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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#55—'Clubbing') (S9)

Posted: Mon Jan 21, 2019 10:44 am
by brythain
ProfAllister wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:03 pm
A fic that only Brythain could write. Whenever I read one, I'm reminded that I need to eventually get around to reading *After the Dream* in its entirety.

As it is, it's Sci-Fi Christmas Katawas. What's not to like?
Thank you very much, ProfA! Dreaming that world entire is something I would very much like to do as well.

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Posted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 4:01 am
by brythain
This one's written as one of the random pairings (1 of 5) issued to me anonymously. It was fun. Not sorry.


Comfort

No, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry
I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

— G M Hopkins


*****

She had not been able to find her friend for quite a while. It perturbed her. The work had gone on and on, and at the end of the school year, with so much more to do, the lack of support had been at first irritating, then annoying, then worrisome. And now, she was, she had to admit, a little frightened. Something had happened.

Something had happened to her, to her friends, to the school itself. It was like a dull ache under her ribcage, where she thought she might still have a heart. It took her a while, as she paced the courtyard between the dormitories, to realize that there was a person slinking around in the silent spaces. Then, that person wasn’t slinking anymore. Whoever it was had decided to run straight at her with things swishing around in the air.

He’s shouting at me, was her first thought. It’s some idiot boy shouting at me. Last thing I need is for campus security to give me a citation just before graduation. She put her hands reflexively up in a warning to stay back, only to see her target come to a stop at the edge of the courtyard.

Sighing, she dug into her skirt pockets (she’d never understood why the other girls didn’t get extra pockets engineered into their uniforms—so useful!) and pulled out a pad of sticky notes and a mini-pencil. She waited for an opening and then lunged.

Momentarily stunned, the gesticulating figure stepped into the light and dumped two bags of what looked like small milk cartons on the ground. His mouth shut slowly as he stared at her through the thick lenses of his spectacles. The yellow sticky note looked incongruous dangling loosely from the end of his garish scarf.

Oh, it’s Kenji. How could I not have known? Shizune felt even more depressed, but she handed him the mini-pencil anyway.

He looked even more stunned, if that were possible. Then he took the pencil from her and began to write, in big, clear characters: [I SAID WHY ARE YOU MAKING EVIL SIGNS AT ME ALL THE TIME, CANT A MAN BUY MILK WITHOUT YOU FEMINIST NAZI BOSS SPYING ON HIM????]

There wasn’t much space left after all that, so she peeled off another sticky note and held out her hand for the pencil. To her surprise, he gave it back quite readily.

[Kenji, I’m not spying on you. I just want to know if you’ve seen Hisao Nakai recently. Or perhaps my friend Misha.]

He glanced down at what she’d written, still upside-down. Then, a rather peculiar thought seemed to have struck him, because his face changed completely.

She put the note into his hand. Her small, neat handwriting had not used up much of the space. He seized the pencil from her with his other hand. This time, the writing was a little smaller, but his scribbling was more intense.

[YOUVE LOST, HAVENT YOU? MY MAN HISAO HAS TAKEN OUT YOUR MAIN ASSET. I CAUGHT HER LEAVING HIS ROOM IN DISARRAY SOME NIGHTS AGO. I HAD TO SAY COMFORTING THINGS TO HIM BECAUSE HE WAS ALL BENT.]

Even if she had been able to say something, she’d have had nothing to say. What have I done to Misha? Did I accidentally break her? She’d never have… he’d never have… Her mind was like a cloud of butterflies rising towards the moon. She could not imagine where she’d learnt that metaphor, but it was apt.

It explained a lot. They were always somewhere else. And when she communicated with them, there was always this sense of a conversation never to be completed.

He was scrawling something on the reverse side.

[ARE YOU OK? YOU DONT HAVE TO SELF-DESTRUCT, ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS RENOUNCE FEMINISM AND EVERYTHING WILL WORK FINE.]

She was crying. She’d dropped the notepad.

She hardly noticed when he tore a note off the fallen pad and began to write again.

