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Also temporarily known as "Tenshi of Youth"
Previous: >>44424 -
The giant gates projected an aura of impregnability. Long black bars with golden rings at both haft and tip isolated the grand house and its grounds from the outside world. It was the only filter through which anything could be seen; The walls surrounding the property were tall and kept out prying eyes. To be perfectly frank, it was an intimidating fortification. The neighborhood was composed of a series of homes near in design. Tall trees, imposing walls and stalwart gates all made each manor its own hermetic world.
I wasn't used to anything like it. A tiny two floor house, like mine, and its neighborhood an entirely different reality. I could sometimes hear my neighbors from my window. I was willing to bet that it would be impossible to do the same from any of the gargantuan homes here. It was obvious that only the most well-off families could afford to live like that. A normal person like me was woefully out of place in the world of the elites.
I pressed the button on the intercom. A small camera was fitted just above it. I looked into the camera as a woman's voice came through the speaker, “yes? How may I help you?”
“I'm here to see Miss Hinanawi,” I said with composure. I was on my best manners. “I'm a classmate of hers.”
“...just a moment,” the voice said after a moment's hesitation.
A few minutes later, a door embedded on the gate opened. A young woman smartly dressed in servant's clothes greeted me formally, “welcome to the Hinanawi residence. My apologies for the delay but I wasn't informed that the young mistress was expecting a guest today.”
“It's quite alright, it's my fault for dropping in unannounced. I was concerned about her. I haven't seen her lately at school. I'll apologize in advance for the sudden imposition.”
“You can't be faulted for concerning yourself with her wellbeing,” she showed a polite smile, “if you'll please follow me now.”
We entered the grounds. There was a large garden that surrounded the house. It was meticulously kept and maintained to appear to be as natural as possible. It was an idealized version of what nature should be, complete with ponds and trees. I followed the maid down a long footpath that lead to the main entrance. Large double doors and flanking statues presented a majestic first impression of what the building was like inside. It was all large-scale and of the highest craftsmanship but it was not overstated. The pitfalls that many of the obscenely wealthy seemed to trip into, such as the overuse of gold and marble, were conspicuously absent.
“Please have a seat,” she told me as she led me to a large sitting room by the entrance hall. “I'm certain that the young mistress will be along presently. Would you like something to drink in the meanwhile?”
“I'll take a cup of tea if it's not too much trouble.”
The maid nodded politely and left me by myself. I sat in a finely-upholstered sofa and waited. Soon after the maid returned with my tea, bringing it on an actual silver tray. I was impressed. The best finery I had in my life was a pair ivory chopsticks that had been passed down my family. Everything from the delicately-worked porcelain of the tea cup to the smooth cloth napkins told me just how different my upbringing had been from Tenshi's. I could not even begin to imagine what sort of values she was taught to uphold. They were probably nothing like that mundane concerns of a plebian like me.
“You've come to my home,” the young mistress said as she appeared. It was the first time I had seen her outside of her uniform. Puissant and captivating. She was far more audacious than I had given her credit for initially. Her outfit showed off a fair share of skin, sensuously teasing the viewer with a short skirt and a form-fitting blouse. As a red-blooded male I found it hard to stop staring. It would be a disservice to ignore her. Come to think about it, if anyone at school saw her like this, she could be our next idol.
“I wasn't about to let you disappear from my life with a scene like that. Melodrama is best reserved for soap operas,” I shrugged and casually took a sip of my tea. I was playing it cool. Confidence was the name of the game.
“I'm not surprised that you showed up,” she informed me as she sat down on a nearby chair. The pleats were a nice touch on her skirt. “I meant what I said last time, though. We're done. We can't see each other.”
“I thought you might say that,” I shot her a little wink, “so I came prepared.”
“Come to whisk me off to another selfish date?” she shook her head with a smile, “I'm a Hinanawi and am expected to act with decorum. I can't simply ignore the things I need to do for mere whim.”
“...did you get into trouble for last time?” I asked.
“It doesn't really matter now, does it?”
Her evasiveness confirmed my suspicion.
“I'm sorry, I just wanted you to have a good time. I don't want you to get into trouble for having a little fun. I want you to make that decision for yourself.”
“I'm fine with where I am,” she said dryly. I didn't believe her for a second.
“I'm going to have to apologize in advance this time,” I told her, “I came here to push you into making a few decisions of your own.”
I put the teacup down. It was time to act. It was time to make the acquaintance of her esteemed father with a suitable introduction.
 Boldly hold her hand while meeting daddy
 Solely express concern about her isolation at school
We are ballz deep in enemy territory. Arc has been farther than any other man his age has dared to tread. Tenshi seems to be "daddy's little girl". I sure he treasures her greatly. But here's my question: Why send her to a school where she'd be bound to interact with plebeians? Why not keep her entirely separate from the general population? It doesn't seem like Tenshi would be the one to assert her will and demand to attend a normal school. He had to either have thought of it, or at least somewhat embraced the idea of sending her there. If so, taking the safe route is acceptable. Showing that Arc is just a caring classmate would probably partially defuse whatever anger he would have at some high school schmuck audaciously inviting himself over.
But that is not our path. Tenshi got in trouble for staying out after school. Something does not really click for me. If indeed her father sent her to this normal high school, then why not give her a little freedom? The whole "come straight home after school" gig seems so overprotective and restricting that a father who says that sort of thing, wouldn't even bother sending his daughter to a public school in the first place.
I say we face him down and get to the bottom of this. Taking her father's wrath head on will probably set Arc apart from any other guy she'll ever meet. Unless Arc gets himself killed where he stands for incurring Lord Hinanawi's wrath. Then we start over from a few choices before this and pretend we never had this conversation.
>>44891 >Then we start over from a few choices before this and pretend we never had this conversation.
Yeah, no. I'm not going to rewrite anything in the story. You make your bed, you lie in it. You won't always get everything right but that's not a punishment, it's just a chance to see things from another perspective. It would cheapen the experience if you could just undo or try to min-max things. Just try to be consistent. No choice is ever 'bad' but it helps if you don't flail around wildly too often. Do what you feel is right and you won't have much in the way of problems.
Tenshi did not try to hide where her father was nor made any attempt to dissuade me from meeting him. I wasn't entirely sure it was a good thing. What appeared to be silent resignation seldom was. I thought it would at least get a stronger reaction than “suit yourself” for sure. She was definitely not a typical girl in that regard. Or young person. Most people our age would hesitate a little at a suggestion of wanting to meet their parents. Mostly because they so often embarrassed us. The less people that knew just how frightened we were of lightening until age twelve, the better usually.
She lead my up the main stairs and through a long and richly-decorated hallway. It felt almost as long as the morning walk to school. Past another, more private, sitting room there was a discrete side door. Tenshi knocked on the door. I grabbed onto her hand. Surprisingly, she didn't flinch or saying anything about it. Only I was a little nervous about the situation.
“What is it?” a grave voice came from the other side of the door.
“It's me, Papa,” Tenshi identified herself.
“Just a moment,” Papa said. A key turned on the other side of the door, unlocking it. The door opened and a tall man with a stout frame appeared. He wore a plain shit and nondescript trousers and a professorial-looking jacket. His face was weathered by age and experience but behind the steely cool eyes there lay a twinkle that, along with his somewhat unkempt hair, provided him with an almost boyish charm. The rough stubble on his chin added to his rugged but distinguished presence. “What do you want, my precious?”
“I've brought you someone who wanted to meet you,” she stated plainly. The elder Hinanawi's eyes looked me over silently on cue, examining me from head to toe. The urge to get out of there and bolt was something I had to fight off silently in my head. I felt his stare pause, deliberately so I would notice as well, on my hand. He didn't seem like he was going to smile anytime soon at the boy who was holding his daughter's hand.
“So it has come to this,” he said ominously. His calm and steady voice sent a shiver down my spine. Someone who saved their ire and directed it carefully was much more dangerous than someone who exploded at the drop of a hat. I half-expected him to ask Tenshi to fetch him his whipping cane. A scoundrel like me deserved no better. He ignored me for the moment, turning to Tenshi to say, “you've certainly chosen a very direct way of telling me that you've grown up. This day was inevitable but it came altogether too soon. You may leave now, I'll deal with you later.”
Tenshi nodded silently, giving me a look that said that this was what I had wanted and should have expected. She freed her hand from me. I didn't really have it in me to protest. I was telling myself that I had chosen to stand and stand I would, damn the consequences. Manly pride or foolish stubbornness. Either way I wasn't going to shirk the result.
“Step into my study,” Papa commanded after Tenshi had left. He directed me to a plush leather seat opposite a massive hardwood desk he sat at. The room was filled wall-to-wall with books, save for a window that overlooked the garden and a glass cabinet that was well-stocked with liquor. “Something to drink? It's the least I could do.”
“Nothing for me, sir.”
“Bah, I offer you the best money can buy and you decline? I import my own cognac, I'll have you know,” he grumbled as he poured himself a glass, neat. “No matter,” he said after he took the first sip, “we have much to discuss. I'm afraid that neither of us will like this conversation very much.”
