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Act Two, Scene Two;

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 4:54 pm
by CloudGrain
Act Two, Scene Two;

Routinely Unusual

Despite Saturday being the shortest day of actually attending classes, sometimes is can absolutely feel like the longest day.

Yesterday's storm has bled right into today, nowhere near as heavy but still gloomily managing to persist. Managing to even get out of a nice warm bed today proved to be a downright herculean task... I'm not surprised by the fact that a few of my classmates are mysteriously 'missing' today, and that most of us who actually managed to drag ourselves into class today are pretty unenthusiastic about the fact. I really wish that I could follow Suzu's example and just quietly lay down for a nap... especially if I could only be woken up twice by someone before they gave up trying to keep me up. In fact, even with Miki having unofficially tasked herself with trying to keep Suzu awake, she looks suspiciously like she's taking a nap herself.

Mutou seems to have the exact same contagious attitude as the rest of us today, looking almost asleep at his desk as he reads some scientific journal without terribly much enthusiasm. It was a good thing that he hadn't come in with the lecturing attitude today, preferring to instead just write problems from the book onto the board for everyone to do. I've got a feeling that even if he'd told us that the fate of the world depended on us all staying awake through a lecture today, the world might be in some serious trouble; even if we didn't count Suzu.

Making it all the way through the half-day was an almost impossible task, even without completing a hundred percent of the homework that Mutou had assigned us. But still, somehow, the whole class manages to avoid any catastrophes until the much-anticipated bell finally rings. I slip my phone out of my pocket, checking it for messages, and slip it back into my pocket before getting my things ready and leaving the classroom. It's become almost habitual as of late, to check just in case Mina sent a message during class. No such luck today... although it might be a good thing, forcing me to get a few other things done instead. Like the homework I still need to complete by Monday...

Unable to suppress a yawn at the fact, I stretch a little as I toss my books into my backpack while the rest of the class filters out of the room, Mutou taking the lead. Just as I begin to entertain the thoughts of getting things done though, my pocket buzzes once. Going through the same motions, flipping my phone open, the thoughts begin to fade.

Its still raining! :D

I can't help but roll my eyes a little, the text alone more than enough to have Mina's voice echoing through my mind with just a little too much enthusiasm for the fact.

Yeah... Ready to go to bed already. Maybe read for a bit

Even as I text my thoughts back to Mina, I can't help but feel like yawning again, trying to remember if I've got any decent books back in my room that might be worth reading today. Even just a half-day of classes felt oddly draining today, and I still do have to complete my homework... plus, with Mina admitting that she actually had a bit of a routine on days like today, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if she decided to actually stick to it. Managing to finally get out of the classroom and into the hallways, I'm a little surprised that my phone buzzes in my pocket before I've even managed to make my way all the way downstairs. Usually, Minako's replies take a few minutes. Still, not wanting to just be at a standstill in the middle of the hallway I make my way downstairs and duck to the side before checking my phone again.

Thats no fun Hisao Movies are cooler!

I can't help but feel like she's rubbing in the fact just a little bit, presumably having a TV in her room; I feel almost compelled to point the fact out.

Some of us don't have TVs in our rooms

This time, I manage to make it outside and into the rain before I think I notice my phone buzzing in my pocket. This time though, being out in the rain I don't simply pull to the side to check the message, walking quickly back to my dorm, trying not to get completely soaked by staying out for too long. Still, even walking quickly doesn't exactly help, and I can't help but curse the fact that I'd decided against bringing an umbrella with me to class today. Luckily, getting out of the school's main building means that I can walk and look at my phone without too much fear of bumping right into someone and looking like an inconsiderate idiot.

I'll share if you ask nicely :P

That gets a bit of a raised eyebrow out of me, wondering a little bit as to what she means. As usual, the best way to ask seems like just asking directly.

What do you mean by that?

It's not surprising after the past few texts that I've got a response before I even manage to make my way back to my room.

Come on over for a movie dummy. Ill make some popcorn too! I'm room 17, come over in like 30?

That response is a little unexpected, although at the same time with Mina being Mina not the most surprising thing in the world. After yesterday's admitting that she'd enjoyed watching movies on days like today, as well as her usual enthusiasm for movies in general, it's definitely not surprising that she'd make the suggestion. At the same time, with the amount that we've hung out in the past few weeks it shouldn't exactly be all that surprising or odd that she'd invite me over for something like that. Still, there's the oddest feeling somewhere in the back of my mind about the whole situation... an almost anticipatory nervousness about the idea of it. Still, just as soon as I notice it the feeling disappears.

I check the time on the text, making sure that I've got an idea of the correct time to show up.

Sounds good. See you then.

It doesn't take terribly long for me to change out of my wet clothes and into a new set of school clothes, this time grabbing my umbrella and setting it next to the door for myself when I go back outside. While the rain looks a bit lighter now than it's been all day, I wouldn't be surprised if it went right back to pouring cats and dogs in the next few hours. Better to not risk it.

It leaves me with just enough time to get my homework out and stare at it for a few minutes, half-attempting just a few questions before it finally looks like an appropriate time to leave. Grabbing my umbrella on my way out, it takes just a minute before I need it for the short walk across from the boys' dormitory to the girls'. Even so, I'm definitely grateful for it with the rain continuing to come down. The girls' dormitory is, surprisingly, not at all set up like the boys'. But nonetheless, finding room seventeen on the ground floor isn't a terribly hard thing to do, just by wandering around for a few short minutes. A couple of quick raps on the door, and I hear Mina cheerily enough telling me that I can come in.

Opening the door, the scene's just a little different from what I'd expected... even though I hadn't exactly been expecting anything in particular.

The room is pretty immaculately clean, at least by my standards, set up with very similar standard furnishing as my own room. A single bed, desk, chair, a few drawers and a closet... but it's all set up just differently enough to make it alien. Especially considering the desk has been more or less 'commandeered' for a fairly decent sized television, and the chair has been pushed away and used as an impromptu shelf for some books. Underneath the desk, where the chair should be, there's a huge rack holding a multitude of DVD's. A few posters are up on the walls, making it just a little bit more personal than my own room is. I can't help but notice that the curtains seem to be of a heavier material than the ones in my room, much more effective at blocking out every little bit of light.

Then, of course, there's Mina in what I assume are her pajamas, sitting cross-legged on her bed with a big bowl of popcorn. She's just wearing a white t-shirt and black and white checkered flannel pants... but it's just different enough from her usual attire that it gives me pause. Her usual scarf is even missing, tossed right next to the television, occupying the tiny bit of space left on the desk. It's strange, seeing her in a short-sleeve shirt for the first time, her arms looks just a little pale. Then again, while I assume that she's constantly going on walks, we have just gotten out of the winter months where a long-sleeved shirt is so much more comfortable.

I quickly slip my shoes off, leaving them by the door as Minako looks over at me. I can't help but feel a little like I'm being judged for over-dressing, given Mina's attire and grin.

Of course, I'm proven wrong as she tosses a piece of popcorn at me with one prolonged word accompanying it. "Laaaaaate." As soon as the piece of popcorn bounces off me without much impact, I find myself looking at my watch, hoping to prove her wrong. Of course, she's technically right by about a whole minute, getting me to roll my eyes in just a little bit of exasperation. I stoop over to pick up the piece of popcorn and lay my umbrella against the wall next to the door, noting that either Minako doesn't have one of her own, or has it in her closet. "I almost watched the whole movie without you, could've probably gotten through one and a half waiting for you." She teases, getting a bit of a chuckle out of me as she sets the popcorn down next to her and gets up, heading over to the curtains and shutting them. Like I'd assumed, they manage to block out almost all of the little bit of light coming from outside.

Turning my attention to the TV, which is facing the bed set up against the wall to double as a couch, I'm a little surprised at the movie's title; Howl's Moving Castle. As much as I wouldn't consider myself an avid movie-goer I've actually heard a lot of good stuff about the movie, even though I haven't seen it. Of course, after a few months a lot of the hype died right down about it, and I was able to put it out of my mind... but now, I can't help but find my interest in it piqued again.

