Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 11/28)

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DackFayded
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by DackFayded » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:47 pm

God, this entire thing has been absolutely fantastic. I binged it all in about two days, and my Lord am I in love with your Saki. She's absolutely wonderful, and an incredibly well-rounded and well-developed character. I can't wait to see how this all finishes up!

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Eurobeatjester
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:40 am

Woo, new chapter!

Life has been pretty insane the last few months, with the main factor being that our dog was diagnosed with liver cancer. Thank you to everyone in the discord who passed on well wishes - the good news is that after a few months of aggressive treatment, doggo is finally in remission and getting back to her old self. Every day's a gift, and all of us are finally starting to relax after a few months of really high tension and worry.

It took me a while to get back into the headspace to write, but thank you so much for your patience!

This chapter is shorter than the last ones, at 7200 words. The song for the chapter is called "No Title" by Reol. It's one I really recommend listening to with the captions on to see the translation.

One last thing - if this is the first time reading this since the last chapter, there were some pretty significant edits made to the end of it that flow into this chapter.

Comments and feedback appreciated, as always!

Act 4: Liftoff

Scene 5: Hi-Fi Zeitgeist


“Did you get enough to eat?” my mom asks. My mouth is full with the last bite of rice from my bowl, so it takes me a second before I can mumble an affirmative to her.

“What time did you want to head out?”

“Depends, how many forms do you think they’re going to ask you to fill out?”

I groan. “Right. Almost done.”

My dad struts into the room, fiddling with the knot in his tie. We all got a bit of a late start this morning to match how long we stayed up last night.

The trip home was uneventful, leaving me plenty of time to stew in my own thoughts. Dinner was pleasant, along with a brief exchange of a few gifts, but my parents could see that I was distracted. My mom tried to broach the issue gently and I waved it off as still being tired from exams and the activities the day before, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best stance to take if I wanted to discourage further inquiry. They knew nothing of what happened in town the night before or that morning; my parents weren’t the ones called. I guess I simply wanted to have some more time to keep it to myself.

I wasn’t trying to hide anything from them; I just didn’t want to bring anything up yet. That’s how I justified it to myself anyway.

I managed to keep that up for a grand total of about four hours.

Mom finally confronted me about the way I was acting when she caught me checking my phone after clearing away dessert...and when I admitted to her that I hadn’t heard from either Chisato or Saki yet, she didn’t let me casually brush it aside.

That in itself sparked another round of conversation as I told them everything that had happened - going out to eat in the city, the ice skating and karaoke afterwards, and the fight...but not the main reason for it. Not yet.

My parents, somehow knowing how much I needed someone to listen, sat there and let me talk to them. I told them about the last few months and my life at Yamaku, how everything went with the finals, and how my relationship with Saki was progressing. It was a halting, painfully slow conversation at times with me starting and stopping as much as I did. Entire trains of thought would wither on the vine as soon as they formed, while others would take root out of nowhere and grow so quickly that my mind had to prune them for its own sanity.

If nothing else, talking about what I was able to was extremely cathartic. One can run through a scenario a million times in their head, but sometimes hearing it aloud instead of in the chaos of their own internal monologue forces a paradigm shift.

I didn’t even realize how long I had been talking with them until I finally got a text from Saki to let me know she got home...a few minutes before midnight. That jarred me back to the reality of what a busy day was coming up and how late it was. I sent her back an unanswered reply...and one more text to Chisato wishing her a good night and to sleep well. It was a subtle attempt to goad some sort of reply out of her.

I guess I was too subtle. When I checked my phone upon waking, there were no new notifications.

“I was thinking we could get some lunch downtown after we meet with Mr. Toshinori,” my father mentions to me. “Your mother and I haven’t been down there since you were here in October.”

“Dad, is this just an excuse to hit up Teppan again?”

“It was just an idea.”

I smile. “Sure, dad. That sounds great.”

-----------------

Dr. Toshinori’s office is mostly unchanged from the last time I’ve been here, the light brown walls and tan tiles providing the slight sense of anxiety they always do when I’m here. Even though my last few visits have been mostly positive, the one at the end of October made me a little nervous. It was just to run a few tests but...well, there’s a reason why people put off going to the doctor or the dentist.

The only real differences I notice that mark the passage of time are a few new magazines spread out on the coffee table and a small Christmas tree next to the coffeemaker. A handful of similar decorations can be seen in the office behind the receptionist desk, but she seems to be the only one in today except for the doctor. I can’t imagine many people end up scheduling an appointment for the day after Christmas.

The paperwork is just as exhausting to fill out as ever, but my parents have been through this process before so they know what to expect. Thankfully once everything has been verified, it takes less than two minutes for the door to open and the older man to greet us warmly. After a round of pleasantries, we all step into his sanctum and take our respective places around his desk - him behind it, and us in front.

“Well, Nakai, I think you already know what the first thing I’m going to ask you about is,” he starts somberly.

I’m shocked for a brief second as I realize he somehow knows about my flutter...and then I figure out that Nurse must have given him an update yesterday or this morning. Logically it’s the safest thing for him to do and I’m sure the policies are clear on it as well...but I feel a brief flash of annoyance at what seems like a breach of trust.

I grimace. What’s worse is that my parents are now going to find out, and it won’t be from me.

“The nurse called you?”

He nods.

“What is he talking about?” my mom asks, puzzled.

“I...had a flutter yesterday morning before I left Yamaku.”

“You didn’t tell us that-”

“-I’m sorry, I wasn’t hiding it. With everything else going on yesterday it just slipped my mind. Honestly.”

She takes a half second to stare intently at me, and when she can see the sincerity on my face, hers softens - even if it’s only a bit.

My father is almost apologetic when he clears his throat. “What happened?”

“It, uh...was in the dean’s office. It only lasted for thirty seconds, at most. I’ve had worse before.”

Now it’s the doctor’s turn to grimace, and I’m beginning to think that I may have just said the worst possible thing to prove my point.

“Yes, you have, and that’s something I’m concerned about.”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to-”

He holds up his hand. “It’s alright. I can appreciate what you were trying to say, but that’s not something to be so nonchalant about.”

I take in a deep breath and let it out slowly, meeting his gaze. The last time I saw him, he was a lot more...jovial? No, not quite...but still, something’s off.

“This...isn’t going to be an easy meeting, is it?” I ask.

“No,” he says.

Any residual anger that my folks might have had towards me evaporates quickly when he says that. I sit up a little straighter, and adjust my collar to try and alleviate how warm I suddenly feel.

The doctor glances down at the chart laid open on his desk, the same file he’s had since I transferred into his care nearly a year ago. There’s a few tags of colored paper peeking out beyond the uniform border formed by the pages, and he flips to one.

The next half hour is an increasingly numbing one. Much like before, it’s filled with graphs and tables, each more dulled than the last. Mr. Toshonori goes over how some spikes are higher than they were months ago, and some numbers are lower. How this spike should instead be a valley, or this valley isn’t deep enough, or how this number should have improved by at least the same amount as it did the last time it was measured, only to fall short of the expected mark.

There’s several of those.

I’m not sure when exactly in that half hour I knew what the end result of it was going to be, but it happened long before he said anything that confirmed it. By the time he tells me that I will end up needing a pacemaker, I’ve known about it for a while. I know there’s a deluge of emotions waiting for me to process them, but I try my hardest to push them aside as he explains his reasoning.

“Essentially, you’ve had several flutters over the last year and some of these lines aren’t moving the way we want to see them. A pacemaker is the next step in treatment.”

