A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene Eight Up]

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CloudGrain
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Act One, Scene Two

Post by CloudGrain » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:35 pm

Act One, Scene Two;

Out on the Town




I think that my initial impression of Shizune and Misha managed to just scratch the surface.

Today, the pair had been pretty hell-bent on trying to recruit me into the Student Council, through whatever means they could. Starting off immediately with just pleading, and working their way up to trying to bribe me with throwing the game of Risk in my favor just as it was starting to look futile. I'd even ignored Shizune's advice to attack as I set up a solid defense against her onslaught, getting caught up in the same competitive spirit and assuming that she was just trying to throw my game off. In fact, I'd gotten intrigued enough by the game that I'd almost completely forgotten about telling Mina that I'd meet her in the library forty minutes or so after class. Glancing at my watch as I exit the Student Council's room, I feel a pang of guilt, I'm already a minute or two late.

Taking the stairs quickly, I'm surprised at just how winded I am by a single flight of stairs and walking maybe a hundred meters at a brisk walk. By the time that I get to the doorway, I'm definitely breathing a little heavily, although glad that I don't see Mina waiting with a disapproving expression or anything. It's easy enough to imagine that she'd have to stay just a few extra minutes beyond what she'd thought to have something that her class went over explained in just a little more detail to her. I take the opportunity to put my bag down in a nearby windowsill, and try to catch my breath while I look down the hallways and wonder just how long Mina might be.

"Late!"

Naturally, I almost jump out of my skin when I hear her directly behind me, much to her amusement as she giggles. I try to collect myself just a little bit as I turn around and see her grinning mischievously. She's still wearing the red-scarf from yesterday, which seems just a little strange with the uniform, but seems to either not notice or care about it. "A whole..." Mina leans somewhat over to peer at some clock in the library. "... three minutes late, Hisao? I was getting ready to go to town all by myself, you're lucky I'm patient." She says, tone light enough that it's pretty evident that she's joking as she shifts her own backpack somewhat. "I'm gonna drop my books off in my room, you should do the same. We'll meet at the school's gate, then head on down?"

"Sounds better than carrying books to town and back." I admit, going to grab my own backpack off the windowsill. By the time that I throw just one of the straps over my shoulder, I'm a little surprised to see Mina already halfway down the hallway, apparently not wanting to waste any time at all. I can't help but groan slightly at the thought of maintaining a pretty quick pace all the way down to the town, and for however long this whole thing might take; especially after getting winded just walking quickly up a flight of stairs and down a hallway. Still, it'd probably be for the best if I dropped my stuff off quickly and didn't leave Mina waiting for too long. I can vaguely remember being told something about a curfew for the students in the evenings. Maybe that's what she's deciding to go quickly for.

At quick walk, I make my way to my room and throw my bag onto my bed, locking the door back up and on my way out before my dorm-mate might be able to corner me. As much as he seemed like a somewhat decent guy, I get the feeling that there's a reason behind him being the only person in the entire hallway... and I got a somewhat creepy vibe from my whole meeting with him yesterday, despite the overall fairly decent attitude. Keeping up the same pace, I make my way outside and towards the gate, immediately spotting Mina by her scarf just a little bit ahead. Luckily, her pace is just about right for me to catch up to her by the time that she hits the gate.

"Good timing, Hisao." She says, continuing right down the sidewalk towards the town at a little bit more relaxed of a pace. "So... anything in town you really wanted to see or know about?"

"I don't know anything about the town, you'd probably be able to tell me that." I can't help but say, not really being at all familiar with what a smaller town might have to offer. Living in the city made it seem like there'd almost always be an arcade, shopping area, or something interesting to do around every other corner. Here, I can't help but feel like there's not going to be the same variety of things to do. I'm just far enough out of my element that a little bit of guidance from someone else isn't exactly unwelcome.

Mina smiles, thinking for a moment. "There's a pretty good number of shops, almost everything you'd really want you can get here instead of going into the city. There's a few restaurants, cafes, two convenience stores, a park..." She begins to list off a few of the stores and restaurants by name and what they have to offer, overwhelming me just a little bit as she tries to tell me everything that the town has to offer. I can't help but try and stop her after a minute or two, in the middle of her trying to explain the locations of a few of the buildings in reference to one another. As helpful as she's trying to be by giving me all of the descriptions, I'm just getting more and more lost.

"Mina. Maybe you could just... show me, when we get there?" I ask in response to the somewhat confused expression I get when I stop her. She smiles, shrugging it away without too much of a second thought.

"Sure! That'd probably make it easier. Although some of the places are probably a little busy right about now, might want to avoid them this time of the day. The Shanghai, the nearest convenience store, and a couple of other places usually get a lot of students from Yamaku for a few hours after school." She says, looking somewhat displeased with the idea of wading through a lot of people. It makes sense that students would take the time-period as an opportunity to get off the campus for a while, getting some groceries and maybe something to eat while they were in town.

"Why? Do those places have a student discount or something?" I find myself asking, wondering why exactly just a few out of the numerous options Mina had been eagerly listing off just a few minutes ago seemed to be a hot-spot for students. Mina shakes her head with a grin.

"Nope. I don't think that anywhere in town has a discount for us. Those places are just the ones that everybody knows, usually gets shown when they're taken out on the town. But I've managed to find out where just about everything in the town is." She says with a fairly disproportionate-seeming amount of pride to the fact. "So, maybe I'll show you some of the other places that nobody ever seems to go to for some reason. Plenty of other stuff to do than visiting the Shanghai or the park." Mina says with a smile.

"You've already told me about just about everything, haven't you?" I can't help but asking, feeling at least somewhat comfortable enough with Mina to tease her with that little bit. "I don't think it'd be too hard to find everything now that you've listed it off." Mina's expression sours just a little bit for a moment as she seems to absorb the idea, before turning right back into a grin.

"Yeah. But, you'd be out until way after curfew trying to find everything by yourself, and I'd probably have to carry you back to school when you fell asleep from exhaustion at the end of it. I mean, you couldn't even find the library yesterday without my help. And you probably passed it at least once going to class. So, I'd think you should just stick with me showing you around." I open my mouth about halfway through Mina speaking to try and protest, thinking that I can defend my ability to find things on my own, before promptly closing it again as she reinforces the point with how badly my navigational skills seem to have failed me in the past. Mina looks at me as I'm trying to figure out some somewhat decent retort for a moment before I give up, shaking my head in defeat as she grins.

"Alright, alright. You win. It sounds like you go out into town a lot then?" I say at long last, wondering exactly why she might know so much about the town's layout. Minako takes an opportunity to re-adjust her scarf a little as I notice a light breeze, the town edging closer and closer as we walk.

"I wouldn't say a lot, but maybe a little bit more than most students. I like walking down to town a little bit better than just walking around Yamaku a few times, the view's a lot nicer." She says, gesturing with a quick nod off to the side of the road, where you can see a pretty good deal of the town laid out below us. It's strange to me in some ways, how close a lot of trees are to the town, and that there are quite a few right next to buildings, as well as the obvious greenery of the park in the town. "Easier to notice things when you're not really looking for them, I guess. Most people just go right to the places that they know about instead of just looking around and seeing the other stuff."

I can't really argue with that, there were plenty of times that I can remember back in my city finding things I'd passed a hundred times before without a second glance when I was just walking around aimlessly. Of course, it also seems like a temporary end to the conversation as we keep heading towards the town. While it's a fairly long-seeming walk, it's really not as difficult as I'd thought it might be. Of course, this time was all down-hill, the real challenge might be the uphill when we'd already been walking around for a while.

Approaching the first few buildings that have a rather ample amount of space between them, Mina breaks the silence. "So... anything that you think you might wanna see first? Restaurants, the park, a convenience store, restaurants, shops, restaurants?" The second time she listed restaurants, I thought it was a mistake, the grin as she finalizes the list with it makes me groan slightly. It's being put out there just transparently enough that ignoring it would probably be worse than just addressing it with a bit of a joking tone.

"You're not just bringing me along so I'll get you a free dinner, are you?" I can't help but asking, earning an expression of mock-horror from Mina in response.

"Taking you on a tour of the whole town just for one free dinner? Nah, I'm sure I can get more for that. Especially since I'm giving you the real tour instead of just the three or four place tour." I can't help but roll my eyes at it, feeling just a little bit like the Nurse must have the other day. Mina really seems to like to push people's buttons just a little bit to get a reaction out of them. "But actually... I might've forgotten to pack a lunch today, and be absolutely starving and wanting to grab something to eat right about now." Mina admits with a somewhat guilty smile. "Maybe, just maybe. Probably." She says, looking like she's biting the inside of her cheek. I'm almost certain that I actually hear her stomach rumbling a second later, and she looks just a little bit embarrassed by it.

I can't help but chuckle just a little bit at how comical she manages to look right then, getting a grin out of her too. "All right, fine. I guess you probably know the best places to get something quick to eat?" I ask. I'd be the first to admit that I'm a little curious as to what other options I've got for food near Yamaku, seeing how the cafeteria food isn't exactly what I'm hoping to live on for the whole year I've got ahead of me. Mina looks thoughtful for a second as she catalogs a few of the places in her mind before choosing one.

"Ramen okay?" I give a shrug of nonchalance. It's never been my absolute favorite, but as far as quick, cheap, and easy go it's something I've had my fair share of before. Mina seems to take it as a resounding yes, immediately turning as we're about to walk across an intersection and leading the way. The route she decides to take seems a little bit strange, going off back into a little less densely-populated area before turning right back into the same direction that we'd been heading in before. As much as it feels like a detour, it seems like it'd be much easier to trust her with all the hassle of navigating. It takes just a few minutes of following, at a somewhat quicker walk, before we end up in the relatively small restaurant. Unsurprisingly, given Mina's question, it looks like the vast majority of what they serve are some pretty simple ramen dishes. I can't help but be a little surprised that there aren't any other students here, given the prices.

Mina orders a bowl of the miso ramen, while I order a bowl of shio ramen. It comes quickly, and both of us quickly dig into the piping hot bowls. After a fairly long time with fairly bland-tasting food, at the hospital and at school, I'm actually a lot more content with the meal than I'd thought I would be. Between bites and spoonfuls, I look around again, still surprised by the complete lack of anyone else in a school uniform in the restaurant. "You really weren't joking when you said that students only went to a few places in town, were you?" I ask Mina as she notices my gaze around the room. She grins a little, looking quite pleased to have me admitting that she's right.

"Yeah. I mean. Sometimes, every once in a while on a walk I'll see someone a little bit farther away from the places they normally go. But not all that often." She says, apparently thinking for a moment or two. "I think that everybody just sort of gets into routines." She says, before returning to her soup with a shrug. I can't help but pursue the topic a little bit, wondering at the statement.

"You don't like routine?" Mina shakes her head, putting on a sour expression as she polishes off most of the rest of her soup, giving me an opportunity to do the same before resuming speaking.

"Nope!" She says with a simple grin. "Routines get boring. Or they don't work after a while. Or they make you not able to do things since they take up time." Mina says simply, pushing the close to empty bowl out in front of her with a contented expression. "Kinda fun to avoid too much routine too. Adds a little bit of challenge to not fall in a rut." She says, grinning a little. I get the feeling that if she were allowed to, Mina might be exactly the type of student to play truant every once in a while. I find myself once again sympathizing with the Nurse just a little bit, while at the same time digesting the idea and wondering just how true it might be. "All set, Hisao? Just might be able to show you the whole town and still be back before curfew." She says, pulling out a few bills for her own soup as I nod and do the same.

We pay for our meals, and I finally get to have the town more or less shown to me by Mina.

The town's both a deceptively small and quiet place, and a fairly large place with a lot there at the same time. On one hand, it seems like most of the residents are quite a bit older, and that the town itself doesn't have a lot of industry behind it. The shops and restaurants are all packed into just a few small 'main street' areas, where they're almost on top of one another. It's just a few square blocks that's similar to my old city, with everything jousting for your attention, just a little more subtly than back at home. But beyond that relatively small area, it seems almost empty... until, of course, Misa points out a small cluster of buildings we're walking by as shops for something I hadn't seen on the 'main street'. Or a restaurant with a much humbler sign, just above the door rather than hanging out into the street.