Minako must catch my interested gaze as she turns from closing the curtains, grinning. "Even seen it before?" She asks, getting a shake of my head and grinning even more widely. "Good! Then I won't spoil it." I take a seat on her bed as she does the same, although she grabs a blanket from the foot of the bed this time and more or less wraps herself in it before again placing the bowl a little awkwardly on her lap. "I think it's even based off a book, if you absolutely need to read it even after seeing it." She teases, leaning over to say it before presumably hitting play on a remote control hidden underneath the blanket.

I'll have to admit that, although a definitely... strange-seeming movie in a lot of ways, it's still more than able to capture my attention. The story's one of both a strange fantasy world and a character's own personal transformation through her 'quest' to free herself of a curse and finding love along the way. The animations themselves are absolutely captivating as well, supplementing the strange, bizarre, world in a way that'd probably be impossible using just cameras, actors, and computers to try and simulate it all. It's astoundingly easy for me to find myself slipping into much the same mindset I've got when I get lost in a good book... at some point, slipping my shoes off to sit cross-legged on the bed, mirroring Minako, occasionally grabbing a few pieces of popcorn as I watch the story unfolding in front of me.

Just as the movie's beginning to approach what I assume is a climax, the castle crumbling to pieces around the characters ears as they struggle to reach Howl.... Mina cruelly pauses the movie. Making me blink for a moment or two, wondering if the disk had been damaged and if I'll miss the bits that the whole movie seemed to be building up to. Of course, looking over at her with a little bit of surprise and confusion, she quickly just laughs at me. "Admit it, movies are better." She says, using the moment to try and get just a little bit of leverage on the topic. To her amusement, I get more than a little tangled up, ending up sputtering something fairly nonsensical as I try to get her to simply start the movie right back up.

"Come on, Hisao. Movies are better than books, just say it." She says, almost too cheerfully as an arm shoots out from underneath the blanket to jokingly punch me in the shoulder.

I can't help but stand my ground here, having been almost conditioned by Mina to oppose her whenever and wherever I can. "I've got a very, very strict policy in regards to things like this, Minako. I don't negotiate with terrorists. Although, I might just be willing to agree if you let me watch the movie to the end." I say, lending a false air of incredible seriousness to my voice for a second and cracking a grin as I hear Mina giggle in response. Shortly after, she delivers her most dramatic possible sigh and resumes the movie, moving around just a little bit on the bed to make her seating a bit more comfortable. True to what I'd thought earlier, it looks like a major point in the story-line, and really helps to resolve a lot of the thoughts I'd had earlier.

All-too-soon, it's rolling the movie's credits, and Minako's back to poking me in the side to try and coax the answer she wants out of me. "So...?"

"That was a really good movie, I'll admit it. I'd need to read the book too, so that I could tell you which was better though." I say, getting her to scrunch up her face just a little bit, clearly wishing that she'd had an outright 'victory' rather than a sound-plan for a compromise. The now-empty bowl gets placed onto the dresser next to Minako, and she hops up to briefly part the curtains and look outside. Based on the pathetic amount of light that the action of opening the curtains lets in, and Minako's contented expression, I can't help but assume that it's still raining out there. Stretching just a little bit where I'm sitting, I can't help but wonder if I'm supposed to be heading out... but just as soon as I'm thinking it, she's ejecting the disk from the DVD player and loading another one from a case I can't quite make out right back into it.

Almost as though Mina's able to read my mind as she heads back over and plops down onto the bed, she grins and says. "You'll just have to stay here until you're convinced otherwise then! I could definitely binge-watch a few movies I haven't seen in a while!" I give a good-natured groan in response, which earns me Minako rolling her eyes at me and looking tempted to break out of her blanket to poke or prod me just a little bit. All in all, I could definitely think of worse things to do than to watch a few decent movies on a Saturday when I've got nothing else to really do. I can definitely see Mina's perspective now though... just sitting back and doing something like this on a rainy day is so much more appealing than trying to do anything that'd take any real effort. Although, before we can even make it through the previews to the next, unknown movie, I find myself yawning just a bit.

Minako shakes her head, looking amused. I can't help but raise an eyebrow and a question. "What?"

"Casual." She says with a wide smile and a bit of laughter as I open my mouth, trying to search for some counter-argument in vain.

"I thought the whole point of this was to be lazy though... ignore homework and everything else and just watch movies." I point out as Mina leans over to the side, grabbing another blanket and tossing it over to me. Gratefully, realizing that it is just a little bit cooler in the room I find myself similarly wrapping myself up in it to how Mina had.

"Yeah. But you're not supposed to be tired after just one movies. You're supposed to watch until your eyes are just about ready to pop out of your head. Six, seven, maybe eight movies down the line. You're not doing it right unless you start getting confused as to why there are pirates inside what you think is a sci-fi movie!" The worst part about the whole joking tone that Mina takes with the statement is that I can't exactly tell where it either starts or stops... making it almost a bit intimidating. Of course, she grins afterwards. "But of course, probably not unless you're able to build yourself up to it. Years and years of practice." She says, tone a little more obviously joking now.

"That... sounds a bit unhealthy." I admit, getting a shrug out of Minako.

"Only once in a rare while... and probably spread out a little more than it sounds." She admits, shrugging off the concern without too much effort, looking over to the screen, I notice that it's finally made its way to the title-screen, Pirates of the Caribbean. I crack a bit of a grin... this movie I have seen, albeit not in a while, and definitely enjoyed. "But, you've gotta admit... better than doing homework!" She says it with a grin, pointing from underneath her own blanket to the pile of books seated on her chair with an expression of distaste. I can't hide my own similar expression as I recognize the fact that I'll have to do my own homework tomorrow as well.

"Way better." I agree, gesturing with my chin towards the television. "So let's forget about the homework for a bit, start the movie!" I say it just a little impatiently, to get a grin out of Minako. I think that I definitely managed to gauge her reaction well as she does exactly that, hitting the play button.

By the middle of the movie, we've both agreed that we're hungry... and keeping with the theme of overall laziness, Minako's pulls out a huge list of take-out places that deliver to the school from a drawer. We settle on a nearby pizza place that's got guaranteed thirty-minute delivery. Before the movie's three-quarters the way through, we've got our pizza and are happily enough digging into it while watching Captain Jack Sparrow's adventure. I pay for it, despite Mina's protests that she wanted to split the cost, saying that it's my treat. The man who delivers it to us can't help but comment on the weather, looking like he'd just dove into a pool before coming by the school.

By the time that we've somehow managed to polish off the whole pizza, both of us probably feeling more than a little bit guilty and gluttonous for having done so, Mina pops in yet another movie, another animated film. Luckily, she manages to save us from having to go outside to find drinks by having a ready stock of a few soft-drinks in her closet. As much as it kills me to admit it I don't know if I'd be actually able to summon quite the needed effort to get up and find a vending machine. I've got a feeling that if the Nurse knew about how much I was more or less just indulging myself right now, he'd probably do his best to push me right back towards the track to get a bunch of exercise. Even worse, I could actually see him trying to pair me right up with Emi, or someone else equally as full of energy to try and get me right back into shape. The thought alone right now proves to be a bit too much of an effort to be comfortable.

I think that right now, a little too full and having been incredibly lazy all day, I'm just about as comfortable as I've been in a long time. I'm finding myself yawning again, almost in tandem with Mina as we're leaning a bit further back from where we were sitting on the couch earlier, against the wall for a little bit of extra support. I can't even really remember the name of the movie that we're watching right now, or any of the plot-line of the past thirty or forty minutes as I find myself dozing a little bit, enjoying the whole situation. I'm just... comfortable. Sitting here with Minako, watching a few pretty good movies, a full stomach and warm despite the weather outside being pretty abysmal. Exchanging a few little jokes, half-whispered so as not to detract too much from the movies.

At some point, I'm vaguely aware of Minako changing out the movie yet again as I'm yawning as more or less spacing out. The only real things that I notice are the simple, good things in life right now. That I'm feeling good, nice and warm, and in good company without too many other real responsibilities I'm neglecting. That everything feels right and normal and good in the world... I catch myself dosing off just a little bit a few times, and even catch Minako doing the same thing, despite her assurances that she was so much 'more experienced' with watching so many movies and generally being lazy than I was.

