Developments (Post-Lilly NE) [Complete, 2015-08-11]

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Mahorfeus » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:12 am

Hey, don't forget Noriko. That's always a thing. :P
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The verdict is (finally) in:
Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Blasphemy » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:20 am

Sigh, I wish all those anime harem shows could have this kind of writing. You know, actual plot and character progression that comes from characters actually taking active steps and speaking their mind as opposed to the usual idiot plot where basically everything happens out of misunderstandings. This fanfic shows that you can have a pretty long harem-like (I just mean love-triangle or even more than 3 chars. involved here) story even though no character is really doing anything inarguably wrong/stupid at some point; or at least you can empathize why certain actions are taken. Plenty conflicts arise purely from the circumstances surrounding each character as well as their characterization, not because of idiot balling.

Just thinking about this because I'm following Nisekoi currently and that show is quite funny, has great art and the characters are more or less interesting. But as far as plot goes... blergh. Isn't going to get any better either according to the manga readers. Maybe I should check out "The World God Only Knows", apparently that one does things a bit better later down the line. But I have a hard time imagining it does it well enough.

Anyways, as far as this chapter goes, thumbs up once again. Hanako really showed some strength this time around and even though for the moment her friendship with Lilly is, temporarily, in danger, it'll be for the better in the long run. Especially if Lilly reconsiders their dialog and sees e.g. her hypocrisy which Hanako pointed out so well; wanting Hanako to talk with her about her relationship troubles concerning Hisao, but being completely unwilling to do the same vice versa. Overall Lilly really does not treat Hanako, or anyone else really, as an equal, even if it's out of benevolent intentions. That kind of behavior however usually ends up more damaging in the long run. Putting up a facade instead of being honest/your actual self will cause plenty issues.

With how this chapter started out I was already expecting the situation where Lilly and Hanako split ways during a thunderstorm or some rain at least. I was just wondering how'd you gonna do it. I mean I expected Hanako to get too fed up with Lilly and leaving her alone because she couldn't take it anymore. The problem with that though, it would be kind of an asshole move to leave the blind girl alone with that kind of weather condition. How it did occur was really clever actually. Where it's not Hanako who's the one not wanting to take it any longer and leave but rather her being strong enough to speak her mind WITHOUT running away. Instead Lilly is the one escaping.
I shrink back in my seat. So he doesn't know I'm part of the competition, which...I think is a good thing. I consider asking Kamisaka what else Hisao told him, but as I'm trying to figure out how, he drains the rest of his tea and gets up from the table. "Well," he says, unfolding his cane, "if I'm going to get back to Yamaku before the rain starts, I'd better get going. You two heading back?"
Not sure if I'm right about this but this seems to be another indicator for Hanako's growth. Instead of assuming the worst and fearing what Hisao may have said about that love-triangle situation Hanako doesn't actually mind all that much. For her not to think too much about what Kamisaka says here as Hanako can't really know when Hisao talked to him the last time, what exactly they were talking about, how close the friendship between the two is in the first place and whether Kamisaka misinterpreted anything, is good in my opinion. With how insecure Hanako has been in the past I could've seen her past self worry about this stuff unnecessarily.

Now I'm really, really curious about the next chapter. Currently all main characters are in a really precarious situation, and which two characters talk the next time will be rather important. Will Hisao, who was on the Bus with Emi and heading for the city, happen to exist near the town below Yamaku rather and meet Hanako? Or maybe he returns to Yamaku and happens to walk into, a now drenched and visibly upset, Lilly?
Or something completely different? Tune in again in roughly a fortnight, for another episode of "Developments"!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by dewelar » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:00 pm

Lots of interesting discussion! As always, thanks to all for the kind words, and I will respond to what I can.
Mahorfeus wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:Your interpretation of Lilly surprises me...
Her original path is all about being open about one's feelings, but in this story she seems to be the character who has the most problems talking about her feelings - more than even Hanako.
It almost feels like you're... deconstructing her character. Intrigueing...
I'm not so sure. The route certainly counted on Hisao's honesty and openness to succeed, but Lilly's concealment of her dilemma and her feelings regarding it were what formed the conflict. I get the impression that her character here just builds off of that.
I'm going to go with Mahorfeus (and Guest Poster) here, and it's one of the things that frustrated me the most about Lilly's route in general. In her route, Hisao has been as open as he could be, but Lilly was the one that had the Big Secret that she only revealed when it was too late (or, in her good ending, almost too late). That aspect of her character was one I wanted to explore in more depth with this story, and from the look of it, I did a reasonable job :) .
griffon8 wrote:I understand that my opinion right now is colored by the fact that this chapter was from Hanako's perspective…

… but I've never thought so lowly of Lilly as I do right now. That is an edit from my initial, more puerile thought.
I wonder how my opinion of her will change with the next chapter, or whenever we have one from Lilly's POV again.
Yes, the next chapter will be Lilly's.
bhtooefr wrote:So, where DO we stand now, anyway?