A lot of the shops Mina points out on these smaller streets, spaced further apart aren't things that I think I'll really need; small tool-shops, jewelers, places that generally deliver take-out food but still have dining areas, but it's actually fairly good to know that there's still so many things in the town. It's not completely isolated, some place in the middle of nowhere with just a few shops in the middle of it, there's still quite a bit actually here. Granted, not all that much that's of a whole lot of interest to me, but it's nice to know that the town seems to have at least one of everything you could possibly ever need.

Before long though, I notice that it's definitely getting darker out, and mention it to Minako. She nods slightly, stopping and thinking for a moment before apparently plotting the path right back to Yamaku in her head, turning right on her heels and going down yet another unfamiliar street, describing the shops on either side of the street. I can't help but smile at the apparent enthusiasm she's got going for explaining everything that she knows about the town. Every time I've asked a question, she's humored it and answered it the best that she could, all while bantering with me a little bit. It's the same type of harmless, trivial stuff that I've got a million half-remembered conversations with friends back at home of, and definitely manages to bring a grin more often than not.

It's funny... I've got to admit that when we get back on the road to Yamaku and the conversation dies down, I'm definitely sad to see it go. I don't really think that I've ever been one of the types of people who really enjoyed idle conversation, more just using it as a little bit of a filler, a time-occupier. But, I find myself looking over my shoulder back into town now and again, missing the fact that the buildings really did manage to contribute to just a pretty steady stream of conversation.

Feeling the need to at least try to keep something of a conversation going, I feel the need to try and start it back up. "Hey, Mina." I start, getting a glance back from her where she's edged just a little bit ahead of me. "Thanks for showing me around, I appreciate it." I say, mustering a sincere smile for her. I'm a little surprised to see her mirroring it with her own, probably even wider smile.

"No problem, Hisao. Glad that I could show you around." Mina says, gaze lingering a little bit on the setting sun and town as she turns back around to face forwards, her smile faltering just a little bit. I look back down on the town again myself, now that it's cast in the long shadows and orange as the sun gets closer and closer to finally setting. Looking down at it, I'm not quite sure just how much I'll manage to remember of what Mina told me, although I'm fairly sure that I can pick out a few of the buildings that were a little more interesting. "Hey, Hisao?" Mina's voice brings me back to looking over at Mina, who slowed down just a little bit to match my speed and walk by my side. I raise an eyebrow in question, and Mina takes it as a cue to continue. "Any chance you'll be free Thursday to hang out? I've got a couple other cool spots that I could show you if you're interested."

I can't help but smile a little bit at the prospect. I don't think that I'd really mind it, and if it went anything like today, I'd probably actually enjoy it. "I should be, unless something comes up. You're not going to forget your lunch again use showing me around as an excuse to go into town for dinner, are you?" I joke, getting Mina to roll her eyes and give me a halfhearted smack on the shoulder.

"Nah. You're already calling me out on it, so it probably won't work twice." She says, letting herself grin a little bit. "Meet up by the gate after school then? Maybe a half-hour or so after classes?"

"Sure. Sounds good." I say, noticing that we're finally actually within view of the school's gates. It feels good to have a little bit of a plan for something to do already set again... it makes me feel almost normal again. Definitely not quite the same as everything had been before my heart-attack, but almost like I was at the very least back on track to something of the same sort. It's a relieving feeling, to be hopefully heading back to something I understand just a little bit better.

Minako briefly pulls back a sleeve and looks at a watch as we're about to pass underneath the gates to the school, darkness just beginning to set in, suddenly takes a sharp breath. "Ahhh... sorry, Hisao. I've got homework I've really gotta do! I'll see you Thursday!" She says, apparently remembering it all at once as she gives me an apologetic smile, turning somewhat even as she takes off at a light jog towards the dorms, one hand free and one hand keeping her scarf more or less pinned to her. I give her a quick wave, and wince slightly as I realize that I've still got all my own homework that I've got to do myself.

Stretching slightly, hoping that I won't feel like falling asleep as soon as I sit down to my homework, I trudge towards the dorms myself towards the awaiting homework.
Last edited by CloudGrain on Sun Nov 23, 2014 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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CloudGrain
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:40 pm

Act One, Scene Three;

Post by CloudGrain » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:26 am

Act One, Scene Three;

Long Walks




I'll have to admit that yesterday definitely tired me out, even getting a good night's sleep after my walk into town with Minako. Misha and Shizune were still all over me, trying to get me to join the Student Council. I feel like it's a new pet-project of theirs, and like they're doing just about everything that they can to try and rope me into it. Trying to get a little bit better acquainted with my classmates, I try to start a conversation with one of the nearby girls when she seems to stay behind during lunch, and even manage to tag along with her and a friend of hers to a seemingly forgotten classroom. On my way out of the classroom, I get all but knocked over and out by a tiny girl with prosthetic legs, who sped off with just half an apology, probably on her way to sending someone else to the same fate.

Hanako isn't exactly the best conversation partner I've had, seeming shyer than any other girl I've ever met... probably thanks to the scarring she keeps trying to hide. Lilly seems to be very prim and proper, more than happy to humor me with my request to come along and even providing a little bit of insight into the clubs the school has to offer. The pair seem like the complete opposite of Misha and Shizune, quiet and reserved instead of loud and brash, relaxed and at-ease instead of always seeming to be racing against some timer to get things done. The room that they bring me to is almost reflectant of the attitude the two girls seem to share... it's a nice escape for a lunchtime.

Of course, I'm swept back to class before long, and staying behind to try and get Mutou's advice had only gotten me thrown to Misha and Shizune to keep trying to help along the festival for a while. I stumbled upon another student in the art-room, Rin, while trying to get supplies for the Student Council. Things ran together, and I ended up helping her by mixing paints for the mural outside of the dormitory. The whole day ended after some homework and a light instant-meal in the dormitories, seeing as Rin needed my help until it got dark out. I was more than glad to hit the hay as soon as I'd completed most of the more time-consuming homework I'd had, confident that I could finish up the few remaining problems in the morning.

This morning had actually been a little eventful too, the Nurse more or less managing to somehow find me before classes started, taking me aside to wonder why I hadn't taken up his suggestions of running or heading down to the pool. While he seemed pretty set on me trying to start up something a little more vigorous, he seemed to be at least somewhat happy that I mentioned intending on at least walking into town or around the school regularly. As long as I don't have any real problems, it seems like he won't push me too much harder.

Getting to class... well... it kept up with being eventful, though not necessarily in the best way. There was some sort of a fight between Lilly and Shizune when Lilly came in before class, which I tried my very best to completely avoid. I think that I might've managed to make Shizune just a little angrier by pointing out that I'd helped her yesterday, and that she seemed to be a little unfair and demanding. Still, I tried to patch things up with her and Misha just a little bit later. I did my best to get right out of class at the end of school, heading to my room and dropping my books off prematurely so that I wouldn't have to when I met up with Mina. I'll have to admit that I'm actually looking forward to hopefully another little bit of an escape from Yamaku today, after all the craziness that seems to be going on in the last few days. It seems like I managed to transfer in at one of the busiest times of the year, with exams in the not-so-distant future, and the festival just days away.

I glance at my watch, having just tossed all of my books onto my desk so that I can hopefully complete my homework tonight. I've got more than enough time to at least start some of the science homework that Mutou gave us... it is the easiest subject, despite his rambling lectures. Reluctantly, I sit down and start my work... finding myself glancing at my watch in-between problems so that I won't have a chance of being late and getting an earful from Mina. I manage to finish a pretty good chunk of it before I decide to give myself a little extra time, just in case. I feel like being there just a little bit early, and pointing the fact out to Mina, might be a good way to get in a verbal jab of my own. It's strange that locking my room and pocketing the key has become such an automatic thing already, and that I've already got at least something of an idea of the whole layout of the boy's dormitory, being in something of an odd corner on the top floor. I make good time to the gate, checking my watch to ensure that I'm a few minutes early this time.

Of course, it seems like it's in vain.

"Trying to make up for lost time, Hisao? I still beat you." Mina says, as usual managing to startle me with her somewhat sudden and wholly unexpected appearance from on the other side of the gate, grinning. She wraps a hand in her ever-present scarf, twisting the fabric around it as she grins cheekily at me. "Got out of staying in class late, figured you'd probably show up early anyways." Mina says, by way of explanation. I just shrug, feeling a little bit put-off by the fact that my opportunity to point out the fact had already been stolen. She lets go of the scarf, pointing directly over her shoulder with her thumb in the direction roughly opposite to the town. "This way." She says, cheerily enough as she sets off without another word. I shake my head a little, wondering exactly what else she's supposedly got in store for today... especially leading directly away from the town.

"So... what are you showing me today? More of the grand tour?" I ask, figuring that asking will hopefully get me just a little bit further along than guessing on my own.

"Nah... the grand tour was the town. This is just a bit of an extension, a side-tour. The forest!" She says, putting both hands out wide at the grand-presentation, walking backwards with a grin. I can't help but feel both a little intrigued by the grandeur she's putting into the gesture and topic, and a little let down by it. I'm a city kid, though and through, and I've only ever really had a few opportunities visiting family to go into any 'real' forests. But I can't help but assume that they're all pretty similar to one another.

"A forest?" I ask, letting at least a little bit of my skepticism apparently slip into my voice, judging my Mina's expression.

"It's what they call it when there's a lot of trees growing near one another, usually some bushes and rocks in there too, maybe a stream or two..." Mina says dryly trying to get a reaction out of me and succeeding in at least getting an eye-roll, much to her amusement. "But yeah, it's actually a pretty big forest that the town's worked pretty hard to keep nice. I haven't exactly gone for a walk through it since winter, and figured that it might be a little interesting for you, being from a city."

"How'd you know I'm from a city?" I ask, suddenly a little confused as to how exactly Mina had come to that conclusion, she look just as confused in response before brightening for a moment.

"Your disappointment seeing the town." She says, back to grinning as she makes a turn at the corner of Yamaku's wall, continuing alongside it. "But I remembered you mentioning arcades, movie-theaters, and a couple of stores that don't really pop up in small towns. All the sort of stuff that people like me from small towns don't really get to do too often." Mina explains, apparently fairly proud of her powers of deduction. A little less confused, I can't help but be somewhat impressed by her ability to reason it out too.

"Ah." Is all that I can really come up with in response to that, losing the thread of conversation as we come upon a small gate that'd lead back into Yamaku, and a well-worn dirt path through the grass that seems to lead over a hill and into the forest. Naturally, this doesn't seem nearly satisfactory for Mina.

"Oh come on, Hisao, you're not impressed? Not going to try to figure out what type of place I'm from?" Mina chides, more than happy to revive the conversation I'd let falter.

"Didn't you just say you were from a small town though, not being able to go to an arcade or movie-theater too often?" I can't help saying, pointing out that it seemed a little bit redundant to have to point it out to her when she'd said it herself. Mina looks a little surprised, like she'd already forgotten that she'd used it as part of her own argument before looking vaguely apologetic and grinning.

"Er... oops? Yeah, guess I did." She says, ever-so-slightly embarrassed as we begin to climb over the hill, letting a bit of an awkward silence in as we focus on getting over the somewhat steep hill, coming almost immediately to the edge of the forest as we do. "... but, we didn't have any forests right near my town anyways. So, I still thought that the forest was pretty cool." Mina says, breaking the silence as we continue along the same worn path into the forest.

It's not really hard walking, the paths well-worn between the trees, and kept clear of most of the lower-laying foliage. Before the gap in our little conversation fades away again, I suddenly feel the need to keep it going, to try and get back to the same sense of normalcy that I'd felt the other day talking to Mina. "So... anywhere in the forest that you think is pretty well-hidden away from everyone else? Or is it a little harder to find interesting stuff here?"

