#64—'Unseen')

Post by EternityDragon » Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:56 pm

Been lurking for a bit, finally bothered to make an account so that I can say kind words to deserving authors.
Haven’t seen any interactions between Rin and Kenji before, but this one is very well written. Kinda nice to see the joke about Kenji repeatedly mistaking Rin for a boy from the VN show up again, but in a different form. Rin being innocent/oblivious enough to not know what whiskey is is also a nice touch.
Also, not sure if this is frowned upon at these forums, but I was reading through the stories in this thread, happened upon the alternate AtD ending indexed at #5, and noticed something. Don’t know if this was a coincidence or not, or if anyone else has pointed this out, but the opening Hisao plays (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4) is known as the Scotch Game. Funnily enough, the Scottish main character was in the room.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#64—'Unseen')

Post by brythain » Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:44 am

EternityDragon wrote:
Wed Feb 26, 2020 3:56 pm
Been lurking for a bit, finally bothered to make an account so that I can say kind words to deserving authors.
Welcome to our community, and thanks for the kind words!
Haven’t seen any interactions between Rin and Kenji before, but this one is very well written. Kinda nice to see the joke about Kenji repeatedly mistaking Rin for a boy from the VN show up again, but in a different form. Rin being innocent/oblivious enough to not know what whiskey is is also a nice touch.
This is me trying hard to capture Rin from the VN. :)
Also, not sure if this is frowned upon at these forums, but I was reading through the stories in this thread, happened upon the alternate AtD ending indexed at #5, and noticed something. Don’t know if this was a coincidence or not, or if anyone else has pointed this out, but the opening Hisao plays (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4) is known as the Scotch Game. Funnily enough, the Scottish main character was in the room.
No, it's not frowned upon. We're always happy to hear from people. That was a deliberate Easter egg, and I do believe you're the first one to spot it! Congratulations! 8)
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] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:53 pm

The following post was written in response to Stiles Long's writing contest. Each participant was given a list of KS character pairings and a list of locations. One of each was chosen for this fic. There were a limited set of options available to participants in the contest and it may be that this fic resembles others. Any such resemblance is coincidental.
These two have always had a special relationship, in my After The Dream universe.


Unsaid

Many years later, this would be one of the birthdays Shizune remembered. But on the day itself, it had been awkward, and several kinds of weird—and that was why it remained in her memory, until it had become an altogether different kind of memory.

It was a Friday—the sixth day of May, in the year 2005—and Shizune wondered why she was still in school during Golden Week. Normally, she’d have been enjoying a break at home, with her weird younger brother and her parents. But that year, Mother had gone away. Father had become unreliable and moody. Kid brother Hideaki now fancied himself the wisest and most steadfast person in the household, and was now insufferable.

She sighed. And now this, a note from Administration saying that a senior teacher had requested that she appear at the staff refectory at noon.

What would such eminence want with a small person like her, struggling to get along in her little padded cell called 1-1? Would they have to communicate by sticky notes? She hoped not, but she’d brought some anyway.

In a split second of vindictiveness, she wished it were Setou, that half-blind kid who kept using his defect as an excuse to touch people in unacceptable places. But no, the note was clear. {Hakamichi} it said, and that was that.

She looked at her wristwatch. 11:57:33. About two and a half minutes to go. She was standing at parade rest outside the refectory door, making sure that anyone seeing her would know that she was not a slouch.

The empty canteen’s door thudded as it opened and swung shut. A trenchcoat fluttered. A pigeon had somehow got in, looking for non-existent pickings. Shizune stirred as a lanky figure stalked towards her. Mutou-sensei?

He nodded at her, holding the position just long enough for it to become a proper greeting. [Ah, Shizune. What are you doing here?]

Mutou was an enigma to her. On the very first day she had lost her temper at the class, she’d thrown a rather childish tantrum which involved kicking the library wall several times. A tall, thin, thoughtful man had just stood there watching her until she noticed him and blushed. It turned out that he knew sign, and they’d had a little conversation, after which she’d resolved to do better.

She bowed, flinching inwardly at the fact that she’d let him greet her first. [I have an appointment with a senior teacher at noon.]

[It is noon now. Shall we go in?]

Of course. It was easy to forget that Mutou was a senior science teacher. He wasn’t one to flaunt his status. He just tried his best to teach.

He was holding the door open for her. Flustered, she let herself be ushered into the teachers’ sanctum. It was clean and cosy, but a little garish, with a lot of orange and yellow. The furniture was functional, the kind with that plastic fake-leather upholstery, like the pieces in the dorm common area, but a little less beaten-up.

[Please, sit down at the table. I have a few things to say to you.]

Her heart sank. The only things she knew about Mutou were that he was kind, had a good reputation, and was serious about his work. She was not afraid of him doing a Setou on her. She sat down carefully and deliberately, taking care not to snag her skirt on a loose nailhead.