[AH SHIT IM SORRY. EVEN IF YOU ARE A FEMINIST. BETRAYAL IS THE WORST.]

He was offering her a little pack of something. Milk—cold, creamy Hokkaido dairy. It was surreal. Coldly, beautifully so. A small white carton with blue print and a two little cartoon cows. Two tiny cows, minding their own business, waiting to be milked. A mountain in the background, big and white and serene. Her tears were mingling with the condensation on the carton.

She was holding it, and slowly, her strong, slim fingers were opening the top. It tasted good. She didn’t know why. She didn’t know why she was drinking it.

[SEE? MILK IS ALWAYS GOOD. MAKES THE STUDENT BODY STRONGER HAHA.]

He was using up her entire pad, one silly message at a time.

She didn’t mind. Carefully, she put the milk down and held out her hands.

[NO, IM NOT GOING TO HANDCUFF YOU.]

She grabbed the pencil and notepad from him before he could react.

[Thank you. For the milk, and the advice.]

*****

In February, the breeze on the dormitory roof was chilly. Her hoodie kept her warm enough. The view at night was beautiful, watching the distant lights of the city centre and its tentacles reaching into the surrounding area.

Suddenly, he was there. She stood up with a start, and spent a few seconds fumbling for the new notepad and pencil.

[How did you get up here, Kenji?]

[HAHA I CAN TELL YOU BUT YOUD HAVE TO KILL ME.]

Her confusion must have been obvious. Frowning, he looked at what he’d written and mouthed what looked like a sound of consternation. Frantic scribbling ensued.

[I MEAN, YOUD KILL ME.]

[WAIT HOW DID YOU KNOW I WAS BEHIND YOU?]

She grinned. He’d probably found the dangerous path along the back wall, where the gap between the dorms was smallest. She’d never thought anyone would risk it.

[That’s my secret. And nobody is killing anybody.]

[RIGHT, YOU FEMINIST SCUM.]

He grinned back. Clearly, he meant little of what he said.

[You know I’m not a feminist. Any more than you are Catholic mafia.]

[ITS YOUR COUSIN ISNT IT?]

[She’s in Scotland, Kenji.]

[HAVENT YOU READ THE DA VINCI CODE?]

She laughed. He’d made her read it. It sounded a bit like her cousin’s other family, but completely fantastical.

Sadness poked her in the ribs. At least she’d had family in Yamaku, even if she had never quite seen eye to eye with Cousin Lilly. And now she was gone, and things were going, and Misha had cut her hair short, and Hisao…

She was crying again.

A bottle appeared. [WHISKY?]

A carton appeared. [MILK?]

He kept writing.

[YOU CANT BE SAD ALL THE TIME. YOU GOTTA GO DO SOMETHING.]

[DONT THINK TOO HARD, A WOMAN HAS TO BE ALL ABOUT ACTION!]

The writing got smaller as he started to squeeze text into the margins. He was scribbling like a madman.

[YOU CAN THINK ALL DAY, BUT CHANGING THE SITUATION AROUND BY DOING SOMETHING IS BEST WAY. I DO LOTS OF THINGS WITHOUT THINKING. THATS WHY IN MIDDLE SCHOOL THEY CALLED ME <CAUSES-MANY-PROBLEMS>. I THOUGHT IT WAS COOL, SOUNDS LIKE TRIBAL NAME.]

She was laughing again. She didn’t know why, but it felt good. She reached for the whisky, and found herself wondering momentarily what would happen if she mixed the milk with the whisky. Mentally, she scolded herself for thinking such silly thoughts. Just act, Shizune, don’t think!

The whisky tasted interesting. It got up her nose and told her stories.

*****

Weeks had passed. The Student Council had come to the end of the term, an ending that couldn’t have come soon enough for all of them. The new Council were strange people, but they had their hearts in the right place, mostly.

Shizune was sitting on the roof of the girls’ dormitory. She’d found that it was indeed a peaceful place at night, free of annoying little females with dangerous bladed legs or weird ones with silly expressions.