Mina's expression is pensive for a moment as she considers the question, looking genuinely thoughtful as we wander down the path. "I don't know about hidden, but there are some pretty cool spots. No hidden shops or anything like that though. Glad that I remembered lunch today." She says, grinning as we come upon a fork in the path, taking the way to the left without breaking stride at all. She seems to have just about the same level of confidence going through the woods as she did going through town the other day.

"You seem to know a lot about the places around the school... you've been here for a few years?" I ask, deciding to attempt the same method of figuring something out about Mina as she'd done with me just a little earlier. She seems a little less surprised than I did, and gives a single quick nod to the question. I'm actually a little surprised that she doesn't add anything, given her usually talkative nature. I feel like I need to continue, to try and get the conversation flowing just a little bit better. "So, you just wander around a little bit and find places like this?"

Mina latches onto the conversation this time, smiling as she looks ahead. "Sometimes. Sometimes I'll watch some movies, sometimes I'll go for walks, sometimes I'll help with stuff for school, like the festival this Sunday. Sometimes I even do schoolwork." She says the last sentence almost conspiratorially, getting a bit of a grin out of me.

"Only sometimes though, right? Like yesterday?" I ask, reminding her of how she'd dashed off as soon as we'd gotten back to Yamaku. She actually blushes a tiny bit at that, although she sticks her tongue out at me at the same time, twining her hands around either end of her scarf.

"It was mostly Mutou's homework for science. I never have any idea of what he's saying when he walks into class like he's halfway through a lecture already. And he always, always, manages to pick me to answer the couple of questions I don't know." She says, seemingly a little exasperated with the fact. I can't help but chuckle at that, how flustered she apparently gets when she's reminded of school. A lot of the material is new to me too right now, and I get the feeling that Mutou is a little... scatterbrained at times, with how he teaches, but I don't see it as being quite so difficult. I shrug it off, I know that English tends to hit me exactly the same way as science apparently hits Minako.

"If you need help, I might be able to. I think that I understand most of the material that Mutou's giving out." Mina looks at me with a little bit of surprise, but takes it in stride.

"I think that I've got it for right now... thanks for the offer though, Hisao. Might make more use of it when we get closer to exams in a few weeks." I nod, feeling a bit of trepidation for the exams myself. I've always been a pretty good student, even putting in relatively minimal amounts of effort, but after spending the last few months in the hospital, I know that my worst subjects are pretty rusty. My English class is something that I've just got to suffer through every day, hoping against hope that I'll somehow miraculously get it in time for exams. Which are, of course, just a relatively short few weeks away. Minako must see my expression, because she laughs for a moment before asking. "Nervous about exams?"

"A little. Transferring right in the middle of everything doesn't exactly leave me with a lot of time to prepare. Especially after a few months of not going to school." I admit, grinning just a little sheepishly as I do so.

Minako seems to think of something, then think better of it just as she's about to say it, ending up shrugging it off. I've got a feeling she was considering asking me why it was that I transferred into Yamaku in the middle of it all. Why it was that I had a few months where I wasn't going to school. But then thought better of either question, just like I had a few times with a few of my own classmates in 3-3. It seemed like there was an... informal policy of not asking about the reason behind being in Yamaku. If it weren't immediately evident, or something that really needed to be addressed, nobody seemed to want to force you to admit why you were here.

Of course, as I switch mental tracks to that idea, I can't help but wonder the same question about Minako. She seems... healthy enough, and like she's more or less fully in control of herself. As much as Yamaku had made perfectly evident in their own material that students without disabilities would certainly be accepted, I get a feeling that the cases are incredibly far and few between. I wonder wh-

"Hey, Hisao. Ever climbed a tree?" Mina asks suddenly, stopping as she seems to be peering at one tree in particular, a little off the beaten path. It's a thick, thick, old tree that forks relatively close to the ground, with several other large branches relatively close to the fork on either side. It doesn't exactly take a genius to make the connection between the question and the tree that she's staring at with an almost odd fascination.

"Can't say I have, being from the city. Why?"

Minako looks over with a grin. "I haven't either, wanna try?" Answering the question for herself, she immediately begins walking off the path towards the tree. I don't exactly have too much choice except to follow her, already under the impression that she isn't exactly the type of person to back down from an idea she's gotten herself set on. At the same time though, I've gotta admit a certain curiosity about the experience of climbing a tree first-hand. In movies and in books, it was almost always something done astoundingly easily by just about anyone who was in the least bit physically fit. After the past few days, realizing my own weakness after the hospital, I'm a little wary about testing if I fall into the category of being physically fit anymore.

Getting to the base of the tree, it's immediately evident that there's a bit of a problem for Minako... namely her height. It's pretty immediately evident that she's just too short to reach the fork in the tree to get a good grip on either of the splits. Scowling, she immediately begins circling the tree, looking for some way that she might be able to get the extra tiny bit of height that she needs to make the attempt.

"I think... I might be able to give you a hand up, if I go up first." I say, inspecting the tree and planning a little bit of a route of my own, a hand on my chin as I consider it. All in all, it looks a lot harder to climb trees than might be expected. Minako circles one more time, before standing beside me with a similarly thoughtful expression.

"Maybe. Let's see you get up there first." She says, grinning as I take a few steps closer to the tree.

It's... a lot less than a graceful ascent. A hop to more or less grab onto one of the smaller forked trunks with both hands, and desperately hanging onto it as my feet scramble across the main trunk. I manage to eventually, and without really understanding how, much to Minako's amusement below, wedge myself fairly comfortably between the two forked tree-trunks, with just a tiny part of one foot actually solidly on the tree with the other hanging out in the air freely. But, it leaves a little bit of space if I can manage to get Minako more or less up to the same level.

"Ready?" I ask, bending at the knee and dropping out my right arm as low as I can while clutching the tree-trunk I'm leaning against with my left. Minako nods, grabbing onto my and and pulling herself up with a surprising amount of force. I'll have to admit that, with my help, her own ascent is a lot quicker and more seemly, and she gets a relatively quick purchase on the tree in a position similar to my own, leaning against the other tree-trunk. While I'm still recovering from pulling her up, she manages to pull herself to a thick branch off of the trunk she was leaning against, and manages to get into an almost-sitting position on it, smiling widely.

"This looks... a lot, lot easier in the movies." She says, almost mirroring the thought I was having about how much easier it seemed in just about every book that has a mention of the action, fidgeting slightly from what looks like a relatively uncomfortable position. "And it looks a lot more comfortable." She says, before laughing. I can't help but grin, shrugging slightly as I shift myself carefully to press my back against the tree-trunk rather than my side.

"Yeah... I think that we'd probably be pretty doomed if something was after us and we had to stand around thinking about how to get up the tree for five minutes." I admit, getting another laugh out of Minako as she stops trying to re-position herself and just looks around at the nearby forest. We might be six or seven feet above the ground... nothing spectacular, but Minako seems to be regarding the whole situation with a somewhat strange-seeming sense of awe. I catch her glance for a moment, and she looks away, burying her mouth in her scarf for a moment as she turns to look in the opposite direction. "So... we climbed a tree. Or... At least some of it." I say, somewhat incredulously before laughing at the strangeness of the situation. We were two high-schoolers managed to get a whopping six feet or so into a tree before apparently giving up. Minako's grinning widely at the comment too.

"Yep!" She says, cheerily, looking down. "And we found out that it's uncomfortable to sit on, and hard to climb." After a moment of what looks like careful contemplation, she lets herself off of the tree-branch, landing on her feet and without too much of a fuss. I do the same, glad that I don't lock my knees as it feels like bending them takes away almost all of the somewhat expected shock. "But, we climbed it! Or part of it." Minako says, looking almost too-proud of the fact with a beaming smile.

We wander around for a little while after that, chatting about a few little things about the school, more or less just walking down the multitude of paths in the forest... it seems somewhat the same as it had in town the other day, just in a different setting. This time we head back towards the school a lot earlier though, with the only real prospects of dinner being at the school. There's a sense of normalcy when I hang out with Minako. Like the whole situation could have occurred before I'd been sent to Yamaku, like I wasn't in a school that catered to disabled students. It's definitely a good sense... I really don't want it to end with just a few little 'tours'.

"Mina?" I ask as we're heading back towards the school, getting to the point that I think we're most of the way through the forested areas.

"Hmm?"

"I'm willing to hang out whenever, even if you're running out of tours." Minako flashes me a beaming smile at that, like she'd just won a small lottery.

"Sounds good, Hisao. I'm a bit busy with all the stuff for the festival going on right now... but I'll definitely see if I can't hang out here and there. It's been pretty fun so far." She admits, settling back into a satisfied expression as we make our way back towards the school. The grounds are seemingly completely empty when we get there, arriving more or less right in the middle of dinner. We part ways for our respective dormitories with brief waves to one another... and I'd be lying if I said that I didn't have a contented expression that probably matched Mina's pretty closely. It's been less than a full week at school, and I feel like I've already made at least one friend here at Yamaku.

Everything doesn't seem quite so bad after all.
Last edited by CloudGrain on Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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CloudGrain
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Act One, Scene Four;

Post by CloudGrain » Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:10 pm

Act One, Scene Four;

Normalcy




I cut getting lunch in the cafeteria today close, having decided to stay back in class for just a little while longer to complete most of the work that Mutou assigned us. The line to pick up food was nonexistent, and the cafeteria was nearly deserted when I got there, and it seems like it's done nothing but have the few remaining students trickle out since I've gotten my food and sat down to eat. With the festival coming up tomorrow, it's not really a huge surprise. There's an air of excitement that seems to be going through the school as everything's being prepared, and I can't help but feel a little bit guilty about not helping out. While I've helped out with a few things here and there, like Rin's mural, or helping Shizune and Misha to get some supplies to continue building stands, it seems like just about everyone else in the school has some specific task assigned to them for tomorrow; everyone except for me.

Of course, I can't exactly complain about the lack of work... I'm still trying to really get adjusted to the whole school. I'm still trying to piece together the puzzle that is Yamaku, and figure out exactly where I'm supposed to fit into it.

Yesterday, I had lunch with the third set of people to invite me in just a week, Rin and Emi, up on the roof of the academic building. After having run right into me in the hallway the other day, Emi apparently felt just guilty enough to decide to make it up to me with a boxed lunch, and I'll have to admit that the pair actually made for some pretty enjoyable company. Especially seeing how the pair seem like almost perfect foils for one another, Rin talking only every once in a while and seemingly impossible to understand whereas Emi seems more than happy to go on and on about just about anything that came to mind. Emi even tried to push me to join the track team, pouting and revealing that she'd been the Nurse's spy who told him the other day that she hadn't seen me down at the track at all. Guilty as she made me feel with puppy-eyes, I still can't help but feel like running is a bad idea with my heart, and I feel pretty lucky to have been saved by the bell.

Of course, I didn't make it entirely unscathed, deciding to take a walk after school into town to try and keep up at least that habit. Half-expecting to see Mina, I was a little surprised to end up going with Lilly, and coming back with both her and Rin. I froze up a little on the way back when Lilly noticed how tired I was, a little surprised myself that I was apparently so out of-breath, and made up a pretty poor excuse to try and placate her while Rin meandered without much regard for either of us. Put-off as Lilly looked at my explanation, I don't exactly feel like explaining my condition is something I can do yet...

Today was easy though, a half-day where I could more or less doze through class alongside everyone else. Mutou took me aside, asked how I was getting along, and seemed to be fairly happy with the fact that I seemed to be adjusting to life here at Yamaku decently. I've more or less already managed to finish all of my work for the weekend, and just have a little bit of time to waste before I can enjoy the festivities tomorrow along with the rest of the school.