“If I may-”
“No, not yet. Seniority gives me the right to speak first,” he narrowed his eyes as if to say “know your place”. I wasn't going to antagonize him further unless there was some obvious upside so I let him speak. “So you're trying to take my beloved daughter for yourself? My sole scion and my pride and joy. Quite the audacious act. Not only that but you've come to blatantly declare as much directly to me as we meet. Indulge me, if you will,” he swirled around the contents of his glass pensively, “how am I supposed to interpret your actions? A man is not a true man if he does not try to understand the motivations of others. He is just a simplistic brute, living by instinct and desire alone. Well then, what do you have to say for yourself?”
 Tenshi needs to make her own decisions
 She could use more influences in her life that come from beyond her home
As much as I normally refrain from pedantically pointing out typos, this one was just amusingly unfortunate.
[X] She needs use more influences in her life that come from beyond her home.
The first option sounds more assertive than the second, but it's not really within your jurisdiction to say, so I adjusted the second one to sound more like a strong argument.
You're not here to romance Tenshi, and for gods sake, you need to be honest about that. Anon has voted to continue the romance charade, but of all the people to not lie to, Big Daddy here is one of them.
Tenshi might "make her own decisions", but without outside influences, she might just choose to follow what's set out for her, ultimately maintaining the status quo.
You're here to throw a spanner into the works, in the best way possible. Stay on target!
>>44914 Both options are supposed to be about freedom. The difference is in how the idea is presented. The protagonist's assertiveness in the last few options have led to this sort of conclusion about the situation. Just putting that out there because the choices aren't usually meant to be opposites or polarizing. Often, like now, they're simply two directions of the same underlying thing.
Also replacing 'could' with 'need' there without at least removing 'use' makes the sentence lose meaning.
>>44934 This story has no 'routes'. Not in that sense anyways. There are characters you can befriend or become romantically involved with but the story won't become disproportionately skewed towards any one character for an extended period of time. Chances are if you want Tenshi, you'll see plenty of her.
“What I'm working towards is letting Tenshi have greater influence over her own life,” I said, “I want her to make her own decisions. It's the healthy way for her to go. She can't live as a slave to routine and keep doing things that she finds uninteresting. It's cruel and it won't let her grow as a person.”
“And that is the reason that you make a point of rubbing in the fact that you have a privileged relationship with my daughter?”
“Yes, she does as she's told because she has no other choice. She's confessed to me that she finds most of her activities absolutely boring.”
“Is that so...” Papa Hinanawi took a long drink from his glass. I hoped that he wouldn't dismiss me off hand but I knew better than to expect him to listen to me. After all, I was a stranger and a nobody telling him about his own flesh and blood. “Tell me, how long have you been involved with my daughter?”
“...a little over a week,” I answered truthfully even though I knew it seriously undermined the weight of my words.
“I thought it couldn't have been very long,” he placed the now empty glass on top of his desk, “I would have noticed if this had been going on for longer.”
“With all due respect, sir... the amount of time I've known your daughter and the time we've spent together doesn't change her lack of drive and satisfaction. She's wandering about life aimlessly, refusing to get close to people. She has no time to pursue her own dreams.”
“And that makes me a horrible father, I suppose?”
“I'm sure that you love your daughter very much...”
“Don't patronize me,” he interrupted. “If you're going to judge and condemn others, have the decency to be aware of all of the facts. “I have never forced my daughter to do anything against her will. She does her lessons and all of her activities out of her own will. If, at any time she should wish to change her schedule, I would be more than happy to help her however she wants. All I want is for my daughter to be happy.”
“She might think that she's letting you down by asking for change.”
“I love my daughter but that doesn't mean that I own her heart. I've given her everything she's ever wanted and been patient. I swore when her mother died that I would do my best to raise her. You're demanding that I let her choose what she thinks is best for herself – I always have. That is precisely why I allowed her to leave her old school and why I am having this pleasant little chat with you. Your smug little face isn't making it any easier, but I'm trying to keep her best interests as I always have.”
“...” I could only apologize clumsily, “I'm sorry. She won't talk much about herself except to say that she's busy and has no time for anything else. Please understand that it was only a natural conclusion that she was being forced into it.”
“So you do know how to behave yourself, after all,” the serious man cracked a self-indulgent smile. “Listen, you're on your own when it comes to understanding what's going on inside of her. I haven't been able to tell what that girl has been thinking since she was twelve. They grow up so fast and before you know it stop asking you for piggyback rides and ice cream sundaes.”
“And here I thought I had finally found a solution to get her to open up.”
“I have to hand it to you,” he reclined in his chair as he spoke, “you're either really care for her and are fearless or you are an incredible moron. It's probably unheard of for a schoolkid to confront his girlfriend's father on their first meeting.” He chuckled quietly at himself, “it reminds me a little of when I met her mother. I wanted to prove to her that I was worldly and dependable. Yet I had never even set food outside my own neighborhood.”
“She's not really my girlfriend,” I confessed.
“It doesn't matter what you may or may not be at the moment. You're trying to get close to my Tenshi and that means that you should treat her properly, or else.” The traces of good humor in his face completely managed in a moment of intense sobriety. It was a very real threat by a man who looked as serious as a heart attack. “I'll let her make her own mistakes but I won't stand for somebody else hurting her. Consider that a friendly tip.”
“I'll certainly keep it in mind.”
“Good, good, I hope you're satisfied then. I have a lot of work to do and I don't have time to get bogged down in talks about hypotheticals. You’re free to see yourself out,” he concluded with finality.
Nothing to do but to thank him for his time and leave quietly. As I closed the door behind me, I felt relief wash over me. I had played a dangerous game, I knew, and it turned out that I had been wrong about the very basic assumptions. Tenshi kept her old man at arm's length like she did everyone else. I couldn't decide whether or not that meant I would have an easier time of it.
I needed to have a talk with her.
 Confront her lack of desire to change
 Continue to encourage her change by trying to grow closer together
[x] Continue to encourage her change by trying to grow closer together
Welp. New theory.
>“Excess desire is harmful for the soul,” she said, as if to herself, “learning how to control oneself only comes from truly understanding extremes.”
>She added what sounded to me like a non-sequitur, “In order to purify one's soul it's important to let go of the parts of the past that weigh one down.”
Bhava-agra as seen through a child's mind.
First we (falsely) profess our undying love to Tenshi, then we take her out on a date, then we kiss her after said date. Arc already invited himself over and boldly confronted Tenshi's father. Now that we know that he isn't the problem, let's confront Tenshi and bring this out into the open. I see no better path that matches the steps we've already taken.
I feel we should confront her to see why she's being like this. Trying to get closer now before resolving this issue would result in her pushing Arc away again. Perhaps with the truth in our hands we can finally break through that barrier.
“So, are you satisfied now?” she asked me. I found her in the sitting room downstairs, calmly sipping a cup of tea as if nothing was amiss. Just a tiny bit vexing, I had to say. I went all-out to talk to her father, thinking that he was the root of the problem only to find out that that couldn't be further from the truth. It must have shown on my face that I wasn't pleased because she then added a “I take it you're not satisfied at all then.”
“No, I couldn't be,” I shook my head. “You're not bound at all by a strict father and his expectations. You can quit doing unpleasant things any time that you wanted.”
“And do what exactly?” she raised an eyebrow, “sit and stare sullenly at the wall, my mind busy concocting fantasies in which I have fun meeting new people and having adventures? Or perhaps I should devote myself to my school life and get good grades, join a club and maybe even find love with a fun-loving guy like you.”
“You can't expect to be happy if you don't at least make an effort to look for happiness. It won't just fall into your lap,” I argued.
“Hm, this coming from the man who forces himself into every situation, without even bothering to get the basic facts?” She sneered at me, “you're looking at me but only thinking of yourself. You're pushing to get to know me better but you're only trying it your way. I'm sure that it may have seemed romantic, in your mind, to fantasize about me falling for you after you gave my father a stern talking-to for keeping me caged but it certainly isn't to me.”
“That's unfair, I'm just trying to help you.”
“By pushing me along even after I tell you that I'm not interested? Don't you get it, I'm not interested in you or anyone else. I just want to be left alone. Let me find enlightenment by myself. Or, at least, some peace of mind.”
“You can't just decide to shut out the world so arbitrarily.” The girl in front of me was deep inside her own shell, unwilling to even peek at the reality around her. I was reaching out to her, telling her to grab my hand but she just wouldn't. Why? I didn't understand how she could be so stubborn in her drive for isolation. She was punishing herself by depriving herself of life. I tried to talk some sense into her, “It's alright to take it slow and shelter yourself a little but you can't just pretend that you're not suffering for it.”
“To deny worldly desire and to act indifferent to hardship is part of the path to self-actualization and enlightenment,” she parroted, almost mechanically. Tenshi stared into her teacup, her eyes focused on something far more distant than the tea.
“You're just punishing yourself for no good reason. Even if you don't want to tell me what it is that's really bothering you I can at least ease your burden a little by being there to help you through it.”
“No...” she mumbled, her eyes never moving away from the infinity beyond, “you can't understand. My fate is my own.”
I had run out of words. I could feel myself getting upset at the situation. It was pathetic to let it get to me so easily.
 Go home before things get out of control
 Tell her off
It's true. He can't understand. Because she won't let him. Why not tell her he's been lying while he's at it? I'm not expecting this to work, but I am expecting it to feel great. Or terrible. Feel something.