[Thank you, Mutou-sensei.]

[I am assuming you are surprised at the mysterious invitation, and also surprised that we are meeting under such odd circumstances.]

She nodded, just a small enough twitch of her neck to indicate agreement without interruption.

He walked over to the peeling old refrigerator. Cautiously, as if afraid of what might be lurking inside, he opened the door and reached in with one long arm. She would remember that particular detail: his white sleeve was too short, and it exposed a watch that was neat, with a bracelet of dark grey metal, not as large as a typical man’s watch.

Fascinated, she continued to look as he grasped something with his hand and withdrew it from the fridge. She noticed that, on his ring finger, he wore a slender band of dull silvery metal edged with gold. Married. She wondered what his wife was like.

He sat down. In his hands was a small, nicely-wrapped round box. It had what looked like some poorly chosen English words on it. He set the box on the table.

Shizune frowned. What was this?

[This is one of the famed Hokkaido cheesecakes from Otaru. I don’t eat such things myself, but my wife brought one back from her family business trip. She said I should give it to the ‘skinny deaf girl’ that I had mentioned to her.]

Shizune’s frown deepened. She recognized that cake. It had been considered a treat back in the days when her own mother had business trips to Hokkaido. In fact, it had been the only cake Hideaki ever appreciated.

[ I must say I never told her that you were skinny] he said, with the look of a middle-aged man trying hard to make a bad situation better by using a bad joke.

[My thanks to your wife, sensei.] There was no harm in being polite. But it was such a weird story!

[You’re very welcome! Happy birthday, Miss Hakamichi!]

[How did you know…]

She let her hands fall. Of course he knew. He was a senior teacher, and those people all had access to the student records. Why he had thought to know—that was a different matter.

Shizune sighed inwardly. She did like cheesecake, but not as much as the rest of her family. Then she had an idea.

[Sensei, perhaps we could share this cake?]

[Are you sure?]

[Yes.]

He nodded solemnly, got up and collected some cutlery from the rack next to the sink. With great care, he opened the box, unwrapped its contents, and dissected the cake neatly.

[Fifty-fifty, Miss Hakamichi?]

[Sixty-forty, sensei. You have… greater capacity than I. I am a small skinny girl.]

He grinned, plated two generous slices of cake, one a little smaller than the other, and sat down. A fork, a knife, and a table napkin appeared next to her plate. She appreciated the efficiency of it all.

From out of the blue, he signed: [Why is it you are not home on your birthday?]

She put a sliver of the cake in her mouth—it was as delicious and creamy as her previous experiences with its long-digested sisters had been—and laid her cutlery neatly down on the plate. She noticed with some detachment that her hands were trembling a little.

[I d-don’t know, sensei. Normally Father sends a c-car…]

To her astonishment, a warm tear had escaped from the corner of her left eye and was sneaking down her face.

[My wife is a strange woman. She told me that the skinny deaf girl would need cake, and to check if it was the girl’s birthday or something.]

[Yes, it is. It is my b-birthday. Thank you.]

She felt annoyingly and oddly proud that she’d managed to sign that without shaking too much. But he knew it was her birthday, so why repeat it?

Shizune tilted her head to one side and pushed up her spectacles. Another errant tear was attempting to run for it, and she didn’t want her cake contaminated by the criminal droplet.

Mutou was looking at her not with pity, but with some sort of embarrassed compassion. He noticed her noticing, and caught himself. Slowly and deliberately, he cut into his slice of cheesecake, separating out an almost perfect cube. It had a crumb left over at one corner, and he poked it back into the main slice before lifting the cube gracefully into his mouth.

She tried to smile. He was being kind. She resented that, and appreciated it, all at once. It would be good, perhaps, to change the subject.

[Thank Mrs Mutou for me, sensei. She sounds interesting and unusual.]

He seemed to perk up and shed some awkwardness, as he replied: [That she is. Women are smarter than men, and she’s smarter than most.]

It was such an unconventional statement from a Japanese man that Shizune found herself turning the cheesecake in her mouth into a little ball, savouring the nuances in the sweet crumbly stuff, unwilling to say anything for a while. Mutou sounded as if he had things on his mind too. Perhaps she should let him talk a bit more.

[Why do you think that is so?]

His mouth twisted a little as he finished chewing and swallowing. The cake was so soft that she wondered why he needed to chew at all.

[I think it’s because she’s the youngest in her family. They’re all very competitive, so the youngest has to work hardest to survive.]

She almost laughed at him. In her experience, though, whenever she laughed, people winced as if she’d farted.

[I’m the eldest in my family. Everyone else behaves like an idiot] she signed furiously. Appalled at what she’d just signed, she added: [Sorry, just joking.]

[If you weren’t joking, I’d still believe you. I’m the eldest, and it’s true. Even my parents can be idiots.] His eyes were twinkling.