Picking at the lukewarm and somewhat unappealing cafeteria food, wondering exactly what I'm going to do with the rest of the day, my thoughts are interrupted abruptly by a pair of hands clapping down on my shoulders and a fairly loud, "Boo!" I'm surprised at how unsurprised I am, after nearly jumping out of my skin, to have Mina take a seat next to me wearing an ear-to-ear grin. She's got an absolutely uncanny ability to show up without any real warning whatsoever, usually managing to somewhat scare me whenever she does. Shaking my head, rolling my eyes I can't help but smile a little myself after being scared again by her, somewhat glad to see her. It might solve the problem of what to do with the rest of the day.

"What's up, Mina? Besides trying to get me to choke to death?" I ask, taking another cautious bite of my food, glad I hadn't been in the middle of swallowing when she'd come up.

"I made sure you weren't going to." Mina says, pouting just a little bit at the accusation before brightening right back up. "But, all finished with everything for my class's stall for a bit... I'll probably go and double check in a bit, get roped into helping for another hour or so. Was just wandering around, and spotted you being lazy. And I'd thought that Shizune and Misha would have been all over forcing you to do work for them by this point." She says, drawing a bit of a grimace out of me by mentioning the duo. I'm still not exactly sure where I stand with them after 'siding' with Lilly the other day, despite my trying to fix things between us.

"Don't jinx it. They've been trying non-stop." I point out, getting a nonchalant shrug from Mina in response. "So... what're you up to if you're not helping with the festival right now?"

Her response is pretty much exactly what I'd expected as she grins widely. "Nothing! I've got some homework I'll probably have to do tonight, but otherwise, nothing." She says it with a good deal of satisfaction, apparently glad to be done with the work for the festival. "What about you, since the Student Council couldn't rope you into doing something to help them?"

I shrug, not really having an answer to the question. "Nothing, I suppose. Maybe go to the library and pick up some books, read." I can immediately tell that my answer isn't exactly acceptable for Minako.

"Oh, come on, Hisao. You've gotta have something besides reading that you like to do." She says, chiding me.

"Not really..." I admit, trailing off as I finish the last bit of my meal, feeling a little put-off by the response. It does seem a little bit sad that I really don't have anything that I can do besides read and go to classes anymore, coupled with occasional light physical exertion. "I used to be able to go out in the city, go to the arcades or play soccer with some of my friends whenever." I say, unable to help feeling a little bit of nostalgia thinking back to it. I definitely wasn't the best at either of the activities, mediocre at all but a few games in the arcades and a none-too-exceptional a soccer player. But they were still things that really managed to fill up my free time without having to worry about it. Minako brightens up suddenly, looking as though she's had an epiphany.

"Sure, there's no arcade in town, but why not try soccer? I think the field's pretty busy right now, but I've always wanted to try playing a little bit!" She says enthusiastically, wide smile appearing at the thought. "I'm sure that I could find a ball from somewhere without too much of a problem. There's a couple of fields that you could try to show me some stuff on. I haven't really played at all since I was a kid... and the track-team's usually got the field to themselves." I find myself massaging the back of my neck and looking away, feeling more than a little awkward between her enthusiasm and my wanting to say yes, and wondering exactly how much of an exertion it might be. The Nurse advised me against anything 'intense', and while I don't exactly think that this would qualify, I'm still more or less exploring my limits.

"I'm not sure..." I start, trailing off as Minako looks at me with a pleading expression.

"Oh come on, Hisao. It's not it'd kill you to show me a few things, right?" Minako's expression goes from joking very slowly to a more and more concerned expression as the initial silence stretches on awkwardly. I feel like my own expression is probably frozen in some sort of a pained expression, and shake myself from it just as Minako slowly begins to apologize. "I didn't mean... I mean, if I-" I shake my head, waving my hand in front of my face to cut her off as I manage to recover, throwing on what's probably a poor approximation of a smile.

"No... it's alright. I uh... I'm not really supposed to work myself too hard." I find myself saying, feeling somewhat bad on Mina'a account. She looks more than a little apologetic over having potentially tripped over the landmine of making fun of something wrong with me. "But... I think that I could probably show you a few things. Just can't really push myself."

Mina brightens right back up at the idea, although there's a certain expression of caution still in her eyes. "You're sure?" She asks simply, putting the question simply as she looks at me carefully, trying to gauge my reaction. It's not the same expression of pity I can remember my friends and parents having in the hospital... more just calculating as she seems intent on the answer. But at the same time, she doesn't quite have the same knowledge of what's wrong with me that they all did. It's just concern, assuring that she's not pushing me out of a comfort-zone. More reassuring than pity, if only a little.

"Yeah. I'll just take it easy. No fly-balls either." I say, adding in the second condition as almost an afterthought as I remember the various lectures I've had about not getting hit in the chest if I can at all avoid it. Mina seems to take it in stride, nodding with what looks like full understanding of the situation before smiling a little bit more customarily.

"Alright. That sounds good." Mina says, apparently pretty content with the whole my answer and the extra condition I added into it. She looks at her watch thoughtfully, absentmindedly playing with the end of her scarf with the other. "Do you remember where the side-gate was that we went past the other day on the way to the woods?" I nod, and Mina takes it as a cue to continue. "I think that I should be able to finish up everything I need to with my class's stall in an hour or so, and grab some better clothes and a soccer ball pretty quickly. Meet up by that gate in an hour and a half?" She asks, giving me cause to check my own watch and mentally make a note of the time. It should still leave me with more than enough time to head up to the library and still carry out my original plan of grabbing some books.

"Sure. I'll meet you then." I say, getting a last grin from Mina as she stands up and heads out of the cafeteria, leaving me to realize that I'm the very last person remaining in the cafeteria right now. With a deep breath, hoping that I made the right decision in regards to agreeing to meet up with Mina for a little bit of soccer, I return my tray and head up to the library. I grab a few new books, thanking Yuuko for the help in finding the last ones, and bring everything to my room. Before I can get in the door, my neighbor makes one of his unexpected appearances to the sound of far too many locks unbolting.

"What's with all the noise outside? Did it begin? The feminist invasion?" He asks conspiratorially, leaving me wondering if he's joking or not as he gets a little bit too close.

"Er... no. Everyone's preparing for the festival tomorrow."

Kenji takes a sharp breath at that, snapping his fingers. "Tomorrow, right! I'll have more than enough time to prepare then. Batten down the hatches, tighten security... maybe get some more locks." He says, seemingly looking out into the distance past me with a deep frown. "How are you preparing for it? You could really use some more locks on your door too." The idea that he's joking is rapidly vanishing, he's asking with such fervor. "You know... deadbolts work best. Impossible to pick with a hair clip, and since women are weak they wouldn't be able to batter the door down so easily." I find myself trying to massage between my eyes, realizing that Kenji's apparent oddity during our first meeting pretty obviously went way further.

The best thing to do seemed like to just roll with it, and try to get away as quickly as possible.

"Er... yeah. I was actually planning on leaving to get some stuff in a while, just in case." I say simply, Kenji suddenly frowning, leaning in closely before backing up just a little bit with a satisfied expression.

"You're smarter than you look then. Most people don't believe me when I point out the cold hard truth of this world. But you're catching on fast, and adapting to survive. When it comes down to survival of the fittest, you'll be more fit than most." He says approvingly, leaving me feeling like my brain might actually be hurting as he smiles. "Hey, if we both survive tomorrow, maybe we should hang out some time. Go bowling. It's a great sport, win some money every now and again betting on myself. Women haven't really even managed to infiltrate it either. But, of course, that's if we survive."

"Eh... we'll see. Gotta survive first, right?" I ask, getting yet another serious nod from Kenji.

"Yeah. Thanks for the warning about tomorrow, I'll have more than enough time to fortify with the warning you've provided." He says, turning right on his heels and heading into his room, lock after lock clicking shut as he secures his room. Suddenly, the reason behind the entire hallway being vacant besides him seems pretty apparent. I shake my head, finally entering my room, glancing at my watch I've still got about an hour before I agreed to meet Minako by the gate.

Without too much else to do, I find myself cracking open a book that I've just gotten. It's a light novel on pirates, one that's a little hard to get into as I think that I might be hearing Kenji working on something or the other across the hall. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he really was working on installing yet another lock on his door, paranoid about some sort of invasion. Still, it's a little bit better of a way to pass the time than to sit and stare at a clock, though I find myself doing it often enough anyways. When I've got about fifteen minutes left until the time I agree to meet Mina, I throw on my old soccer clothes and head out at a decent pace, hoping to avoid another meeting with Kenji in the hallway. His room's fallen silent, and I can half-imagine that he's in some sort of an improvised fort already, counting down the minutes.

The dormitories are surprisingly empty, and as soon as I step outside I can see why. The whole school seems to be buzzing with activity right now, like an overturned beehive as everyone works to set up a few last-minute things for the festival. Game-stalls are going up, some of the equipment for the food-stalls is being rolled out... it's somewhat organized chaos at best, a complete mess at worst. I'm more than a little glad that nobody seems to notice me and try to drag me into anything as I set off towards the wall that I think should have the gate in it somewhere along the way. Surprisingly, for once I can actually see Minako long before she apparently spots me at the gate, boredly kicking around the ball a bit. It strikes me as a little odd that she's wearing the same clothes I first saw her in, a black sweater, dark jeans and the ever-present scarf rather than real gym clothes until I wonder if it's a byproduct of my admitting that I needed to take it easier.

As much as I attempt to somewhat sneak up on her, she still manages to spot me well before I get to her, and immediately picks the ball up with one hand while waving in greeting with the other, smiling. "Hey, Hisao!" She says, getting a similar wave back from me as I continue towards her. She turns, and begins walking at a relaxed pace in a direction off the path, presumably towards some relatively even field. Almost as though she was reading my mind, she grins over and teases me about the gym clothes. "So... you were just trying to get an advantage on me if we played at all competitively, right?" Mina asked, gesturing towards me. The joke seems to be just a little more cautious than normal, but the familiar tone is definitely welcome.

I crack a grin, shrugging a little bit. "I figured I need all the help that I can get. Don't want you to be able to run circles around me when you're claiming you haven't played soccer since you were a kid. It'd hurt my pride just a little bit." Minako seems pleased with the response, but more or less drops conversation as we make our way a relatively short distance to a decent-sized and mostly flat field next to the forest. Without too much ceremony, she simply tosses the ball into the middle of the field and looks at me a little expectantly, getting the simple question out of me. "So... what're we going to do?" Mina seems just as floored by the question for a moment, before suddenly having some lightbulb go off in her mind.

"Wait just a sec." Mina says, jogging in the direction of the forest. She grabs a pair of decent-length sticks from the edge of the forest, running back and planting them roughly into the ground a few feet away from one another, creating what's obviously a crude 'goal' to one side of the field. "I wanna see if I've still got any idea of what I'm doing. I'll try to defend for a few minutes, then attack, then you tell me what I can improve on. She says, grinning as she kicks the ball more or less in my direction and taking a place in front of the small 'goal'. I nod, figuring it'd be a fair way to see if I can really come up with any pointers. I'm no prodigy, but I'd like to think that I've got the basics down.

I'm painstakingly careful not to overexert myself as I play, and it seems like Minako's careful and controlled with how she plays the sport as well. It's a deliberate game that we play, slow and steady as I drive towards the goal and she promises to block, feigned kicks and attempts to get by her without too much interference while she seems equally reluctant to try and rash maneuvers. At first, I manage to get a couple of shots through the goal somewhat easily, as well as one much-debated kick that knocks over one of the goal-posts. It doesn't take all too long before Minako adapts a little bit though, and suddenly I find no real opportunities to get a shot past her. I can't help but notice that she flinches in anticipation of almost every kick towards the goal. The whole time though, we're exchanging the same banter that seems to be so common every time we hang out. Mindless chatter for the most part, punctuated frequently by a few pointers for one another about what we remember of the game.