She waited till the shadow shifted, then she turned around quickly, pivoting on the firm muscles of newly-toned rear. Her pre-written note simply said [HI THERE KENJI!] in very large capitals.

He looked shocked, then grinned and held out his own pre-written note: [IT CANT BE SOUND, IT MUST BE LIGHT.]

He flipped it around. [IRISH CREAM, NOT HOKKAIDO CREAM.]

He was carrying a bottle of something, and a pair of whisky tumblers. She grinned back and made space for him on the rooftop bench.

Time passed in perfect silence for a while. Nothing stirred. They drank, watched the sky, didn’t bother to exchange notes even though they’d both brought pads and pencils. The wind in late March was still cool, up here in Sendai, and she could almost see his alcoholic breath fume into the sky. Then she felt him stamp his foot once on the ground.

She dipped her finger into her tumbler. There was still some sticky residue of this strange non-whisky alcoholic drink. It had been pleasant, and she hadn’t left much in the glass. She drew a fragrant question mark on the table.

He lifted his hands, as if about to frame a view. Then, he signed: [Okay, no more crap. No more wasting paper. Let’s just do it this way.]

She punched him—a good, short, sharp thump to the chest, right where the trailing portion of his scarf dangled over his buttons.

[You could do this all along? You misled me!]

He had a smug expression on his face. [I can read sign. Of course. Otherwise female spy will use code you cannot crack and you might think they are casting magic spells on you.]

She could feel an angry blush coming on. She’d never liked being the target of humour.

[But I could only read it. Did not have persons to talk to with it. Now I can sign. For you.]

There was something touching about that. A sudden sense of giddiness, of loss and outrage, struck her deep within. Why now? We’re about to graduate, there aren’t many days left, and I have a new friend.

He was waiting for a reply. He looked anxious. His hands were frozen in mid-air, like two ungainly crabs.

She’d already seen his strangely tidy room, full of little boxes, files, charts and gadgets. Everything had its place, even though it almost crowded the living area out. She could live with that, perhaps. Heck, she’d even eaten pizza with him, an experience, given his choice of blueberry/yellowfin/salami, that should probably not be repeated much.

She noticed one of her hands was tapping on the table, uncertain about what to do next. The other one, having just delivered a punch, felt satisfied with not doing anything.

His breath was warm and gentle, despite his temporary paralysis. She reached up and pulled his hands down. Now neither of them could communicate. But, as they say, love always finds a way.

=====
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Posted: Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:54 pm
by Scroff
It always seemed to me that you have a special affection for Shizune and Kenji, I bet you didn't have to think twice about which pairing to choose.

I found this heart-warming but the thought of a Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok after graduation is more than a little scary...

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#56—'Comfort') (X)

Posted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:55 am
by brythain
Scroff wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:54 pm
It always seemed to me that you have a special affection for Shizune and Kenji, I bet you didn't have to think twice about which pairing to choose.

I found this heart-warming but the thought of a Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok after graduation is more than a little scary...
I have some degree of affection for both characters, true. However, I do have history with Kenji x (others), in his autobiography and elsewhere in this thread. Even Kenji x Misha! :)

As for that Shizune-Kenji alliance running amok, it's hidden there in 'After The Dream', although it's not really Shizune x Kenji.

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:03 am
by brythain
Some things never change. Even in 2007, Hisao might have suffered from such a problem.


Unwritten Rules

“Haha, you need to calm down, young man, and tell me everything. As Chief Nurse, your wellbeing—and the wellbeing of everyone else here, of course—is my greatest concern!”

Hisao looked hunted. His eyes darted restlessly from place to place, as if noting and checking every entrance and exit. But this was Nurse’s domain, and escape was impossible.

“Uh, well…”

“Spit it out, Nakai-chan!”

“Hey…” he began half-heartedly to complain, before sighing. His scrunched-up face somehow managed to look gaunt as well, and even his usually sprightly hair had begun to droop.

“Come on, I won’t treat you like a small boy and you can treat me like your favourite uncle. Deal?”

“Well, you see, I’ve had uncontrollable urges to…”

“Oho!”

“… make promises to various young ladies…”

“Aha!”