She could feel unruly criminals gathering at the edges of both her eyes now. If she didn’t take stern disciplinary action, they’d start a mass prison break. To buy time, she removed her glasses and polished them on her uniform sleeve. It also gave her an excuse not to look at him. How dare he say such things? How dare he empathize so irritatingly well? Maybe he was faking it.

She looked up. There was nothing but concern in his gaze, except perhaps a little bit of shadowy humour. She could work with that.

[You must know a lot about idiots, teaching in a high school.]

[Ha! Sometimes the idiots you find at home are worse than the ones at work.]

[Are there a lot of us who are idiots to you?]

[Oh no. Students are seldom idiots. Ignorant or lazy, but not as bad as adults.]

That struck a chord, somehow. She decided she could be blunt.

[I don’t like ignorant or lazy people either.]

[I’m a teacher. I have to like them, and make them less ignorant and lazy.]

[But sometimes, you must be surrounded by them until you feel sick and want to run away.]

[True. But there’s no running, so one should stand and fight. Somebody’s future depends on it, I always tell myself.]

[How do you keep telling yourself that? Everybody has a limit.]

He’d finished his cake. She looked down, suddenly afraid that she’d offended him. Squinting at her plate, she suddenly realized he’d given her the larger piece. Her eyes flicked up involuntarily in surprise.

[Well, Shizune, when I need to, I get help. My colleagues sometimes feel the same way, so we get a drink after work. Or we bitch about students in the staff refectory here.]

It was a very human answer, and she couldn’t find it in herself to ask him about the cake. Of course he had friends. He was the kind who would find friends anywhere.

[But what if you don’t have friends and nobody wants to help you?]

There was a long pause. His hands were frozen, as if he’d glued them to the space-time continuum that Hideaki was always going on about.

[Miss Hakamichi, can I give you some advice?]

She felt the cells of her eyes tense. She’d pushed it a bit too far. Now even he wouldn’t want to help her. He’d just ‘advise’ her and be done with it. She looked at his tie, unwilling to meet his gaze.

[You can make friends. I’m sure of it. There’s this new student coming in late on a transfer. She is interested in learning Japanese sign language, and already knows the American stuff. Maybe you can help her. She seems nice.]

She closed her eyes. She felt overwhelmed. There was too much going on in Mutou’s head that she didn’t understand. Why was he being so generous with his help? Now, this.

The watery prisoners were safely locked up in their cells for now. Slowly, she opened her eyes, still looking down. There was a fresh new slice of cake on her plate.

[ I can do that] she signed, deciding. [Thank you, sensei.]

[Happy birthday, Shizune!] he signed back.

The grin was back on his face. Carefully, she allowed hers to return as well.

=====
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] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by Scroff » Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:49 am

I've always enjoyed your rendition of Mutou, you capture the warm but slightly distant, passionate but restrained, facets of his personality beautifully. And here he's being as meddlesome as Nurse! Thank you for the story.

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by brythain » Thu Mar 19, 2020 1:05 pm

Scroff wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:49 am
I've always enjoyed your rendition of Mutou, you capture the warm but slightly distant, passionate but restrained, facets of his personality beautifully. And here he's being as meddlesome as Nurse! Thank you for the story.
You're most welcome! I'm glad you feel that way. I think of Mutou and Nurse as having a friendly rivalry about messing (or not messing) with their students.
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] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by EternityDragon » Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:42 pm

This is well and truly beautiful. Everything here feels like something Mutou would say, with slight awkwardness and genuine caring hiding behind his every action. Having read almost every piece in the main continuity of AtD, I also know that Mutou also happens to be Shizune's uncle in this universe, which makes it even more heartwarming just to see Mutou caring for his family in his own awesome way. Thanks for the read!

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by Feurox » Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:43 am

You continue to astound and amaze Bry, good work. Thank you for this tale! I have to echo the sentiments of Scroff, your Mutou is wonderful!

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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#65—'Unsaid')

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 20, 2020 12:10 pm

EternityDragon wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:42 pm
This is well and truly beautiful. Everything here feels like something Mutou would say, with slight awkwardness and genuine caring hiding behind his every action. Having read almost every piece in the main continuity of AtD, I also know that Mutou also happens to be Shizune's uncle in this universe, which makes it even more heartwarming just to see Mutou caring for his family in his own awesome way. Thanks for the read!
Thank you very much! Just a little clarification: at this particular point in time, Mutou only knows that his wife has a peculiar interest in Shizune. He won't know for more than a year that Shizune is related to Mrs Mutou. There's a story there, and it's hidden somewhere in Mutou's arc and in 'Pavane'. Shizune, of course, will not know for quite a while, but she's smart, and she will find out.
Feurox wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 8:43 am
You continue to astound and amaze Bry, good work. Thank you for this tale! I have to echo the sentiments of Scroff, your Mutou is wonderful!
Haha, thank you! Mutou probably is embarrassed by all that. :)
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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