We switch off after a long while without me getting a single goal. Mina doesn't seem nearly as agile as she was on the defense, moving almost stiffly by comparison as she attempts to drive the ball. Most of her efforts are pretty easy for me to block... although I'll admit to finally beginning to get more than a little winded myself. Just a few minutes after noticing it, Mina finally waves her arms in defeat, shaking her head as I stand in front of the goal to try and block her next kick and simply plopping herself down onto the ground. "Alright! Alright! You win this round, Hisao." She says, pulling the soccer ball in towards herself with her hands as I walk over to sit down a few feet away, thankful for the break.

I'm sweating a little bit from the exertion, and Minako's rubbing either of her shins with a hand, grimacing slightly. Noticing me looking at her, she shrugs. "Sore." I nod, taking another deep breath and lying down on the grass as I let myself cool off. While it wasn't exactly a huge amount of effort that I put forward today, I still definitely feel tired. Still, it could've definitely turned out a lot worse, and I had fun. I prop myself back up on my elbows, and laboriously pull myself back up into a sitting position, to Minako's amusement.

"That tired already, Hisao?" She asks, getting a grunt from me that serves just to make her giggle. "I was afraid you were going to fall asleep. You looked pretty peaceful."

"No chance. Not as comfortable as my bed. Ground's pretty hard." I say, suddenly noticing that the sun is actually beginning to dip pretty low in the sky. I glance at my watch, realizing the time. Minako seems to follow my gaze, looking like she's just come to the realization herself and giving an expression of distaste at it. "Think that's enough soccer for the day?" I ask, watching her seem to rapidly debate the idea for a moment before she nods.

"Yeah. I've gotta let you win at least once, build up your confidence before I beat you. Makes victory all the sweeter."

I laugh... it just seems exactly the sort of thing that I'd expect her to say. I might actually be starting to have an idea of the type of person that Mina really is, a little bit competitive, a little bit compulsive, and a pretty good deal of fun to just hang out with. "Of course, maybe that means I won't challenge you to another impromptu game so that my perfect record can stand forever." I retort, getting Mina to put on a thoughtful expression for a moment before she shrugs it off.

"Then I'll just have to make do with knowing I'd win next time anyway. It's pretty easy." She says self-assuredly, getting a bit of a grin and an eye-roll out of me as I stand up and offer her my hands to help her up. She seems just a little bit awkward in the motion, grimacing as she stands up before shaking it off a few seconds later. "But... thanks for playing a game with me." She says, smiling earnestly and flushing just a little bit as she looks at me, breaking the contact to pick up the soccer ball and put it under an arm. I can hardly help but smile at the sincere gratitude, glad that she was appreciative for me coming out with her today.

"Not a problem... it really took me back to when I was still at my old school. So I should probably be the one thanking you."

Minako grins, getting right back on her track of doing her best to tease me. "So... you played against a bunch of girls and just barely managed to win sometimes?"

"Bah." I jokingly push her by the shoulder, just a little bit to knock her somewhat off balance, getting a confused expression before she does the same to me with redoubled force and laughs. As we head back towards the school, I suddenly turn my mind to the future. "So, Mina, are you working for the festival or do you have some free time? I'll bet that you can't possibly already know the whole setup already." I say, trying to incite her just a little bit.

Minako purses her lips, looking like she just bit into something bitter. "I'm not really sure. Our teacher was a little vague on the details of when everyone was supposed to work at our booths. Some people might have two shifts, some might have one. Some people might switch shifts, or be willing to shift..." She throws an end of her scarf that more or less fell loose across her opposing shoulder. "So... I don't really know." She admits, looking a little bit put off by it.

"Do you have a cell phone? Maybe you could call me when you got free." I ask, the solution suddenly clear in my mind. Minako nods at the idea, looking pleased. We exchange numbers just as we're getting back to the school, and part ways at the gate. Me heading directly towards the dormitories while Mina heads towards the track and field storage to return the ball from where she borrowed it. Walking back though the chaos of the stands and students working on them, I can't help but feel a little bit of anticipation for tomorrow.

The festival definitely looks like it'll be fun.
Last edited by CloudGrain on Sun Nov 23, 2014 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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AntonSlavik020
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Sun Nov 02, 2014 10:59 pm

I'm really liking Minako so far. She seems fun, though if Hisao's not careful his heart could end up acting up. He's taken a few risks already(like falling out of a tree would almost certainly cause a problem). Looking forward to the festival!
Best girl
Hanako=Shizune>Misha>Lilly>Rin>Emi

Best route
Hanako>Lilly>Rin>Emi>Shizune

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CloudGrain
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Re: Act One, Scene Five;

Post by CloudGrain » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:11 pm

Act One, Scene Five;

Festivities



The lack of an alarm waking me up today is an incredible feeling. Waking up to the ambient noises outside and a rather bright room, having the ability to just turn over in my bed and relax for a few minutes before finally giving into the wakefulness. It takes more than a few incredulous seconds of staring at the clock to believe that it's true... it's almost eleven in the morning and I've only just woken up. My stomach confirms the fact as soon as it comes to mind, gurgling out a reminder of the breakfast that I missed. I throw on my uniform without ceremony, pocketing some money and my phone for the day ahead as I begin to debate just what delicious fried festival food I want to properly start the day off with. Heading out of my room, I'm almost tempted to knock on Kenji's door and see if he's calmed down overnight... until the thought that he might've rigged up some sort of 'self-defense' system comes to the front of my mind.

The temporary insanity of considering bothering Kenji stops just as quickly as it started, and I'm quickly on my way out of the dormitories before I have an opportunity to change my mind again.

Stepping out into the festival strikes me with an almost shocking difference between the school's 'average' day and today. Whereas the first day that I'd been here at Yamaku there hadn't been a soul wandering about, today's festivities had absolutely managed to pack the same spaces full of people. The whole school seems abuzz with activity, the noises of people talking and playing games, the more than occasional shout just barely above the ambient noise level. All in all... everything is actually refreshingly similar to a few such events I remember back home, even if the demographic is a little bit different. There are quite a few older people here, probably residents of the nearby town. Most have small groups I can only assume are family in tow, with varying levels of enthusiasm for the festivities.

Refreshed with the similarity between this and back home, I'm again reminded of my original mission coming outside as my stomach rumbles again. Taking the plunge into the crowd, I head in the direction that I can smell all the festival food coming from. It seems like almost all of the stalls are directly surrounding the school, several stalls taking up surprisingly large amounts of space thanks to the copious amounts of equipment that come with them. Some of the food stalls are more like outdoor kitchens, with several students toiling behind each one of them while others work the registers.

In fact, I can see a familiar face in one of the stalls in particular that causes me just a little bit of surprise. Lilly... working diligently in one of the outdoor kitchen-stalls, carefully working on some dish I can't quite make out from my position. Watching the whole stall for just a few moments, I come to the realization that her entire class seems to be for the visually impaired. While there are a rare few with thick glasses, not unlike Kenji's, who are peering closely at things, most either seem to be feeling for the things that they need with eyes closed or off into some unknown distance. It's actually interesting to watch for just a moment or two, more or less in bewilderment as to how things seem to be working fairly fluidly despite the obvious disadvantage that the whole class has.

Of course, it takes just a tiny shift in the direction of the wind to have me standing in line, salivating slightly as I look the menu over. Everything seems to sound good right about now, and the line's moving quickly enough that making a decision is actually a little difficult. By the time that I make my way to the front of the line, it looks like Lilly's moved from cooking to taking orders.

"Is there someone I can help?" Lilly asks, smiling just a little tightly as she smooths out her skirt, seeming just a little bit tense. I can't help but wonder at how few students seem to be helping in the stall right now, and wonder if it's the reason for her slightly 'off' nature right now.

"Hey, Lilly." I say, smiling reassuringly even as I realize that the gesture's lost on her. Lilly looks just a little lost for a moment, trying to place the voice before smiling as she manages to do so. "How's the festival going?" I ask, looking behind me and realizing that for the moment, there's nobody else in line. A little bit of small-talk doesn't seem too out of place.

"It's going... decently." Lilly admits, looking a little put off by the question. "Unfortunately, we're missing quite a bit of the class still. And somehow our order got a little mixed up, and we've received less than we'd hoped for." She admits it, looking just a little bit distasteful of it all. She puts on a smile though, even though it's pretty evident she's more than a little stressed over the whole situation. I can't exactly say that I envy her, since as the class representative quite a bit of the responsibility falls squarely in her lap. "But, hopefully we'll be able to pull it together soon." She says optimistically, before suddenly coming to the realization that there was probably a reason I was in line. "But, was there anything that I could get for you?" Lilly asks, falling right back into hospitality mode.

I look over the menu one last quick time, before spotting what looks great right now. "Could I get a plate of yakisoba?" I ask, getting a nod from Lilly as I hand over the appropriate few coins for it. Lilly's thumb runs over the various coins to make certain that they're the correct values, and she smiles and calls out the order to a student behind her. Within just a minute or so, Lilly's handing over a small steaming plate of the fried noodles with a plastic fork. "Thanks, Lilly!" I say, getting a small smile and nod from her as she turns in the approximate direction of an elderly couple discussing what they're considering for lunch between one another.

Getting to a few of the benches that'd been set up in the area, I sit down and tuck into the food happily. It's just as good as I'd expected, and disappears all too quickly since I'm intent on finishing it while it's still hot. Finishing, I quickly pull out my phone as I wonder if I might've missed a call or a text from Minako, having slept in so late. She'd had no real idea on when her shift for her class's stall was yesterday, and could have already finished by now. On the same token, I'm none too concerned when the thought is proved wrong, having no new messages waiting for me. Slipping my phone back into my pocket, I find a bin for the plastic plate and fork as I decide to go and explore the festival for a bit on my own.

The whole event is pretty impressive, and I find myself enjoying watching all the people. The elderly town-residents showing around their families, usually apparently children and grandchildren around the festival with pride in the whole event. The students who seem to be wandering around in groups, or even rarely with a few older people I would assume to be their families in tow similarly to the town-residents. Kids running around and playing games, clutching at festival foods or toys while their parents desperately try to coral them. Given the scope of the event, I'm utterly unsurprised to find myself seeing quite a few of the students I've met since coming here.

I see Rin at her surprisingly completed-looking mural, despite her terror just a few nights ago at the thought of completing it in time. Despite trying to start up a little bit of a conversation with her, there's little that I manage to get out of her before simply awkwardly congratulating her on completing it and continuing on. She doesn't seem nearly as happy to have finished up the project as I'd thought she might be, and just as strange in the way she dealt with people as ever.

Just as I'm leaving the mural, Emi runs up from the opposite direction asking if I've seen it, looking positively ecstatic when I tell her that Rin managed to finish it after all. She even invites me to get some food with her and Rin, although I point out that I've already had what I claim was an 'early lunch' feeling like Emi would find something wrong with me waking up so late on a Sunday. Call me crazy, but I've got a feeling that the bundle of energy just might be a morning person. So with just a little bit of disappointment from Emi, and Rin's usual nonchalance about the whole situation, I head back off into the festival to continue exploring.

I head over to watch some of the festival games for a while, falling into my old habit of people-watching as I gauge the reactions of the winners and losers of various games. On the whole, everything seems to be on a pretty high note, even the losers having almost invariably good attitudes about the games. I find myself scanning the stalls though, wondering as to which classes are in charge of which stalls. Slipping out my phone for the first time in an hour or two, I'm actually a little dissapointed to notice that I still don't have any missed messages. The festival's still a bit of fun to go through without anyone else, but I feel like having someone to hang out with for a little while wouldn't exactly make it worse.

"Hicchan~!" The voice raises well above the regular crowd, almost perfectly timed to my thoughts, if not who I was hoping for.

Misha and Shizune are both looking fairly proud as I turn around, Misha clutching a stuffed animal across her chest wearing an ear to ear smile while Shizune seems fairly content herself with everything around. "Why aren't you playing any festival games, Hicchan~? They're fun, and you can win prizes!" Misha asks, obviously in her own voice as she proudly displays the small stuffed animal. I can't help but grin a little at the tone she has, almost slightly accusatory as she tries to push me to enjoy myself.

