A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

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DanjaDoom
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 9/2)

Post by DanjaDoom » Tue Sep 03, 2013 1:02 am

Goddammit I'm so torn between being sad at this chapter and laughing at the James Franco roast. Great little chapter either way.
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 9/2)

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Mon Nov 25, 2013 11:58 am

Really really enjoying this. I really enjoy your writing
Wahahaha~.
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Dreaming with a Broken Heart

Post by SemisoftCheese » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:14 am

The text appears out of nowhere. From Ritsu Tainaka.

“Come to the Shanghai for lunch?”

It’s been around three months or so now since Ritsu’s been gone. We texted frequently at the start, but there eventually there was just too little left to talk about. As of today, we haven’t talked for a week.

In the meantime, I’ve settled into my life here at Yamaku. I eat lunch sometimes with Miki and her friends, accepted a tentative position as soccer team manager, and finally hit the books and gotten my grades up. I have a lot of friends on campus and every day feels pretty good.

It’s a Saturday, and I don’t have any plans. Lunch, as sudden as it seems, sounds fine.

I text her back.

“Sure.”

I didn’t even know she was back in town. I guess she’s passing through, or she’s come to stay. Either way, I’ll be more than happy to eat lunch with her.

======

It’s nice outside recently, so I’ve elected to sit outside at the Shanghai. There’s a small patio area that’s covered from the sun, so it’s not too hot.

It doesn’t take long before a chalk grey Ferrari pulls up in front of the Shanghai, the 4.5L V8 roaring as Ritsu clutches in before parking.

She steps out and I can’t help but think that she’s a sight for sore eyes. She hasn’t changed a bit—the same placid expression, the same yellow hairband, the golden-eyed glance. She gives me a wave, then reaches into the passenger seat and pulls out a shoebox, which she places on the table before me before sitting down.

“Hey Hisao. Long time no see.”

Her clothing is weird—a tennis dress covered by a warm-up jacket, and her face is slightly sweaty, as if she had just returned from a run.

She’s sitting across from me as if we hadn’t been separated at all. Her face holds the same slight, smile, as she looks at me carefully yet casually.

“Hey, Ritsu. Good to see you too.”

Casual is as casual does, I guess.

“I brought you a present. Are you going to open it?”

I give her a slight frown.

“You know it’s rude to open gifts at the table, right?”

She pouts.

“Just open it, Hisao.”

The box is orange, with a large Nike logo, but no other markings—size, model, or anything. Pretty strange if you ask me. I wonder what’s inside.

As I’m about to open the box, a red-headed face pops through the door, the bell chiming in protest at being violently shaken.

“Sorry! I didn’t think anyone would be eating here today so I put myheaddownand—“

The figure checks herself, wrings her hands, and after realizing who it is, exhales visibly.

“Oh, it’s just you, Hisao. And Ritsu. Long time no see.”

I never spoke with Yuuko about the incident, but she seems to take Ritsu’s return perfectly in stride. I wouldn’t be surprised if students left Yamaku for long periods, either for medical or personal reasons.

Ritsu takes the initiative to reply.

“Good to see you too, Yuuko. Some sandwiches and coffee, please?”

Yuuko takes the hint and disappears inside, the bell clinking and rattling as the screen door slams shut.

Ritsu turns back to me, her gaze one of complete focus.

“So, time to open your present, Hisao?”

I give a mock sigh.

I open the box and move apart the wrapping paper. Inside is a pair of new, flashy, Nike sneakers. They’re a bright, vibrant, tennis-ball yellow—everything except the tongue, the laces, and the “swoosh.”

“Uh, Thanks, Ritsu.”

She beams.

Of course, there is a second question which I’m hoping she has an answer to.

“But uh, why did you get me a pair of shoes?”

Ritsu’s face becomes one of puzzlement, then relaxed explanation.

“Those are special shoes, Hisao.”

I look at them again. Beyond their loud and somewhat obnoxious color, I don’t see anything too abnormal.