Hisao persevered through the increasingly sardonic radiation emanating from the Chief Nurse’s eyes.

“… and I don’t know why, but it’s like I’m being controlled to try again and again to meet unreasonable expectations. It’s almost as if somebody in my head wants me to spend all my time hanging out with these girls even though the rest of me just wants to stay healthy and get through my studies!”

“Are there any specific young ladies who are the targets of your obsession, or is it a general affliction? I need to know, because then the psych staff might be better able to help manage the situation.”

“Well, there’s…”

Hisao hesitated, clearly reluctant to provide incriminating information of any kind. A strange look of disbelief, an incredulity that had to do with the surreal situation he’d found himself in, kept appearing on his face.

“It’s all right, you can talk to Uncle Goro here. He’ll handle everything with perfect tact. Even things to do with Emi Ibarazaki.”

“Whaaaat?”

“She’s one of them, right?”

“How did you… I suppose you know everything anyway.”

The way the air of his sigh leaked out of his face, Nurse couldn’t tell if it showed relief or despondence. Goro Kaneshiro shook his head just a little, and waited for the continuation.

“It started with Emi. I collided with her, almost died, and she told me not to surrender her name to you if anyone were to ask. But you know how that turned out.”

Indeed. The situation had been a difficult one. But in the end, Emi had given herself up as the instigator of that unfortunate episode.

“Then, it was my class representative. She’s very forceful, even though she doesn’t talk much, or at all. She made me want to do something for the school, and so I joined the Student Council, and I felt that no matter what I did, I would try very hard never to disappoint her.”

Nurse nodded. He was happy that young Nakai was opening up. Shizune Hakamichi could be a tough customer, but this kind of motivation was probably a good thing.

“There was this strange girl who was painting a really interesting mural. With her feet! And she thought I was always running around with Emi, but one day she told me she hated being alone when I was not there, and one thing led to another, and then there was an art exhibition. And clouds. Or something. Maybe butterflies. So I found myself mixing paint and talking about really strange things.”

Ah. Rin Tezuka. Oh dear.

“Also, Shizune’s very loud friend! Who turned out to be a very sensitive girl pretending not to be one. And she was all sad, and I tried to comfort her, but in the end she just said, ‘Don’t make me cry, Hicchan!’ and I don’t know what got into me, but I said, ‘I’ll never make you cry!’ and she said, ‘Aww, that’s sweet.’”

Nurse could just imagine the effect of pink drills at close range. He scribbled a bit, then continued to listen.

“And there was this shy girl in my class whom I thought I was getting along well with, and she friendzoned me, and I don’t know why. I tried to tell her that we still had a friendship and we didn’t have to say goodbye for good, but she slammed her door in my face!”

“Is this Hanako you’re talking about?”

“Yeah.”

“It takes a lot to get that kind of response from her. Perhaps you should have asked her friends about all that first.”

Hisao nodded unhappily. “Yeah. Speaking of which, I’ve also been talking with her best friend, who’s also the representative of the class next door. Did you know she was Shizune’s cousin? Oh, sorry, of course you knew.”

Goro just kept smiling gently, like a favourite uncle. He was beginning to see a pattern. Unobtrusively, he sat up a little straighter. He could hear it in his head.

“I think this was the most honest relationship I’ve ever had with anyone. We even went up to Hokkaido for the break, and shared some quiet moments together, and she asked me about Hanako, and one thing led to another…”

Nurse made another note. With Hisao, it was always one thing leading to another.

“… and I told her I’d tell her the truth, but maybe I hadn’t been entirely truthful with her—and now she might be leaving school because I might’ve hurt her.”

“No, I don’t think that’s the whole reason.”

“Really?” Hisao sounded skeptical.

“Family is always a bit of a problem with some people.”

“Right. So what am I going to do?”

“Are there any others?”

Hisao thought for a while. Nurse would never believe him. There were some he knew he would never have any kind of relationship with, but voices in his head were telling him to try. Voices. He shuddered. Nurse would just point out that these episodes were known side-effects of some of his medication, and change the pills.