Still, leaning against the wall with the nice warm blanket to insulate me, I figure that it shouldn't be too hard to wait out this one last movie. I think it's based on something about spies before I head back to my own room to get what feels like it'd be some much appreciated sleep. Although... walking back just might be a little harder on a full stomach. I let loose one of those jaw-cracking yawns, the type that feel like they last almost an entire minute all by themselves and make you tear up a bit as I settle back comfortably against the wall, intent on waiting it out.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Two Up]

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 6:29 am
by Mirage_GSM
Two points about Japanese culture:
1. Hisao would never enter Mina's room with his shoes still on - especially on a rainy day like this. Usually you take them off at the house entrance. Not sure about a dorm, but definitely before entering the room.
2. No tipping in Japan.
As much as I wouldn't consider myself an avid movie-goer I'd actually heard a lot of good stuff about the movie, even if I hadn't seen it myself.
And one line that accidentally slipped into past perfect.

The end of the chapter really surprised me. I felt certain that they both would simply doze off...

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Two Up]

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 10:39 am
by AntonSlavik020
I'd have to side with Hisao on this one, books are better. And whenever there is a book based on a movie, or vise-versa, the book is almost always better. That said, Mina has a good taste in movies. I don't watch many animated movies, but any movie made by Miyazaki worth a watch. And I always take my shoes off when entering a house,(or in this case their room) especially if they're wet or dirty. It's just common courtesy.

Act Two, Scene Three;

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 2:08 pm
by CloudGrain
Act Two, Scene Three;


There are a few sounds that are incredibly universal no matter where you hear them. Unfortunately, one of the more annoying ones, and the one that's piercing through my mind right now is that of an alarm clock. An alarm clock, but not my alarm clock. I'm vaguely aware of a weight suddenly rapidly shifting itself off my shoulder as I open my eyes to the menu of the last DVD me and Minako had watched last night in an otherwise dark room. It takes a long moment before the vague sensation of simply being in a weird, almost wrong situation finds its roots. I watched the movies in Mina's room last night, and don't exactly have a television of my own in my room. The alarm shrieking, which has just stopped, isn't my alarm... I feel heat rushing right to my face as I realize that I must have unintentionally fallen asleep in Mina's room last night, despite my intention of leaving just after the last movie.

I managed to, completely unintentionally fall asleep and spend probably the entire night in a girl's room... on her bed... presumably with her right there.

This whole thing is exactly the sort of deal that can cause a lot of trouble for everyone involved. It could spark all sorts of nasty rumors if someone manages to catch me leaving her room early in the morning, or if someone somehow managed to note my absence from my own room overnight. As panicked thoughts begin to stack one on top of another, another simple one comes right to the forefront of my mind at another simple realization a moment too late. The alarm going off a minute ago meant that, in all likelihood, Minako had turned it off.

Turning with an expression probably suited to a horror movie, I look over to my left, where Mina had been sitting next to me last night, and see her stretching for a moment. In the low-light, I can more or less just make out her silhouette as, after stretching she turns towards me... promptly practically falling onto my shoulder with a groan. I'm suddenly very aware that the shoulder she's on is already warmer than the rest of me, as well as the fact that I feel like my cheek has been resting on something fairly solid all night. My mind finally working just a little bit faster, it doesn't exactly take a genius to realize that we've probably been sleeping leaning right up against one another the whole night.

My sleepy mind finally begins to somewhat lurch into a real gear as I take a few seconds to calm myself down and just try to appraise the situation.

It's all but impossible to know if it's light or dark outside with the curtains still up and blocking any light from getting in, but craning my neck to see the alarm clock, I'm surprised to see it reading five-forty-six. With Minako, I'd always more or less assumed that she wasn't a morning person... especially with the whole fact that she'd been more or less able to turn off the alarm and fall right back to sleep on top of me without noticing a thing. The heavy sleeping may well work to my advantage in getting out of here without having to explain too much.

It's still probably pretty dark outside this early in the morning... and there really shouldn't be too terribly many people up, or at least up and outside, or looking out their windows. That's good, because it makes my chance of getting seen leaving the girls' dormitories in the morning all the lower. As soon as I get outside, I'm almost home-free so long as nobody's decided that today was a great random day to check my room for me.

Of course, I bring myself to wondering exactly what would be the shortest route from this room to the nearest exit pretty quickly. The whole layout of the building is... not exactly the most intuitive for a dormitory. Picking my brain for the best method is more just trying to optimize getting out using the same way I came in a little more quietly, and hopefully more stealthily. It is a Sunday, so I'm more than a little hopeful that Mina's the only person on the floor with either a completely broken, or somewhat improperly set-up alarm clock. I can't think of too many people who'd be up willingly at this hour... even on a school-day with the school being so close, it seems almost excessive.

Mind working just as fast as it can so early in the morning without coffee, I quickly review the plan I've come up with one last time. Operation; please-don't-fail-and-get-me-and-Mina-into-trouble.
  • Step one, extract myself from underneath Mina, which seems like it might actually be somewhat feasible without waking her up.
  • Step two, grab my umbrella and shoes as I quietly get myself out of Mina's room. The umbrella part of this step is key to potential partial-success if I'm seen leaving the girl's dormitories.
  • Step three, get out of the girl's dormitories, hopefully without being seen. Upon exiting the dormitories, immediately open up the umbrella and hold it over my head somewhat closely.
  • Step four, walking casually, but still avoiding anyone, make it all the way back to my own dormitory. Lose the umbrella if anyone's nearby.
  • Step five, back to my room. Immediately change into something casual, just in case.
Satisfied that I can do it all and hopeful that I'll able be either to completely avoid, or at least able to mitigate my chances of getting into a sticky situation, I mentally prepare myself to carry out step one.

Of course, even the best made plans can be pretty easily shattered when you forget some crucial little piece. Like the fact that many alarms have easy-to-hit 'sleep' buttons and harder to hit on/off buttons so that you're forced to get up when the annoying little devices blare out whatever they're programmed to in order to wake you up. And that these 'sleep' buttons only give you from five to ten minutes before the alarms go off again... making the motion of getting Mina off me carefully pretty much immediately disappearing as a possibility as she immediately begins to murmur and stir.

Mina's confusion as I rapidly try to disengage from pushing her off of me gently, and the ensuing tiny bit of a tangle that we get into in her haste for turning off the alarm and mine for not accidentally coming off as a complete creep is pretty justifiable. The words that she's mumbling tiredly, again reinforcing my idea of her not being a morning person sound vaguely like curses that could make sailors blush... although maybe I'm mishearing her. Still, it seems like this time I don't have quite the same amount of luck in Minako wanting to just go right back to sleep as she sleepily seems to be looking in my vague direction for a long, long moment. I'm glad that I don't think she can see the blush that's crept right back into my face.

"Hisao...?" The question is bleary as Mina rubs her eyes sleepily.

"Er... Yeah." I admit, surprised by Mina's rather simple reaction to it.

"Haaaaa." She starts out, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, even with the tiredness of her voice I can practically make out the invisible grin on her face by her tone when she continues. "You did fall asleep. Knew it." The only real accentuation to the statement is a long yawn before she shakes her head, causing her hair to go about a little wildly for a moment as she tries to wake herself up. I'm a little surprised for her whole... lack of concern about the situation. She turns around for a moment, looking at the clock and grumbling something inaudibly before getting up and turning on the lights. Just as I begin to consider pointing out the situation to her, I'm floored by the fact that she simply opens the door and leaves. My jaw drops, and my mind screeches to what I feel is an almost audible halt at the fact.

I'm not exactly sure if Mina simply doesn't care, or if she's just tired enough to really not have put two and two together quite yet. Now that she's awake though, the whole situation is even weirder seeming. Within just a minute, which is just long enough to pick my jaw up from the floor, Minako comes back into the room, almost silently. Just as I'm about to ask her what she was thinking, she brings a finger to her lips.