“Forgive me, but what’s so special about them?”

Ritsu sighs again.

“I keep on forgetting you’re an uncivilized savage.”

Now it’s my turn to pout.

“Those are Nike Vapor Tour 9-1’s—the limited, pro-only Nike shoe. Everything that the street shoe has, only hand-made and crafted from a variety of experimental rubbers and plastics. Roger Federer uses the exact same shoe. You can’t buy these.”

I’m not really a sneakerhead, but I guess from the description, Ritsu went out of her way to get me a pretty special gift.

I’m still not exactly sure what the intent is behind it, but that can wait until later.

I close the box and put it under the table.

“Thanks, Ritsu. That’s pretty cool.”

Yuuko slips through the door, places two mugs of coffee and a tray of sandwiches in between us, and then disappears again.

There is a slightly awkward silence as we both start pick up our coffee and a sandwich.

I decide to break it.

“So Ritsu, what’ve you been doing over the past few months?”

Her face becomes slightly uncomfortable, and she puts her sandwich down and grabs the mug in two hands.

She doesn’t look me in the eye as she answer the question.

“You know, just the usual. Visiting friends and all. Flying around. Just figuring my life out.”

She seems kind of uncomfortable about it, so I decide not to press on what exactly she did.

“Well, you know, not much has changed at Yamaku. Except that I eat lunch in the cafeteria, instead of eating cardboard bars on some hill in the middle of nowhere with some girl I just met.”

She laughs nervously and gives me a shy smile. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this before.

She sets her arms on the table and gives me a focused, clear, look. It’s so intense I almost have to look away, but I force myself to keep steady.

She starts to speak.

“You know, Hisao, over these past months, I’ve missed you so much. I went everywhere.”

She pauses.

“Everywhere I went, you were in my mind. In the Galapagos, in Ecuador, the sea was so blue that it looked just like the sky, but you were on my mind.”

“And in Ravello, Italy, I saw these lines of poetry, and I thought you’d like them a ton.”

She looks up as she recites the verses from memory.

“Lost to a world in which I crave no part
I sit alone and convene with my heart
Pleased with my little corner of the Earth
Glad to have come not sorry to depart”

She continues without stopping.

“Everywhere, you were on my mind. I really, really, missed you.”

I grab her hands in mine and place them on the table. Holding hands, even such a simple thing, is something we’ve been able to do. As I do, I notice she’s got a new pair of braces—the same model, but a new pair.

We stay there, for a little while, just like that. No words, no nothing.

It’s the most peaceful I’ve felt in a long while. Just us. Nothing else.

Ritsu stops and looks down. She pulls her hands away. She starts to speak again.

“Tell me, Hisao, did you ever play a sport?”

I’m surprised by the sudden change in topic, but I do my best to answer.

“Yeah, sure. In middle school I played soccer.”

She shakes her head, her eyes still downcast.

“No, Hisao, like really play. Like play as if your life depended on it. To live and breathe the sport, even if it’s only for just a handful of minutes.”

I…

I mean I guess not. It was just rec soccer. So no.

“No, not really.”

She looks up, but her eyes stare past me, through me, at something beyond.

“It’s something Hisao. It’s really something.”

The words tumble out of her like drops from a faucet.

“I think we should stop seeing each other.”

Each syllable hits like a bullet on my chest, but I don’t move. They bleed in deep, deep down to the pit of my stomach.

Her eyes are at the porous, worn wood balcony below us, but the words march across the table, unstoppable.

“I came to Yamaku on an injury. It’s true that I was injured. All of it’s true. I burned out. I couldn’t take it. I was a loser. I didn’t have any friends. I couldn’t socialize normally. I didn’t and still don’t know how to deal with people.”

“I escaped. I thought I could be a normal kid and go to boarding school. This was it. My last chance at normalacy.”

Her voice becomes tight.

“And you made it, Hisao. I never even dreamed that someone could have treated me as well as you did. I was there for once. I was normal.”