Or we could go home and commence operation kill her with kindness. That's fine too. Boring, but fine.
What kind of strange twisted world did we get into? A Tenshi that feels guilt and is serious about enlightenment? It'd be plausible down the line in the Gensokyo we know, but not in this modern world AU scenario. I have to wonder what's next? A social Rinnosuke? A social Reisen?
But it raises a bigger question: just what the hell happened to get a teenage girl thinking about enlightenment in a world like this?
I sense if logic won't do it, emotion will.
But I think we found out the root of it: She's trying to shut everything off for her quest for "enlightenment", including schoolwork. Honestly if people choose to go home, I wouldn't raise an argument.
>>44969 That desire for enlightement is probably not her own, by the way. The way she's "mechanically" repeating that makes me think that it's something she doesn't really want, but that she feels forced to do.
If I dared, I would think that it's her mother's wish or something like that. Some kind of promise. But throwing away your own happiness won't make people around her happy. She's trying to become a celestial by avoiding everything, kinda like a hermit. Trying to use her desires against her won't work, but I think we should try to make her understand that it's not working.
“You know,” I said, trying to gather my thoughts. A burning hot sensation was welling up from deep within me and threatened to consume me like a violent flame. It really was no use. The most I could hope for was retaining a modicum of control. I shook my head, closing my eyes and wincing as if to brace myself. “I'm going to regret this,” I mumbled to myself the obvious truth. “No one can exist by just themselves. You shouldn't assume that we're all incapable of knowing what you're going through and what you want. There are shared experiences that make us able to understand one another.”
The empathy angle was as far as I got with strictly rational talk. It was her indifference that drove me over the edge. Her apathy towards the situation, towards me and towards the universe itself. Seeing her, helpless, subdued and hoping for a miraculous deliverance made my body feel like it was undergoing calcination.
I snapped at her, “you're not the only who's thought that finding peace of mind was the most important goal in life you know. You're not special and, chances are, you'll never be at peace with yourself. Because, hey, that's just the kind of being we are. Flawed and stupid. We cling on to stupid beliefs and hurt ourselves at almost every possible opportunity. But that's not a bad thing! We learn and we give our hearts to others. Life is interesting because we experience it together.
“Why don't you understand that? You're an intelligent girl with the world as your oyster. It frustrates me to see you like this. Hell, it probably frustrates your old man as well. And, you know what else? So fruggin' what if I'm forceful and doing things one-sidedly? It's only because I decided that you were worth my while. Most people would either find it flattering or insulting. You find it neither. Just a distraction. That's not normal!
“You're trying to have it both ways. By living this comfortable life of going to school, following a routine and generally not having time to think you're cheating yourself of the chance to really tackle whatever it is that you need to. Didn't you say that enlightenment was about rejecting the worldly? Well, take a look around! All this crap and your lifestyle is very worldly. You're just being a hypocrite. But, worst of all, you don't understand that it's not a bad thing to be a little hypocritical! It's part of being a normal person. I'll be damned if I don't do stupid things all the time for illogical reasons all the time. You've pointed it out to me several times. Why can't you accept other people doing the same for you?”
I ranted a while longer, fueled by her stoic behavior. She didn't flinch, respond or contest what I said. She just sat there, motionless and looking like she was just a doll. I couldn't do anything about it. I felt like I was fuming by the end of it. Even so, she said nothing. I thought of doing something more extreme like shaking her out her stupor or even pushing her down to just get her attention. I knew it wouldn't work.
So I left. There was no need to make her witness to how I self-immolated any further. My pulse was up and I was sure that I was red in the face from shouting. I couldn't even wait for the maid to open the gate – I simply climbed a tree and hopped over the fence. It was a big drop and I might have hurt my knee a little, but I couldn't even feel it. I was incredibly frustrated. Not just for having my plans for the day completely thwarted but also because I truly wanted her to understand what I was raving on about. She was on a destructive path. Instead of abusing life, like many young girls her age do, and regretting it she was abusing a distinct lack of life. Didn't she see that she was going to end up an empty husk, with only regret to keep her company?
I kicked a can while walking my foul mood off. That is, until I kicked it too hard and flew straight into someone's yard. Times of stress demanded ways to vent. I cursed myself for being broke. That limited my options severely.
 Mooch alcohol and don't take no for an answer
 Fine someone to take it out on
"Tenshi, you are hereby found guilty of apathy and are fined one million yen, payable to the Hakurei Shrine."
In all seriousness, though:
[X] Find someone to take it out on
-[X] Find Alice and let it all out. She'll be willing to listen to your worries, and is dedicated enough to you that she almost certainly won't blab to anyone if you tell her not to.
>>44998 >>44993 Please no write in votes unless I ask for them. They simply don't work when they're meant to substitute choices that determine who to meet/where to go. They're more appropriate for details/fluff.
>>44986 >An Alice consolation H-scene is fine too.
I bet that would go down with something like a "I'll make you forget all about that silly girl. Just relax and let me take care of you", huh? Never lose your optimism and I promise to never lose my zeal for purple prose and cliched romance.
>>44979 Didn't I already imply what sort of drunk he is? Serious question there. Sometimes what I remember writing and what I actually wrote doesn't match up.
Anyways, can't write for a while due to real-life obligations. Six hours at least, maybe more if I crash and have to sleep (might be a good idea after the last typo from rephrasing the choices at the last moment). So vote/revote (in the case of the two people above) if you like in the meanwhile. The choices aren't as self-destructive as you might imagine because, let's be honest, no one wants to read about pointless abuse in a slice-of-life story. It also doesn't fit the character.
I prowled through the streets, hands in my pocket and a chip on my shoulder. For the most part I encountered no one, normal people evidently had better things to do than wander residential streets on a weekend afternoon. No one bothered me or even acknowledged me if they saw me. A scowling youth mumbling to himself was an obvious warning to keep away. The average person was, if anything, non-confrontational.
Tough gangs of delinquents that hung around old warehouses or under a bridge didn't really exist in real life. I couldn't get myself into real trouble even if I wanted to. School rivalries and the occasional scuffle after sports meets was pretty much how bad it got for the average wannabe tough guy. Fantasies of letting out stress and frustration through justification by fisticuffs were completely unrealistic. Any and all therapeutic violence had to be directed towards myself and with words. But that was no good, it wasn't what I needed.
Home, sweet home. I eventually found my way back to my cozy two-floor residence without even really trying to get back. It was just a default destination. The TV was on and I knew who to expect on the couch, eating junk food and drinking beer.
“Yo, got bored of playing around already?” she lazily greeted me. Sure enough she was melted over the couch, arms dangling off the edge with a half-eaten bag of chips within reach.
I rolled my eyes in response. I wasn't in the mood to deal with her slovenly ways.
“What's eating you?” she frowned, “you're giving me a look that says that I'm a moron.”
“It's nothing, I'm just not in a good mood,” I dismissed her and started to walk towards the stairs.
Usually that would be that. The sulky charge slinks away to his room while his guardian chalks it up to just part of being young. Not with this guardian and not with my luck. She was not at all put off by my statement. Auntie casually asked, “what, did you just get dumped or something?”
I flinched. Close enough. It wasn't the truth but she didn't know that. The result was that she smelled blood, “so you did get dumped then. Ohoho, I see how it is now. I'm surprised that anyone would go out with you in the first place.”
“Really, can't you just can it?” I glared at her, “that's not what happened and I don't need you speculating about my private life yet again.”
“I'm legally responsible for you,” she reminded me with a smile, “and besides, I feel that I owe it to you to share my life experience to help you out.”
“Shut up, you're only like a couple of years older.”
“So this is why you've come home,” she ignored me. “Don't you usually go to your short school friend whenever you've got some kind of problem?” Don't tell me she was the one that dumped you!" Oh my poor baby...”
“Seriously, shut up. You know it's not like that with Suika. She's just a good friend.”
“Could have fooled me. I would have guessed that you were friends with benefits at the very least.”
“Can you hear yourself talk? This is exactly why I don't share my problems with you,” I was not amused, “you always make the stupidest assumptions.” For reasons even unknown to me I bothered to deign her with an explanation, “if I saw her she'd just make me drink and I don't feel like drinking right now.”
“Hey, you know that I disapprove of you drinking.”
“Says the manager of a liquor store who comes home and drinks ungodly amounts of beer while watching TV.”
“Fine, I don't really care that much,” she shrugged, “I know you can handle yourself but it doesn't mean that I can just ignore what society thinks.”
“Well, I'm going up to my room now,” I shook my head, not sure if I was pleased how the conversation went.
“Take my advice: go and have a fun time with your friends. Whoever it is that upset you – I mean whatever it is – you'll forget all about it. Holing yourself up in your room will just make you more miserable.”
“I'll just deal with my stress by playing computer games or something.” A one credit clear run of Pillar of Belief ought to do the trick nicely. Resisting the urge to not to panic bomb in stage 4 was the hardest thing.
“Oh, grow up,” she chided me, “I'm sure the neighbor girl would just love to talk to you about whatever. Heaven knows why she even bothers when you're such an idiot.”
 Drop in to see Alice
 Computers are more important
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“Don't stay out too late,” Auntie waved me off from the couch with an annoying grin on her face. She returned to her variety programs as I went off next door.