Hisao: Probably leaning towards Emi
Emi: Preparing to ship Hanako with him
Misha: Shipping Hanako with him
Shizune: Shipping Hanako or Lilly with him (anyone but Emi)
Lilly: Shipping Hanako with him
Hanako: Shipping herself with him... but this could change (and I think she'd prefer Emi over Lilly, but I'm not entirely sure at this moment in the story)
Naomi and Natsume: Shipping Hanako with him

I'm beginning to see a trend.
You forgot some :) . Also, if it wasn't clear enough, Shizune is still fully on the Hisao-x-Lilly train, at least at this point.
Several people wrote:stuff about Hanako's growth
Thanks. I was concerned with this chapter that it might have appeared that this was happening too quickly. I'm very glad it hasn't been perceived in that way, so once again, I'm doing a reasonable job :) .
Blasphemy wrote:Sigh, I wish all those anime harem shows could have this kind of writing.
Too true...

And, a quick follow-up on something I posted earlier: Yes, Yoshi is the closest thing this story has to a self-insert. Let the beatings commence :) .
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:08 pm

I never understand why that's such a beating topic. I mean I can kinda see why but it doesn't bother me that much

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:15 pm

Because 99% of shitty fanfiction consists of a horrible plot to get a self-insert original character together with a canon character. (In the Katawaverse, it's usually Hanako.)
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Blank Mage » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:35 pm

Woo, busy day, only just got a chance to read the new chapter. (Clockwork. Seriously.)

Ugh, Lilly draws ever closer to a Misstep. Come to think of it, is there any chance of that these days? Hanako might be stable enough to deliver her points before hitting her infamous breaking point... speaking of Hanako, she has quite the dilemma. Supporting her friend who doesn't want support, and vying for Hisao even without knowing how to do it. She's doing incredibly well though! Go Hanako! Support all the friends!

It's funny, if her relationship with Hisao taught Lilly anything, it's the disastrous effect secrecy can have on friendships. But here she is blatantly denying her only real friend the chance to support her. I see her point, but I don't agree with it; I don't even think it's her real problem. I feel like Lilly just doesn't want to admit how thoroughly she's ruined things. Part of her feels like her decisions were justified, because the alternative is the terrible realization that she has nothing left. Hisao has moved on, Hanako is slowly coming to resent her, and she can't go home again. As long as she can fake confidence, she doesn't have to face reality. She can pretend that everything really was for the best, that she'll move on very soon, that this just another adolescent speed bump in her life, and it'll all be fine. She can salvage this, but she'll have to rip open all of her recent wounds and rely on the man she rejected and the friend she betrayed.

And Emi has taken an axe to the hull of her own ship. Lillys' has no sails and the anchor doesn't work. Shizune is ramming the Lilly ship in an attempt to get it to move, causing severe damage. The Hanako ship is performing rescue operations. Is this even a shipping war?

...if my comments seem a bit scatter brained, I apologize. I have problems summarizing.
Last edited by Blank Mage on Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:51 pm

Actually, I think we just saw the Misstep, but in a recoverable form, where Hanako managed to hold herself together through it (partially because it happened on her terms). And, actually, it could be argued that it was Hanako that made the Misstep here, but I can't blame her for it. She clearly stated what she wanted out of her friendship with Lilly - something that it took Misstep for her to be able to state with her relationship with Hisao in the VN. Lilly was forced to admit that she can't give Hanako what she wants, so Hanako ended things but on terms that would allow for Lilly to restart the friendship when she was able to.

Lilly really has truly gone and fucked herself over by not being honest with Hisao from the start, though... that doesn't mean that I don't feel sorry for her, but she did make her bed.

What's interesting is that the chapter ended on Hanako seeing Lilly utterly broken. Like you said, I think Lilly knows she's fucked everything up. This... this might be progress. If Lilly's not even ABLE to keep her mask up, she might actually get somewhere as far as getting better.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Deadpool021 » Sat Apr 26, 2014 12:22 am

Whoa what a chapter.I really do feel for Lily's situation. Worse case scenario she loses her best friend, is unable to be with Hisao perhaps even downgrade their relationship to mere acquaintances, she doesn't get along with her cousin and her sister and parents are living in another country. She would be all alone :( . I am cheering for her to get back with Hisao but I honestly think she is the one with the least chance of that happening.