She stops and undoes her braces. Along her old scars are a new row.

“The operation was two months ago. Experimental. But it worked. I’ve got new wrists now.”

I interrupt her, my voice angrier than it should be.

“So you’re breaking up with me because you don’t think you can attend Yamaku anymore? There’s normal kids here too!”

Part of me is angry that something so trivial is breaking this relationship.

She shakes her head.

“One month ago, I walked back onto a tennis court. My coach was there. My hitting partners were there. It was like old times. I went running on the beach. In a few days, I was right back with them.”

She smiles bitterly.

“The only thing that never leaves me is my talent, huh.”

Now she looks up at me, and I see her face is red and her eyes puffy, and her throat is tight as she squeezes out the next words.

“Can’t you see, Hisao? I can play again. I can play again. I can be free.”

She exhales slowly, and the tension leaves her body as she stiffens up. There is something rigid about her, something strong now.

“But I can’t have you, Hisao.”

She sits up straight and looks me in the eyes, and I can barely stand that golden gaze. It’s exactly how I first remembered it—strong, warm, like golden steel.

"A year ago, I decided to quit. But I was wrong."

“It was so nice being normal, Hisao. But it’s time to grow up now. Yamaku was a place for me to hide. I’ve got to go back on the circuit. I’ve got to make a life for myself out there. I can’t just stay here, doing the same things. I need to be alone again. You remind me that there’s something more to life than tennis.”

She looks down, and her voice drops to whisper.

“And as silly as it sounds. I can’t have that. If I stay with you Hisao, I’ll look for you everywhere. I’ll look for you in the stands when I play. I’ll look for you on the beach when it’s grey in the morning and I have to run. I’ll look for you as I pump my fist in victory. I’ll look for you, when I can’t have you. And I’ll be distracted, and I’ll lose. And I can’t have that”

She looks at her wrists, and blinks back the tears now dripping from her eyes.

“I’ll go through a thousand surgeries if it means I can step on the court again. I have to. It’s what keeps me alive. It’s what keeps me free. That yellow ball is all I have.”

She gives me a genuine, sad smile as she makes eye contact with me again. The tears are gone now.

“It’s not you, Hisao, it’s me. And I mean it.”

She reaches over the table and kisses me on the forehead so sweetly I want to move. I want to get up and tell her I’ll be wherever she needs me to be. I’ll be in the stands. I’ll be on the beach with her. But in my heart, we know I can’t.

Still leaning over the table, she gives me that golden gaze one more time.

“Thank you, Hisao. Thank you for everything.”

She puts her braces back on, and gets up from the table and fixes her hairband. A look of determination is in her eyes now. The same flash of fire I’ll never see again.

“Come see me play, okay? This isn’t the end.”

She turns around, and I still can’t move.

I'm still standing there as the grey Ferrari roars to life and pulls away.


=====


"Dreaming with a Broken Heart" is a song by John Mayer
Last edited by SemisoftCheese on Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Pompeii

Post by SemisoftCheese » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:15 am

======

Some dumb act/chapters about Hisao finding his way, a brief fling with the character of your choosing (how scandy), and a year passes.

================
The Epilogue.

The player passes for the Rakuten Open 2014 came a week ago.

Miura, Miki, and Nakai, Hisao. All Access, Player Guest of Tainaka, Ritsu.

Miki pouts as I lead her past the food court, a crumpled receipt and ice cream cone in her hand. She hasn’t been too happy with the food prices here, or the fact that they rejected her ID when she tried to buy a beer.

“I mean, like, what’s the point of even going to sporting events if you can’t drink. And this ice cream cost like ten bucks. Tennis is a dumb sport.”

I shake my head as I lead her through the crowd. There’s only one thing on my mind. It’s a text message from someone I haven’t seen in a long time.

“Player’s lounge, 12:30? Bring Stumpy if you like.”

She’s a player now, a bona fide tennis pro. In the top 100 in the world as an 18 year old. And if the commentators and reporters are correct, she’s got a bright career ahead of her.