I rang the doorbell. “Just a minute,” I could hear Alice moving beyond the door, probably coming down the stairs. She looked a bit surprised to see me. “Oh, what can I do for you?” she asked.
“I was...” I thought up a lie on the spot, “just bored and figured I'd see what you were up to. I'm not interrupting anything, am I?”
She shook her head, “no, not at all. I was just trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Come on in.”
“Thanks,” I told her, feeling a bit uneasy. It didn't feel right to expect her to make me feel better. It was selfish of me. But she really didn't seem to mind my sudden appearance. On the contrary, she was all too happy to see me in and offer me something to drink.
“So long as you're here, won't you stay for dinner?” she asked, adding, “Mama is out of town at the moment so I was just going to cook for myself. It'd be nice to have some company.”
“If it's not too much trouble, I'd be happy too,” I replied. Much meeker than usual. There was a certain awkwardness I couldn't help but feel. Sure, I had come to take my mind off of things but it didn't mean I was entirely sold on simply exploiting her. I wasn't that selfish. “Do you want me to help?”
“No, it's alright, watch some TV if you like. I can handle things in the kitchen.”
I was dismissed. There was nothing good on TV, so I kept the volume down and mostly spent the time watching the sun go down. The street lamps came to life. One by one, the lights in the neighborhood came on in succession. I lay on the couch, much like Auntie had in my own home, staring up at the ceiling. It was a good way to pass the time. Beer probably would have made it a better-rounded experience, I had to admit. Maybe the slob really was onto something when she said that she knew the trick to being happy.
From the direction of the kitchen, the sweet aroma of food wafted into the living room. It woke up my appetite. That's right – I hadn't had anything all day. Too nervous in the morning and too upset in the afternoon. All around pathetic. But I tried not to dwell on those kinds of thoughts too much. I could hear Alice humming a soft melody so I focused on that. She wasn't half-bad. Not a virtuoso or anything but as far as humming went, it was pretty good. It at least relaxed me a little.
“Dinner is ready,” she called from the adjoining dining room. I didn't have to be told twice. By then I was hungry enough to eat a horse. Alice had set the table already, the food was steaming inside of the large bowl. A beef stew of sorts by the look of it. I was raring to try it, it smelled great at any rate. “I hope that it's to your liking,” she said modestly.
“I'm sure it will be, you know that I'm not picky.” I waited for her to sit down before helping myself to a serving.
“Not everyone enjoys western food.” she fidgeted, looking a bit worried at the generous portion I was serving myself. “I would have made something else but I had already prepared most of the ingredients beforehand.”
“It's fine,” I smiled, “as I seem to recall, you're a pretty ok cook. You do great in home ec.”
“That's only because I already do a lot of those things on my own time, like sew.”
“Right, for your dolls,” I recalled. She made them completely from scratch, something which was impressive for a girl my age. The clothes and accessories were all made by hand using her considerable skill. I waited before she had served herself some food before digging in. Ah! Rich and smooth, with that great capsicum taste. I took in another spoonful, mindful to try the beef. It was tender and juicy. “This is great!” I beamed my approval.
“I'm glad to hear it,” she looked genuinely relieved, “Mama always makes me goulash so I'm confident that I've learned the secrets of how to bring out the flavor in the ingredients over the years. You have to do a good job of cooking the meat, so the collagen turns into gelatin. It takes a bit of practice to get it just right.”
“Yeah, it sure seems like it.” I added with a laugh, “maybe I should show up for dinner more often. At my place I'm the only one who cooks and it's mostly easy stuff like rice or a stir fry. This is a great change of pace.”
That comment seemed to have really pleased her. She insisted I eat to my heart's content. Which likely meant heartburn, considering just how much I ate. Still, I couldn't complain. It was thoroughly delicious. A sure sign of a truly great meal was when you couldn't get up from the chair for at least ten minutes. She insisted that I do nothing while she cleared the table and refused my offer to help her wash up. I half-suspected that it was because she underestimated my cleaning abilities but I kept quiet.
“Thanks for the meal,” I leaned back in my chair. “It was exactly what I needed.”
She showed me a toothy grin as if to say that I was a hopeless idiot. She was right about that, I really was one. But I never let my idiocy get in the way of enjoying myself.
 Strike up a conversation about <topic>
Here you are, a legit opportunity for a write-in. The funnest vote wins, though a majority and/or reasoning will influence what I pick. Have fun.
[x] "If you were alone on a boat ride on a date, and the guy asked for your three sizes, what would you tell him?"
-[x] "And if you're not on a boat ride on a date with a stranger, but in your house with the neighbour...what would your answer be?"
[X] Ask what's going on among the female students. Maybe you can find out about what's happened while you've been distracted! You've been a little curious about this new miko, for one...
Forget about Reisen. Sanae is the one in need of screentime. I can't fucking believe it you guys let go the chance to meet her. Fuck, she hasn't been mentioned again ever since, and it's already been a week or two after that one chance of seeing her.
[x] "If you were alone on a boat ride on a date, and the guy asked for your three sizes, what would you tell him?"
-[x] "And if you're not on a boat ride on a date with a stranger, but in your house with the neighbour...what would your answer be?"
[x] "If you were alone on a boat ride on a date, and the guy asked for your three sizes, what would you tell him?"
-[x] "And if you're not on a boat ride on a date with a stranger, but in your house with the neighbour...what would your answer be?"
[x] Ask about her day today and her plans for the rest of the night. Ask her how she's been.
I'd prefer to make Alice time about Alice, and not some other girl(s). I'm sure there will be plenty of time for other girls when we talk to them. Sure, maybe we'll lose a bit of insight into current affairs at the school courtesy of Alice, but I think it'd cheapen the time we spent here if we spent it talking about other people. I doubt idle chit chat would be seen as "fun", but that's what I'm most fond of seeing.
[x] Ask about her day today and her plans for the rest of the night. Ask her how she's been.
I really do enjoy the small talk. It could also make her flustered and such. Why? Because Arc suddenly showing interest in her should get some sort of reaction. A better one than asking her three sizes at least. Or I could be wrong.
This is pretty great. You guys have thought up nice ideas. There's some common ground too in the votes so I can use that as well. Since I don't want to see your efforts go to waste I'm going to have a follow up scene as a reward. Please wait warmly and I'll have an update ready in no time at all.
Oh, and to the Sanae guy: Chill. This is the type of story where you can have a lot going on with a lot of different characters without closing off other possibilities. Also you might not want to antagonize Reisen fans. They have become increasingly desperate at the lack of Reisen routes on the site.
“You know, I've been thinking lately about you. Not too much, but more than usual,” I told her. “And I'm not just saying that because it's a set up to something.”
“Don't keep me in suspense then,” she said with some apprehension in her voice. I already knew that she could see what was coming. That's just the way things worked when you knew someone for years like we did. Alice sat down back at the table, now drinking a bit of post-dinner tea.
“Well, let's just imagine a hypothetical scenario for a moment,” I set out the bait, “you were out on a date with a certain gentleman. A pleasant afternoon of peace and bliss which culminates in a boat ride. After you've been rowed some ways out from shore you take it upon yourselves to talk for a little bit. Out of the blue the gentleman makes a bold inquiry. It's about your measurements. What would you say to that?”
“Seriously?” she looked at me with a raised eyebrow. Yeah, I knew better than to expect something serious as an answer.
“Well, ok, fair enough. Let's change it up a bit. Instead of a boat you're in your home, enjoying a little chat after dinner with the neighbor boy. If he asked you about your three sizes, what would you tell him.”
“I'd call him an idiot. He should know better than to ask stupid questions.”
“That's what I imagined would happen.”
“But...” she added, “there would be other ways to find that sort of thing out. Maybe.”
“Who knows?” she shrugged, “life is full of mysteries. Some are harder to figure out than others.”
I joined her, pouring myself a cup of black tea. It had a strong flavor but it wasn't overpowering. Perhaps saying that it was a distinct blend would be a better way to describe it. Alice and her mother made their own blends by adding bits of dried fruit rind, among other things, to the tea leaves. They were really into experimenting and producing new tastes. That particular blend had an effect of cleansing the palate and I likewise changed our conversation, “So what have you been up to today?”
“Nothing too exciting,” she admitted. “I went out to buy thread and ran into a few classmates. We talked and had tea together but, then again, we do get together often enough already. I've spent most of the day home, doing the chores since Mama is gone and making a new dress for Shanghai.”
“I can never remember the names of your dolls. Which is which, that is.”
“I don't expect you would,” she said, “after all, you're not a girl like I am.”
“I don't think it's just about being a girl.” Her passion went beyond that of the typical girl who surrounded herself with dolls and plushies. Alice's interest extended to the making and maintaining of her own army of dolls, her children in a way. She certainly treated them well and was always spending money on material for dresses and accessories. The end result were several very unique, very cute dolls.
“Yes, it's one of my hobbies,” she admitted. It made her happy to just talk about it. So I indulged her, let her talk for a while about the latest thing she was up to. No trace of the dour and stern girl who was quick to chastise me for any and all misstep was visible. She was simply a happy, smiling young girl for the time being.
Once we finished our tea, I asked, “Do you have any plans for the rest of the evening?”