I really don't blame her for not opening up to Hanako. If she really thinks that doing that would hurt others (which might) then I do think it is a legitimate reason. For an example if back when Lily was with Hisao before she left. If she then told Lily that she had feelings for Hisao and seeing them together was making her miserable, It would sure make Hisao and Lily feel terrible and possibly helpless.

Hanako and Lily probably need a little time apart as things can blow up if they just jump back into the argument but Hanako definitely left it up to Lily to decide what she will do. The million dollar question would be, "What will happen between them if Lily never decides to open up"?

Anyways, great chapter dewelar. I can't wait to read about how everything will turn out. Keep up the good writing as always.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Carighan » Sat Apr 26, 2014 6:03 pm

Hrm, congrats. You're one of the first writers I see writing a vulnerable and broken Lilly (with her way of living behind a practices persona only being second to Misha in the VN) in a very consistent and believable manner.

Very awesome chapter. :D
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by the61scissors » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:43 pm

*whistle* I don't think saying that this is one tense fic is anything new, but it is, and I can't wait to see how everything turns out. I can't really judge all 3 candidates equally since I haven't gotten around to the Emi route, but right now my hopes are on a Hanako ending, though the odds seem fairly even. Really, Hanako has been borrowing from Lily's playbook and swiped some of her canon-route counterpart's moves, but hasn't gotten much to show for it. We can all see that she is becoming a stronger person through this ordeal, but failure could have some really nasty consequences for all of our heroes. (Here's hoping she isn't a fan of School Days)

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Developments, Chapter 40

Post by dewelar » Wed May 07, 2014 9:07 pm

"Lilly," Hanako says, the strain evident in her voice, "on the night you left for said I could be...a strong and confident woman someday. I'm asking you...right now...let me show you."

Oh, Hanako, I wish I could. If it was about anything but this...

I've been trying as hard as I can not to take this conversation in a direction that will hurt anyone, but Hanako won't let it drop. Maybe if I wasn't still feeling the effects of my long trip, I would be able to handle this better, but right now I feel as though I'm at the end of my emotional rope. The strain is piling up on me physically as well, and I reach out my hand to a nearby light pole for support.

Once again, I'm in a trap of my own devising. If I allow Hanako to help me, I risk putting myself between her and Hisao. Hanako did not do that to me, so I cannot do that to her. If I don't open up, I risk alienating her by failing to show faith in her growth as a person. I may think this is the wrong situation in which to test that faith, but that particular choice isn't mine. As for the choice that is mine, I know which path I must take.

"I'm sorry, Hanako," I finally manage to say. "I...can't."

After a few moments of silence, she quietly says, "I...understand. Let me know...when things are different."

I'm afraid things are already more different than I bargained for...

After a brief silence I hear Hanako's footsteps moving away, not toward the tea shop but continuing down the street toward Yamaku. For a moment I consider following her, but I realize that that would be the wrong thing to do. If she wants to show me that she's strong, then running after her would also be a sign that I don't have faith in her. It's a small gesture, perhaps, but it's the only one available to me at the moment.

You're already strong, Hanako...maybe stronger than I am right now.

Just then, as if to punctuate my thought, the rain starts to hit me. I can't chase Hanako now, but Narumi's is less than a block away, so I quickly dash around the corner and down the sidewalk until the right scent hits.

This is where Hanako should expect me to be...if she does come back.

As I enter the shop, I inhale deeply, trying to immerse myself in the calming atmosphere. At first I don't hear anything but the rain and the music of Yamashika Yoshiyuki that is always playing here. A moment later, however, I hear a familiar voice belonging to the owner of the shop. "Ah, Miss Satou, it has been far too long since we have met. How are things with you?"

I take another deep breath, this time to help compose myself, and reply, "Things are reasonably well, Narumi. It has indeed been too long, but it was unavoidable, as I have been away these past two weeks. How are things with you?"

"Ah, the same as they have been. Little changes here beyond the faces of the students that visit my shop. With what may I help you today, Miss Satou?"

"Besides the most welcome lack of inclement weather within this shop? Actually..." I pause for a moment, trying to keep myself composed as I remember why I'd intended to come here. I take yet another deep breath before continuing, "...I'm looking for a new tea set for use at school. I'm afraid my previous one met with an accident."

"Ah, I see," Narumi says with a hint of sadness in her voice. "No wonder you look so troubled." For once, I allow myself not to correct her misinterpretation. I hear her move out from behind the counter as she says, "As I recall, the one I sold you when you first arrived at the Academy was of a rose hue with lighter pink floral designs. Are those you would serve with it pleased by that coloration, or shall we find something different?"

"I am afraid I can't answer that question properly," I say regretfully, "as I'm not entirely certain at the moment with whom, if anyone, I would be sharing such occasions. Perhaps it would be best if you chose something appropriate in a similar style."