"Nobody's in the halls. You're clear." She says softly, letting loose another jaw-cracking yawn as she grins slightly at my confusion. "Set the alarm for early, since you looked almost asleep. Now... I wanna get back to sleep. Unless you really wanted to stay." I feel my ears and cheeks heat right up as I look away while Mina says the last bit with a giggle, apparently all set from the get-go to tease me. Figuring that time is of the essence though, I immediately stand up and bow ever-so-slightly in relief at her scoping out the hallways for me and setting the alarm for an ungodly hour.

"Thanks, Mina. I'll uh... head out." Minako shrugs tiredly, grabbing one of the blankets from the floor and wrapping herself in it, mumbling some sort of a tired affirmative. Frizzy hair, half-lidded eyes, and slouching posture. . . I can't help but feel more than a little guilty about being the reason for her lack of sleep and abrupt awakening this morning, far, far too early. "Thanks for watching out for me... saving me since I was too lazy yesterday."

The dazzling, if tired smile that I get back in response is the tiniest bit confusing; as is the sudden warm embrace, even through a blanket. The response, more or less mumbled into my shoulder and into her blanket is a little better reflecting of what I'd expect from Mina in the mornings. "Yer w'lcme." With that, she totters over to her bed tiredly, eyeing the alarm evilly to make sure that it's in fact off rather than merely sleeping, and flops down into it. I can't help but watch, a little amused, even knowing that my definitely 'safe' timer is becoming less and less accurate with each passing second. Minako seems equally as aware of the fact as she opens an eye, grins a bit and makes a shooing motion with her hand. "See ya later, Hisao."

With that, I finally make my far-too-belated departure. Slipping my shoes on, grabbing my umbrella and flicking the light-switch off as I leave the room. I'm fairly certain that I hear a barely-mumbled 'thanks' for the last action.

After being accosted in the hallway by Kenji, the only real 'hitch' in my getting back to my room unhindered and assuring him that I hadn't been brainwashed, I'd decided to follow in Mina's footsteps and get a few more hours of sleep in. Today though, it seems like my absolutely abysmally lazy streak won't continue. Tossing and turning for a while, I might've managed another hour or two with the sun coming up and the thought of the homework just a few feet away laying undone. Begrudgingly, I finally pull myself up to just get it out of the way... no shortage of yawning while my mind wanders to thoughts of breakfast; despite the fact that I really shouldn't need to eat for the next few days after last night.

Applying myself to my schoolwork, it's actually done a bit quicker than I'd anticipated. Glancing at my watch as I lean back in my chair, I can't help but wonder at the fact that most of my day seems to be pretty much 'done' by eleven in the morning. Leaning back in my chair I stretch myself out as I begin letting my mind wander just a little bit, finally freed from the rigorous logic of physics and math.

My mind immediately finds itself focusing on the most obvious thing, the fact that I'd accidentally fallen asleep in Mina's room. The fact that she'd apparently hardly minded setting things up so that I hadn't really been in danger of getting into any trouble, despite the simple fact that it'd probably be just as easy for her to have woken me up with a few chastising remarks. Hell, it would've been easier, and more like her to have woken me up laughing just a little bit at me for being a 'casual' movie-watcher. I find myself more or less automatically in my little 'stash' of pre-made food and drink as I muse over the fact, popping open the top to a can of coffee as I entertain my thoughts.

That little bit could be pretty easily explained by Mina simply deciding to be nice, because we're friends. Watching out for me, and for her while still letting me be comfortable, it could pretty easily just be a really nice gesture on her part.

I can't help as my ears turn red at a few of the other parts though. Like the fact that she'd been sleeping against me for at least a little while before I'd woken up, and even after the alarm had gone off the first time. But that could be just as easily explained, right? After all, lots of people move around a bit when they sleep. Moving right back to the same position you were in after slamming your alarm off the first time in the morning was absolutely natural too. I can remember more than a few times that I've actually hit the sleep button on my own alarm more than two or three times before I could finally drag myself into consciousness, Mina being more or less still asleep after just once wasn't a big deal.

Even the words and actions after she'd woken up and 'scouted' outside of her room could probably be explained by her still being sleepy. She definitely looked the part of someone who was still fighting it, and she went right back to bed afterwards, almost underscoring it. Jokingly saying that I could stay was right up Mina's alleyway for trying to get a rise out of me, and the warm embrace could probably be explained by the sleepiness, right? There's a nagging voice somewhere in the back of my mind, trying to tell me that people wouldn't say things like that unless they really might not mind it potentially being taken seriously. But the more logical voice, reinforced by the coffee and intent on getting rid of the awkward feeling that the nagging voice is causing, points out that Mina's almost always more than happy to push my buttons to get a rise out of me.

Doing my best to immediately banish a few of the remaining thoughts, feeling a little more fortified now that I've had some coffee, I go back to my homework to double-check a few of the problems. By eleven-thirty, I'm absolutely confident that my work is all as good as it's going to get, and decide to grab some lunch. Despite having had enough pizza yesterday to easily justify missing breakfast, I've got a feeling that skipping out on two meals afterwards would probably be pushing it just a little bit. Peeking outside, and seeing a bit of sunshine for the first time in almost two days, I can't help but sigh in relief as I don't feel the need to grab my umbrella on my way out to the cafeteria.

I can't even feign surprise as soon as I get outside my dorm at seeing Mina exiting the girl's dorm, probably with exactly the same intent. It's almost impossible-seeming, the fact that she's managed to get herself all the way 'put back together' since just a few hours ago. Her hair's back to being relatively straight and out of the way, just a few curls instead of a pretty frizzy mess, in the school's uniform, save her usual scarf back in place around her neck. She's got a bright smile as soon as she sees me, and waves as she walks over to join me.

"Reading my mind now... lunch after skipping breakfast, right?" I ask, getting a nod from Mina as she seems to be pushing towards the gate instead of the cafeteria. She's managing to more or less push me in the same direction, which gets a look of confusion.

"Right! But, I was figuring in town." She says, getting me to realize that I'm being half-dragged along to lunch with her.

Falling right back into my usual habits with her, I find myself wondering out loud. "The town hired you to bring more business in from the school, didn't they?" I ask with a little bit of wonder, as if coming to a profound realization. Mina punches me in the shoulder at that, getting me to chuckle at her response.

"Actually, I was planning on treating you to lunch since you paid for the pizza yesterday. Figured that cafeteria food would probably be pretty bad repayment for pizza." She says, getting me to tilt my head just a little as I look over at her. It'd taken a few minutes of back and forth yesterday to convince her that I could cover the cost of the pizza without too much of a problem... but I suppose that she still wants to pay me back somehow. I fall right back into the comfortable habits of conversation with her immediately.

"So, you were just assuming that I was going to head out around the same time as you? Or were you planning on bringing back lunch for me?"

Minako rolls her eyes at that. "I was planning on texting you and seeing if you wanted to come along. But since I saw you as soon as I went out, I figured you were good to go. Duh!"

We fall right back into the comfortable habit of joking with one another as we head down into the town, grabbing a quick lunch in one of the town's cafes before just wasting some time going around town now that the rain's finally stopped. It strikes me after a while that we've already got a few inside jokes between one another... just little things, regarding stuff like the few more impromptu 'soccer-games' we've had, the few walks around town, and even now it was starting to incorporate the movies we'd watched yesterday. It's all incredibly reminiscent of so many times I'd hung out with my friends back at home, with so much of the same attitude seeming to be the same between me and Mina.

Of course... things aren't quite all exactly the same anymore. After all, there's a reason I'm here at Yamaku in the first place.

"Hisao, you alright?" Mina asks as she sees me rubbing my chest yet again, trying to rub away a dull aching sensation. It'd been something that I'd caught myself doing just a few times as we've been walking around today... mostly by catching Minako looking at me with a bit of obvious concern.

"Y-yeah." I say, stammering slightly, to my own confusion as I suddenly realize that the words are strained.

There's no reason that I should be feeling like this, forcing the words out of my mouth... feeling a bead of sweat suddenly on my forehead as the dull ache continues on. I haven't had a single real 'hiccup' at Yamaku since I've started school almost a month ago. I've been going on walks like this fairly frequently, a few times a week... been eating alright, save the past few meals... been taking my medic- My eyes shoot open wide as I realize that I've forgotten at least one dose of most of my medications, and two of the few I need to take at night. Minako's expression of concern causes me to immediately do my best to hide my own concern.