“No,” he said firmly. Then his resolve cracked a bit. “What do I do?”

Nurse looked smug, as if a pet hypothesis had been proven.

“Let me summarise your problem. It’s one that a particularly unwise young man came up with almost two decades ago, and it’s never really gone away.”

“What is it?”

“I think you’ve been subconsciously influenced by that voice from the past. Tell me, does this sound familiar to you?”

Nurse rose from his chair, got his elderly laptop, and placed it in front of the boy. It took a while to load the file he wanted. “Here we go,” he said as it began to play.

Never gonna give you up . . . . . . . .
Never gonna let you down . . . . . . . .
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry . . . . . . . .
Never gonna say goodbye . . . . . . . .
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you…


“Well, Hisao, you might be the first, but I don’t think you’ll be the last to be subconsciously influenced by popular lyrics.”

=====
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Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:40 am
by Silentcook
AAARGH. Sorry Corner, you. Two EONS. :evil:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:49 am
by Feurox
Brythain. That was the best written piece of trash I’ve ever read. I hate love you. :lol: What a way to start my Monday haha

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:15 pm
by brythain
Silentcook wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:40 am
AAARGH. Sorry Corner, you. Two EONS. :evil:
Very sorry, boss. It happens, as you've noticed, once in a rare while. 8)
Feurox wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:49 am
Brythain. That was the best written piece of trash I’ve ever read. I hate love you. :lol: What a way to start my Monday haha
You're very welcome. I aim to please. :)

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:12 pm
by dewelar
Sure. Of course. I check one of your threads for the first time in ages, and this...THIS is what I find! I...j...qxklrbt...

(descends utterly into angrish for several minutes)

...GAH!

:lol:

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#57—'Unwritten Rules')

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:03 am
by brythain
dewelar wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:12 pm
Sure. Of course. I check one of your threads for the first time in ages, and this...THIS is what I find! I...j...qxklrbt...

(descends utterly into angrish for several minutes)

...GAH!

:lol:
I am honoured, senpai! :D

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

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 6:06 am
by brythain
This is a sequel to #56—Comfort and is the product of a similar writing challenge. Still not sorry.


Compromise

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells…

— G M Hopkins


*****

Love always finds a way, she repeated in her head, and then she kicked herself for allowing the distraction. Across the library table, she felt her partner stir grouchily. Shizune sighed and turned back to trigonometry.

A little yellow sticky note appeared in front of her, with thick black characters scrawled over much of it. [WHERES YOUR FAMOUS EXAM PREP STAMINA HAKAMICHI SPY].

She grunted and pretended not to see it. Her visual field narrowed, her heartbeat slowed, the compound angle formulae coursed through her veins. Triangles. Squares. Polygonal relationships. She hardly noticed when the sticky note wiggled its way out of her peripheral vision.

Find, for the range 0° < x < 360°, all the values of x that satisfy the equation 2sin^2(x) + 2 = 7cosx. Show all necessary working.

Another sticky note appeared. [EVEN FROM HERE LEGALLY BLIND ME CAN SEE THATS WAY TOO EASY FOR YOU WHY ARE YOU TAKING SO LONG].

Shizune Hakamichi grunted in frustration. Love always finds a way to distract you, she told herself. Why am I taking so long?

She kicked the table leg this time, and knew immediately that she’d overdone it when a tower of books to her left, but on the other side of the table, slid gracefully into a formless heap. One of the books skidded towards the edge of the table and hit the ground with a thud she could feel in her seat before she could do anything about it. She barely had time to see its title: “An Introduction to Computer Security: the NIST Handbook”.

She felt the air move behind her, as if someone had exhaled forcefully enough to ruffle her hair. In front of her, she saw frantic scribbling. A third sticky note appeared: [NOW YOUVE DONE IT THE SUCCUBUS IS HERE TO TAKE CARE OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS DID YOU HEAR HER GASP NO YOU DIDNT].

She snarled, but refrained from growling. Misha had once told her that normal people growled, but that Shizune’s growl was like two oversexed cats mating erotically on a fence. It had been meant as a compliment (probably), but growling was not something she now felt she should do in public.