"Ah, so the tea set is not the only thing that has been damaged since our last meeting," Narumi replies, the sadness in her voice deepening. "That is most unfortunate."

Most unfortunate indeed.

Despite my unease at the direction of the conversation, I find a slight smile on my lips at Narumi's words. "You are perceptive as always."

"Ah, the faces of the students may change, but the expressions they wear and the timbres of their voices are as old as time." She approaches me and takes my hand, and says soothingly, "And perhaps, with time, such things may be easier to repair than tea sets." Narumi's words ring in my heart as I allow her to lead me to the right-hand side of the shop, where the sets currently for sale are displayed. "I will find something appropriate if that is what you wish, but a tea set is such a personal thing that I hesitate to do so. Please, examine these as you wish."

Narumi steps back suddenly, and I nearly stumble into the display. Without even realizing it, I'd been leaning on her, and her withdrawal threw me off balance. I cringe inwardly when I realize that she's still only a step away, hovering like a mother hen, and I curse myself for allowing that to happen.

It takes a few moments to steady myself enough to trust that I can touch the delicate items in front of me without damaging them. Once I begin, I'm thankful for having a task to perform, something on which I can focus my energy. I run my hands lightly over each of the pieces, feeling their shape and texture, all the while absorbing the sounds and the scents of the shop all over again. In that way, the next hour passes, until finally I choose one that feels the most suitable. "I believe this is the one for me, Narumi," I call out, and an instant later she is at my side.

"An excellent choice, Miss Satou. It appears that your affinity for shades of red and pink continues. Please wait here. I shall package this for you, and then we will select your tea."

Red and pink...not white after all.

As I move across the store to the canisters of loose tea leaves, I remember the day I bought that tea set. Akira was with me, and when I told her I wanted a white one, she chided me for it. "The color of death" she called it, and decided that since I needed a boyfriend, red was more appropriate. Memories of the dozens of tea parties to which it was witness start to come flooding back to me, and suddenly...


...I feel myself...


...perched on the edge of a precipice...


...the scent of vanilla, which was not there before, fills my mind...


...and then, there is a hand on my shoulder. "Miss Satou," Narumi says softly, "perhaps you should rest. There is a futon in the back room which you may use if you wish."

I blink a few times, and I am back in the tea shop. My face is wet, even though I don't remember feeling the tears. I take a deep breath, and then a second, before shaking my head. "I...appreciate the offer, but I must decline. It would not be...proper for me to impose upon you like that."

"It is no imposition," she replies. "You would not wish to reject this poor old woman's hospitality, would you?"

"I mean no insult, Narumi," I say, stepping back to bow deeply. "I not believe I can rest here right now."

"Ah, I understand," Narumi says, the sadness returning to her voice. "If you will not rest here, then perhaps you might allow me the honor of driving you back to the Academy. It would not be...proper to allow you to endure such a long walk in this miserable weather without an umbrella."

"I gratefully accept your kind offer," I say with another bow. "Now, about my tea..."

"I have taken the liberty of preparing your usual order," Narumi says, pressing a bag into my hands, and I wonder for a moment how long I was standing in front of the canisters. "Now, we must get you back to your school. My car is quite old, but it still runs, even in such ghastly weather."

"I still need to pay you..."

Narumi clicks her tongue at me as she takes my hand and puts it on her arm. "You will be here again soon enough. We can settle your accounts at that time."

As she leads me toward the back of the shop, I say, "Your kindness knows no bounds, Narumi. For that, I doubt I will ever be able to repay you, but I will if I can."

"You have always been kind to this poor old woman, Miss Satou. I am the one repaying you."

Without another word, I hear a door opening ahead of me, followed by the rush of humid air on my face. Narumi opens an umbrella and leads me into the passenger seat of her car. Once the door closes behind me, all is quiet again. I close my eyes, listening to the rain pattering on the car's roof. Ordinarily, I would find the sound soothing, but right now all I can hear within it is the echo of Hanako's footsteps, walking away from me down the street.

Narumi doesn't say anything as she gets into the car and starts the motor. The vibration of the engine is much rougher than that of the Evo in which I'd gotten used to riding with Akira, but it's still quite tolerable. Narumi's driving, on the other hand, is much smoother than my sister's, which is something of a relief, especially given the conditions. Even so, it takes only a few minutes to reach Yamaku. "I am afraid this is where you and I must part company, Miss Satou," Narumi says as the car comes to a halt.

"So it would seem," I say, mustering the best smile I can. "Thank you again for everything, Narumi. You can be sure I will return to your shop as soon as I can to settle my account, but my debt to you is much greater than that."

"Then you may repay that debt by making your best efforts to repair that which was broken, and telling me of the results. Good afternoon, Miss Satou," she says, her voice indicating her inclined head.