"I... We... need to get back to school." I grunt, the hand massaging my chest somewhat tightening over it even as I try to keep myself calm.

The doctors had all told me plenty of times... 'if you ever find yourself in a stressful situation, do your very best to calm yourself down, it'll help the situation'. As easy as it all sounded in theory, just taking deep breaths and trying to 'think calm thoughts' didn't really come quite as naturally now as I'd hoped. My chest hurts, and I feel more than a simple pang of guilt as I look over and see Minako's absolutely terrified expression.

"Are you okay, Hisao? Do I need to call an ambulance?" She's asking breathlessly, phone already in hand, ready to dial as I find myself shaking my head while still concentrating on my breathing. Continuing to walk right now just seems like a bad idea... and we're just a little bit outside of town anyways, on a sidewalk that wasn't exactly all too used. I find myself sitting down on the concrete, staring down at the ground guiltily. Ignoring my condition wouldn't make it go away... even if sometimes it felt like it did. The frustration I feel, with myself, with the fact that I'd been cursed with the heart of an eighty-year old before my twentieth birthday comes crashing down all at once. Clenching my jaw, I just stare at the concrete defeatedly as I hope against hope that the dull throbbing will go away. "Hisao?"

Biting back my anger, I look up at Minako, more ashamed of the fact that it'd happened in front of her than anything else about the situation. "Are you okay?" The concern in her voice and eyes cuts deep, even as I'm aware of the fact that the aching is slowly subsiding. I can't maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds as she looks down at me fearfully.

"I-... yeah. I'll be okay." I say past a lump in my throat, concentrating on my breathing for another moment or so. I'm not quite confident in my ability to judge myself as being a hundred percent 'ok' for a few more minutes as I sit here, vaguely aware of the fact that Mina's sat down next to me awkwardly. It's just... shameful. That I can't even go for a walk on a day where I've forgotten my medication, just a light walk and not feel like I'm about to suddenly fall over and scar whoever I'm walking with for life. It's pathetic. I feel a hand on my shoulder for reassurance, and feel myself flushing at the fact that I so obviously need support right now.

I'm not quite able to force myself to look over at Mina as I feel the words slowly begin to roll off my tongue for the first time since I've been diagnosed.

"I've got... a really bad heart." I admit slowly, between deep careful breaths. The dull throbbing's all but gone, replaced with a sensation deep in my gut... guilt. "And... well, forgot to take my medicine this morning. Even with the medicine, I'm supposed to take it pretty easy." I say each word slowly and deliberately, practically chewing on them before I finally spit them out. "Apparently, without taking it, I can't even go for a walk without problems." The last sentence is injected with an absolutely toxic dose of self-loathing as I screw my eyes shut. It just... looking so weak in front of Minako feels worse than I could've possibly imagined.

"Can you make it back to school?" The response is soft and thoughtful, giving me just a small measure of relief.

"Probably... taking it easy." I admit, feeling a shift as Minako stands up next to me, and a hand appears in front of me to help me up. Reluctantly, I grab it and pull myself up, aware of the dullest pain in my chest as I do so. A hand remains on my back for just a moment as I carefully test a few steps forwards, content that with a slow pace I probably won't overexert myself. I'm a bit surprised to hear the sigh of relief in stereo, and manage to look over to Mina for the first time in what feels like ages. She's pretty obviously concerned, the weight of it tugging down at the corners of her mouth until she notices me looking at her. As soon as she does, she gives me a reassuring smile, carefully putting a hand on my back.

"That was... scary." She admits, letting out another sigh of relief as we continue back towards the school at a grueling pace.

I grimace. "I'm sorry..." Minako looks surprised at that, blinking as she looks over at me.


I can't help but being equally as surprised at that, practically mimicking her as I blink and try to find words to explain it. "Because... I should've remembered my medicine, should've been more careful, shouldn't have ignored it until it got that bad, realized it a little earlier so that it didn't scare you." I say slowly, listing off all the reasons and means by which I've screwed things up. Minako gives me an odd smile, one of cautious relief.

"But you caught it before anything really bad happened, right?" I nod, getting a long sigh of relief as Minako's smile gets wider and more optimistic.

"Then everything's okay. As long as you're okay, everything good. I was really, really afraid for a few minutes there that things were going to get worse." It's accompanied by another long sigh of relief as I realize just how pent up Minako had been... scared on my behalf. The rest of the walk back to Yamaku, taking far longer than the walk down had is in near-silence as Mina half-supports me and we take it all easily. She insists that she helps me up to my room even when we get back onto the grounds, helping me to sit on the side of my bed and handing me my medications as I point them out on my bedside dresser.

I'm absolutely exhausted... no doubt thanks to the episode with my heart as I choke down pill after pill as Minako hands them to me after carefully checking the bottles for the proper dosage. Strangely, it looks like after each pill I take a little more tension actually leaves her rather than me. By the time that I've finished taking all of them, I'm ready for nothing more than to go to sleep for the rest of the day... to wish that I could forget about the whole episode. Still, I feel absolutely compelled to thank Mina for all that she'd done, even if I wasn't quite sure if I could look her in the face after this whole ordeal I'd put her through.

"Thanks... Mina." I say, staring at the floor as I'm vaguely aware of her sitting down next to me, forcing the words past a huge lump in my throat.

I'm surprised as she throws her arms around me, hugging me tightly against her for a moment. "Don't ever scare me like that again." She says, tone a little scolding even as her voice cracks for a moment, pressing herself against me almost urgently, as if making sure that I really am real and solid. I can't help but steal a glance over at her, noticing that her cheeks are matching her scarf and that there's what looks like a trail from a single tear on a face that expresses nothing but complete and utter relief with closed eyes. Before she opens her eyes she dips her head against her scarf to clear away the tiny bit of wetness, and disengages herself from the embrace with a strangely sweet smile.

"You can't just keel over to get away from me, Hisao. You're stuck with me." She says, getting a weak grin out of me as she stands up. "A hundred-percent sure you're okay?" I nod, the simple movement redoubling her smile. The sigh of relief is less pronounced than earlier, but still definite. "Good..." Her face is still flushed as she nods, apparently at an unusual loss for words as she heads towards the door. "I'll... see you around, alright Hisao?"

"Alright." I croak out, awkwardly rubbing my neck as Mina does the same as she closes the door with a smile.

I feel like my face is probably mirroring hers, completely red as I mentally find myself replaying the feeling of her against me and the obvious relief at my admitting I was alright, even the stubborn joke at the end of it all. I can't help but feel like, if it were at all possible, Minako really would be the type to fight death over who had the rights to me. It's... an oddly reassuring, but at the same time oddly nerve-wracking feeling. Despite not knowing quite how to feel about it, I end up falling asleep with just a bit of a smile on my face.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:00 pm
by TheTealeaf
Two words cloud.

Fuck you.

I actually had a fucking tear in my eye then right at the end scene.
CloudGrain wrote:Don't ever scare me like that again." She says, tone a little scolding even as her voice cracks for a moment, pressing herself against me almost urgently, as if making sure that I really am real and solid


Also this:
CloudGrain wrote:Minako really would be the type to fight death over who had the rights to me
That made me giggle.

This scene was good. I mean really good. I didn't notice any glaring grammatical errors and this scene went from hilarious (when reading the list I had the mission impossible theme going in my head) to feeling sorry for Hisao (I gotta say his anger is almost palpable in that little bit) and then that last bit at the end!

Bravo good sir... this route is going on my alert list!

Keep it up!

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 8:06 pm
by AntonSlavik020
Loved that last scene. Very well written and emotional. Hisao revealing his heart condition is always a scene I look forward to in a story, and this one didn't disappoint. Now that he's told Mina what his condition is, I wonder when her's is going to be revealed or manifest itself like Hisao's did. Anyways, looking forward to more!