I shake my head and look at the ground. I hear what he’s saying, I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s a part of me that wants to scream when I hear it. He senses this, and uses a calm and reassuring tone. “We have a lot more of it under control than we don’t, but what we don’t is enough to be concerned about.”

I take another deep breath and straighten up again. I need to listen to this.

“I know it’s not what you had hoped to hear, but there is good news here.”

“What’s that?” I ask, still unconvinced.

“We only need to implant a single lead into your right ventricle,” he says, flipping to a specific paper marker and pulling out a few stapled sheets. When he hands them to me, I recognize them as one of the information packets I was given the last time I was here a few months ago.

“That’s good news…?” my father clears his throat, a bit unsure. Mr. Toshinori turns his attention to him.

“It is. For a lot of patients with your son’s condition, we usually have to implant two leads into the heart - the first one in the ventricle and the second one in the atrium above it. In some cases we even need three to correct an irregular rhythm. But I’m fairly confident because of everything he’s done that we can get away with a single lead.” He fixes his gaze on me again. “You’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last seven months, Nakai, and it shows. You’re in a much better position than you would have been if you didn’t keep up with your medications and exercise. You’ve done a fantastic job.”

I lightly rub my temple, trying to understand and take in everything I’ve just been told. It actually is reassuring in a way and I’m grateful for the validation and praise...but a tempered blow still hurts.

“I don’t see why we can’t schedule the procedure a few days after you graduate. Enjoy the last few months you have before then. When you come back, we’ll admit you to the hospital for the surgery and then a few days after so we can keep an eye on your progress and give you some time to recover.”

With how much I really don’t like the idea of going back to the hospital, I’m glad it’s only going to be for a few days. I can deal with that, as long as it’s not any longer.

“How long?”

“Pardon?”

“How long will it be until you can tell if the pacemaker is making a difference?”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:41 am

The doctor leans back a bit. “Well, we can get a general idea within the first few days. Once everything checks out, you’ll be released and should be back to normal fairly quickly.”

“So he should be staying with us until you clear him?” my mother asks.

“That would probably be best. We’ll want him to come back weekly for a month after the surgery to make sure everything is healing properly. Standard procedure, just like everything else about this is. If everything goes well, you’ll only need to be restricted for a few weeks. Don’t worry.”

Well. That’s that.

My hand moves from my temple to sweep my hair back as I take a few moments to try and think about everything I’ve just been told. I’m...not sure what to think about the situation.

At all.

I still don’t manage to get a handle on it through the rest of the visit and the social wind down to lighter topics designed to bring the mood back to normal. It’s not until near the end of it when my mother is asking my doctor if he can recommend any good places to watch the sakura bloom in a few months that my phone vibrates in my pocket, barely loud enough for everyone in the room to pick up on it.

I politely excuse myself, giving my doctor a chance to go over any last minute things he might have forgotten, and giving myself a little bit of privacy to check the notification.

It’s a text from Saki.

With father, can’t text or call today. What did your doctor say?

I sigh. Damn. I really wished I could talk to her about this, and with that text, it sinks in how far apart we are right now. Three nights ago she was curled up against me as we both slept, and now she’s half a thousand kilometers away.

I miss her. I miss her terribly right now.

I still haven’t heard anything from Chisato, and suddenly, I’m annoyed at it. Angry, even. Saki managed to send me a text even if she can’t openly talk right now to ask me how my appointment was, and Chisato can’t even be bothered to let me know she got home safely.

I take another deep breath, realizing that my attitude might not be fair and try to clear my thoughts. Maybe Chisato wants some distance from the situation and I...and I...

…I hurt. I hurt.

It takes a second for me to accept that even if I admit it. I’m scared. I’m hurt by Chisato’s silence. I’m hurt by not getting the news I wanted. I’m hurt because I can’t be with Saki right now, and I hurt because I’m going under the knife again and neither of them are there for me right now when I really need them.

It’s an unfair reaction to have, but goddamnit, everything about this is unfair.

I open my contact list and stab the call button when I scroll to Chisato’s number. Maybe she’ll answer a phone call since she hasn’t been replying to texts.

It rings twice, then goes to voicemail. Not the standard four times that it would ring before doing so...which means she deliberately sent me to voicemail. My brain fumbles as I try to think of something to say.

“H-hey, Chisato. I, uh, haven’t heard from you yet and I’m starting to get worried. Let me know you’re alive, alright? Talk to you later.”

I quickly close the phone and slip it back into my pocket, right as the door opens and my parents and doctor step out. They seem to be in high spirits - well, as high as they can be given the circumstances - and the doctor address me one last time.

“Keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll see you in a few months.”

---------

The waitress is clearing away the last of our plates when my phone vibrates again. I set my coffee down and try to pull it out of my pocket as fast as I politely can. My parents are talking to each other, so they’re once again content to let me check it. I had replied to Saki earlier but didn’t expect her to message me ba-

It’s Chisato.

Recording at the studio. I’ll call you later when we’re done.

My eyes go wide before my brows knit themselves in confusion. She’s recording? At the studio? But how?

“Is everything alright?” my father asks, seeing the change in my demeanor.

“Um, yeah. Yeah, it is,” I stammer back, closing my phone.

“Who was it?”

“Chisato. She finally got back to me.”

“Is she okay?”

“Yeah, I think. I don’t know. I’m not sure,” I say, trailing off. Wasn’t she supposed to be going back home yesterday, like the rest of us? She must not have left Yamaku then, but wouldn’t she be spending her time with Mitsuru?

Not to mention, how and what is she recording without Saki there? I know she had some stuff she was recording herself, but would that be enough for what she needed?

And...where does that leave Saki in this? If she couldn’t record, then what happens to her own prospects?

With my thought patterns already disrupted by the news of the pacemaker, it doesn’t take much more from that text to threaten to send my mind into overload. I’m taking another slow breath when the phone lights up again in my hand with another text notification.

“You’re popular today,” my mom observes, trying to lighten the mood. To my surprise, I see Mai’s name when I look at the screen.

Hey Hisao! Did you say you were getting in yesterday or today? I can’t remember.

“It’s Mai. I should let her know I’m back,” I inform them, feeling just a bit guilty at not confirming things with her. I type out a quick response.

Got back in yesterday. Just got done having lunch downtown with my folks.

“It’s good to see you’re talking with your old friends again,” my father comments, taking another sip of his drink.

I smile faintly. It has been good, the last few months. We don’t talk often, and almost never on the phone since texting is so much easier, but it’s been enough to where we can still be a part of each other’s lives. I have my parents, my friends, and Iwanako to thank for that - if they didn’t conspire to throw me that surprise party back in summer, I might have just been fine with drifting away from all of it.

I’m thankful I’ve learned the value of keeping old friendships active, especially ones that were forged before I’ve become the person I am now - messed up heart and all.

*BZZZZT*

Wait, are you still downtown? I’m down here shopping right now! Do you want to meet up?

My mother sees my eyebrows raise when I check Mai’s latest reply. “How is she doing? We haven’t seen or talked to her since you were here during summer.”

“Ah, she’s downtown right now,” I reply, thinking. I make eye contact with my folks, and my tone becomes almost apologetic. “If it’s not too much trouble...would you mind if I took the bus back home? She’s downtown right now and wants to meet up and...it’s been a long few days.”

My parents glance at each other, then my father nods. “Dinner’s at six. Just let us know if you’re going to be getting back any later than that.”

“Thank you. I just...need to decompress a bit.”

“We understand. Don’t forget that we’re here for you too. You’re our son, after all.”

“Thank you. I haven’t.”

“We’re pretty much done here, if you want to leave. They were about to bring us the check anyway.”