Inclining my own head in return, I open the car door and say, "Good afternoon, Narumi," then step out of the car and back into the rain. As she drives away, I quickly walk to the main building, where umbrellas are kept in a storage area for those in need. I have never had such a need before, but today I am quite thankful to be able to borrow one.

I may be wet, but there's no sense in getting utterly soaked.

The rain seems to be falling even harder as I continue on my way back to the dorm. I wonder fleetingly if it's enough to hide my current state from those who see me, but I hear nothing along the way except the relentless sound of the falling rain. By the time I reach the building, whatever remaining resolve I had has been washed away as well. Considering my embarrassing display in front of Narumi, there wasn't much left.

As I make my way down the hall towards my room, I hesitate in front of Hanako's door, but only briefly. Whether she's returned or not, I know I'm not yet ready to face her. I enter the room that is now mine once again, and I move the suitcases that Hanako and I had placed by the bed so that I can lie down.

I try once again to let the sound of the rain relax me, but unfortunately my mind is still filled with today. After an hour or so of tossing and turning, I decide that I need some task to focus on again, and my mind lights on unpacking. It's usually a task that I dread, given how time-consuming it is, but today that's exactly what's needed. If nothing else, it should tire me out enough for physical exhaustion to overtake mental activity.

Perhaps a new day, and a bit less jet lag, will make things clearer.

When I open my closet, I'm surprised to find something already hanging there: several uniforms, which by the tags I discover would seem to be the very ones I left here two weeks ago. For a moment, I'm amused by the idea of the Student Council neglecting their duties, but it's more likely that Shizune was efficient enough to have already brought them here, tags and all. Still, just the thought of the irony of my cousin procrastinating like that lifts my spirits a bit.

I've barely started unpacking when I'm surprised by a knock on my door. At first, my heart leaps in hope, or perhaps in fear, that it's Hanako. However, a second knock confirms that it's not her, nor anyone else I know well.

Unless, of course, that's also changed.

I hang up the blouse in my hand and make my way to the door. "Who is it?"

An unfamiliar voice responds, "Miss Satou? My name is Keiko Kobayakawa, on behalf of President Hakamichi. She would like to speak with you."

Calling to mind the quite appropriate proverb: it never rains, but it pours.

I open the door and bow, saying, "Pleased to meet you, Kobayakawa. Is Miss Hakamichi with you, then?"

"She is," Kobayakawa replies. "I will be serving as translator for President Hakamichi this afternoon."


"If it wouldn't be impolite to ask, where is Miss Mikado?"

After a somewhat lengthy pause, Kobayakawa replies, "She is...unwilling to translate certain portions of the message President Hakamichi is intending to convey, Miss Satou. I was...recruited in her place."

So, my cousin wants to talk about Hisao again. Perhaps I shouldn't have opened the door after all.

"Also, please excuse my frequent delays during translation, as my skill with sign language is still rudimentary. Many of President Hakamichi's messages must be written out for me."

Shizune must want to talk to me quite badly if she's willing to use her notepad. Perhaps I can relieve both of them of such unpleasantness. "If you do not wish to be here, Kobayakawa, then you may leave. Hakamichi and I can communicate with each other at need, unless she finds it entirely distasteful to touch me." The last phrase I add with a slight smile, but Kobayakawa doesn't react.

"I am honored to work with President Hakamichi," she says with no small measure of pride. That in itself strikes me as odd, but then from her comportment Kobayakawa seems not entirely unlike my cousin. "My reticence is due only to my lack of skill. Also, President Hakamichi expressed concern over a lack of recent practice between the two of you in such communication."

"In that case," I say with a smile, "you may inform Miss Hakamichi that if such a thing is an impediment to our communication, it will not be because of me."

After another extended pause, Kobayakawa says, "President Hakamichi was intending to allow you to defer further conversation due to your obvious recent emotional distress. However, she now says that if you are well enough to issue such an obvious challenge to her, she can do nothing but accept. Therefore, at President Hakamichi's request, I will withdraw and leave you to converse privately." The last sentence is delivered with a bow, and I silently congratulate them both on their deft maneuver. "It was a pleasure to meet with you, Miss Satou."

"You as well, Miss Kobayakawa," I reply, mirroring her bow. I hear footsteps moving down the hall, followed by the sound of my door closing. A moment later, I feel a familiar, yet long-absent pair of hands take mine firmly. That sensation is followed by another one, also long-absent.

<Are you certain this is how you want to do this?>

The message is transmitted in short, sharp, clear strokes, which I understand to be a hallmark of all my cousin's movements. <It has been a long time, hasn't it?> I reply. <However, the discussion I believe you wish to have is one that should be kept private.>

<True enough. In that case, I will try and be straightforward. I know you will consider this prying, but please tell me why you insist on not attempting to reconcile with Hisao.>

Straight to the point, as always.