She looked around. The timid librarian, Miss Shirakawa, was holding something out rather apprehensively, her mouth slightly open as if to apologise.

She looked down. It was a little printed sign. [The Yamaku Library staff are very sorry, but such behaviour is not allowable on the premises, and the students involved should carry out their business elsewhere until the end of the next school day.]

Argh! I’ve been banned! She could feel her blood pressure rising as the humiliation hit her. But rules were rules. She got up, bowed to the quaking librarian and, with as much dignity as she could muster, restacked the fallen books—all of which had been taken from their shelves by the idiot across the table from her. At least she was no longer Student Council President, and thus not subject to even greater shame.

Nodding politely, and refusing to look back at her study partner, she collected her own belongings and left the library. She’d already solved the trigonometric problem in her head. The trick was to get the math down as elegantly as possible.

Sighing a third time, she stopped by the lockers outside for her rucksack and to gather the rest of her thoughts. As she cleared the locker, a finger stabbed her in the shoulder.

[I got thrown out too. That woman never forgives. I’m sorry she gave you a hard time. It’s because of me.]

He could be so infuriating, sometimes. At other times, it was hard not to feel amused, even while you were being exasperated. His signing had improved a lot over the last few months, and you had to admire that dedication.

[It’s okay, Kenji. How was your revision?]

[So-so. I finished data structures and then got distracted by cybersecurity protocols and before I knew it I was being excommunicated with you.]

He had even found some really obscure words to sign. She grinned, despite herself.

[Let’s go out for something that isn’t from the school cafeteria.]

[Not the Shanghai! She is everywhere!]

[Fine. Somewhere downtown?]

A cunning look crept across his face. [Yes?]

She’d seen that look before. It normally meant something outrageous, something she’d be entertained by while telling herself not to be. The right way to deal with it was to go with the flow while counterattacking.

[All right. But I’m still a bit upset. We’ll go to the departmental store. You have to give me at least 30 minutes at the boutique. Then we can get something to eat at the grocery section downstairs.]

She could see him struggle to process her rapid signing, but that was a good thing. You learned by struggling. If you didn’t struggle, it was too easy.

[Boutique?]

[Yes. Clothes store.]

[I thought it was something kinky, the way you signed it.]

She glared at him. He looked a little disappointed.

[I’ll show you kinky, you horrible person.]

He grinned. [Now that’s something I look forward to.]

*****

She’d almost begun to regret it when, 29 minutes into her peaceful window-shopping, he had bounced into her visual field and started counting off the last 60 seconds by extravagant and dramatic hand-gestures. But she’d been touched when he announced: [I give you 15 minutes extra time if you cannot resolve matters in only 30 minutes.]

She’d only needed ten of those minutes to get her purchases wrapped. Father would grumble at the subsidiary charges on his credit card, but he would be pleased to see her wear something nice. He’d probably sign, [You look like your mother], and wander off looking faintly depressed but quietly happy.

[Now we go downstairs?]

Kenji was so much like her kid brother at times—all geeky and nerdish and eager to do weird things. He hadn’t even asked to see what she had bought. That was a black mark against him, but she could let it go for now.

She allowed him a smile. [Yes. Lead on, it’s your turn. You have 30 minutes, and I might allow you an extra 15.]

*****

The grocery department was one of the larger ones in the area. Kenji, however, seemed to know his way around very well. For someone legally blind, he navigated the aisles with supreme efficiency, avoiding every collision and taking the shortest route to his destination—which turned out to be the frozen pizza section.

[What? I thought we were going to the café.]

[Well, yes, there is a café on the edge of this section. But it’s boring. All noodles and parfaits and rubbish like that. Good fried food too, but you must see this.]

She waited patiently as he signed. He wasn’t very quick, but at least he was legible, and his manga-style flourishes were cute.

[See what, Kenji?]

[Haha, I was just thinking I couldn’t have done that with your cousin.]

She made as if to smack him, and he ducked away just enough to show that he knew she was joking.