"I'm not all that great with most of the games." I admit, just a little embarrassed by the fact. I don't think that I'd ever actually managed to win any festival games that were intended to be even somewhat hard. It's always seemed like my luck would get up and leave just as soon as I tried something at a festival. It'd actually been a topic that my friends back at home had poked fun at on more than one occasion during festivals. "And besides, if I won, what would I do with the stuffed animal?" I ask, getting Misha to put on a somewhat incredulous expression that I might not want to keep a stuffed animal.

"You could give it to me or Shicchan." The tone's just a little bit pleading as Misha sticks the toy under her arm and begins to try and catch up with signing the conversation to Shizune, getting me to roll my eyes slightly at their usual pyramid schemes. I can just see the pair of them having the same conversation with almost everyone, and sitting on top of thrones of the stuffed animals at the end of the day. Shizune gives Misha a similar slightly critical look as she finishes her translation, and I mentally make a note that it might just be Misha on top of the throne, laughing like only she can.

"Or just to Misha- I mean, just to me." Misha says as Shizune begins signing, grinning as she goes to translator mode. "Shicchan says that she'll definitely find something competitive enough to win her own by the end of the night." I can't say I'm surprised.

"I'll just have to make sure that I don't play against her then, because I have more fun not losing to her. Couldn't let Shizune get an easy win against me again, right?" Misha plants her hands on her hips and laughs for a moment before translating to Shizune, getting her to adjust her glasses with a proud grin before signing.

"Nope~! We'll have to make sure to avoid you to keep things competitive then! Glad you're having fun at the festival though, Hicchan~!" Misha says, her usual bubbliness coming through the translation as Shizune seems more than content with my answer, leading the way for Misha to follow her back into the crowd, no doubt looking for some game she can crush someone in. I'm almost surprised that the two are actually out an enjoying the festival alongside everyone else rather than just sitting back in relief. Then again, between the two of them there's more than enough drive and motivation to have been doing things since long before I was even up today.

Despite knowing beyond a reasonable doubt my track history with festival games, remembering so many weeks worth of pocket-money ending up vanishing with nothing to show, I find myself joining in a few of the games after Misha and Shizune's prodding. Just as I'd expected, I've got nothing to show but a few yen less than I had to start the day off with, but it still feels like time fairly well-spent. In fact, by the time that I stop, it's easy to notice that the sun's getting closer and closer to setting. Strangely enough, this hasn't lessened the number of people on the school grounds at all. If anything, there seem to be even more people than there were when I managed to get out of bed so late.

Suddenly, I'm aware of my phone buzzing once in my pocket. Digging it out and flipping it open, I can't help but smile at the screen.

One new message.

Its Mina. Meet up @ side gate in 10?

I'm not exactly the most avid texter in the world, but I suppose it makes more sense than calling with the amount of noise here. I get the feeling that it's somewhat the same reason behind meeting over at the smaller gate that's probably getting a lot less use than most of the rest of the school's grounds.

Sounds good. I send back, beginning to immediately go against the grain of the crowd and towards the gate. There's just enough people in the way, creating just enough obstacles that it seems like I might actually be a few minutes late. Especially since, for whatever reason, everyone seems to be more intent on going in the exact opposite direction as me. The only thing that I can really be glad for is the fact that it seems like most of the festival goers are pretty laid-back in comparison to what I could remember back at home. There's nowhere near the same amount of jostling or bumping into people as I can remember, and by now it seems like even most of the children are fairly subdued.

Getting to the gate, I immediately find myself trying to see where Mina might be hiding about, already here. I even go outside the school to check that she isn't waiting for me outside the gate before I can feel safe in the fact that she isn't going to just pop out of nowhere. Looking at my watch, I'm a little surprised by the fact that I'm just a minute or two late already. Of course, Mina manages to extract herself from the crowd just as I look up, looking a little less-than-pleased with her own lateness when she spots me.

I can't help but grin. "Late." I say as she approaches, rolling her eyes at the response immediately.

"I know, I know. I forgot that so many people make walking take a little longer." She admits, pursing her lips into something of a scowl for a second before brightening. "Have fun at the festival?"

"Yeah. It's not over yet though, if you wanted to head back into it." I say, wondering just how late the stalls and the like might be open with school tomorrow. Mina shakes her head, which I can't help but find slightly surprising given her usual attitude.

"I've got a spot I wanna watch the fireworks from. They should start pretty soon." I suddenly realize that the light is actually orange, the sun dipping over the horizon and promising to be impossible to see in just a few minutes. "Come on, we've gotta get there!" She says, tilting her head and gesturing vaguely out the gate as she starts off at a fast walk. I raise an eyebrow, not having heard anything about any fireworks from anyone else today, but follow anyway. It doesn't take long at all to get to the spot Mina apparently had in mind... it's an over-watching hill just a few minutes walk away from the school. It's actually more of a 'climb' than a walk, sometimes seeming just a little bit treacherous. But the view looks like it just might be worth it for fireworks. The school, abuzz with activity close by but below us, the lights in the town just a little bit further away. Mina plops down contently on the top of the hill, and I follow suit shortly after, glad for the break.

"So, what about you? Have fun at the festival?" I ask, finally able to voice the question as we begin waiting for the show to start. Mina shrugs a little, looking a little put-off by the question.

"I had to work two of the later shifts at two different stalls, with just an hour break in between. And I slept in today, so I think that I missed more of the festival than not." She admits, running an end of her scarf through her hands as she says it, looking just a little irritated with the fact. Still, after a few seconds silence she seems to brighten up a little bit. "But. At least they didn't schedule me to work in a stall when they're doing the fireworks." She says, relaxing a little bit as she stops playing with her scarf. It's strange, but as she relaxes, I notice myself relaxing just a little bit too. I can't help but feel just a little bit bad, knowing that almost all of the other students here at Yamaku put in quite a bit more work towards the festival.

"The fireworks show is good then?" I ask, happy to change the topic.

Mina's eyes seem to sparkle a little bit as she answers. "It's great. Don't worry, you'll see. They put on a bigger show every year. This'll be the best one yet." She says contentedly, immediately turning towards the school with a grin. She looks like she's really intent on seeing it, intent on not missing a single little thing as the light begins to fade over the horizon.

After just another moment or so of silence, there's a whistling noise, and an explosion almost directly above us. My head snaps up at the same time as Minako's, catching the final second of the firework's life. Another suddenly bursts just to the left, and we both turn to see the glittering trails that it leaves behind. Then another to the right... soon, the sky above us is filled with a nearly constant light-show, and accompanied by nearly deafening bangs. Based on how the fireworks seem to be exploding directly above us, I can't help but feel like we probably wouldn't be encouraged to be so close. But... on the same hand, being directly underneath the fireworks, effectively having a front-row seat wasn't exactly such a bad thing either. Glancing over at Minako, she's laying down in the grass and watching the fireworks with an absolutely satisfied grin plastered across her face... reinforcing the idea that I might as well just enjoy the fireworks so close-by.

Following suit, I lay down against the cool grass and watch the remainder of the fireworks in awe.

Mina wasn't wrong that they put on a good show. It goes on for quite a while, bright lights and deafening noises seemingly all around us, forcing us to keep our heads on a swivel so we don't miss a thing. After a grand finale, it's astounding to realize just how dark it is out without the fireworks lighting everything up. My ears are ringing, and when I close my eyes, I'd swear that I could still see some of the firework. A moment or two later, I suddenly hear Minako giggling, I crack open my eyes to see her kneeling over me and peering right down at me, upside-down in my vision as she appears to be inspecting me intently.

"What?" I ask, a little confused as she shakes her head and pulls herself back, propping myself up on my elbows before sitting upright myself and turning to face her.

"You were doing the same thing I did just a minute ago. Closing your eyes to see the fireworks trails. Just... you were looking pretty serious when you did it. Like this." Mina says, before pulling off an exceedingly serious looking expression and shutting her eyes forcefully in demonstration. Even in the dark, it looks like she's doing her best to dramatize the whole expression as much as possible, wringing a grin out a me before she gives up on trying to maintain it. "But I was right, wasn't I? Impressive show."

"Yeah. Especially since we were right under it." I admit, getting a mischievous grin out of Minako that makes me doubt it was entirely coincidence. "Although... now I'm wondering how we'll get down, since getting up was a little harder." Mina seems to actually be a little surprised at that, before answering with her customary grin.

"Very, very carefully."

True to her word, we do exactly that as we go down the slope the same way we went up. It's quite a bit harder to do it in the dark, and we end up needing to help one another down quite a few times, just to ensure that we both get down without hurting ourselves. It probably takes two or three times longer going down in the dark than it'd taken going up in the dying light, but eventually we make it down to the more even portion of the walk back to school. For the last few feet, I find myself offering her a hand to help her down for what seems like the fiftieth time tonight... but unlike the other forty-nine times, when she makes it to the bottom she doesn't immediately let go. The usual meaningless conversation takes us over as we make our way back towards the school... with me feeling just a little bit more awkward with the situation the longer it goes on.

In fact, it's only when we get closer to the school that Mina notices the fact for herself, suddenly flushing and trying to hide the fact beneath her scarf as she lets my hand go rather suddenly. I feel my own ears more or less sympathetically burning with a bit of embarrassment at the fact. The conversation she'd more or less been leading peters out pretty quickly as we both try our best to ignore what I feel like was an awkward mistake.

Coming up to the side-gate, Mina finally manages to start back up, still a little red in the face. "Hey... Hisao?"

"Hm?" I ask, not really trusting myself to say too much without embarrassing both of us even further.

"Thanks for hanging out with me. I've really had a lot of fun hanging out with you." Her cheeks are practically matching her scarf by now, although she manages to shake it off after a few seconds and return to her usual much more self-assured nature. "I'll text you sometime if I've got free time, if you wanna hang out some more?" She asks, grinning as she does her best to shake away the last vestiges of embarrassment from her expression.

"Sure. That sounds good." I say, doing my best to mirror her grin and to ignore the little bit of awkwardness. Mina brightens even more, apparently right back to her usual self.

"Sounds like a plan then... I've got some homework I really have to finish up before tomorrow, but I'll see you around, Hisao!" She says, beginning to walk towards the dorms just as we make it though the gate. "The fireworks when you close your eyes are probably gone by now!" She calls out with a wide smile as she turns around, right before disappearing into the crowd of people.

I find myself almost instinctively blinking to check if she was right. Unsurprisingly, but a little disappointingly... they are.
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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TheTealeaf
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by TheTealeaf » Tue Nov 04, 2014 3:21 pm

CloudGrain wrote:"Thanks for hanging out with me. I've really had a lot of fun hanging out with you." Her cheeks are practically matching her scarf by now
So cute I think my teeth are beginning to ache from the sweetness.

I'm watching this route with great interest cloud, It's a shame more people aren't commenting.

Minako... sorry Mina, is very vibrant a very uh... carpe diem kinda feeling to her. She seems as if she'd be at home in the KS world pretty seamlessly.

I like how you're involving all the other girls as well, even if they are sidelined!
CloudGrain wrote:sitting on top of thrones of the stuffed animals at the end of the day. Shizune gives Misha a similar slightly critical look as she finishes her translation, and I mentally make a note that it might just be Misha on top of the throne, laughing like only she can.
The mental image this gave me made me choke on my whiskey. Ass.

Looking forward to more!
Tealeaf. Old cockney rhyming slang for 'thief'. That is what KS did to me. It tealeafed my heart straight from my chest. Especially you Rin. Especially you.

One cannot think well, sleep well, love well if one has not dined well
- Virginia Woolf

Cooking is like love. Enter with abandon or not at all

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:03 pm

Well, you tried to include most of the main KS-girls in this scene (adding Hanako would have been too much), but I'm kind of wondering whether Mina has any friends of her own. So far we haven't seen her in the company of anyone else...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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CloudGrain
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by CloudGrain » Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:55 pm

TheTealeaf wrote: So cute I think my teeth are beginning to ache from the sweetness.