I nod and stand up, pushing my chair in. My parents give me a brief hug and extract a promise from me to be in touch if anything happens or comes up.

As I leave the restaurant and step out into the brisk morning air, I’m assaulted by the cacophony of life and noises that make up the city. Car engines, train bells, rapid conversation of people around me and music from half a dozen sources. It’s a wonderful chorus but it makes calling anyone fairly difficult...so I settle on sending another text.

I would like that very much, actually. Coffee at Nari?

--------------

Mai gives a squeal and jumps at me. “Look at you! Merry Christmas, and all that.”

“Hey Mai. It’s really good to see you,” I reply, laughing and returning her hug.

She steps back and gives me a visual once-over. “Yeah? You look a little rough. Everything okay?”

I rub the back of my neck. “Not...exactly.”

“Come on, let’s get some coffee and we can sit down. What’s going on?”

“A lot of things. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning.”

“So that’s why you were in town, eh? How’d it go?”

“Let’s order coffee first, then I’ll tell you,” I answer, opening the door for her.

(continued...)
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:43 am

Image

Nari is just as I remember it, a perfect little hole-in-the-wall cafe that ends up being a jewel for the people that walk in off the street and discover it. It’s a lot smaller than the Shanghai with only a dozen tables and no booths, but even when it’s full, there’s a comforting sense of intimacy with the other people you’re there with. I stumbled upon it during one of my walks a few years ago, and it became a priority to stop at whenever my friends and I were down in the area.

Once we get our coffees and sit down, I spend a few minutes to give Mai the details of earlier in the morning; how I’ll need a pacemaker after all, my medications are getting adjusted again, and that I’ll probably be out of commission for a few weeks after I get cut open again. My rant carries on for a few stanzas before I realize just how bitter I’m sounding.

I shake my head. “I’m sorry. It’s just...deflating. I thought I was doing better, I’ve been feeling better, and I’m in better shape now than I was when I had the damned heart attack in the first place.”

“See?” she jokes. “It’s not all bad.”

“No...I guess not. It’s just hard to hear. I was working really hard to avoid that.”

Mai looks at me coyly over the rim of her cup. “Are you sure that’s why you were working hard?”

“What do you mean?”

“Were you working hard because you wanted to keep your heart from getting worse, or because you wanted to improve who you are?”

I stare into the cup in front of me, making eye contact with my reflection in the black liquid. “I’m not really sure, when you put it that way.”

“Really? I am,” she answers with confidence.

“Oh? And what do you think?”

“I know you’ve been doing it to get better. You just said it yourself, you’re in the best shape you’ve ever been in.” She gives me another quick scan with her eyes then raises her cup slightly in salute. “Damn fine job by the way, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“Thanks for the compliment.”

“No problem. So now that you know you’re going to need the surgery, when do they want to do it? I promise I won’t have any qualms about visiting you in the hospital this time.”

“Mid March, after graduation.”

She drums her fingers on the table for a moment, thinking. “Maybe your doctor’s right. You really should go back up and enjoy yourself up there. At least you’re down here for another week or so, right? We all need to get together again, if you’re up for it.”

“Yeah?” I ask, taking another sip. “How are you and the others planning to spend the next two and a half months?”

“Well, the class is planning a trip up north to the snow for a few days. There’s an inn with a hot spring there. All of us are going together. It should be a lot of fun.”

“Sounds like fun. I’m jealous.”

She laughs. “The rules are pretty lax. I could invite you as my plus-one if you really wanted to go.”

I shake my head. “Nah. If it was just you guys, I might do it, but it’s the whole class and well, I’m not really a part of it anymore. Trust me. I’d feel too out of place and not be able to enjoy it. Besides, you get to spend some quality time with your boyfriend.”

Mai winces. “Ahhhh...Takumi and I broke up.”

I’m a bit shocked when I hear that. “What? When did that happen?”

“The week before finals.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. I thought you two were good together.”

“Don’t be! We were. We are. We just decided that we worked better off as friends. I’m always gonna love him though. Same with you, you big dork.”

“In that case, I’m flattered instead of sorry.”

She laughs. “Yeah. We dated for a few months and nothing really changed between us. It was fun but it never really felt right, you know? It kind of worked out, since we realized there was no chance we would be able to go to the same university.”

“Is that so?”

Mai leans back and takes another long swig from her cup. “Eh, there was no way I was going to get into Meiji. Takumi had a shot though, and damned if he didn’t make the most of it.” Her eyes light up. “He actually got in! I’m proud of him.”

“That’s good to hear!”

She nods. “Well, it just seemed at that point it was easier to break it off so he could have the time to study. The timing ended up working great, and both of us are single going into college. Besides, Shouji’s closer.”

“You know, you’re actually not the first friend I’ve had this conversation with. You’re handling it a lot better than they are, though.”

“Ouch. Sorry to hear that. They’re trying to figure out if long distance is worth it?”

“Yeah. Except she’s moving to Tokyo and he’s moving to Korea.”

“Did one of them not get the grade they wanted?”

I sigh. “No, both of them got into schools they wanted to. It’s just that distance is a thing with a lot of couples at Yamaku, since we come from all over the country. I mean, Saki lives in Osaka…”

“Huh. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen with Iwanako and Shin.”

I perk up. “Oh? What’s going on with the two of them?”

Mai winces slightly. “They were studying hard to get into the same university together, but Iwanako’s exam scores weren’t high enough. She’s going to Shouji so the two of us will be going together at least. We’ve already started filling out the paperwork to share a dorm room together, and it’s not that far away so we’ll be able to come back and visit friends and family here. What about you?”

I take a second to brush my hair out of my eyes, reminiscing about the hell that was final exams. “I did pretty good on the national exam, but I didn’t really do enough work or research the last few months to choose a university to shoot for. I’m doing the ronin thing.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Gives me some time to figure out just what I want to do with my life. Besides, since I’ll be down and out for a few weeks anyway I’d miss the start of the year, and I already did that once. I don’t want to have to go through that again, especially for the same reason.”

She laughs again. “That’s true. You gonna stay at home, or are you thinking of moving somewhere else?”

“I was thinking of moving near Tokyo with some of my friends, but I don’t know if that’s going to be happening now.”

“Ah, so that’s what’s been bothering you?” Mai inquires, setting her cup down.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“I didn’t think the reason you were like this was just because of the pacemaker. I’ve known you for too long, Hisao. You have this little tell when something’s been on your mind for a while.”

“And what tell is that?”

Mai shakes her head. “Nope, if I told you what it was then you’d stop doing it.”

“It’s not like you’re going to be playing poker against me anytime soon.”

“You never know,” she winks.

I take a moment to consider. I wasn’t able to really open up to my parents about everything that’s been going on, but with Mai, things are different. She genuinely wants to know...and I need to talk it out.

So, that’s what I do over the next thirty minutes, which goes by so much quicker than expected. I end up telling her everything about my relationship with Saki, the recording studio, the Christmas outing and the fight at the end of it...and unlike with my parents, I tell her about Kayoko, and the full details of what happened yesterday morning in the dean’s office. She listens diligently, breaking her attention from me only to order us a refill on our coffees sometime during what ends up feeling like a confessional.

After I finish, Mai purses her lips and stares off into the middle distance for a few seconds, trying to take it all in.

“Too much?” I ask.

“No, I’m your friend, but wow, that is some new information. No wonder you were so upset this morning.”

“I’m kind of at a loss what to do.”

Mai ponders for a moment. “From what you’ve said, it doesn’t sound like it’s anyone’s fault. Saki couldn’t have known that it would have ended like that.”