[What?]

[This… ] he signed dramatically, [… is SuperOishi Pizza.]

[What’s so super oishi about this pizza?]

[No, no, it’s the brand name.] He motioned at the colourful packages in the freezer. [But they are very tasty. I have been working my way through the flavours. There are more than 50 of them.]

[Oh. What’s your favourite, then?]

[I don’t have one yet. I’ve been writing reviews of each flavour. Maybe one day I will show them to you. But you’ll have to decrypt them first. They’re secret.]

[So which one are we having?]

[Today, let’s try one I’ve been dying to taste.]

He opened the freezer and pulled out a box that seemed to have an Arctic scene on it with strange cartoons—palm trees and fish, pineapples and cows—wandering across the landscape. It didn’t look like a pizza at all, and the photograph on the cover didn’t help. Somehow, her mind wasn’t processing the information right.

She hit her head once, with the heel of her palm, just to see if it would help. It didn’t. The box still said what it said: “Almond Yoghurt Fried Eel Hawaiian Pizza with Extra Cheese Icing.”

She sighed, not for the first time that day. She envisaged a lifetime of sighs, but after watching her parents for many years, she’d learnt that you sometimes had to make compromises, before things blew up and you lost everything.

She gave Kenji the brightest smile she could muster, and nodded bravely. In her mind, she told herself, Love always finds a way… to digest any food.

=====
Note: For samples of Kenji's infamous pizza reviews, you could look here.

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

Posted: Thu May 30, 2019 2:59 pm
by Hanako Fancopter
Shizune x Kenji? Bizarre pairings are supposed to be my thing! No but really it's interesting to see them together. Now I'm just imagining how awkward the sex must be......

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

Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 9:54 pm
by brythain
Hanako Fancopter wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 2:59 pm
Shizune x Kenji? Bizarre pairings are supposed to be my thing! No but really it's interesting to see them together. Now I'm just imagining how awkward the sex must be......
They're both very focussed individuals with a thing for fast food. I'm quite sure that they're also very tactile and into close contact—Kenji has no concept of 'personal space', and Shizune needs to get into other people's 'personal space', canonically. So... not a problem! :)

Also, I've done Kenji with... someone else of interest before. With a sequel!

Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#59—'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes')

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 1:01 pm
by brythain
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.
A very early draft of 'After The Dream' tracks Akira after Lilly's 'not-good' ending. This was one version.


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The goodbyes always got to her. She’d said hers, and re-said hers, and finally got them out of the way. Well, he’d one day be prime minister of Japan, or he’d be an expensive failure, or something in between, and it wouldn’t matter one tiny grain of shit to her. She sighed once, then stealthed her way through the dorm, somehow not being sighted by anyone, like a cat between raindrops.

Nobody noticed her. Flatchested is flatchested, as she always told herself. It’s an asset of a different kind. Negative equity, full equality. Whatever. Up the stairs after the laundry room, to the roof. Her left hand was already on the familiar-feeling box, her right hand already on the lighter. There. A good spot. Nobody at the table.

The silk she wore rustled almost noiselessly as she sat down, draping one trousered leg over the other. Tap, twirl, click, fssst. She drew rich smoke into her lungs. She’d quit some day, but not this night.

Akira the Cat, he’d named her. He’d loved her boyishness. She kept her hair cut fairly short when she was in the country. He would ask her to purr as he caressed her bony butt, fondled the nipples on her flat chest. She suspected she amused him. She was always afraid to ask. So she kept him afraid of her, with foul language and a sharp tongue. And tools.

Her ears pricked. There was someone else on the roof, in the corner that was shaded from the illumination of the campus lamps. Whoever it was had arrived before her, and she’d not noticed. Fuck. There’d better not be two of them.

Soft feet made almost no sound, thirty meters behind her and closing. But almost wasn’t good enough. Lazily, the Cat swiveled around on her bony axis, just enough to see.

The ‘oops’ was audible. Followed by a quick bow and, “~Wahaha! Sorry sorry big elder cousin sister…”

The Cat shook her head. As confused as ever, although that confusion might possibly be a defensive mechanism of some sort. “Hey, Misha.”