“Not really, it's a school day tomorrow so I won't be staying up too late.” She turned the question around on me, “I take it you're going to be up late doing heaven-knows-what again?”
“I... don't know. I don't have anything I want to do tonight. Not anymore, anyways.”
“Should I even ask?” Her implication was that I would probably not tell her anyways. She was mostly right about that.
“You shouldn't bother.”
An awkward silence developed. We both kept staring at each other, not sure what to say. It was entirely because we were too mindful of what the other person was thinking and were strangely non-confrontational. I could blame dinner all I wanted but I knew that there was something else to it. Maybe it was my mixed track record as of late but my self-confidence wasn't exactly through the roof. So instead we let a cycle of bashfulness feed into itself.
 Come to think of it, where did her mom go anyways?
 ...never mentioned just how lovely her eyes are
>>45079 Oh, I get it. It's a conspiracy. Everything on the site always is. Let's move on, please
[X] Come to think of it, where did her mom go anyways?
Honestly, I think that complimenting Alice on her eyes is not one of the better things to do now. It's a nice evening with a friend after a tiring day for Arc. I think it's best to just keep this to R&R, and asking about Alice's mom is good chit chat.
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“...what?” she was the first to speak up. The silent staring had gone off for what felt like an uncomfortable eternity.
Another awkward pause.
“Ah, it's nothing,” I forced out.
“...you're staring at me, it seems like you have something to say to me.”
“It's nothing too important,” I tried to back down from the forced conversation. The fact of the matter was that I was indeed staring at her and couldn't find anything else to look at. A weak excuse but it was the best one that my brain could come up with. Having a pair of lazy eyes was a close second.
“If it's not a big deal, just say it.”
I finally relented, “I was just thinking how I never noticed how nice your eyes were. They're got a dignified symmetry and captivating color.”
“...” Alice went quiet.
“Told you it was nothing,” I forced a chuckle, “just me having a random stupid thought.”
“No,” she shook her head gently. Her eyes closed as if she was deep in thought. Alice thanked me, “it feels nice to hear a compliment even it is nothing more than just a random thought.”
I fell back into old habits. Hard not to when faced with a strangely unfamiliar mood and situation. I teased her, “what, are you blushing? It's just your childhood friend telling you something stupid. Go ahead and call me an idiot like you always do.”
“Alright,” she laughed, the usual edge to her words missing entirely, “you're a moron for thinking of such pointless things. And I'm not blushing! Who would blush after a compliment from you?”
“Yeah, that's good,” I laughed myself, this time a lot more naturally. “Don't forget to say something about me being too full of myself.”
“I was just getting to it,” she cleared her throat for added gravitas, “you're too cocky for your own good. You may deceive innocent people all the time with your conniving ways, but I'm immune to your wily ways. It's my job to make sure you're on a righteous path in life because no one else will bother.”
“Bravo!” I started clapping. Alice, the thespian, nodded with due satisfaction. “Encore! Encore!” the audience just couldn't get enough of her performance.
She indulged her loving fans, adding, “your situation must seem hopeless to the casual observer. But I am a patient woman. I'll bring out the proper young man underneath all that snark and rebellion even if it means the end of me. There may be no God or Buddha in this world but I, Alice Margatroid, will pick up the slack for them!”
It was a heartwarming scene. Two people who had known each other for a long time making fun of themselves and their relationship. It deferred the uncomfortable connotations of my earlier words and the weird atmosphere to a future, unspecified, awkward pause. For the moment, sticking our heads in the sand seemed like the way to go.
“I shouldn't impose on you any longer,” I told her. A serious girl like her probably had more chores to do before being able to take a bath and dedicate some time to herself. I had to admit that her self-discipline was an admirable trait of hers.
“Well... if you say so,” she sounded almost a little disappointed. But that couldn't be. Her riposte was as well-directed as always, “try not to stay up too late, remember that we have class tomorrow. I shouldn't have to wake you up every day.”
“Hey, sometimes the alarm wakes me up,” I defended my self, “it's just that I keep hoping that a sweet angel will take pity on me and-”
“Please don't finish that thought,” she rightly cut me off. A shame because kind, beautiful women were always relevant.
“Well then, I can't promise you anything then.”
“Just take it easy on me, please. You're always so crabby in the morning.”
“Well, I could make an exception, if I got a little something in return...”
“I'm not going to bribe you.”
“It's nothing like that, I mean a good childhood friend like you wouldn't mind it anyways. You said you'd take care of me, right?”
“Beating sense into you if I had to,” she stated warily.
 Her food was too good and it'd be a waste not to ask for a packed lunch
 A goodnight kiss would keep away trouble
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“What? If you're going to say something, do it before I close the door on you,” Alice said with a sigh. The silent showdown at the threshold wasn't going down the way I would have liked it to.
I at last was able to gather my courage and made my demand, “make me lunch tomorrow. I liked your food, I want more. I won't take no for an answer.” Don't tread on me, live free or die and let me thrive in peace. At least one of those messages applied to the situation.
“You want me to make you food?” she asked, as if she wasn't sure that that was indeed my demand.
“Yes. Make it a large serving too. I'll be hungry.” I had read in a crime novel that the key to walking away from a hostage situation was to make large demands first and then compromise with more realistic ones. Everyone was happy that way. A crafty criminal mind like mine had the upper hand here. So I just piled on the demands, “It better be last meal tier cooking as well.”
Alice raised an eyebrow. I thought that she was going to tell me to go gargle broken glass for a moment. The fact that she could be so intense and unreadable made her a little frightening at times.
“...and you'll be up bright and eager tomorrow if I do it?”
“That's the deal.”
“Sure, it's not a problem,” she shrugged, “I usually make a little too much every time so it won't be a problem to make a tiny bit more.” It was then that I realized that I had set myself up. She was only too happy to make me lunch. It'd save her the dual headaches of getting me out of bed and having me scrounge around the class for food, feeding off scraps of the more generous classmates.
“Wait, I changed my mind-”
“I'm glad we've reached this understanding,” she smiled at me. It was a cold smile, of a predatory animal playing with its prey before it devoured it. “Good night then! I'll see you tomorrow. Look forward to lunchtime.”
She closed the door on me before I could weasel my way out of the deal. Damn I was stupid. I let my stomach get in the way of cynical manipulation. In some far-off and forgotten crypt, long-dead masters of the illuminati rolled in their coffins.
Vanquished, I returned home and did my part. There was no point in acting like a petulant child and throwing a tantrum just because I got a rotten deal. It would just mean double the trouble for no trade off. I set my alarm and turned in early. Annoyingly enough, I was awake even before the alarm went off. Even my own body had betrayed me. I got dressed and had a proper breakfast (for once) and was done long before Alice showed up.
I didn't let her gloat, so I acted like it wasn't really a whole half hour earlier than we usually left. Thankfully, she was merciful in triumph, and did not rub her victory in. We just leisurely strolled towards school, enjoying the morning air and the sunshine. It would be summer soon. Before that, graduation was just around the corner. The seniors would be gone and we'd take their place. Finally I'd be on top of the malcontent pecking order. I could raise the bar on being a truant and smartass even higher.
Ah, there was also the matter of the switch to summer uniforms. That was something to look forward to.
Our classroom was deserted when we got there. We were practically the first. I sat down at my desk and used my time productively, staring out the window. I would have taken a nap, but the enemy within had successfully launched a sabotage program in my body. I was awake and alert. It made me feel uncomfortable knowing that I couldn't just slip off into the joyful embrace of dreamland.
“Oi! You're here early,” Suika greeted me when she arrived. “Did you two have a fight or something?”
“How does that even make sense?” If anything, a fight would make me want to stay home.
“Well, you're the type that likes to spite people. So you'd come early on your own to make her feel bad, or something.”
Oh, that did sort of sound like something I would do. If I was going to be forced to be petty, I usually went whole hog. “Yeah, that's not what happened. I just got up early today, no real reason.”
Give me a break. To add insult to injury, even the teacher made a fuss when she got in, “You're not sleeping! Wow, did hell freeze over when I wasn't looking?”
Naturally, the class found her incredulity amusing. I didn't. Everyone had a poor image of me, the bastards. Even Marisa gave me a cheerful nod of approval as if to say that she was glad that I had gotten in earlier than she had.
That's why I couldn't help myself. During our mid-morning break I decided that I had had enough. I took a walk by myself, to clear my head. Before I Knew it, it was already nearly time for the next class.
 Bear with classes until lunch
 Take it easy on the roof
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I found myself staring up at the sky. The warmth of the morning sun felt good. The roof really was the best thing that had happened to me lately, it drastically improved my mood every time I came up. Time just flew by when I was doing absolutely nothing at all.
Before I could get too relaxed, however, I heard voices coming from the direction of the stairwell. Naturally, I bolted to a hiding spot. There really were only two places to hide up on the roof. On the lateral wall of the stairwell exit (someone from the door could see almost everything but that spot) and on the flat roof of the stairwell. I hadn't bothered to lock the door behind me. Thinking that it was possibly a teacher, I used the little auxiliary ladder to climb to the smaller roof. If anyone came up there I could always jump to the larger roof and try to get through the stairwell door before I could be identified.