“But were her and and her ex right to keep it from Chisato?”

She sighs. “I don’t know. I can understand why they did, though. I agree with you though that no matter what, the situation just...sucks.

Everyone involved is hurt and angry, and they all have very real reasons to be.

“Look,” Mai says, sitting up straighter in her chair. “I can’t say I’ve been anywhere close to what you’re going through. But maybe you don’t need to do anything. It’s not a problem to solve.”

“I know that, but it’s hard not to think about. My girlfriend and one of my best friends are fighting…”

“You can be there for both of them. That’s all you really should do.”

“I hate feeling like I’m caught in the middle.”

She reaches out and puts a hand on mine. “Being there for one doesn’t mean you’re betraying the other. But if it does go bad, well...don’t let anyone walk over you.”

“Mai! That’s a horrible thing to say.”

She shrugs, not backing down. “It’s true. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t there for both you and Iwanako while you were in the hospital.”

“You...what?”

“I don’t blame you, but near the end you were such a sad sack that it’s no wonder you didn’t end up noticing. Who do you think Iwanako kept coming back to every time she saw you in the hospital? She was an absolute wreck.

“I knew she was hurt but I didn’t know it was that bad,” I say, feeling guilty all over again.

“Like I said, you had other priorities. She blamed herself for what happened.”

“But it wasn’t her fault...”

Mai’s grip becomes tighter to drive home her point. “Ex-act-ly! It wasn’t anyone’s fault. But it took awhile for her to realize that. She didn’t really believe it until you came back for the summer.”

I sigh, knowing she’s right. “Yeah, but that took months. We graduate in less time than that.”

“Maybe it all ends up happy and maybe it doesn’t. But it’s going to work itself out one way or another. Accept the things you can’t change, and have the courage to change the things you can, you know?”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve heard or seen that quote somewhere before, and you’re butchering it.”

“Did I? Doesn’t matter that I got it wrong if it means you’re still thinking about it.”

I smile. “Thanks for being there, Mai. And here, now. I didn’t realize you were there for Iwanako too.”

“You two are my friends,” she says. That’s all the reason she gives, and it’s all the reason she needs.

Before I can answer her, my phone starts to ring. I pull it out of my pocket and read the display, my eyes going wide.

“Who is it?” Mai asks me.

“It’s Chisato. I have to take this.”

Mai nods and waves me off, mouthing the word bathroom. She retreats to give me some privacy as I open the phone and hold it up to my ear.

“Hey, Chisato.”

“Hey. I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you. It’s been a really long twenty four hours.”

“What’s going on? I thought you would have been back at home?”

“I am now. I stayed one more day.”

“So you could go to the recording studio?”

“Yeah.”

I frown. “I thought you said you weren’t going to be able to.”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 7/30)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Mon Oct 14, 2019 1:44 am

“I got lucky. I called my parents and they were able to change my train ticket to today, and I was up all night with sensei and Mr. Takamura.”

“I’m a bit confused. How did you record if…?” I say, trying to frame what I’m saying as carefully as possible.

“That’s why I was up all night. We recorded my songs and were able to modify some of the other ones so that I could play them alone.”

She sounds exhausted. If she really rewrote some of the songs that her and Saki had been trying to record as a duet, then what does that leave for Saki to do?

“I’m just glad to hear from you. I didn’t hear from Saki until midnight last night-”

“Hisao,” Chisato cuts me off. “Look. Not right now, okay? Yeah, we’re going to talk about it, but later.”

I bristle slightly, but Mai’s words replay themselves in my head and I calm down. “I’m sorry. I thought you might have been mad at me.”

“Oh, I am mad, Hisao. Not at you. But I’m pissed. I’m pissed and I’m hurt, okay?”

“I understand. We’ll talk later, then.”

I hear her sigh. “Nevermind. It’s...good to hear your voice. I don’t want to stop talking yet. Let’s change the topic. You had your doctor appointment earlier today, right? How did that go?”

“Well, there’s...news.

“Oh no. Good or bad?

“It’s...complex. I’m going to need to get a pacemaker but I won’t need the surgery until after graduation. I’m out with a friend right now trying to...process it all, I guess.”

“Oh man, I’m sorry Hisao. I know you were hoping you wouldn’t need one.”

“Yeah, well, it is what it is. The doctor wanted me to enjoy the next few months.”

“Might as well. Things are going to get pretty crazy after graduation.”

“You’re only going to have about a few weeks to find a place in Tokyo.”

“Mr. Takamura and sensei said they would help me there too. They have a few leads and I don’t need anything bigger than my dorm room, anyway. I’m sure there’s a converted closet I can throw a futon in somewhere. I’ll invite you over for a housewarming party after you’re feeling better.”

I chuckle a bit. “When will you find out you’ve been officially accepted?”

“It’s going to be a few weeks. I was pretty confident, but...I hope it was enough. Sensei thinks so. I trust her.”

“It will be.”

“Thanks. You’re with your friend, I’ll let you go. I’m going to try and get some rest tonight and then...tomorrow’s a new day, I guess.”

I take a deep breath and pinch the bridge of my nose. “Alright. Can I ask you something?”

“What is it?”

“Look, I know you’re upset with her and you don’t want to talk to her. But can I at least let her know you made it home okay? She’ll be worried too.”

There’s a few long seconds of silence on the other end before she answers. “You can tell her I made it home. Also, make sure to tell her not to contact me right now. I don’t want to talk to her. I’ll call her when I’m ready to talk.”

“I’ll make sure to tell her that.”

“Thank you for respecting that, Hisao. It means a lot.”

“I’ll talk to you later.”

“You too. Goodnight.”

I hang up the phone, then just stare at it. It’s like my brain hit an overload and simply doesn’t want to work any further on this at the moment, which is a good thing because Mai conveniently steps back around the corner.

“Everything okay?” she asks.

“No, but...well, you’re right. She wants to talk, just not right now.”

“See? Progress.”

I nod. “Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“It’s not going to happen overnight. But keep an open mind about it, yeah? And don’t wait so long to tell me this stuff! You ever dump that much exposition on me again, you’re not the only one who’s going to end up having a heart attack!”

“You’re incorrigible, you know that?”

“You and I both know I don’t know what that word means.”

I laugh again, thankful for the distraction and allowing myself to fall into it. “So, you had mentioned getting together with everyone soon. Let’s talk some more about that.”

------------------

The seats on the bus are just as hard as I remember them being. I wrap my arm around the bag next to me, the spoils of a brief run through the fashion district with Mai. Since we spent such a long time at the cafe, it seemed only right that I go along with her on her original quest. The shirt I picked out is blood red, reminding me a bit of the one I saw an age ago at Plus Two...with a much better price.

I didn’t really need the shirt, but it felt nice to get something for myself and as Mai pointed out, I deserved to treat myself for doing such a good job this last year with my arrhythmia. I find it slightly amusing how she was able to turn something that was bringing me down into a positive deserving of a reward, but then again, I knew getting together would help.

The bus slows down and comes to a stop, and I exit it by stepping down onto the curb. I have one last transfer to make in about ten minutes, which will then take me to the station closest to my house.

I breathe in the smells of the late afternoon, and I feel a strange mix of nostalgia. The winter day is stark and cold, but has a clean crispness to it that the city near Yamaku doesn’t have. When I look down at the bag I’m carrying by my side, I’m reminded once again of the shopping trip and dinner down in that city the first time our group went together. I sigh heavily as everything just kind of rushes back into place, the distraction of the last few hours over.

Accept the things you can’t change. Have courage to change the things you can. Have the wisdom to know the difference. That’s the third part of the quote that Mai brought up earlier.