I open the door to the player lounge and she’s there. Dressed in a bright blue Nike jacket, she’s there—yellow hairband, golden eyes and all. She gives me a bright smile, and we don’t bother words as she wraps me in a warm, tight hug that feels like it lasts for ages. This is what I’ve missed.

Behind us, I hear a cutting voice. It’s Miki, as she crosses her arms and comments drily.

“I know you don’t like me that way, Ritsu, but I did come along as well.”

Our faces burn a bit, and Ritsu lets go and wraps Miki in the same, tight embrace, although I’d like to think mine lasted a little longer.

As Ritsu and Miki finish their hug, we all stand there kind of awkwardly. But Miki, ever to the rescue, breaks the ice.

“So y’know, Ritsu, I’m grateful for the free ticket and all, but did you know they refused my ID here! A girl could use a drink or two, if you know what I mean.”

We both shake our heads, but the tension dissolves and Ritsu leads Miki to the bar—as expansive and impressive as it was before.

“Hey Aoi, want to fix my friend up with some drinks?” Ritsu tilts her head at Miki for emphasis, and gives him an exaggerated wink.

The bartender, a salt-and-peppered man with a neat crew cut, rolls his eyes drastically, but he doesn’t ask Miki for an ID. Lucky, I think the only person who would be fooled by Miki’s ID is Miki herself. The fact that it says “for prop use only” really detracts from the value.

Drink in hand, Miki turns to us from the bar.

“So, uh, I know I’m a pretty big deal, but Ritsu, why don’t you catch up with Hisao. I’ve got everything I need here.”

She rattles the drink for emphasis.

“Go on, you two. Play ping-pong or something.”

She gets a devilish look on her face.

“Just don’t be gone too long, or I’ll assume you’re both making out in the corner.”

We both blush.

As we make our way to the ping-pong table, I say the first words between us.

“I saw that you won your first round match. Congratulations.”

She looks at me shyly, then more confidently. The same gold is there.

“Thanks, Hisao.”

The words tumble out of my mouth before I can catch them.

“Are you going to be around in Japan longer? Because we could get lunch or something.”

She smile at me warmly, genuinely, and I feel a glow I haven’t felt in a long time.

“I’d like that, Hisao.”

As we get the table, we both pick up paddles, and start to play wordlessly. Ritsu is, of course, kicking my ass, but that couldn’t matter less right now. It’s a joy, a privilege to play with her.

The ball bounces, back and forth, wordless and dancing to an unknown melody.

I feel… free.

The girl in front of me is dancing as well, in a perfect series of orchestrated movements, and if I think about it, I am too, all of us drawn to the allure of the dipping, elusive, ball.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Miki drunkenly regaling some poor patron of the bar, probably famous, with some story about how she drank a handle of vodka without stopping.

I should probably go help the poor guy.

But I can’t help myself.

I just want to play a little longer.


=====


Pompeii (Audien Remix) is a song by Bastille
Last edited by SemisoftCheese on Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Post by SemisoftCheese » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:28 am

If you've made it this far, thanks for sticking around. If you just stumbled across this, I hope you enjoyed it. This route was done without an editor or readers, but hopefully that didn't impact quality too much.

As it stands, this probably is the end of the Ritsu Route. I don't think I'll write for KS anymore, nor for anything else, and it's time to move on to newer things. With that, a heartfelt thanks to everyone here--the devs, the readers, the lurkers, the posters--everyone who comes together to make the Katawa Shoujo great. The ending of the Ritsu Route is my way to try and say thank you.

The route is open--if you feel a need to write and fill in the gaps, go ahead. I can be reached on steam--just poke around the general and you'll be able to find me.

take care, everyone

cheese

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forgetmenot
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by forgetmenot » Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:42 am

Quite a few feels packed into these last few paragraphs, if I do say so myself. I can't say it's a satisfying conclusion, but that could be the point. Maybe I just want Hisao to play a little longer, too.