I lay down flat as I could, trying to make it so I would be hard to spot if someone went to the opposite end of the rooftop. The voices got louder. Girls, definitely. Not a teacher. Still, I stayed in place. There was no guarantee that they would be cool about finding me on the roof. I didn't want to be ratted out if at all possible. I peered over the edge as they came through the door. I recognized them. Not by name. However, I was sure that they were in the same grade. A short girl with short hair and a self-confident way of walking along with another, taller girl with dual braids, who was always with her. It rang a bell. Class D, I was pretty sure. The short one was some sort of wealthy heiress and the taller one was a handmaiden of sorts. Servant, at any rate.
A bit of an odd couple, I thought. It must have been difficult working for another girl your age. I could make out what they wer saying now since there was no wind on the roof.
“What did I tell you, Sakuya?” the shorter girl spoke, “not only is the roof open but it's deserted. We can do as we please here.”
'Sakuya' looked around, as if sizing up the place. I backed away from the edge, wary of being spotted.
“You were correct, mistress,” she said.
“We're alone, Sakuya, you can drop the formalities,” the other girl commanded. I heard their footsteps, they were coming back towards me. “I just can't hold myself back anymore, are you ready?”
“As always, Remi,” the tall girl changed to a warmer tone of voice.
For some reason they had come up to the side of the stairwell, like they were hiding from prying eyes. They stopped talking for a while and I wasn't sure what they were up to. I heard them whisper, but couldn't make out what they were saying. My curiosity won out and so I inched myself slowly towards the edge.
I couldn't believe what I saw. I had to check again in order to convince myself that I wasn't just seeing things. A pair of skirts and jackets were spread on the concrete like a protective sheet. The two girls... they were down to their underwear, laying on top of the clothes, bodies intertwined. The short one was being aggressive, kissing her scantily-clad friend without the slightest trace of hesitation. I had been wrong earlier; What I had thought were whispers were, in fact, soft moans. As well as sharing passionate tongue-filled kisses, their hands were moving, both of them caressing the other.
Holy crap. I couldn't get caught looking at them. I was in a very bad situation. Not only could I not hope to explain myself to them in a rational manner, but I couldn't get away unnoticed either. There was also the potential fallout if they accused me of harassing me. In a their word vs. mine situation I think I was screwed.
“Mmm, Sakuya, you're just wonderful with your fingers~!” The short girl's voice trembled in pleasure. She was being loud and didn't seem to care that someone might overhear.
“Ahn, Remi... don't bite me there!”
“I can't help it,” Remi laughed, “you're just too delicious.”
“I'll have to get back at you then,” Sakuya returned an coquettish laugh of her own.
Though part of me wanted to see them go at it, there was no safe way of going about it. Even if they were distracted... with each other, all it took was a wayward glance up the wall and they'd see me. Well, at least I still had my imagination. They were making enough noise to leave very little a complete blank, truth be told. And when one of them went quiet and the other started moaning and panting harder, I knew what was going down. Who, rather. The crescendos that led to climax soon followed.
They weren't easily satisfied either, much to my amusement. They went at it like animals in heat. I couldn't move and I couldn't do anything but it wasn't that bad of a prison. I couldn't take it easy on the roof like I had wanted to originally, but I didn't let the small things worry me too much.
At last, after a marathon, they were done. Without a worry in the world, they cuddled up against the wall, half-dressed and basking in the afterglow. I snuck a peek periodically to confirm whether or not they were still there. It was close to lunchtime when they finally decided to move on. They got dressed and left, talking to each other casually as if they hadn't just screwed each others' brains out for a good chunk of the morning.
I wobbled down the ladder when I was certain that the coast was clear. I passed the spot where they had lain together, quite a few specks of glistening fluid marked the area. How messy, one of them was a squirter. I tried to laugh it off, still not sure how to react to the entirely surreal experience. School had a bigger share of actual lascivious behavior than I had imaged. That was the sort of story that would be written down in a dirty magazine as some sort of idealized fantasy. Of course, in that type of story, the lucky observer would be asked to come and join in as well. That sort of thing just didn't happen in real life.
I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself down. Even if I hadn't been directly involved, it had been an exciting experience. I only left the roof after I was sure I was completely back to normal. And I made sure to lock the door behind me.
 Bring up the topic of forbidden or secret love during lunch
 Let it go
>>45155 Well, the option is kind of vague. Who are we bringing it up to? No such specification has been made. I'd bring it up to Suika, our bro. However, I'd keep mum about it with Alice, Marisa, and virtually everyone else. Should we add "Tell Suika only" to it? I'm not sure, this author is specific about his write-ins being allowed only when asked for, so the least I can say is "make it interesting."
I'm sorry if the choice seems a little vague, it's not meant to implicate any one particular person. Just a topic to bring up without going into the specifics. It doesn't seem like there's been much of a turnout this time which is a bit of a shame. I can't write right away but will get around to it in an hour or two. Votes still open until then just because it may be a while. Probably won't matter anyways.
>>45147 As a writer and long-time user of this site I have to tell you to lurk forever. Perhaps also add that the inspirations for style and pacing have been clearly stated several times. As a mod, however, I have to tell you to ease up on the pointlessly inflammatory posts. The only reason you weren't banned for the "[x]/at/" spam was that Kahi didn't really seem to care about the derailment in his thread. I, on the other hand, do care about what goes on in my threads.
tl;dr - constructive posts = good, flame bait = bad
>>45069 For gods sake, calm down man...
We've seen Reisen, like, once.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to see some more of her.
Nobody here wants to ruin this story.
The Sanae-fan (which I'm guessing is you?) has been using the same argument, that we've only seen her once as well.
Anyway, I want to say that I'm liking this story!
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“Hey, are you listening to me?”
“No, sorry,” I looked up at Reimu,'what were you saying?”
“I'm was just giving you friendly advice,” she said, “Stop skipping class, you're bound to get into trouble.”
“Don't worry about it,” I forced a smile, “I can handle the teachers.” I was more concerned with another sort of trouble. Despite my best efforts it was hard to forget when I saw on the roof. Still, I couldn't tell anyone or even allude to it. They wouldn't understand and it'd just put me in an uncomfortable spot of explaining myself. So I tried to pretend like nothing happened, letting go of superfluous thoughts.
The classroom buzzed with the usual lunchtime liveliness. About half of the class left for the lunchroom (moslty boys) as soon as the bell rang while the rest took out their packed lunches (mostly girls). Desks were brought together in groups of three or four and little groups formed around them. Reimu often ate with Alice (other times she'd meet with friends in other classes, part of being popular), and had invited Marisa over to join them.
“Not going to grab something from the cafeteria?” Suika asked me.
“Nah, I've got a proper lunch today.”
“Oh, congrats man. So the missus is finally making you meals, huh?”
“Shaddup,” I snarled. The annoying runt always managed to hit the nail on the head.
“Ooo, scary,” she laughed, “I better go before I'm shown just how ugly love can be.”
Yeah, you better. That intimidating glare of mine totally put her in her place, I told myself.
I watched expectantly as Alice reached into her bag and pulled out a carefully-wrapped bundle. Score. It was a double dccker. Ah, that was a bit premature on my part. She opened the bundle up and revealed that there were two plastic containers. She handed one of them over to me, “here's yours.”
“Thanks,” I meant it. No matter how screwed over I had gotten, I couldn't hold a grudge when it came to me getting food. Food is best enjoyed with a sunny disposition, otherwise everything tastes bitter. I opened the container to find a richly varied meal. Rice, sausage, even a few veggies arranged with care so that they wouldn't get damaged during transit.
I was done pretty quickly. Hard to put down something that tasted that nice. Way better than the rolls they had at the cafeteria. All was forgiven, Alice.
“Wow, you really powered through that,” Marisa sounded truly astonished. Yeah, maybe I had eaten a little too fast. I just hoped that my stomach would forgive me.
“He can be a bit simple at times,” Alice commented, still working her way through her identical lunch. She wasn't even halfway done.
“Still, I'm a little jealous,” Marisa added, “he ate your food like it was the best thing in the world. I'm kind of curious just how good of a cook you are.”
“...you can try a bit from mine, if you want,” Alice offered with a noticeable bit of hesitation.
I watched silently, feeling that there was some sort of subtext to all of this. Marisa gingerly took a spoonful from Alice's lunch. “Woah, it's much better than what I made,” she concluded after swallowing. Her own lunch didn't look bad, it was just rice with mushrooms as a side, but it didn't look great either. “I'm going to have to train harder if I want him to enjoy mine too.”
“You must be the happiest man in the world right now,” Reimu whispered to me as Marisa pestered Alice for cooking tips.
“And why would that be?” I whispered back. I knew full well what she was getting at. Still, acting dumb was my specialty. Sometimes I acted so dumb that I fooled even myself. Or so I justified with hindsight at times.
“A home-cooked lunch from someone who made it especially for you, for starters. You know, it seemed to me that she was worried that you weren't going to show up for lunch. A bit upset even.”
“Alice? She probably was just pissy at the idea of me skipping out, that's the way she is. If I missed lunch she'd give me an earful about how she couldn't even trust me with the simplest of things.” That's the way it usually went, anyways.
“Oh nevermind, I guess I shouldn't bother trying to help you out.”