Chisato, Saki, myself...there’s nothing I can do right now. We won’t even all be back together at Yamaku until just before graduation anyway, and as much as it hurts me to see the two of them fighting like this, it’s between the two of them. I want to uphold the faith that Chisato has in me, but I also want - no, need - to be there for Saki.

I have no idea what’s going to happen with graduation, but I do know that time isn’t going to stop there. Afterwards, things move quickly for everybody - Chisato and Mitsuru both moving, me going in for surgery, and...whatever is going to happen to Saki. There’s only a few precious short weeks between the time we graduate and when we all end up taking different paths, and it seems almost cruel that there’s several months of what’s supposed to be tranquil peace leading up to them. Instead of enjoying them, they’ll be a constant reminder of how impotent I feel in this situation...and how useless I’m going to be afterwards since I’ll be recovering.

I come to a dead stop and my eyes go wide.

No. Holy hell, that’s not true. Maybe there is something I can do.

I’m going to need the surgery, but it’s not urgent enough to need right away...and if that’s the case, does that mean it has to be done the week after graduation? The doctor told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, so it’s obvious he believes that there won’t be any serious issues or changes between now and then.

I put a hand to my forehead and use my trembling fingers to sweep my hair back. It seems crazy at first, but the more the idea tickles the back of my brain, the stronger it becomes.

I pull out my wallet and dig through it, trying to find - ah, there it is. Dr. Toshinori’s card. I use my other hand to open my phone and dial the number printed on it. It only rings once before someone on the other end picks up.

“You’ve reached the office of Oda Toshinori, how may I help you?” I hear his receptionist answer.

“Ah, yes, hello. This is Hisao Nakai. I was there a few hours ago with my parents for an appointment with Mr. Toshinori. Has he gone home for the day?”

“No, he’s still here finishing up some paperwork. Is there anything he can help you with?”

“I just had a few quick followup questions from my visit earlier, if that’s all right.”

“Of course. May I put you on hold?”

“Sure,” I say, and after another two seconds, I’m treated to the tinny sounds of muzak.

I would need to know first if such a thing would even be possible, and then explain it to my parents. Nurse might be able to help, if I call him. I think I still have his number som-

“Hello, Nakai,” I hear the older man cut in. “I’ve been informed that you had a few questions for me? Is there anything that I can answer for you?”

I clear my throat a bit before proceeding, giving me a half second to collect my thoughts. “Ah, thank you. I uh, wanted to go over the timeframe again for the surgery. You said you wanted to do it the week after graduation, right?”

“That’s right.”

“If I need the pacemaker, but I don’t need it right now, does that mean the exact date I have the surgery isn’t that important?”

I can already hear the disapproval in his voice when he answers. “Well no, it’s not terribly urgent, but we still want to get it done as soon as is convenient. It’s not something you want to put off any later than you have to.”

“Actually, doctor, that’s what I wanted to ask you about. I’m not asking about getting the date pushed back.”

Now I hear slight confusion. “Very well, then why are you asking me about the exact date?”

I take in a deep breath before answering. “Would be possible to move it up?”

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Razoredge » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:01 am

Once again, this is a nice update. Now, I'm intrigued, about what will happens in the future about the surgery and all the stuff like that, how the characters will manage to bear that kind of event, and so on. You, Euro, achieve to hook me up to your story, and I have to say, I wait with pleasure for each update.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Blackmambauk » Mon Oct 14, 2019 5:25 pm

I wasn't expecting an update until next month at earliest so this was a nice surprise to wake up to this morning.

Really nice low key chapter here that shines the light on Hisao and what he has been going through, along with him having to face up to the part of his condition he was hoping to avoid with the pacemaker and also still sorting through the mess he is in the middle of.

The scene between Hisao and Mai was truly excellent and flowed so well with the teasing, the catching up of what's happened with Hisao's old friends and what future plans are. Mai was the perfect character for Hisao to confide in here, she could bring out things directly in a way no other character could do, despite having no stake in it and not knowing the people Hisao is involved with. But still listen to Hisao and context some things of the events that happened in the prologue between Hisao and Iwanako. All of which helps to bring Hisao to make a decision i have no doubt is going to to be one hell of a read.

Excellent job again as always my good friend :D.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:04 am

The Saki-Chisato conflict is reminding me a bit of Shizune's route, with one girl upset at the other and Hisao caught in the middle. Though at least he hasn't comforted Chisato..... yet.....

It will be interesting to see if the pacemaker drives home to Saki that Hisao might not actually have that much longer to live than she does.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by NoticeMeOppai » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:16 pm

Always makes my day when I see this story has an update and you've yet to disappoint!

Glad I wasn't the only one who thought about the potential for comfort here...

Memeing aside I look forward to seeing how this all works itself out and what Hisao has planned.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by sackwrist » Mon Nov 04, 2019 3:15 am

I am ab-so-lutely excited for what comes next. Waiting for your next update is unbearable especially with how you ended your last chapter. Phenomenal writing.

Perhaps my opinion is skewed after reading nothing but the driest selections of literature for the past few months but DAMN if this wasn't some of the most enjoyable reads I have had in the past year.

I've had to clutch my chest in anxiety, peek through the spaces between my fingers,and look away in shock whilst reading. This is the best compliment I can give. Having someone elicit a visceral reaction to your writing is something special. Well...at least it is to me.

You are. A wonderful. Writer.

I hope you are reminded of this when you most need it.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by ErwinRommel7th » Sun Nov 17, 2019 5:53 pm

I don't read a lot,but this story really leaves me wondering if i should make reading a habbit,amazing work.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by NuclearStudent » Mon Nov 18, 2019 6:01 am

what a sexy older man sakidaddy is

he is cruel beyond words,

and that turns me on

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:27 am

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thank you so much for the comments on the previous chapter, I really appreciate them!

I'm happy I was able to get another chapter done before December so I can focus on my Secret Santa story - I don't have as much free time this year as I did last year, so this will probably be the last update of the year unless things go much more smoothly than I'm anticipating :lol:

The title of this chapter comes from the song of the same name by Matchbox 20.

Comments and feedback appreciated as always! Thanks for reading :)

Act 4: Liftoff

Scene 6: Mad Season


My breath forms clouds in the icy morning air, a bellows that pumps in time with the snow crunching under my feet. We didn’t get much last night, but it was enough to give the world around me a sparse white blanket. The sky above is a light gray, with wisps of darker bands that threaten more of the same later this evening.

I’m up earlier than usual this morning, or earlier than I thought I’d be. Normally when I come back home, my body realizes that it can sleep in after the first night and not wake up at the crack of dawn, but this morning was different. Maybe everything going on in my head made me a slave to routine, and unable to get back to sleep once I’d woken up.

I’m not sure why exactly I wanted to take a walk. I guess a part of it is wanting to keep up my daily exercise since I can’t swim, and another part - the larger part - is wanting to be alone with my own thoughts for a while and actually reflect on last night.

“Very well, I’ll look into it.”

Those were the last words Dr. Toshinori said to me last night before he hung up the phone. It marked the end to a surprisingly brief conversation. I had asked about pushing my surgery forward, and he was slightly shocked at my question. When he asked why, I had laid out the only real coherent reason that I had formed - that I was already at home and didn’t want to be idle for the next two months. We both knew that this would require a lot more discussion before it happened, but I was able to soothe his immediate concerns by assuring him that at the moment, all I wanted to know if such a thing was possible.

I’m not as sure of myself as I was last night when I made that phone call. No, that’s not entirely accurate - I am sure of myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have doubts. That makes sense, right?