Anyhow, congrats on finishing it, man. You did good. Keep in touch.

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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by 13loop » Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:15 am

Sad to see you go Semi, but do what you gotta go. Thanks for the entertainment you provided me. The ending seemed abrupt but yeah, probably the point. Still liked how it ended, bringing muh feels along with it. Best of luck to you bro, cheers! :D

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Re: Midnight Life

Post by Mader Levap » Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:52 am

End is way too abrupt. :(
SemisoftCheese wrote:Some dumb act/chapters about Hisao finding his way, a brief fling with the character of your choosing (how scandy), and a year passes.
Now that's a cop-out.

Now I wonder if it is better to have ending like that or unfinished fanfic...
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Re: Midnight Life

Post by neio » Fri Dec 27, 2013 6:33 pm

Mader Levap wrote:End is way too abrupt. :(
SemisoftCheese wrote:Some dumb act/chapters about Hisao finding his way, a brief fling with the character of your choosing (how scandy), and a year passes.
Now that's a cop-out.
Seconded. It really felt like you just wanted to be clean of this fanfic before the new year.
Holding hands, even such a simple thing, is something we’ve been able to do.
Might be missing a negative in this sentence.
Last edited by neio on Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by UltimateShammer » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:41 am

No matter how well written this story may be, that ending completely ruined it for me. It's completely on my end, but dear god I hated that last bit. It was well done, and kudos to you, but I need happy endings, or at least not endings of people throwing away relationships because of something like a sport. Because eventually when it's over, and it will be over sooner rather than later, you'll be one loved one less, maybe more, with no idea how to do anything other than the sport. After that, you're fucked absolutely and completely.
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by bhtooefr » Mon Dec 30, 2013 3:19 am

Interesting point... and not only that, she already HAD been fucked absolutely and completely, and could barely even function.

Although that might make it more realistic, that she went back to what she knew as soon as she had the chance.
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Dec 30, 2013 11:53 am

While I prefer happy endings, I don't mind a sad ending now and then if it is properly worked into the story.
This ending was not.

This ending just showed you wanted this story to be done with and were looking for the shortest possible way to finish it:
Time skip a few months, have the girl show up and break up the relationship on some flimsy pretext and add some half-assed epilogue. Sorry to say, but this story would have been better unfinished than with an ending like that...
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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by Machoman » Sun Jan 12, 2014 6:59 am

I disagree. Just read through it and it felt like what happened the end was coming a few chapters before. I would have liked more context and fewer time skips but what happened fits the characters. Flighty rich girl obsessed with new experiences and competition is not going to be content with a quiet life with boring old Hisao.

I guess it is possible that this was intended to be the introduction of conflict to the story (it happens in every KS route, you have the couple and then some problem shows up to tear them apart) and the author just burned out and decided to end it there but I think it was a satisfying ending.

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Re: A Ritsu Route (Updated 12/26)

Post by Oddball » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:43 am

Well, this story amounted to a whole bunch of nothing. Every single chapter I read it felt like I missed one or two chapters in between.

Every chapter focuses on an event so I never really got the feeling for Ritsu as a character. I know she's rich and loves tennis. I know she can drone on endlessly reciting various tennis facts. I know she feels she doesn't have anywhere to go now that she can't play tennis anymore. Other than that, though, I have no clue what she's actually like. She just doesn't seem to have much of a personality of life outside of that.

Then again, maybe that's the point. After all, she did rush back into the world that left her crippled so she could repeat the exact same things she's done in the past.

Hisao's actions also had tendency to stray into “who is this character” areas.
I admit that what I’m doing is a little overbearing. Ritsu doesn’t need a hero, and I’m certainly not one. She’s an individual and she can carry herself just fine. She doesn’t need me to pick her up and solve all of her problems.
Seriously. Who is the guy and what did he do with Hisao?

There's also his life risking action hero moment when he saved the dog and playing soccer when he was specifically told not to do so and often laments the fact that he can't anymore.

This felt like the framework to a larger story at best.
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