I'm watching this route with great interest cloud, It's a shame more people aren't commenting.

Minako... sorry Mina, is very vibrant a very uh... carpe diem kinda feeling to her. She seems as if she'd be at home in the KS world pretty seamlessly.

I like how you're involving all the other girls as well, even if they are sidelined!
CloudGrain wrote:sitting on top of thrones of the stuffed animals at the end of the day. Shizune gives Misha a similar slightly critical look as she finishes her translation, and I mentally make a note that it might just be Misha on top of the throne, laughing like only she can.
The mental image this gave me made me choke on my whiskey. Ass.

Looking forward to more!
Thanks kindly for the feedback, Tealeaf, it's definitely always appreciated. :D

As to almost killing you by forcing you to choke on whiskey... well, I'll apologize just a little bit. I had been intending on the line managing to kill you without a single hiccup, but alas, it failed. Maybe next time? :lol:

Anyhow, glad that you're enjoying the piece, hopefully I'll be able to continue expounding upon it from the more-solid feeling base I've got for it here, and won't have to turn back on it like I'm doing with After the Fall. Cheers mate!
Mirage_GSM wrote:Well, you tried to include most of the main KS-girls in this scene (adding Hanako would have been too much), but I'm kind of wondering whether Mina has any friends of her own. So far we haven't seen her in the company of anyone else...
Having interactions with the rest of the girls throughout the festival felt almost natural... seeing as they're all there canonically anyways, and their personalities are obviously some of the best-known. But I'm exceptionally glad that you're noticing one of the main things that I've been attempting to convey with gradually decreasing subtlety due to the length of time it occurs for. I'm having fun trying to communicate just as much through what's not necessarily said as what is, as well as through a few other things which happen on multiple occurrences. As much as it might appear a potential odd oversight, it's actually (for once) quite intentionally being used. :D
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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AntonSlavik020
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:42 pm

Very enjoyable chapter. I liked the awkwardness, and, like Mirage said, how you're involving most of the other girls as well. Looks like this is where we start to take some steps towards them dating. The only thing I noticed that was a little odd was
CloudGrain wrote:Its Mina. Meet up @ side gate in 10?
Isn't her saying "it's Mina" completely unnecessary? He should have her number, unless he gave her his but didn't get her's in return.
Best girl
Hanako=Shizune>Misha>Lilly>Rin>Emi

Best route
Hanako>Lilly>Rin>Emi>Shizune

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CloudGrain
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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Four Up]

Post by CloudGrain » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:05 pm

AntonSlavik020 wrote:Very enjoyable chapter. I liked the awkwardness, and, like Mirage said, how you're involving most of the other girls as well. Looks like this is where we start to take some steps towards them dating. The only thing I noticed that was a little odd was
CloudGrain wrote:Its Mina. Meet up @ side gate in 10?
Isn't her saying "it's Mina" completely unnecessary? He should have her number, unless he gave her his but didn't get her's in return.
Thanks, was a fun scene to write, glad people are enjoying it. :D

As to the little potentially unnecessary introduction via text... eh. You're right, they did both exchange numbers. But, for a first time texting one another, I still figured that it might be somewhat appropriate to throw that in there. I know that I've done the same thing the first time I've texted a newly added number, just to make sure. (although it might just be me)
The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a beautiful thing to lose.

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Re: A Crimson Route [Scene Five Up]

Post by TeknikRevolt » Thu Nov 06, 2014 4:43 am

Hey CloudGrain, I made an account to wish you luck. I love your Mina. I really like how you've made her unique and she really stands out to me as a well written character. Thanks for working on this.

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CloudGrain
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Re: Act Two, Scene One;

Post by CloudGrain » Thu Nov 06, 2014 11:22 pm

Act Two, Scene One;

Unusually Routine



I'd like nothing more than to say that I'm getting a hang of my new life here at Yamaku, because it definitely feels like I am.

It's really not all that different from my life before I got sent here, to be perfectly honest. Since having both my parents working long or late days just as often as not had been so common, 'fending for myself' was a series of simple tasks I'd learned years ago. The schoolwork, though a little more intense than it'd been back home still wasn't much of a serious issue. Even on the nights where I've got particularly long seeming assignments, I can usually finish everything up in just a few short hours. The biggest thing, managing my newly-found condition... well, it's as simple as choking down the various pills and capsules that line the dresser next to my bed. Most of them are just for mornings, although a few I'm supposed to take before bed as well. Keeping a water-bottle next to the bed, I'm rapidly finding it more and more unnecessary as I the motion of swallowing the pills becomes more automated.

I feel like I'm even beginning to fit into the school just a little bit better, managing to get a little bit of conversation in with some of my classmates besides Shizune and Misha.

Miki Miura and Suzu Suzuki, sitting almost in front of Misha and Shizune are both pretty easy to get along with. Lezard Valeth, sitting right in front of Misha, seems a little bit of a know-it-all, but a generally decent enough guy. His usual partner for group-work, Akio Hyashi, another member of the book club seems to be a lot more reserved, and from what I hear actually a little more knowledgeable. I've even made just a little bit of a point to chat with Molly Kapur, Taro Arai, and Ritsu Tainaka, the other students who're a little closer to me in the classroom. Just a little bit of small-talk, trying to get to know people a little bit better so long as I'm here. It's funny, but I think that Shizune actually approved when I pointed out that joining another group for a little while might help me to get to know my class-mates just a bit better; up until the point that me, Lezard, and Akio finished the assignment before she and Misha had, of course.

I wouldn't exactly say that I've made any more friends quite yet, but I get a few friendly smiles or a nod of acknowledgement from a few people when I'm walking around now. But it's a good start to expanding my social circle just a little bit more... taking just a little bit of the initiative for myself rather than relying on a few exceptionally kind strangers to do most of the work for me.

Most of them, I've seen around and managed to have at least a couple more conversations with.

Shizune and Misha I obviously see and usually at least say hello on a day to day basis, thanks to being in the same class. With Hanako... well even being in the same class doesn't seem to be a good reason for her to be comfortable talking with me. I tried to talk to her before classes, just saying hello and trying to start a bit of a conversation with her without much success. After a few attempts to hold a little bit of conversation with her she started coming to classes just barely on time. I've found that keeping my distance and just acknowledging her seems like a far better compromise for both of us, and after a few days if she was coming to class at all, she began coming at her more customary time. I suppose that it'll have to do, although it makes me wonder about her.

I've managed to bump into - with a lot less drama than the first time - Emi just a few times too, usually in the hallways when I'm heading to lunch or after classes. There's not a single reason I can think of for a person having half as much energy as she seems to, or such an upbeat attitude about having just managed to flunk an English quiz. Of course, when we're heading in the same direction she manages to be leaps and bounds ahead of me after just a few short words. It's really no surprise that she's apparently the star athlete for the track-team, practically running everywhere that she goes, despite the rules against exactly that the school has in place.

I met Lilly again in the library, apparently in the middle of helping Yuuko categorize a few books in braille. Between the two of us, we actually managed to keep Yuuko from going just a little crazy at the fact that the books were going to be at best still a few days late. Volunteering to help the pair, it dawns on me quickly that Yuuko's job is actually rather hard. Lugging some of the heavier braille books around and placing them precariously high, shifting equally heavy books to try and find the room on the shelves. Still, my help is definitely appreciated by both of them, and it feels good to actually be contributing just a little bit.

Of course, beyond all the random-seeming and somewhat infrequent encounters, there's been Mina.

It's not every day that we hang out, but it seems like we end up doing something more frequently than not. Last week, there were two or three times that I noticed a message from her either after classes just got out or dinner was just about over, suggesting we'd hang out. I'd ended up sending similar texts twice too, having had nothing to really do on Thursday or Saturday since I'd finished my homework pretty early on. Saturday, I finally asked her something that'd been nagging me, why she'd been hanging out with me alone. I've actually spotted her at school a few times, at lunch or between classes. Usually just a glimpse, and only ever noticeable because of the crimson red scarf, but never for long enough to really have a chance to call out to her or anything. Usually, it looked like she was hanging around the same few girls from her class... I can't exactly help but be a little confused as to why Mina hadn't introduced me.

I got a rehearsed look of too-dramatic shock, and asked if she wasn't good enough company, as well as a few dryly sarcastic jokes before I get to the heart of it. Apparently, she'd been shielding me from conversations that revolve around a few nuances of fashion, gossip of all kinds, a few inside jokes, and more gossip. Of course, as soon as she sees my expression at the idea of joining in the conversations, she immediately offers to bring introduce me and do her best to make me a part of the group.

It was an offer I backed away from without a second thought, getting an almost evil laugh out of Minako, my reaction obviously having been expected.

Still, it's not something that I can exactly complain about. Hanging out with Mina has been fun, taking walks into town or through the woods, exploring the less-frequented parts of the school's grounds. True to what she's said a few times, Minako isn't exactly the most routine person that there is. It seems like we're always doing something either completely new, or just different enough to seem new. There's been a few times where I've actually had to remind her of the fact that I'm in no real condition to be running around or overexerting myself, and she's always accepted the fact with equanimity, coming up with a new suggestion after just a little bit of thought.

It's funny... hanging out with Mina is always fun, but in the end she seems to be the one who acts like I'm doing her a favor. Even though she's usually the one to come up with the ideas and the one to cave if it's something that I admit I can't exactly do. Although, it's not exactly an unwelcome thing to feel like I'm more or less helping her in some way by hanging out with her.

Like today, Friday, when I agreed happily enough to walk into town with her; despite the dark gray sky practically promising to pour buckets. The only thing I'd needed to do was to grab my umbrella before we headed out, deciding to adhere to the age-old adage of 'better safe than sorry'. By the time that we'd made it into town, it was drizzling just a little. By the time that we'd made our orders in the small cafe we ducked into for coffee the rain was coming down in sheets against the window. Getting coffees though, it's all but impossible to admit that it's almost a cozy feeling. Spacing off just a bit, looking out the window and enjoying the atmosphere, I'm brought right out of my thoughts with a kick to my shin under the table.

"Ow!" I say, turning to Mina and feigning real pain as she grins. It'd been more or less just a tap, but I think that her usual dramatization of things is rubbing off on me as I hang out with her more. "What was that for?" I ask, rubbing the spot slightly to see if it really might leave a mark or not... I'm going to probably go with not, based on the fact I barely notice it just a few seconds later.

"Ignoring my question and staring out the window like it was your job." Mina says, shaking her head in a little bit of exasperation.

"Ah... and the question was...?" I ask innocently enough, getting Mina to roll her eyes.

"How. Is. The. Coffee?" She asks deliberately slowly, trying to get a reaction out of me. It's almost become something of a game between the two of us to try and just somewhat annoy one another in some way shape or form. Not to seriously make the other angry, but just enough to get a reaction from one another. I can't help but think that you more or less lose no matter how you react, but just based on reacting. I'd like to think that I've gotten just a little bit better at the unofficial game in the past few weeks.

"Pretty good." I admit, taking another sip as if to prove my point with a blank face, getting just a little bit of disappointment from Mina at her attempt falling on its face. "I was actually just thinking that it's really nice to have a cup of hot coffee and be inside on a day like this. It's really just... nice." I find myself saying, settling on the one-word description for it all right now. It really is almost exactly that... just nice. Everything in the world seems to be fairly well in its place right now, settling in comfortably. Sort of like I think that I've done at Yamaku, waiting out the whole 'storm' that my heart seemed to have caused in my old life. Of course, it's not like I can go back, or the storm will ever really end. But it's still a safe, warm place that I can relax for a little while.

"And you don't even compliment the company for helping the whole situation?" Mina asks, giving an exasperated sigh. That, I can't help but grin at and get a grin in return from Mina.