Still, I admit to some curiosity. The last I knew, Shizune thought our match to be a poor one. <Why is that so important to you?> I ask.

<Because you are my cousin, and you were happy when you were with him.>

That answer is so unexpected I almost miss the last few words. I pause for a moment before responding, <Your concern for my well-being is appreciated. However, I would prefer that chapter of my life to remain closed.>

<So you said earlier. Is this for Hanako's sake?>

At least I expected that one.

I don't know how much my cousin has learned through the rather literal game of telephone, so I decide to demur. <I said that I want it to remain closed. That should be enough.>

<Enough for me? Or for you?> Shizune pauses for a moment before continuing, <Never mind. I'm not going to allow you to bait me further today. You know I normally wouldn't ask about this, but I know something's going on, and you look like it's tearing you to pieces. If there's anything I can do to help, tell me.>

<Thank you,> I reply, still a bit puzzled at this sudden show of concern. <Perhaps I will. If I may ask, what brought this on?>

<I would say that both of our siblings had a hand in it. Your sister and my brother are quite close,> Shizune hesitates for a moment before adding, <much like you and I once were. I only realized how much I had lost when you'd already left.> Before I can respond, she continues, <But, that is for another time. Regarding my earlier question, I believe Misha already told me the answer to that. How sure are you that they will get together, then?>

<What do you mean?>

<You are aware that Emi Ibarazaki has also been seen with Hisao, and that they were seen kissing several days ago.> When I shift slightly at the last part, Shizune continues, <So you understand, if you do decline, it may not be in favor of Hanako at all.>

<I wasn't aware, but I don't think it changes anything, since Hisao doesn't feel that way about me anymore.>

<Don't be so sure. Love doesn't go away so easily. I...> Shizune doesn't finish her thought, but in that brief moment, in the intensity of the gestures, I felt the presence of Aunt Mayoi in her daughter. My mother used to tell me stories of how she was the only one of the Satous to support her marriage to my father, and her belief in the everlasting nature of love that backed that support. When Shizune resumes signing, though, the moment has passed. <I know you're aware of Hisao's heart condition. I learned about it some time ago from Hideaki.>

The memory of the day Hideaki deduced that, the day of my first date with Hisao, is as vivid as ever. I wouldn't put it past my cousin to have brought it up purposefully for that very reason. Pushing the thought out of my mind, I reply, <What about it?>

Shizune's grip on my hands tightens as she signs even more tersely, <Ibarazaki is careless. I have always believed that she will seriously injure someone someday, and in Hisao's case, that could easily have grave consequences. The two of them together would be an accident waiting to happen.>

Shizune's words strike my heart, as I remember Emi running Hisao over shortly after his arrival at Yamaku. Still, I find my cousin's words a bit harsher than necessary. <That's debatable. Of course, it is Hisao's decision to make, and while I may wish for a match with Hanako, I don't believe one with Emi would be quite the disaster you're proposing.>

Shizune's grip intensifies further for a split second, but then I hear her exhale heavily and all the tension disappears just as quickly. <Normally, I would enjoy that debate. However, I can see that you are tired, and would not be a worthy opponent, so I will let the matter drop for today. Think about what I said, and perhaps you will change your mind.>

<You've certainly given me plenty to think about,> I say, as the pouring continues. <We should talk again soon.>

<I look forward to it. Until then.>

With that, Shizune withdraws her hands from mine, and a moment later, the door opens and closes again. I sit down on my bed, feeling a bit at a loss at what's just happened. I never expected my first normal conversation with my cousin in over a year to come under these circumstances, but I'm not about to complain.

I do wonder what kind of influence Misha has had on our conversations, though...

I did learn something else important from my cousin during that conversation. I had nearly forgotten that Emi Ibarazaki was also pursuing Hisao, and the revelation that they've kissed as well is troubling. I had thought that Hanako and Hisao were at least unofficially a couple, especially once they came to the airport together, but it seems I was wrong. Perhaps...

Perhaps you should find out if Hisao still has feelings for you after all?

I quickly dismiss that thought from my mind. The last thing I need to be doing right now is deluding myself. Knowing I still need to rest, I lie down and try once will to sleep, but my mind will not stop. Once again, it teases me, telling me to find Hisao's music box again to help me relax, but I can't give in to that, either.

There is...ONE other person that might help me handle this.

I roll over and check my alarm clock, and its electronic voice says "Eight...oh-three...PM." That would be just past noon in Inverness, which means Akira might be at lunch, assuming she even gets to take lunches these days. I pull out my phone, which I made sure was still active while I was in Tokyo, and dial my sister's cell phone. There isn't even time for a second ring before she picks up.