“I can handle myself,” I told her.
“What will you do if the new girl starts insisting on making you lunch from now on? She looks pretty eager.”
“Marisa?” I looked at the other two girls. They were still talking about food, Marisa badgering Alice about the types of ingredients that went best in a packed lunch. “I'd like to think that she'd ask first. Though I could never turn down free food, especially if it came from a girl.”
Reimu rolled her eyes. I could tell that she was not amused by my carefree ways. Well, I would rather think of it as part of my natural charm really. A handsome lad with boyish charms and a pure heart. Sounded great. Add in a little mystery and I'd even call myself a true heartthrob.
 It would be nice to taste Reimu's cooking as well
 Just making her smile a little more often would be filling enough
“...I don't really need anything like that from you though,” I said after making sure that the two other girls still weren't paying attention. “Food is nice, but seeing you smile a little more would satisfy me in ways found never could.”
“That's quite the line,” Reimu told me after a moment of silence. She was too... balanced to be flustered or react to my flirtations with anything but the appropriate level of seriousness. That is to say, with no seriousness at all.
“You're way too level-headed for your own good, sometimes,” I said with a shrug. Fazing her wasn't easy.
“We've been in the same class for two years now, I've gotten used to how you operate. You seriously can't expect me to take you seriously.”
“It'd be nice if you at least pretended to be affected sometimes.”
“Just be happy that you get reactions from other people,” she looked over at the two gabbing gals, making it clear whom she was talking about.
“That's different,” I argued, “we have a long shared history. The effort I make with you-”
“-and others,” she interrupted.
“with you,” I didn't dignify her insinuation with a denial, “is different. I don't shower just anyone with my attention.”
“So you say. It's always a line with you and you know it.”
Reimu doubted my sincerity. It was a setback but it wasn't an outright tragedy. I was confident that one of these days I'd strike the right chord with her and everything would fall into place.
Our private moment was interrupted by return of a certain idiot who didn't know when to quit, “well, well, things certainly developed in an unexpected direction by the looks of it. The two blondes are obliviously chatting about domestic chores while the wolf dines on only the tenderest of shrine maidens.”
“Wow, you must have absolutely nothing going on in your life,” I told Suika with undisguised hostility. “Can you please stop trying to make my life more difficult?”
“I'm just watching out for my friends,” she said with a wink. That line was as believable as a snowstorm in the middle of summer. Truth was, she really was bored. She behaved herself a little around the class rep but I knew that she probably wanted to just shoot the breeze and talk about whatever until the break was over.
The interruption was enough to draw attention back to me. Alice and Marisa stopped talking about cooking and at last noticed that I had been engaged in a private conversation with Reimu. It wasn't a big deal but it meant that I couldn't continue return to what I had been talking about. In order to spite Suika, I ignored her overt calls for attention and instead just chatted with the group about this and that. It was a normal scene from normal school life.
After the lunch break was over, classes began again in earnest. I chose not to skip, thinking it a bit too much to disappear twice in one day. Lunch had made me sleepy and it became hard to stay awake during math class. It was only the teacher's reputation as a tightly wound disciplinarian that kept me from embracing the urge to nap. Getting chewed out wasn't my idea of fun.
As classes ended, I found that my compact companion was retaliating with some indifference of her own.
“You can't stay pissed off at me forever, you know.” I reminded her of the cause of her own undoing, “you're really bad at ignoring people and even worse at lying. You're lying to yourself if you think that I'm really not worth talking to.”
“...” she puffed up her cheeks like some sort of riled up small animal. Not her toughest look, by any measure.
“Come on now, we can hang out a little now if you want, I've got nothing better to do.”
She was resisting remarkably well. It might even be a record for self-restraint. Still, I knew that behind that indifferent exterior was a very excitable person. I just had to apply a bit more pressure and she'd crack.
“Tell you what,” I said, “I'm going to take a short stroll around the hallways. I bet you that you'll be unable to think of a single good reason to keep on ignoring me by the time I come back. You know that you want to mess around a little like we always do. Acting all sour just isn't in you.”
 Walk by the first year classrooms
 Stick to the second year hallway
Other than the slight possibility of catching Sakuya & Remilia getting up to something I couldn't decide. I do sort of prefer the idea of seeing other characters he'll have more of a chance to interact with.
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People were leaving the classrooms, cheerfully talking with their friends, all glad that the school day was over. I caught a glimpse of Aya rushing out of her class, no doubt up to no good. She was almost certainly off to the photography club, potentially to develop incriminating negatives or something equally sinister. I avoided walking past her class, II-D, because I really didn't want ot run into the master and servant pair I had seen on the roof earlier. They were also in that class and I still wasn't mentally ready to deal with the things I had seen and heard.
I walked in the opposite direction, towards B and A. I stopped at the entrance of B, a bit wary of lurking for too long. Tenshi must have left already, as there was no sign of her. It was probably for the best. Besides her, I didn't really know anyone in the class. There was the new shrine maiden but I didn't spot anyone who obviously fit the description.
“Kawashiro,” a group of girls approached a loner who was reading a book at her desk. “We're going to go to that new cafe by the station, do you want to tag along?”
“No thank you,” Kawashiro replied with a friendly smile, “I'm in the middle of a project and really want to get it done before the end of the week.”
“Haha, well suit yourself,” another girl said, “you should spend more time with people instead of with toys and gizmos.”
“Next time I'll definitely go guys, thanks for inviting me anyways.”
...if I recalled correctly, the captain of the track and field team was also in the class. In one of the assemblies where I had stayed awake, they mentioned her accomplishments at the last meet. She looked so serious when she went up to the stage and bowed but personally I thought she looked kind of cute. There was clear determination in her eyes. What was her name? Momoko? I couldn't remember.
I went to II-A before I started looking like a creepy stalker. II-A was the first of the four classes and had a reputation for being a class of talented people. Or was it stubborn? I probably should pay more attention to gossip. I didn't really know anyone in there either. I knew that the class rep was a girl with short hair and a hairband with a little heart ornament on it – she'd had come to talk to Reimu in the past. Oh and there was that girl who did rhythmic gymnastics as well. The one with the long black hair and who was probably too clumsy to do something as graceful as gymnastics.
It seemed that most of the class was in some sort of club, since most of them were leaving with bags of equipment or change of clothes. I wondered if maybe it was their homeroom teacher's diligence that rubbed off on them. Ms. Kamishirasawa was known for her dedication. It was a bit inspiring but still too much of a hassle for me to take seriously. It was easier to sleep and slack off than to feel inspired.
I came back to to my classroom fifteen minutes after I had left. A lot of people had gone home or to their clubs. Not Suika. She was still sitting at her desk, trying to look like she wasn't actually waiting for me. As if there was any chance I wasn't going to bring it up. She should know better.
“Yo, fancy coming with me now? Or are you still trying to act like you don't care about me?”
“...you're terrible for starting this,” she complained.
“Right, I know, but you really shouldn't put me on the spot like that. I have a hard enough time dealing with these people.”
“I call them like I see them,” she mumbled back. “And I thought you liked that about me.”
“Like, have accepted under duress, hard to say what the case really is.” I shrugged, I didn't know the truth myself. I just knew that I didn't really care. It wasn't important. “Let's just call it quits and move on, that sound good?”
“For now,” she still wasn't quite ready to bury the hatchet, “I'll expect you to do something nice for me some time.”
“Fine, fine, let's get it out of the way right away then. I'll clear my schedule for you.”
The question was, how could I make my headstrong friend feel like everything was square? No obvious solution came to mind. Well, nothing that was free. I was still completely broke. Sneaking around and breaking the rules weren't a problem, however.
 Make it up to her by <action>
Yes, another write in. A chance to be creative/an excuse for me to sleep and take a longer than usual break from life and work. I promise I won't abuse these too much but I got the vibe that this is the kind of opportunity people wanted with Suika anyways.
I expected a drop off but this is a little ridiculous. What would you do for fun with a friend after school? This is as simple as answering that. In Arc's case he's also perfectly fine with doing some things that society frowns upon. I'm not trying to be condescending here but surely there's a myriad of books, shows, manga and VNs that you can steal ideas from too. Again, what would you do for fun with a friend?
We went back to my place. It was closer than her place, plus I had more space. Instant food wrappers and dirty laundry everywhere made it tricky to walk around her home, let alone find a spot to sit. That was the price to pay for complete independence. Suika enjoyed having no one to tell her what to do and when to do it but the tradeoff was that she had to do everything by herself. There was no cause for disagreement on her part on the choice of location. She definitely didn't mind coming ot my home.
I let her go up on ahead to my room. Behind a cupboard near the washing machine, I had a secret stash hidden away. It was something meant for when I wanted something to drink but couldn't leave the house or was broke. Since I needed a peacemaker, I grabbed a bottle from the supply, careful to move things back into place so that Auntie wouldn't notice.
“For later,” I showed her the bottle as I entered my room. It seemed to please her, that mischievous spark was back in no time flat. She had wasted no time turning my room upside down to look for controllers and the game console. The speed at which the mess became a disaster was impressive, I had to admit. Regardless, I wasn't supposed to care. I was supposedly doing something nice.
“You've got Virtual-On for this thing, right?” she rummaged through my game shelf, completely ruining the alphabetical ordering.