"Alright. The company definitely helps the whole thing. Glad you suggested we come out here today." I admit, getting her to change from a grin to an outright beaming smile. "Although..." I start, getting Mina to look up with obvious interest. "It'd be even better if the company didn't kick me in the shins every now and again to make sure I've heard them." Mina's eyes roll, and she kicks be a little more sharply again with a laugh to prove the point invalid. I manage to more or less flinch out of the way this time, getting just a graze for my efforts.

After the attempted retaliation, she seems more than happy to look out the window and agree with me. "It is nice."

The conversation stops, comfortably enough as we watch the rain and drink our coffee. Each of us finishing our first, and the rain apparently unrelenting we each order a second cup to try and delay the inevitable return back to school in the awful weather. It's unsurprising after another moment or two when Mina asks me a question. The past few days have been filled with them, since it's the easiest way to really get to know people.

"So... do you like the rain?"

I shrug, being as close to impartial as one can get with rain. On one hand, I know that it's pretty necessary for rain to come to keep everything alive. But on the other... its managed to ruin more than a few soccer-games, or plans that I've had with friends in the past. At worst, rain has only been a mild inconvenience to me before. But, seeing as I'm not a farmer who needs the rain for his crops, it certainly hasn't done too much good for me either. "Eh..." I trail off, more or less just shrugging in answer again as Mina looks a little surprised.

"You mean that you don't like it?" She asks, just a little incredulously. "The way everything smells after a good rain? The way that the sound can put you right to sleep? You really don't like it?" She asks, almost oddly passionate about the subject as I continue shaking my head somewhat. In the city, the smell after rain wasn't exactly all that fantastic, and there were plenty of other background noises that were just as easy to fall asleep to. "Both of my sisters would think you were crazy." Minako says after briefly inspecting me closely, as if daring me to break face and prove that I was lying. I raise an eyebrow, family hadn't ever really come up in a conversation before. I wasn't exactly certain if it was one of the topics you didn't really ask about at Yamaku... but as long as it'd been breached. . .

"You've got two sisters?"

Mina gives an odd grin at that, half proud and half annoyed. "Yeah... Fumiko and Hitomi. Fumiko's just a year younger, while Hitomi's three years younger. Me and Hitomi were both absolute angels compared to Fumiko for our mother." She says, before seeming a little discontent with her answer. "Well... maybe not perfect. But Fumiko always seems to need to be doing something crazy to keep herself occupied." I can't help but laugh at that, especially considering some of the things that Mina had dragged along to do in the past few weeks I've been here. "What? What'd I say?"

"Fumiko sounds... a bit like you." I admit, getting an incredulous expression out of Minako for just a moment as she seems to try to register the idea. She seems to screw up her face just a little, obviously none-too-happy with the comparison. "I mean... I get the feeling that sitting right under the fireworks isn't exactly something the school encourages. Or sneaking into the basement just to see what's down there." I point out, finally managing to get Mina to roll her eyes, seemingly coming to a resolution in her mind.

"Right, but I don't get myself or other people into trouble." Mina says, smiling as though she's got a trump card.

I can't help but immediately see the big hole right in the middle of that argument, being the offending object myself. "Right... you're just happy to drag me along to possibly get into trouble." Pointing it out just redoubles the exasperation as Mina has to consider the comparison again, looking just a little bit defeated in the fact as she opens her mouth a few times to try and dispute it before simply closing it again without saying a word. I feel just a bit guilty as she just shakes her head, apparently deciding to drop the conversation. "What about Hitomi then?"

She brightens a little bit at the mention of her other sister. "She's probably more mature than either me or Fumiko. Or... at least in how she can deal with both of us. I think that I can actually remember a few times where our mother left her in charge of the house instead of either of us." She says it with a wide grin, getting a raised eyebrow from me. It's a bit of an odd seeming scenario in my own mind, letting the youngest child be in charge. But the way Minako is saying it seems like it was actually the best compromise. "What about you, any brothers or sisters?"

I shake my head as Mina blows on her coffee to cool it off a little before taking a sip. "Nope, an only child. Both parents work a lot too, so back at home I had pretty free reign." I admit, getting a combined look of envy and sympathy from Minako. "I still have some cousins I see every now and again." I point out, trying to mitigate the fact some.

Mina shakes her head, smile much the same as the look I'd gotten just a moment earlier. "It's just not the same though." She says simply, looking like she's trying to find a more elaborate way to explain it. "It's... as much as I usually can't get along with Fumiko, we've both got a lot of really good memories with one another too. Just, with Hitomi there's a lot fewer fights I can remember. But the three of us would all do almost anything for each other if they needed it." Mina says, surprisingly seriously as she seems to think on the fact. "It's actually kind of impossible to imagine being an only child." She admits.

"Pretty impossible for me to imagine having siblings too." I point out before sipping at my own coffee, getting a nod from Minako at my point.

"I guess not. But they'd both still think you were crazy for not liking the rain. Or especially thunderstorms." She says, smiling contentedly at a few memories. I can't help but shrug at it, being unable to really curb the fact that rain was just rain to me. Both of us finishing up our second cup of coffee and decide that heading back to school doesn't seem like too bad an idea. Breaking out my umbrella, we step out into the deluge. For once, it seems like the rain is coming straight down instead of at an angle, and there doesn't seem to be a breath of wind to knock the umbrella everywhere. Even in the relatively tame rain, I almost immediately step into an ankle-deep puddle.

Drawing in a quick breath, I can't help but wonder out loud... "How could you like the rain?"

Minako giggles a little next to me, jabbing me lightly in the side as she skirts around the same puddle just a little more carefully. "I never said I liked being out in the rain. It's nice to be inside, warm and cozy when it's raining outside. Drying off after a big thunderstorm and drinking cocoa." She admits happily enough, helping me to put my mind off the fact that one foot is now thoroughly soaked. "A couple warm blankets and a movie, thunder and lightening are even better. Everyone in the family sleeps through thunder storms better than anytime else." As we continue walking, Mina continues on as a story seems to strike her.

"I can actually remember one time, when all three of us were pretty young... Hitomi was just a little bit more than a baby, and me and Fumiko were still both really little too. It was one of those big, big storms that everyone always warns everyone else is coming. The kind where you'd have to take everything inside that you didn't want to blow away when the storm hit. Mom even stocked up on some things like fresh water, batteries, and other stuff in case the power went out for a while."

"Hitomi had some sort of an ear-infection or something, I can't remember exactly. But I remember that she was just... screaming, all the time. For days and days while this big storm was coming, whenever she was awake, the neighbors probably knew it. I got to get away to school, and Fumiko got to get away to a friend's house pretty often, but mom stayed home with Hitomi all day every day while she was sick. I can't imagine how, since both me and Fumiko were sick of it whenever we'd been home for just an hour or two. I think that if we could've bottled the noise, we probably could've given it to the military and won a few wars. We still tease Hitomi about it all the time." Mina admits, laughing lightly before continuing.

"But... the storm finally came, and it was just as big as everyone kept saying it would be. Even though it was almost the middle of the day, it was dark outside. The wind felt like it was actually rattling things outside, and the rain coming down like the clouds could hold whole oceans. And the thunder and lightning were just... unbelievably loud and close-by. The type of stuff that you can feel almost every time that a lightning bolt hit something. Mom had all three of us in the living room with her, huddling together on the couch. A few candles lit and everything turned off in case the power went off."

"And do you know what...?" I raise an eyebrow in response to the question, oblivious. "Mom and Hitomi both fell asleep within about three minutes of it starting. Hitomi just sort of stopped screaming, looking around for a minute before dozing right off. Mom didn't care at all about the thunder and lightning, falling asleep as soon as Hitomi stopped screaming for a few minutes. Me and Fumiko just laughed and laughed for a few minutes, poking Mom to try and make sure she was asleep before ransacking the kitchen for a few snacks and falling asleep too. Dad came home really, really late, since he'd been at work and had to wait out the storm, and found all of curled up in a big pile on the couch. He couldn't believe that we'd managed to sleep through it at all... let alone the whole thing." Minako's smile is ear-to-ear as she recounts the memory, and manages to make me grin at just the happiness I can feel through her.

I can't help but be just a little bit jealous; both for the idea of having siblings and for having such a fond memory of a storm like that.

Almost impossibly-seeming, the story managed to take us almost all the way from town back to Yamaku, allowing me to focus on something other than the squishing of my wet sock in my shoe. "Usually though, here at Yamaku I can just watch a movie when it gets like this outside. Some warm blankets and a good movie." She admits happily enough, leaving me with an opportunity to tease her just a little bit.

"That sounds awfully close to a routine."

Minako scowls at me, sticking out her tongue as she formulates a response. "I'm allowed to have some routines you know... like going to school, eating three meals a day, all that kinda stuff. Why not just toss one more little one in there? Besides, today I didn't do that. I hung out with you instead, and it was just as fun." She says, grinning. "Although, with all the questions you just might be starting to push me back towards the movies instead." I roll my eyes as we head towards the dormitories, passing under the gate. The wind is starting to pick up just a tiny bit, and it makes the umbrella's protective circle just a little bit smaller. Minako keeps on with the tangent as she moves a tiny bit closer to stay out of the rain. "I could've been warm and comfy, maybe with some popcorn. But instead I chose to hang out with you today!"

I can't help but chuckle at that, especially the usual Minako-style slightly melodramatic delivery of it all. "Ah, but you made the right choice by hanging out with me, didn't you?" I ask, turning her own usual style against her with a grin. Mina grins back, looking just a little red in the face as we make our way the last few steps to the girl's dormitory entrance.

"I think so. It was fun." She admits, looking at the ground as she steps into the building. She holds the door open for a minute, turning around with an open-mouth before seeming to think better of whatever retort she might've been coming up with. Turning just a little red as she shakes her head a little and finally comes up with something else to say. "Thanks, Hisao!" She says simply, giving me an oddly halfhearted seeming smile as she lets it go. I hold up a hand in farewell, turning towards the boys dormitories and finding my mind stuck on the idea of simply changing into something warm and dry... as well as wishing that the room itself wasn't quite so cold.

It really would be nice to be able to follow Mina's advice, and just be warm and cozy while the storm wears itself out. But unfortunately... I've got homework.
Last edited by CloudGrain on Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AntonSlavik020
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Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene One Up]

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:38 am

That was nice. Really liked the bonding between them. I can see where Mina is coming from. I love a good rain storm when you're inside.

I also liked the fact that Hisao seems to be talking to more of his classmates, and not just Shizune and Misha. Also, I have no idea why, but when you said his classmates were waving to him as he walked around the campus, I imagined him strutting around like a ladies man, girls waving and smiling at him left and right. :lol:

Also, I wonder what MIna was originally going to ask or tell Hisao before changing her mind? Maybe inviting him inside?

Anyways, enjoyed it as always. Keep up the good work!
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Oscar Wildecat
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Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene One Up]

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:46 am

I'm another fan of rain storms -- especially ones in late spring and early summer. Everything seems much more colorful after a good rain. I also grew up (and still live) on a farm -- so there is the garden to consider. :)

By the way, I'm loving the story so far!
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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TheTealeaf
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Re: A Crimson Route [Act Two, Scene One Up]

Post by TheTealeaf » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:14 pm

CloudGrain wrote: few nuances of fashion, gossip of all kinds, a few inside jokes, and more gossip. Of course, as soon as she say my expression at the idea of joining in the conversations, she immediately offers to bring introduce me and do her best to make me a part of the group.
Typo 8) "As soon as she sees my expression"

Also, Mina doesn't strike me as the type to gossip. I dunno seems odd. Meh, me overthinking things.

This was a sweet scene, although I thought at one point she was going to invite him back for a movie.

Loved the details about the family life, are we going to meet said sisters at any point? :P

Thunderstorms are awesome. When I lived on the coast, watching lightning strike the sea was wonderful, powerful and terrifying all at once.

Keep up ze good work!
Tealeaf. Old cockney rhyming slang for 'thief'. That is what KS did to me. It tealeafed my heart straight from my chest. Especially you Rin. Especially you.

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