"Heya, Lils, I didn't think I'd be hearing from you again so soon. What's up?"

" you have time to talk?"

There is a brief silence before Akira says, "Whoa, you don't sound too good, sis. Everything okay?"

I sigh at that. "If it was, I wouldn't need to talk to you again so soon."

"Yeah, gotcha. Tell ya what, if we're going to be that serious, I don't want to do it here. I'll head down to that café you told me about and call ya back in ten. That work?"

"That should be fine, and thank you."

"No prob. Talk to ya in a bit."

I hang up the phone and return to work at unpacking. Even with that distraction, it feels like much more than ten minutes before my phone rings. "It took you long enough," I say teasingly.

"Yeah, well, this place gets damn busy at lunch time," Akira responds, clear evidence of that in the background. "So, why exactly are you calling me again? Some problem with your stuff not getting there?"

"No, nothing quite so ordinary, I'm afraid. A lot of things happened today, and I think I just wanted to hear a friendly voice."

"Huh, things not all peachy over there either, eh?"

"Akira, don't..." I start, but stop myself, because I was about to snap at my sister for no real reason other than that she was being herself. Also, she did say "either," which reminds me that she's not exactly in an ideal situation herself. I let out a deep breath and start again. "No, they aren't. I wasn't exactly expecting to step right in and pick up where I left off, but...a lot more has changed than I expected."

"Well, sis, like I said, a week's a long time. Two's even longer. You wanna bring me up to speed?"

"I suppose I should, especially since some of it is your fault."

"Now what's that supposed to mean?"

"I just had a talk with Shizune, who was asking me some rather...uncomfortable questions. It seems someone told her brother some things about my decision to come back to Yamaku that I'd rather she hadn't."

"Ah, well," Akira says, sounding suitably embarrassed, "you know how Shortie is, forever curious. A lot like his sister in that regard, I guess. I didn't expect things would get passed on to her so quickly. What was she asking about, anyway?"

"Apparently, when you told Hideaki that I was coming back here to undo some of the damage I'd done, she assumed that I meant my relationship with Hisao."

", wait, that actually makes sense, doesn't it? Let me guess, she's trying to convince you not to get back together with him, right?"

"Surprisingly, it was quite the opposite. She wanted to encourage me to rekindle things." I can't help but laugh at how absurd that sounds.

Akira whistles softly. "So Shizune's pushing you to get back together with the kid, huh? I thought she was dead set against the idea."

"So did I. I even used to wonder if she had designs on Hisao herself since she was so adamant about it." I sigh heavily, both from the memory and from the weight of today. "Still, I can't deny that she was right about one thing. I was happy when I was with Hisao."

...but was he happy when he was with me?

I can hear Akira shifting restlessly over the din in the café behind her. "So whaddya want me to say, sis? You want me to disagree with her? Can't do that, really. You want me to tell you everything'll be fine? Well, I'll be damned if any of us know that. You want me to tell you that you made the right decision, or hell, even that you made the wrong decision? Can't do that, either. The only one who can decide that is you."

"You pushed me into this decision, Akira..."

"Whoa...stop right there. I did no such thing. All I did was get you to consider something outside the box that you put yourself in. Once that happened, I didn't need to push. You just ran with it."

I sigh in frustration. "Yes, but I wouldn't have come back without your encouragement."

"Well, yeah, of course I encouraged you. I could see you were breaking down, and I knew that if you stayed here you weren't going to have anyone that could help you through that. Mom's got her work, and mine just got a whole lot more time-consuming. Who was going to help you out? Your mobility instructor? So, yeah, I encouraged you to remember you had friends, that you had people you told me were like family to you. I know it's rough now, but I also know you'll be better off in the long run. And so do you."

"You're probably right," I say, laughing a bit bitterly. "It's just a bit hard to see that right now."

"Just give it time, Lils. Hey, it's still your first full day back, right? You know, striking out on your own can be a scary thing. Hell, I never really did it myself. Here I am, twenty-five goddamn years old, and I'm still leaning on my family. Be proud of yourself that you got there before your older sister did."

"I am grateful to you for that, Akira, so don't beat yourself up over it."

"Yeah, I know, but like I told Hisao, life doesn't always go the way you want it to go. That's true even if you do everything exactly the way you're supposed to – maybe even especially if. Now, if that were all that was bothering you, you wouldn't have been so upset when you called. What else is going on back there?"

Now that it comes to it, I suddenly find myself reluctant to talk about it. Still, that is why I wanted to talk to my sister, so I'm rather bound to it. "Hanako and I had a...well, a falling out this afternoon."