Maybe that’s why I didn’t bring it up with my parents last night, and probably the real reason I’m out here in the cold. I’m not sure how they would react to it, but then again maybe I am, not just wanting the surgery sooner, but all the implications as to why I do. It’s something that I had tried to put off thinking about in the hopes that it wouldn’t be an issue, but now that I need a pacemaker, that’s not going to happen.

I haven’t told them of the nagging thoughts in my head concerning moving home again, and how I might not want to. It’s not that I don’t love them, or appreciate the offer to say with them while I recover, but it’s what comes afterwards. I’m sure they’d have no problem with me staying there as long as I liked, and that’s the problem.

It wasn’t until I was told I’d have to spend a few months here after graduation that I realized how much I don’t want to. There’s a multitude of things I can use to justify it in my own head - I’d be behind the curve on looking for a job, or getting first pick at a prep school. It would be harder to move afterwards and maybe harder to find a place to live near a university because by then all the affordable apartments would be filled up…

Ultimately though, it just comes to the fact that I don’t want to stay still for too long. I already lost four months last year, and the thought of losing even another two months of that again a year later is already upsetting - but if it happens before graduation, it’s tolerable.

Of course, my parents would have reasons to object. In their eyes, my condition is a shadow of the pariah it once was, but telling them that I may want to move after having just having had another procedure will definitely give them pause. When you strip everything else away and get to the core of the matter, they’d have the final say - I won’t be able to make my own decisions about my treatments for another fifteen months.

Before I realize where I am, my feet have taken me back to the playground - the same one Saki and I ended up at that summer night she came to visit. It’s deserted, but that’s okay. I think I prefer it this way, honestly. It’s a great reminder of where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come.

Image

So much has happened since that night. Even though we both admitted that we felt strongly for each other, it took a while for us to allow ourselves to believe it, and fall into the ease of it. I knew I loved her, and since then I’ve fallen for her completely...and oh, what a fall it’s been.

I smile as I walk over to the swingset, remembering how she laughed as I was pushing her. I brush off the thin crust of snow over one of the swings before sitting down, my weight causing the snow to shake free of the chains now holding me up. I brush off my shoulders and take a deep breath, letting it out slowly in a hazy fog.

I miss her. I miss her terribly right now. I wish she was here right now, so I could talk to her.

Pulling out my phone, I open it to stare at the screen. She hasn’t texted me since yesterday when she was with her father, and I know it’s probably a bit too early to call her right now. Even if it was later in the day, it may be better to wait for her to text me.

I idly scroll through my contacts, more out of trying to keep my mind busy than looking for anyone specific. When I get to Nurse’s number, I pause.

Of course he’d be up this early - he’s up at Yamaku, and a slave to the same routines that are ingrained into me. I hesitate for another few seconds, then hit the button to dial his number.

“Yamaku medical, head nurse speaking,” I hear his voice answer after a few rings. “How can I help you this morning?”

I blink for a minute, taken aback. “Ah, hey, it’s Nakai.”

“Nakai? Well, this is a pleasant surprise.”

“I thought this was your cell, did I call the main line?”

“Hm? Oh, not at all,” he laughs. “I just didn’t recognize your number, so that’s the way I usually answer.”

“I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.”

“Nothing too important. How was Christmas with your family?” he asks jovially.

“Uh, fairly well, once I got home. Sorry again for all the trouble we caused.”

“How did your appointment go?” he continues, a little more somber this time. I can hear the look on his face when he asks that, and it causes me to grimace a bit.

“Not as good as I hoped it would.”

He gives a slight grunt. “Your doctor recommended the pacemaker, didn’t he?”

“Did you know about it?”

“I suspected, based on the questions he was asking me the last time I spoke to him. He asked me to send a few things over.”

“You don’t sound surprised.”

“I didn’t know if he was going to ultimately recommend it, if you think I did and wasn’t telling you.”

I start a bit when I realize what he’s insinuating. “No, nothing like that! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. It is what it is.”

Nurse laughs it off, and I can see him smirking in my head. “When do they want to do it?”

I rub at my thigh. “After graduation. That’s what I’m calling you about, actually.” I take another breath. “I need some advice, and maybe some help.”

“Well, I’m not sure what I can do, but please, go on.”

“Dr. Toshinori wants to do the surgery after we graduate. I want to get it done before then.”

“...how soon before then?” he asks, his voice full of concern.

“He said recovery would take a few weeks. I’d spend the first in the hospital, and then stay at home the next month or so before everything was back to normal.”

“Barring any complications, that sounds about right.”

I rub my forehead. Complications. Right. Something else I didn’t think about right away before I called my doctor...but I best not think about that right now lest this crazy idea of mine loses steam.

“It might be too quick, but if I can get the surgery done in the next two weeks, or by the end of January at the latest, it would give me enough time to recover before graduation so I can get back to Yamaku.”

There. Now someone else besides my doctor knows. And while I respect my doctor, having mentioned this to Nurse feels more...personal, like a practice run for talking about this with the other people in my life.

People like my parents. People like Saki.

Nurse takes a moment to ponder. “Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment here. If you run into any problems, you could run the risk of missing graduation.”

“From what the doctor told me, there shouldn’t be. And if there are, wouldn’t it be a good thing to find them out as quickly as possible? I’d lose even more time if I waited on this.”

I’m on my feet, pacing heatedly. I expect Nurse is just doing what comes naturally to him by trying to point out anything that might go wrong, but I admit that it hurts me a bit to be second guessed like this. Everyone’s been telling me how to handle my condition, and I’ve done the best I can with it. I’ve gotten better, I’ve taken charge of myself, and I’m not going to shame myself for feeling proud of that fact...which is why hearing someone question if I’ve gotten to that point sparks anger.

“Look,” I continue with exasperation, “you were one of the first people to tell me to face up to my condition and take responsibility for it and actually follow up on making sure I am. That’s what I’ve been doing. Isn’t that what I’m doing now?”

Shit, calm down. I may have taken that last line too far. I know Nurse is looking out for me and he’s in my corner, and I shouldn’t have let out my fear and frustration on him. A few seconds of silence pass before I finally hear the older man chuckling on the other end.

“And here I was just the other day thinking about how much you’ve changed, Nakai. I’m not sure of how much weight my input will have, but if this is what you want to do, I can tell your doctor that you’re sincere about it if he calls me. He doesn’t have anything on you that I don’t. It’s still his decision.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. “You don’t think there’s any reason he would object to it?”

“Well, he has all the same information I do, although he can read it a lot better than I can. But you’re definitely healthy enough to have it bumped up - more so than you might be in a few months, if you decide to slack off on your exercise.”

“You know I’m not going to do that.”

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:28 am

“I believe you. Have you actually talked to your doctor yet or are you calling me first?”

“I spoke to him. Last night.”

“What did he say?”

“He said to give him a day or two to see it was possible.”

I can hear his voice perk up. “If that’s what he said, that’s a good sign. If there was a serious medical concern he probably would have shut you down right then and there.”

“If that’s the case, then why wouldn’t he say that when we spoke?”

“There’s a lot more involved than just the medical aspect. My guess is that he’s checking to see if he can rearrange his schedule, or that of the hospital, or the surgeon, et cetera. I know he’ll probably be calling me either today or tomorrow to see how I would feel about it.”

“Damn, I didn’t even think about that,” I sheepishly admit.

“Not a problem. It seems like it would just be logistics at this point. He’ll ask me if I have an issue with keeping a close eye on you when you get back up here. I mean, you’d go from being someone who’s as stable as can be to someone who just had an operation we’d have to look after, even if you’d only be here for a week or two. You’re not the only person something like this happens to, although not many people choose to do it to themselves,” he finishes with a laugh.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t consider how that would put a burden on you.”