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:18 am
by SirKaid
I've got to echo the others about the last scene. It felt very real. Kudos.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 5:39 am
by Solistor
I am enjoying this one quite a bit. Mina's a really engaging character, and I like how you've included just the tiniest hints of what her condition could possibly be without outright tipping your hand. Nothing's really felt forced so far, and it gives me an odd fuzzy feeling to learn that, for the most part, the term "original character" is not a death warrant for a fic. You've got a good thing going, man; keep it up. In the meantimes, this is definitely a story I'm putting on my watchlist.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 9:21 am
by CloudGrain
Mirage_GSM wrote:Two points about Japanese culture:
1. Hisao would never enter Mina's room with his shoes still on - especially on a rainy day like this. Usually you take them off at the house entrance. Not sure about a dorm, but definitely before entering the room.
2. No tipping in Japan.
As much as I wouldn't consider myself an avid movie-goer I'd actually heard a lot of good stuff about the movie, even if I hadn't seen it myself.
And one line that accidentally slipped into past perfect.

The end of the chapter really surprised me. I felt certain that they both would simply doze off...
Thanks kindly for the quick bits of advice as to making everything just a little more true to the setting, as always. Did my best to quickly amend all the issues. As to the ending of the chapter somewhat surprising you... well, intentions don't always find themselves being followed through. As always though, thank you for the review Mirage!
AntonSlavik020 wrote:I'd have to side with Hisao on this one, books are better. And whenever there is a book based on a movie, or vise-versa, the book is almost always better. That said, Mina has a good taste in movies. I don't watch many animated movies, but any movie made by Miyazaki worth a watch. And I always take my shoes off when entering a house,(or in this case their room) especially if they're wet or dirty. It's just common courtesy.
Hey, I can't disagree with that logic. It's a pretty rare movie that manages to even live up to the standards of a good book. I did amend the chapter to have Hisao taking off his shoes, my mind somehow decided that while it probably happened I didn't need to write about it. Temporary short-circuit of some sort or another. Regardless, thanks kindly for the review, as always Anton!
TheTealeaf wrote:Two words cloud.

Fuck you.

I actually had a fucking tear in my eye then right at the end scene.
CloudGrain wrote:Don't ever scare me like that again." She says, tone a little scolding even as her voice cracks for a moment, pressing herself against me almost urgently, as if making sure that I really am real and solid


Also this:
CloudGrain wrote:Minako really would be the type to fight death over who had the rights to me
That made me giggle.

This scene was good. I mean really good. I didn't notice any glaring grammatical errors and this scene went from hilarious (when reading the list I had the mission impossible theme going in my head) to feeling sorry for Hisao (I gotta say his anger is almost palpable in that little bit) and then that last bit at the end!

Bravo good sir... this route is going on my alert list!

Keep it up!
Bah, flattery! I'm really glad that you think I'm doing the story justice though, and certainly hopeful that I'll be able to keep up the same standard of work for a while to come. After all, only in the middle of Act Two as it is, plenty to look forwards to in the realm of what I've got planned. :D As always, thanks for the encouragement and the bits of support that you've lent to me in the conceptualizing areas of the story, Tealeaf, I've definitely felt like they've been a great help to the development of the story!
AntonSlavik020 wrote:Loved that last scene. Very well written and emotional. Hisao revealing his heart condition is always a scene I look forward to in a story, and this one didn't disappoint. Now that he's told Mina what his condition is, I wonder when her's is going to be revealed or manifest itself like Hisao's did. Anyways, looking forward to more!
Exceptionally glad to not be disappointing on the revelation scene! Definitely feel, like you, that it's a pretty important point in the story, so I'm really glad to have done it justice. As to the rest... well, time will tell. Much as I'd love to spoil things, I feel like it'll be much more fun to have them progress as planned. As always, thank you for the review Anton! Always brightens my day a bit.
SirKaid wrote:I've got to echo the others about the last scene. It felt very real. Kudos.
Thank you very much, like I've said a few times, I'm very glad to be doing it justice!
Solistor wrote:I am enjoying this one quite a bit. Mina's a really engaging character, and I like how you've included just the tiniest hints of what her condition could possibly be without outright tipping your hand. Nothing's really felt forced so far, and it gives me an odd fuzzy feeling to learn that, for the most part, the term "original character" is not a death warrant for a fic. You've got a good thing going, man; keep it up. In the meantimes, this is definitely a story I'm putting on my watchlist.
Thank you. I'm usually one to write with all the subtlety of an axe coming through a door, so the fact that hints are being more or less picked up rather than outright 'obvious clues' or 'pointers' is definitely something that I'll take as high-praise as I continue to develop my style. That I'm managing to maintain something close enough to Katawa Shoujo's canonical roots, even with an original character, is also something that I'm exceptionally happy to hear. So again, thank you. Definitely makes my morning to hear things like this when the opposite reactions were exactly the sorts of things I grind my teeth over a bit re-reading updates. Cheers!

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Three Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 11:49 am
by Mirage_GSM
I agree this was a very nice chapter.

As to Mina's condition, I have a few theories based on the hints you've given, but nothing definitive yet...
The revelation shouldn't be too far off, though.

Act Two, Scene Four;

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:21 pm
by CloudGrain
Act Two, Scene Four

Thief in the Night

Despite how simply screwed up Sunday turned out... everything somehow, miraculously, seems to be fine by the time that I woke up and went to classes on Monday. My medicine, allowed to do its thing, seems to have the dull throbbing in my chest well under control. It's a simple fact that I've taken for granted up until this point, really... that I haven't exactly been able to feel just how different I was after my heart attack all those months ago. But after the scare on Sunday, it took more than a few cautious moments before I allowed myself to really return to an optimistic feeling of being 'normal' thanks to my medication.

Best of all on Monday was the fact that not a single person looked at me any differently when I walked into class. That not a single person bothered me all day to ask if I was feeling better, having seen me yesterday. That none of the teachers, or the nursing staff had stopped me to try and see what'd happened.

Somehow, the entire episode had been completely contained between me and Minako.

The simple words 'thank you' didn't exactly seem like they'd be able to convey the gratitude I had for Mina not immediately going to the nurse. Not freaking right out and calling an ambulance to pick me up on the side of the road as I'd sat down, almost a bubbling mess as I realized what was going on. For sticking by me on the long trek back up to Yamaku, despite the whole thing feeling like it'd taken literally forever. Helping me back into my own room, into my bed, getting my medicines for me and double-checking everything before I'd taken it. Whatever the highest medal for going well above and beyond the call of friendship was, I honestly felt like it wouldn't be quite enough to convey the thanks that I had for everything she'd done.

Looking back on the whole situation, I have to admit that I'm almost in awe at just how well it went, despite how badly it could have gone.

I'd been more than a little disappointed, to say the least when I'd gotten a text from Mina later in the day admitting that she had a headache and was going to turn in early for the day. I'd settled for profusely thanking her in my reply as opposed to in person, wishing her well. It's strange, because at the same time that I was a little put-off by the fact that I wouldn't get to hang out with her, it'd be a lie to say that I wasn't just a little bit relieved too. Sunday hadn't exactly been a day that I would've wanted anyone to see me, and I while I'm more than grateful that Mina had been there for me, I really sort of wish that she hadn't. I really wish that she hadn't seen me at my very worst, that she hadn't been put into a position where she needed to help me out. Where she wouldn't have been put into a position where she was forced to admit that I managed to scare her by being so frail.

The fact that I'd upset her and caused her to cry... even in relief, is unnerving.

Having had a day to think, to get my head just a little bit more clear after the screw-up of a day that was Sunday was probably a good thing.

When my phone goes off in my pocket at the end of classes today, I'm immediately hit by a much milder bit of the same trepidation as I'd felt yesterday at the thought of meeting up with Mina. Wondering exactly how things between us might have changed after the events on Sunday. Still, it's an automatic motion as I flip my cellphone out of my pocket to read the message.

Meet up at the side-gate @ about 5?