There is a long silence on the other end of the line, and if not for the ambient noise I'd think we'd been disconnected. Finally, Akira says, "About...what, exactly?"

I sigh again. "Before Shizune and I had our talk here, we had a brief one at the Shanghai, and Hanako overheard part of it."

"So, now Hanako thinks you want to get back together with him? Shit, that's..."

"No," I say with a forced laugh, "that would be something I could handle. What she wants to help me with the pain of still having feelings for him."

Akira chuckles, which nearly causes me to hang up the phone in her ear. "Yeah, you could cut the irony with a knife there, couldn't you? So, let me guess, you couldn't do it?"

"Damn it, Akira, just...could you talk about how much you love someone with another person who's in love with him herself?"

"Yeah, sorry, that's a good point. I've never been in that situation, and I wouldn't wanna be. Anyway, it sounds like you were right about a lot changing when you were gone. I don't know that I coulda pictured Hanako doing something like that."

"Me either, at least not so soon. I'm starting to wonder if...well, if maybe she doesn't really need me anymore."

"Don't be stupid, sis. Of course she needs you. But you know what? It sounds like you need her, too. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?"

"How...what's supposed to be?"

I hear Akira sigh in what sounds like frustration. "Lils, remember what you told me what our father said, about finding your own path and being less dependent? Being independent doesn't mean not needing help. It means being able to seek out help when you do need it, and not depending on someone to come and give it to you. Someone tried to give it to you anyway, and you rejected it. So, here's your chance. I'll bet she'd be thrilled to death if you came to her."

She would, wouldn't she? I imagine it's what she's been waiting for me to do since I returned.

"You know, I'm really getting tired of you being right," I answer, and Akira laughs. "I think it might just be too soon. I need some time to think about things."

"Yeah, that wouldn't hurt, but don't take too long. Sounds like you might be able to fix this, but it isn't something you're gonna fix in a day, and the sooner you get started, the better."

"Yes, it's not a tea set, is it?"


"Nothing, I think I'm just...tired. I don't think I've slept properly in a week."

"Ouch...yeah, with the way you handle traveling, that's gotta be rough. Yeah, get a good night's sleep, your mind'll be fresh in the morning."

"I've been trying all day, but I keep thinking about everything..."

"Yeah, that happens to me a lot. How do you think I became so good at picking out wine? Now, see, there's one reason you should've stayed over here: we could be sharing those bottles of wine legally!"

I laugh at that, and for one precious moment, I feel like Akira is here with me again. Sadly, it passes quickly, and when it does I feel more alone than ever. "Legal or not, I really hope we can do things like that again someday soon. I do miss you, Akira."

"Trust me, Lils, the feeling's very much mutual. Now, I'd better get going, or our father the boss will be all over my ass. You take care of yourself, sis, you got that?"

"I will, and you do the same."

"Heh...yeah, I'll try. Give me a call when your stuff gets there."

"I will. Talk to you then."

"Yep. Later."

I hang up the phone and place it on the nightstand. I feel a bit like I stepped into a whirlwind today, and I'm certainly not in Kansas anymore. I don't think I quite want to brave that again just yet, but Akira is right that I should try soon. However, I realize that there's another storm I've nearly forgotten I needed to brave. I promised Hisao I'd call him tonight.

Perhaps I should start building an ark.

After everything that was stirred up today, I almost decide to defer our meeting, but something inside of me tells me I need to do this as soon as possible, too. I was also supposed to talk to Hanako about it, but I never had the chance. Perhaps, under the circumstances, I shouldn't worry about that. I pick up my phone again and dial the familiar number. The phone rings twice before the familiar voice connected to it answers. "Hello?"

"Good evening, Hisao."


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Last edited by dewelar on Thu May 22, 2014 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 40 up 5/

Post by brythain » Wed May 07, 2014 9:21 pm

Ooooo-er. Well done, again. Two highlights for me: Lilly and Narumi in the teashop, Lilly and Shizune back at Yamaku. Brilliant. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 40 up 5/

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Wed May 07, 2014 9:34 pm

I've been trying as hard as I can not to take this conversation in a direction that will hurt anyone...
It seems that, sometimes, the harder someone tries not to hurt anyone, the more likely they'll end up hurting everyone...including themselves.
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
"Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience." - Mark Twain
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 40 up 5/

Post by Ireojimayo » Wed May 07, 2014 11:30 pm

Great chapter as usual
I love how you clarified Lilly's intentions
I really don't know who i should cheer for, you gave everyone a good reason to win Hisao's heart

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 40 up 5/

Post by Deadpool021 » Wed May 07, 2014 11:40 pm

Nice chapter. I loved the conversation between Lilly and Shizune as I also think a lot gets lost in translation with Misha which further fuels their arguments. Can't wait for the next update.

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