A look into her eyes, and out again.

“No, you can’t have a smoke. It’s illegal, and I’m an advocate.”

“No, no, wasn’t…” the words trailed into a moment of silence. They’d always had a strange sort of relationship. “So funny to find big elder cousin up here,” Misha mumbled at last.

“Well, you guys come up here in the night when you’ve nothing better to do but something on your mind, right?”

“Mmm. I… only when Shicchan, um, Shizune, is asleep.”

“Huh. Sit.”

“Sit?”

“Down. Here.”

Reluctant obedience. Misha looked tired. There was darkness under her eyes, and a fairly thick helping of foundation didn’t seem to have helped enough. Even her usual curls looked a little limp.

“What’s on your mind, girl?”

“Lilly’s going off to Scotland?”

Now, that was a surprise. She’d not thought Misha of all people would be concerned about that. But of course, she might be.

“Yes. You guys used to be closer, right?”

“We were.” The edges of her mouth drooped. “Not so much now, ha.”

That last ‘ha’ sounded so half-hearted that it was more like a sigh. The Cat looked sharply at Misha.

“Will you miss her?”

Misha’s mouth opened, but nothing came out.

Akira narrowed her eyes. It wasn’t really her business, of course. But she’d known Misha since the girl had first shown up with Cousin Shizune at Uncle Jigoro’s place a couple of years ago. Quietly, she stubbed her wasted cigarette out in the sand beneath the fire-extinguisher.

“What’s on your mind, girl?” she repeated. This time, it was soft, almost as if she was talking to herself.

Misha squeaked. Both of them twitched, unprepared for it.

“Lilly and you, you both are going away? Where Shizune’s mother is?”

“Yeah, near Edinburgh. But you know this already.”

“Not coming back to visit?”

“Unlikely. Except maybe to Hokkaido, that’s where the distillery is, and some other parts of the business. Why?”

“Oh.”

The Cat mentally stretched her claws. She hated this kind of conversation. People should just say what they meant, be useful, maybe more direct.

“I’ll still be around, meeting various family members over the next few years in Japan.”

“That’s…”

There was a peculiar look on Misha’s face. Akira wasn’t sure she wanted to figure it out, but having a quiet smoke in the clear night was clearly a lost cause, and she was damned if she’d just let it go for nothing.

“I’m not going to ask a third time.”

There was no sound at all. Only moonlight, reflecting oddly. Tears, like pearls.

Shit. Sometimes, when she was tired, she wasn’t as good with people as she’d have liked to be. Well, what the hell.

“Let’s get out of here. Coffee or something. No booze.”

“Booze?”

“Nope. Very unlike me, I know.”

*****

Hi, reader-san! I used to call myself Misha, but actually my name is Shiina. I used to be Japanese, but now I’m Scottish. I’m writing this to finish an old story that someone wrote. She’s buried in a town called Nairn, what a funny name, but it’s in Scotland. It’s where we lived together for many years. I never thought I would become Scottish, but if Akira could do it, so could I.

I just want to say that we were very happy, and even Shizune was happy for me. So it’s not really a sad story, even though I miss her very much. And Lilly is a great sister-in-law, and…


*****

Manuscript ends here.

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alt index

Re: Alt Dreams [One-Shots] (#59—'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes')

Posted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 7:30 am
by Feurox
That was interesting, and I'm not sure why I liked it if I'm honest. Let me reassure you that I did, but if I had to give a specific reason why I wouldn't know how to.


I've always been in awe of your writing style. You're very precise, and matter of fact, but it doesn't have the impression that most writings in that style have. It doesn't feel clinical and cold. It's passionate, but it's like your stories are aged somehow... like the essence of them has time to cool off, and they feel like memories I didn't know I had.


I'm aware I'm talking in nothings there, but I really don't know how else to approach this. 'Smoke Gets In Your Eyes' is really good. And that's that for me. I can't say anything other than that I throughly enjoyed it, and it feels like I was remembering my own memory. Weird, i know.