I can't help but raise an eyebrow at my phone, even though I know that my phone isn't exactly going to divulge any answers if I give it a questioning stare. Five isn't exactly a 'usual' time for us to meet up to hang out and do anything... usually we give one another enough time to just throw our bags in our respective dorms, with a few extra minutes to account for things along the way. Three or four times, we've met up after dinner to just finish the day hanging out and doing something around the school. Five is when dinner is just starting to be served in the cafeteria, and seems like a somewhat odd time to meet up to go and do something. Still, I can't exactly find any reason to shoot Mina down for not being routine.

Sure. Why 5? Seems late.

Its a surprise just meet me @ 5. Trust me. :)

The response comes after just a moment, getting me to blink once or twice in surprise and do nothing but make me a little more anxious for the whole thing. Still, the best thing to do would be to place my faith in Mina right here. It's not exactly like I've got any reason not to trust her after the past few weeks that I've hung out with her. Whenever I've pointed out that I shouldn't do something, she immediately dropped it even before she knew about my condition. She'd gone out of her way when I'd went over to watch movies with her to ensure that I didn't get into any trouble... and then gone well above and beyond the call of duty as a friend Sunday.

Letting out a pent-up breath, I simply nod and choose to do exactly that, putting the bit of fear to the back of my mind.

Alright 5 then. See ya

It should leave me with just enough time to get some of the odds and ends of my homework done anyways...

I manage to half-ass most of my English homework, including a reading piece before my watch finally reads four forty-five, giving me an excuse to head outside and towards the gate just a little early. Keeping focused on my homework was all-but-impossible as my mind kept finding its way right back to wondering exactly what Mina was up to. Because honestly, there are plenty of things to both fear and look forwards to seeing her for the first time since Sunday. Things could either go well, or badly... at least in just about every situation that my mind had managed to conjure since the end of school a few hours ago. It could either turn out to go right back to how it was, with a stronger bond between us because of what'd happened... or it could all get all sorts of screwed up because of my forgetting to take my damn medicine that one time.

A little bit of anxiety doesn't exactly feel particularly out of place when I get to the side-gate and don't see Mina around, until checking my watch I realize that I'm about five minutes early. Forcing myself to relax after checking my surroundings to make sure that Mina isn't simply hiding, I settle myself as comfortably as I can against the brick wall, facing the school grounds as I wait. Of course, unfailingly, Minako still manages to surprise me.


I flinch immediately as it's said right into my ear as I stare intently at the school's main building, wondering exactly when Mina would come down that way towards the gate. It's more than a little disarming that she came in through the gate, from outside of the school to scare me. Still, the immediate laughter I hear afterwards when I turn to look at Mina is enough to put me just a little bit at ease. Surprisingly, she's wearing her usual black sweater and jeans instead of her school uniform today, immediately reinforcing the idea that we're going off to do something.

Immediately, I find myself looking at my watch... unable to keep myself from smirking as the hands tell me that I've got at least one familiar advantage on Mina.


Mina sticks out her tongue, disapproving of my analysis as she checks her own watch and screws up her face. "By a whole minute." She says, with just a bit of annoyance at the fact itself. "But!" She starts off enthusiastically. "I got things done, so... come on!" I'm immediately being pulled along, almost reminiscent of my first few days here at Yamaku when she'd been dragging me along with her to show off a few of the sights around Yamaku. I can't exactly complain, feeling a bit of the weight disappearing from my gut as things seem to be more or less normal between the two of us. Granted, there's still the question of exactly what Mina's been doing, and is so intent on showing me... but it seems off to a decent start.

"So, I'm guessing that it'd spoil it if you told me what this 'surprise' was?" I ask, completely expecting the look that Mina shoots me of 'well, duh!', rolling her eyes as she continues to lead on with an obvious destination in mind, vaguely in the direction of the forest. "Do I even get to know where we're heading?" That question gets a bit of a pensive expression from Minako for a moment before she brightens up to pretty simply shoot down even that suggestion.

"Nope!" The monosyllabic response, cheerful as it is pretty much manages to make me drop the subject, figuring that pursuing it will be futile. Still, even with avoiding the subject of what exactly it is that she's got planned, she manages to keep the conversation alive. "So... finish much of the English homework today?" The question's asked innocently enough, but with a glance cast at me to judge my reaction as I groan. While we both share an intense dislike of English, Mina's scores from the most recent few tests blew mine right out of the water. After last week's lording my science scores over her, it's not exactly unexpected that she'd pull something like this.

"Mostly, I think. That's pretty much all I've spent the past few hours doing." Mina makes a slightly amused sound as we reach the forest, beginning to take one of the paths that I haven't been down before. "Why, did it take you just a few minutes?"

"Nah. I didn't have to do it, since I did decent on the last quiz." It takes me a minute before I remember our English teacher adding exactly that stipulation to the last quiz that my own class had taken. That any student who got above an eighty on the pop-quiz wouldn't have to do homework, because they'd obviously spent enough time studying to make up for it. I can pretty distinctly remember being none-too-thrilled that I'd gotten a seventy-seven on the test... and aired it to Mina at some point last week, though her class hadn't gotten their grades back yet. "Eighty-two!"

I can't help but groan at the fact that she's rubbing a bit of salt in the wound, especially given just how much I hated the subject. Still, as she pushes me and laughs, I can't help but crack a grin at the teasing. The back and forth banter is pretty much the bread and butter of our friendship. Throwing in the few little adventures and misadventures that we've already been together on, it's pretty easy to see that it's just being good company for one another that we really rely on. The sense of everything being pretty normal when we're doing something, just two teenagers hanging out and having fun. Not necessarily two teenagers who go to a school for kids with disabilities, even when I've pointed out that I had to be careful not to overexert myself... just... two teenagers. With just about everything that being a teenager entails.

As we're wandering the woods, just talking, it's not exactly surprising that my mind starts to wander in a direction I've been half-consciously avoiding for the past few days. It'd felt beyond just bad to look so weak in front of Mina... not just in the same way that it'd felt bad to have had my friends look at me when they'd visited in the hospital, not even in the same way it'd felt with my parents. It'd felt like the first few times that Iwanako had visited me in the hospital. When I couldn't meet her gaze, when I'd had to absolutely force every word out of my mouth whenever I chose to speak. The sense of relief though, when Mina had more or less accepted it, when she'd been just relieved to see me 'okay'. That was something that I'd never gotten to experience with Iwanako. To Iwanako, I'd always been 'broken' after my heart attack.

Following Mina and having a lapse in conversation, I can't help but follow the vein of thought that only comes to mind every once in a long while with her.

Looking at her... there's nothing that I can see really 'wrong', just like when people look at me. There's no prosthetic, cane, bandage... nothing that's ever set off anything I can remember beyond a little bit of discomfort. Granted, she's been relatively 'laid-back', but I get the feeling that it's been more for my behalf instead of her own. Looking back, it's hard to see many places at all where she'd even somewhat faltered at something. A few times where she's looked like she was in just a little bit of pain after doing something, sure, but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little sore after playing a bit of soccer too. Or a little ill-at-ease when we'd decided to climb a tree for the first time and jumped off it.

Longish brown hair, mostly straight with just a little bit of a curl to it... dark brown eyes that always seemed to be shining with an accompanying smile. She's always full of energy, except for the one experience I've got seeing her right after waking up. Always more than happy to come up with a joke, ready to break any bit of tension without issue, even when she's tired. Seemingly ecstatic just to have me along with her sometimes. There's a pang of guilt as I find myself wondering at the fact, especially when I find myself coming up with all sorts of terrible things in the back of my mind. The sorts of thoughts that hurt just as much as thoughts of my own condition.

As we continue walking, in what seems like an incredibly roundabout pattern, I push the ugly thoughts to the back of my mind.

"You're not just leading me in circles to tire me out before another game of soccer, are you?" I ask jokingly, getting a grin out of Mina.

"Nah. I could kick your butt if I wanted to anyways. But, I'm making sure that where we're going is a surprise!"

I decide to take a shot in the dark, more or less just guessing. "So, it's somewhere that you've taken me before then? If you feel the need to walk in circles forever before we get there?"

Minako's surprise, and afterwords poorly feigned indifference at my guess isn't a performance that I think is going to win many awards for her acting talent. The snort of laughter at how she tries to hide it manages to get her to drop the act as she pouts a little, having been found out. "Well. Yeah." She finally admits, making it seem like I'm pulling teeth as she slowly admits it. "But, all different... ish." She says before smiling again, obviously more than happy with the fact that at least some part of her grand plan hadn't been found out.