Nurse turns somber. “Nakai, you’ve never been a burden that wasn’t worth putting the effort into.”

I blurt out my own laugh before I can stop it. “Thanks, I think.”

“What did your parents have to say about it?”

I rub my leg again. “They, uh...I haven’t run this by them yet.”

“What do you think they’ll say?”

I ponder for a second, convincing myself further of their potential reaction. “They’re probably going to need some convincing.”

“Should I talk to them?” Nurse offers.

I’m completely taken aback by this, not expecting it. “Would you?” is all I can manage to say.

“I’m already going to be talking to your doctor. I wouldn’t mind, if it helps put any concerns they have to rest.”

I let out another deep sigh, this time releasing tension in my shoulders and neck I didn’t even know was building. “I don’t know what to say except...thank you.”

“Like I said, worth the effort. Just let me know.”

“I will. If I don’t talk to you again before then, have a good New Year’s.”

“Same to you and yours, Nakai. I’ll see you when you get back, whenever that may be.”

-----------------

“You told us you were going to be studying to retake the exams next year,” my mother states.

“I am. That hasn’t changed.”

“Then why do you feel the need to get this done now?”

I lean back in my chair and try to collect my thoughts. With both my parents sitting across from me, it feels like I’m being interviewed or interrogated...but then again, I did ask them to sit down with me because there was something I wanted to talk to them about.

It only took a mention of wanting to get the pacemaker surgery moved up to start the expected deluge of concerns.

“It’s...hard to put into words. I don’t know what’s going on after graduation yet but whatever happens, I’d just end up several weeks or months behind everyone else. I can’t do that again, especially now when there’s...”

I trail off and actually start to chuckle.

“Yes?” my father prompts.

“I was going to say ‘now when there’s more at stake’, but that does sound a little cliche, doesn’t it?”

My mother looks at my father, then back at me. “You know you’re welcome to stay here as long as you want after you recover, if you’re worried about where you’re going to stay when studying.”

“That’s part of the problem,” I admit, a sudden hot flush coming over me as I say it. There’s no going back from that statement, and all I can do is push through to the other side of it, for better or for worse.

Now my parents seem confused. “What do you mean?” my mother asks.

I rub at the back of my neck. “I was thinking about moving to Tokyo after graduation.”

The confusion turns into surprise. “Well, this is the first time you’ve mentioned it to us.”

“It’s been on my mind for a while now. I thought I’d have another few months to think about it, but now that I need a pacemaker...”

“Are you sure that moving away right now would be wise? Your doctor is here, the surgeons that worked on you are here, and you’d have to find a whole new medical team.”

Even though I’ve anticipated this objection, I’m still finding myself a bit irked by it. “I’d have to find a new doctor anyway when I moved away, either now or later. But I don’t think that would be too hard, with Dr. Toshinori’s help.” I take a drink of water to collect my thoughts, hoping that I can convey them properly. “I mean, I’m going to need to start my life sooner or later. If I have to spend a few months here after graduation, it would be the same thing as last year all over again. You all were right. Moving to Yamaku was the best thing that could have happened to me, and honestly, I don’t think I’d have the courage to think about this if I never went…”

“You weren’t too enthusiastic about it when we first brought it up.”

I shake my head, thinking back to how bitter and defeated I was back then. My mom’s right. I didn’t want to go, but the thought of staying was even more painful. After being abandoned by all my friends, I hated the idea of going back to my old school and being “the broken one.” Even though I may have reconnected with Mai and a few others, it wouldn’t have been enough to go back to normal.

Normal is what you’re used to, after all - and all that changed considerably the last year, for both bad and good.

My father considers me for a few seconds before clearing his throat. “How much of this has to do with Saki?” he asks, his tone calm.

I wince, but don’t back down. “She’s part of it. We had all joked about getting a place together in Tokyo after the two of them got accepted into university there, and I could study...but I don’t know what’s going to happen with that now.” I hang my head slightly, thinking about just how much everything has changed.

There’s a long pause while all of us think about the previous conversation. I’ve said what was so hard for me to say, and now that it’s out in the open, all I can do is wait. It doesn’t matter what I want unless I can convince them. More so than that, I want them to understand.

“Are you sure that this is what you want?” my father asks, causing me to lock eyes with him.

This is what I want to do...and I realize now that this is about much more than just the pacemaker. Even with all the other considerations, I want that agency. I want to make the decision for myself. I need to make this decision for myself.

I have arrhythmia and I always will. It’s taken me a long time to truly accept that. It might define what I am, but I can’t - and won’t - let it define who I am.

“Yes,” I answer, my voice full of conviction.

After another few seconds, he sighs. “I think your mother and I need to talk about this,” he says.

I get a slight flash of anger at this, before I have to tell myself that it’s not a dismissal, or an outright no. I did drop this on them out of nowhere, after all, and I can acknowledge how objectively compulsive this seems.

“The head nurse at Yamaku said he’d be happy to speak to you, if it helps.”

My mother looks at me sternly. “I wish you would have come to us first about this.”

I meet her gaze. “I’m sorry, Mom. You’re right and I should have...but when I had the idea yesterday, the office was about to close, and-”

She cuts me off by holding up her hand. “Let’s wait to see what Toshinori says. If you talked to him last night, I’m actually kind of surprised he hasn’t called us yet.”

“Nurse has an idea on that.”

“Are we the last people to know about this?” my father asks. He says it in a way that tries to be lighthearted, but I can tell he actually is a bit taken aback that they’re not the first - or even the second - party I’ve talked to about this.

“I...haven’t mentioned the idea to Saki or Chisato yet, if that counts.” I reply timidly.

“Well, you’re probably going to have to if you’re still thinking about getting a place with them.”

I perk my head up, my brain kicking into overdrive. My mother wouldn’t have said that unless she was concerned it might happen, and the only reason it might happen is because I wouldn’t be bedridden at the end of the school year, and the only reason that would happen is if they let me get the surgery early...

If I can get the surgery early, that is.

“Does that mean…?”

My parents glance at each other again, my father with a more concerned look than my mother. I say nothing else, knowing that I’ve said all that I can say on the matter.

“Well, Tokyo’s closer than Sendai,” my mother says, with a small smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. She cuts off any reply I can make before I start to speak. “But we need to discuss this with your doctor first.”

I nod shakily, letting out a tense breath. “Okay. That’s fair. Thank you.”

“Did he tell you when he was going to call us?”

“No. Nurse thinks that he’s trying to work out if it’s possible. It might be a bit harder on shorter notice. Nurse could explain it better than I can, if you want to speak to him.”

“Write down the number for us. We might do that.”

I nod. “I will.”

--------------------------

The next few hours seem to go smoothly, yet it’s hard to keep my mind focused and in check. My parents haven’t called Nurse yet; I don’t know if it’s because they feel they don’t need to, or if they don’t want to do so with me being able to overhear the conversation. While I certainly hope it’s the former, the realist in me is just as convinced it could be the latter.

The tension melts into disappointment when the clock hits five. I sigh heavily, and lean back into the couch cushions. If we haven’t heard anything from Dr. Toshinori yet, I doubt we will today. Maybe it was a bit too optimistic to expect an answer today, especially after asking him the way that I did.

(continued...)
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Eurobeatjester wrote:I doubt my ability to write convincing lesbian erotica
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Eurobeatjester
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:29 am

I stare out the window. The sky delivered on its threat from this morning, causing the darkness and cold air of the night to creep in earlier than expected. Snow is falling outside, forming a halo of static around the street light near the end of our driveway.