It's not like I think I can remember all the places that I've seen in the forest anyways... and if she's promising that it might be different-ish, I can't exactly say I'd be surprised if it was changed significantly. I decide to drop the line of inquisition, figuring that if it'll make Mina happier to show whatever to me as a surprise that I might as well just go along with it. A few minutes later, I begin to notice as we're talking that we're definitely going up an incline... and have been for just a while. The sunlight's already beginning to fade just a little bit, and Mina's ushering me on to go faster up the unfamiliar hill, which seems to be leading just somewhat out of the woods.

We've almost gotten to where we're going before I realize where we are.

It's another route, a longer, but much gentler way to go up the hill that we'd watched the festival's fireworks on during my first weekend here at Yamaku. Despite Mina's claims that it was different-ish, all that I can see is a pair of folded blankets on the top of the hill, but Mina looks proud as I finally reach the hill's cusp to see them. "We're going to watch the sunset. Maybe see some stars. We'll see how it goes." She explains very simply, pointing to the event that's already underway as she grabs the top blanket and lays it on the grass. To my surprise, there are a couple of drinks underneath the top blanket, one of which she hands me before sitting down on the blanket and patting the spot next to her.

I pop the top on the drink as I sit down next to her, grinning and shaking my head at Mina's strangeness sometimes. It's a bit like how she'd been so happy to show me around, and so keen on playing a game of soccer with me. The situations always seem to be just a bit impulsive, a little weird... but usually turn out to be great fun.

"So... you're luring me up here so that you can hold my hand on the way back down again in the dark, aren't you?" I accuse, grinning at the memory that comes to mind as well as the expression that the accusation draws from Mina. She turns just a little red, and seems to half-choke on the sip of her own drink as she turns to me with an indignant expression, pushing me over to the side as I laugh while she coughs for a minute and struggles to regain her composure. Somehow, I just barely managed to keep my own drink from spilling too much as I was pushed to the side and righted myself. Fully recovered after a moment, Mina rolls her eyes and grins herself.

"Nah. Luring you up here to push you all the way back down in the dark. It's all part of the grand master plan." Now it's my turn to roll my eyes as Mina gets her own jab in, grinning at me for a moment before returning her gaze to the slowly setting sun. "Besides, I'm sure you're just projecting what you were hoping for, saying that." She teases, still just a bit red in the face as she says it, managing to get me to squirm just a little bit as I feel a bit of heat come to my own cheeks.

"Oh...?" I ask, looking towards the setting sun myself, trying to keep my cheeks from burning.

"Mm-hmm. If I wanted to hold your hand, I would anyways. Not much you could do to stop it."

I can't help but let out a snort of laughter at the fact as I feel a little more comfortable, because it probably would be a fact for Minako. If she'd wanted to hold my hand, I'd suppose that she would. Hell, if she'd wanted almost anything out of me, I'm sure that she'd be pretty upfront about it. There wasn't any real reason that I had to be afraid of making too much a fool out of myself if I ever tried to pursue her... if she'd wanted to escalate things, she'd be the one to do it. The thought that I'd barely been allowing myself to skirt around, let alone directly think, lays itself to rest for a moment as I finish up my drink with a quick swig and lay the empty can down in front of me, watching the sunset... musing just a little bit.

My heart feels like it leaps in my chest when, just a moment later, I feel Mina's hand take mine. Looking over, she's looking at the sunset with an expression of absolute contentedness, with a completely uncharacteristic blush on her face. I decide to emulate her after a deep breath, squeezing her hand just a little bit as I feel a stupid smile cover my face.

We sit there for a good long while, watching the sun set, and then the sky darken as the light slowly fades from the sky. The silence isn't something that I'm used to when I'm with Mina, so much more accustomed to filling the time with simple jokes and conversation. But tonight... it's incredibly comfortable, something that we're more or less sharing with one another just like we usually share conversation. I'm actually surprised when Minako breaks the contact after something that felt like forever, scooting over and grabbing the remaining blanket. Throwing part of it over me, and part over herself she gets closer, leaning against me as she takes my hand again and rests her head on my shoulder.

I've got a feeling that even without my heart condition, I'd feel the pounding my my chest right now as I finally manage to get myself to speak.

"I don't think I'd mind if you held my hand anyways."

Mina giggles at the absurdly late statement, squeezing my hand as she snuggles up to me just a little bit closer underneath the blanket. "Good. Because I don't really want to let go right now." It's almost an impossibly strange and silly seeming situation... saying these few words after sitting up here for probably well over an hour just contently looking off into the distance. Dancing around the subject that'd be painfully obvious to anyone if they wandered up here.

"So..." I start off, feeling incredibly awkward to be breaking the silence as I look down at Mina, finding myself trailing off as she looks at me with just a little bit of surprise.

"So?" She asks, grinning as she mocks me a tiny bit. I can't help but grin and shake my own head, glad as she continues. "What next?" She asks, getting a nod from me in agreement that it was along the lines of the question that I had to ask. "I have, literally, no idea. The movies only get about this far."

I can't help but laugh at the non-answer, getting a wide grin out of Minako.

Right now... I couldn't possibly describe myself as being anything other than happy. Going off Mina's expression, I think that she'd say the same. Freeing my hand for a second, to Mina's momentary distaste, I wrap my arm around her, bringing us closer together. Not to be undone in her earlier statement, Mina latches right back onto my hand with her own, grinning as she does so.

Right now, there's nothing wrong with the world. I'm sitting outside underneath a blanket... underneath the emerging stars with a girl who's managed to do more for me by just hanging out with me in the past few weeks than it felt like months of surgery accomplished. She makes me feel normal... no, even better than that, she actually makes me feel good about my life here at Yamaku. I look down at her covertly, seeing a smile plastered across her face that no doubt matches my own as she stares up at the sky a little dazedly. Suddenly, her eyes shift as she seems to notice me, locking onto mine.

The smile turns just a little mischievous for a moment as her eyes sparkle, and before I can ask what's on her mind, Minako steals a quick kiss from me.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Four Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 3:09 pm
by TheTealeaf
Cloud the last 50% of this scene was sweeter than the peanut butter chocolate cheesecake I was eating at the time.

Damn those last few paragraphs had me grinning ear to ear.
CloudGrain wrote:"I don't think I'd mind if you held my hand anyways."

Mina giggles at the absurdly late statement, squeezing my hand as she snuggles up to me just a little bit closer underneath the blanket. "Good. Because I don't really want to let go right now."
This line gave me cavities.
CloudGrain wrote:The smile turns just a little mischievous for a moment as her eyes sparkle, and before I can ask what's on her mind, Minako steals a quick kiss from me.
And that is the Mina we all know. Slightly mischievous, impulsive and incredibly cute.

Bravo on this scene!

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Four Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 4:33 pm
by Solistor
Mina wrote:We're going to watch the sunset.
Made me smile.

I'll have to conform to Tealeaf's opinion on the ending scene as well; I've been diagnosed with diabetes because of this story. Really looking forward to the chapters to come!

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Four Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:03 pm
by AntonSlavik020
I'm like the previous posters, I'm pretty sure I have diubeetus too. :)

Seriously though, that was really sweet. Pretty much everything from when they arrived at the spot on was great. And I'm not surprised their first kiss was Mina stealing it. Thats just like her. I'm sure Hisao was able to reciprocate right after.

My only thought is if we're gonna see anyone besides Mina, like her friends maybe. Adding another character or two could add some variety.

Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Four Up]

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 10:23 pm
by HazelKim
To add my compliments to the bundle, this has rapidly been turning into a very sweet story so I feel like I gotta say something.

Mina is great, her characterisation is spot on. The repetition of her blushing being as red as her scarf is very nice. And sweet.

Sweet is really the word to sum this up. So far. I have a nagging sensation that her disability is going to be life-wrecking. Like, even more so than Hisao's. Some sort of crisis must be on the way, and hopefully I won't cry. I will continue to wait patiently for your updates.