*Bzzzt!*

I almost jump when my phone vibrates on the coffee table. I lean forward to grab it, opening it up and staring at the display.

To my surprise, there’s a text from Nurse.

Hey Nakai. Just got off the phone with your doc. Things look good. He said he was going to call you. Good luck!

My eyes go wide. I barely have time to read and process before the phone in the kitchen starts to ring, causing my heart to skip a beat. I think about rushing for it, but stop myself when my father emerges from down the hallway. We exchange a brief glance before he picks it up.

“Hello, this is the Nakai residence.”

I can hear a male’s voice speaking on the other end, but it’s too quiet for me to make out who it is. It only takes two seconds before he looks at me and raises his eyebrows and nods.

“Ah, yes, our son told us you might be calling today...no, it’s alright. I’m just a little surprised you’d call this time, isn’t your office closed for the day?”

My mother walks into the room and looks to me for confirmation. I nod and stand up, trying to not show how shaky I am. He’s right - it’s about an hour after he would have gone home, so what is he doing calling at this hour? I had just calmed myself down enough to wait until tomorrow and now this…

I take a deep breath. Calm down.

When my father hears the answer on the other end, he moves towards the couch and gestures all of us to sit down again. “Yes, he did tell us, we just finished talking about it a bit ago...yes, he’s here,” he says, looking at me. “...alright. Let me put you on speaker.”

He places the phone down on the coffee table as all of us sit down on the couch, myself in the middle and my parents on either side of me. I stare at the phone in apprehension and try again to get my breathing under control.

“H...hello, Dr. Toshinori. This is Hisao.”

“Ah, hello. I’m glad I caught all three of you,” the doctors voice rings out. There’s a slight distortion as there always is when talking this way, but I’m having no problem making out what he’s saying. “I’m sorry if the connection sounds bad. I’m calling from my cellphone.”

“I can hear you. Thank you for calling back.”

“I thought I would have to wait until tomorrow to get ahold of you. I’ve been checking into getting your surgery moved up.”

I swallow hard. My mother puts a hand on my shoulder, but I barely notice it.

“We wanted to speak to you about it,” she says. “Is it possible to do?”

“Yes. The reason I couldn’t call you earlier is because I was waiting to hear back from the anesthesiologist for your operation. The soonest opening he has is a month from now.”

My shoulders sag in relief and I let out the breath I didn’t even know I was holding.

It started as a crazy idea last night, but I didn’t realize how much tension had built in me since then. If this is about more than just getting a pacemaker installed for me...then all the burdens and doubts that over the months have molded me and pushed me towards that position are attached. I didn’t realize how heavily they were weighing on me until being washed away by that simple statement.

It’s so momentarily overwhelming that I can’t respond. My father sees this, and does it for me.

“What day?”

“The first day of February.”

I pause for a second, and then give a sharp bark of laughter as the irony of the situation hits me. My parents both turn to me a bit shocked, but catch on an instant later as they realize that the first day of February marks exactly one year since my heart attack.

“I can see the irony isn’t lost on you, Hisao.”

I shake my head in disbelief. “I’m sorry. That’s just...wow.

“That aside, if you were serious about wanting to get the surgery scheduled sooner, this is the only time to do it. He won’t have another opening until the third week of February.”

No. That won’t work. If I’m already going to be restricted for a month, then it’s manageable if I get the surgery done on the earlier - although damned coincidental - date. I’d still be up at Yamaku two weeks before graduation, and I’m not going to take the risk of getting it done any later because I would lose both of those weeks and possibly graduation itself.

It’s times like this that I’m glad I’m not superstitious. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

“If I get the surgery on the first, I’d be able to go back to Yamaku in a month?”

“If everything goes well. As I mentioned, you’d be staying in the hospital for a few days for observation and we can get a better idea of when exactly you could be cleared to go back.”

My parents look at each other again, a world of conversation being reflected in that gaze. When my mother nods, my father turns his attention towards me.

“Your mother and I already discussed it. It’s your decision, son.”

This time, I don’t hesitate. “Let’s do it.”

------------

I don’t know why I expected to be able to sleep at a decent hour after the day I’ve had. Despite my best efforts to lay still in bed in the dark for the last thirty minutes, I can’t stop my mind from replaying everything that happened today and how it ended.

In a week, we go back to Dr. Toshinori’s office to work out the details of my upcoming surgery. I still find it hard to believe that I was able to ask about it, and a day later, finding out it will happen - even if that day has been one of the longest of my life.

I bring my hand to my chest, tracing my scar. What a year it’s been, for better or for worse...and it’s come full circle, quite literally. A year ago my life changed irrevocably, and since then, a lot has shaped me into the person I am now - one who would willingly choose to get surgery on the anniversary of almost dying. And honestly, I’ve had a few fits of both astonishment and incongruity tonight as the irony hits me in waves.

I wonder if they’ll put me in my old room.

*Bzzzt!*

My phone lights up and starts to dance on my nightstand, startling me. I fumble for it in the darkness of my room, nearly missing it and knocking it off onto the floor before I manage to recover.

It’s Saki.

I haven’t had any contact with her since yesterday afternoon when I told her I’d need the pacemaker after all. I don’t know why I didn’t text her last night after I called my doctor, or why I didn’t do it at any point during the day, even after my conversations with Nurse and my parents. Maybe it was wanting to respect her privacy when she told me she was with her father and she couldn’t talk. Maybe there was a part of me that didn’t want to tell her until it was happening, so I wouldn’t have to tell her anything if it fell through.

Well, if the latter was my reasoning, it’s no longer applicable, and I do want to let her know.

I hit the accept button and put the phone up to my ear.

“It’s good to hear from you,” I say.

“...you too,” Saki replies on the other end, immediately triggering a sense of unease with the way she says it. I quickly forget about anything I was about to say, concern for her pushing everything else out.

“You said you were with your father the last two days. Is everything alright?”

“...I hate him. I hate him,” she hisses out, her voice so twisted in anguish that it instantly has me on full alert as I sit up in the bed.

“Saki, are you alright? What happened?”

She takes a breath to try and compose herself, with little success. “We met with my father’s attorney today.”

My brain fumbles as I try to keep up. “Who was there? Just the two of you?”

“No, it was both of my parents. My brother was there too.”

After a second or two of silence, I prod further. “So what happened?”

“My father...he threatened me, Hisao.”

I turn my body, draping my feet over the edge of the bed and onto the floor. “Wait, what? Threatened you how?

I hear her desperately trying to keep her voice from cracking. “He wants to lock me away, Hisao. He says I can’t make sane decisions for myself and-”

“Saki, wait, slow down,” I respond, my mind spinning. “Lock you away? That doesn’t make sense.”

“Summer. The place he took me to this summer,” Saki stammers out, a note of fear to her voice I’ve only heard once before. I feel a cold sweat start to break out as I realize what she’s talking about.

“I don’t understand, how-”

“He says I’ve caused too much trouble. He doesn’t like that I fought with Maeda before. And this time, I hit him, Hisao, I hit him...”

“But he even said you didn’t hurt him-”

“My dad doesn’t care about that!” Saki yells in pained voice, then immediately lowers it as if she’s afraid someone might overhear her. “All he cares about is that it happened, and that it happened outside of the school. Everyone saw it, Hisao. Gods, I don’t even know how much he spent on the plane tickets on Christmas, and then-”

“There’s no way he can do that, can he?”

(continued...)
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
Blank Mage wrote:
Eurobeatjester wrote:I doubt my ability to write convincing lesbian erotica
believe in yourself

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