“Nah, Valgern-On,” I told her, “but I'm kind of sick of playing it. It's much better at the arcade anyways. On a TV it looks like crap.” Plus the cancels were too finicky for my taste. I hoped that Suika wouldn't lose her head over it.
“Let's just play a fighting game then,” she suggested, already picking the game without bothering to consult me.
I knew that she had picked something that she was good at, but I kept quiet. It didn't really matter if she beat me a couple of times, I'd get her back later on in some other game. Unsurprisingly, that's how things went down. At the fighting game with the magical girls characters, she absolutely schooled me. When I insisted we try something else, I managed to get a fairer W/L ratio going on.
“You're been practicing, huh?” she talked to me without peeling her eyes away from the screen.
“Not really. I've been playing other sorts of game more lately, Final Oxymoron and the like.”
“Right, I want my copy back if you don't mind. I've been feeling like replaying it.”
Somehow I managed to win three matches in a row. My streak didn't last long and was followed by an equally-long lose streak. I had to focus, otherwise I'd get completely demolished.
As the sun set and evening began, we started to drink. In moderation, at first, but there's no taking it slow with her. At least not for long. Whether it's with games, food or drink – she likes to go all out. Playing games with a warm and comfortable fuzzy cloud in the mind feels nice but does no favors for hand-eye coordination.
Hunger prompted a break. Auntie arrived as we were fixing ourselves snacks in the kitchen. She greeted Suika warmly. And she didn't miss the opportunity to put me down, by saying that Suika was a real trooper for keeping me company. The scary part was that those two got on a little too well, cracking crude jokes and exchanging short quips energetically. If I ever wanted to make my life completely miserable, all I had to do was to piss the both of them off simultaneously. That would be a hellish scenario.
Through careful maneuvering and word choice, I got Suika to come back upstairs instead of sticking around to talk to Auntie some more. We took a bit of a break from games. I decided to lie back in bed a while and flip through a magazine, while Suika started to go through some of the collections that I had on my shelf. I was just looking at the pictures, it felt like too big of an effort to actually try to read the text. When body and mind are relaxed thanks to the effects of alcohol, it's hard to justify making much of an effort.
“You know,” she started up all of a sudden, “you've been acting kind of strange lately.”
“People say that I'm weird all the time.”
“No, not like that. You know what I mean.”
I tilted my head to look at her. She was still engrossed with the comic. I did know what she meant but I wasn't sure why she was bringing it up. I told her the simple truth,” I've just had a lot on my mind lately. Sorry if I've been taking it out on you.”
“You haven't. You know I'd call you out on that if you did. Dunno man, it's like just messing around isn't good enough anymore.”
“And what would you call this?”
“Eh, just forget it, I don't think I can explain it with words,” Suika killed the topic as quickly as she had brought it up.
I drank a bit more and passed the bottle to Suika. I was taking it slow, but steady. My example kept her in check as she paced herself, limiting her swigs from the bottle to one one or two more than what I drank. Our next round of games saw even more erratic results and skill was less important than the ability to grasp the controller and concentrate a little.
“I'm bored~” Suika whined after the nth round of game play. “Let's do something interesting, like get that bossy girl you say you don't really care about but secretly have the hots for.”
“Dammit, you're completely wasted, aren't you?” I complained, feeling that maybe it would be cool to lie with my back against the wall so that I would stop rocking. The world couldn't be moving on its on, I thought. That'd just be silly.
“You're the one with the stupid look in your face. Slurring too.”
“That's not me, it's you who is completely lost it.”
“Eh, says you,” she retorted with considerable wit. If I were a judge in a wit competition I'd give her 1/10. It'd be the best I could do.
“I'm right though. I'm not the problem here.” At least in my head I was. So what if the words that came out of my mouth didn't match up with what I meant to do? It was fine, Not like the stuff I said was ever important. “Just complete trash,” I nodded to myself.
“Hey, let's go talk to that girl who you claim you don't like but secretly carry a torch for,” she got up suddenly and walked to the window. “If I hit her side then she'll come out, right? It would be fun to get her drunk. Little Mis Perfect might be less than perfect,” she was talking nonsense. “I wonder if she's the type to get more bold as well, haha, can you imagine that? Confidence while you're about as sharp as a sack of potatoes. Stale ones at that.”
“You're talking too much, stop to think,” I brushed her off and kept her away from the window.
“Don't be like that, you know that you want to. The more the merrier. Oh, I know, I'll go downstairs and ask if she doesn't want ot join us.”
“What, Auntie?” I balked at the prospect, “no way. She'd give me grief over the drinking.”
“Pfft. That's only a maybe, at best. But I guess you'd know. So let's go get your not-girlfriend to join us. It'll be fun. I promise.”
 There's no need for a third wheel
 The more, the merrier
Messing around is fine with me. I just need to get my head out of the clouds first...
[x] There's no need for a third wheel
Inviting your not-girlfriend over when you're plastered and she's not seems and she doesn't approve of drinking seems like a baaad idea. The sort of bad idea that could turn out awesome. But we already have a not-not-not-girlfriend right here~
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“Not gonna happen,” I put my foot down, figuratively speaking. In reality I was still keeping her away from the window by shaking the mostly-empty bottle like it was an object of great mystery. Suika kept her eyes glued to the sloshing liquids within, kind of like a baby at a bunch of shiny dangling keys. “We have all we could need right here, it's our night.”
“You're just being a giant coward again,” she accused me and forgave me in the same breath, “but it's fine because I'm your buddy and buddies help each other out of jams.”
“I don't get it, what's the jam here?” I unscrewed the cap and drank some more. I was diving on the grenade. Anything to keep her from getting even more wasted.
“Isn't it obvious? You're having love trouble,” she nodded at her own words, like they were the truest things that she had ever said. Silly girl.
“And what would you know about love?” I laughed, “nothing that's what! Getting into fights with boys doesn't count as romance.”
“Oh, the booze has made you all bitter,” she lamented, “I better keep you from making things even worse.”
A struggle ensued. Suika launched herself on me, knocking me back onto my bed. She frantically reached for the bottle but I kept it just out of reach of her (shorter) arms. We horsed around, the bottle the centerpiece of the conflict. Her cries of “gimmie gimmie gimmie!” and “it's for your own good!” made it a little funny. Felt like she was a kid trying to selfishly grab a toy from someone else. There wasn't anywhere for me to go so, after a valiant stand, I relented and let her have it.
She immediately drank some more but, in what was she probably thought was a show of even-handedness, she handed the bottle back and told me to drink as well. “Alcohol is humanity's friend,” she stated with just enough pompousness, “you wouldn't abandon a friend, now would you? There's nothing better in this world than sharing good times with friends.”
“You're a piece of work.” I drank more anyways.
“Weren't we talking about something?” she asked.
We sat on the bed, just spacing for a while. “Oh yeah,” Suika remembered, “your love trouble. That's serious business, don't you know? I'd be a terrible friend if I didn't help you out.”
“Again with this?” I groaned, “I keep telling you I'm fine. I even have a kinda real, kinda fake girlfriend.”
“Wait, what?” she looked at me like I had just said the weirdest thing in the world. She was wrong, I had only said the stupidest thing. The little censor that normally filtered out my more controversial thoughts and kept them from becoming words was asleep at the job.
Crap, there was no weaseling out of it.
“I just uh, meant Marisa, she's being really forward. Right?” I asked, like I was trying to convince even myself that that was what I meant.
“Maybe this explains why you weren't around yesterday.”
“I don't know what you're talking about, I go out because I feel like it all the time.”
Her eyes narrowed as she examined my face. With a flush complexion from the significant amounts of alcohol in her system, it might to an outsider seem like she was about to confess a secret rather than size me up. I couldn't have looked much better myself. We probably looked anything but tough. People would walk all over us if they saw us. Not good because it'd mean getting into more fights.
“You're a little too close,” I said as I shoved her a little to the side.
“Do ya think I want to be this close to your mug?” Suika griped, “I'm trying to look at your eyes to see if you're telling the truth. I don't like what I see.”
“That's stupid. You're stupid.”
“Oh yeah!" Well, I'm going to keep staring at you until you come clean.”
“Not gonna work,” I told her.
“Wasting your time, Suika.”
A harder stare
“I can do this all day.”
It was annoying. Her eyes were like two well-positioned mirrors that reflected light into a concentrated beam and into my face. I would stare back but all I could see was my own face in her glossy look.
“I hate you so much,” I grumbled.
 Deflect back with a lie – Suika is the love interest
 Obviously the answer is to admit to an unrequited love for a teacher
“Ok, you win,” I tried to get her to back off. “The truth is,” I lowered my gaze, pretending that I was embarrassed to admit it, “I'm really in love with you. I can't stop thinking about you and it's driving me crazy. How can I tell you, babe, my back's against the wall. I need you by my side, to tell me it's alright. 'Cause I don't think I can take anymore.”
She gave me a hard shove. I nearly hit my head against the wall. “You're a moron!” she exclaimed, telling me what I already knew. “Those are lyrics and I'm not half as stupid as you think. You obviously didn't meet up with me yesterday so you must have been chasing someone else.”
“I was, uh, stalking you? Yeah, that's it. Seriously, I need you to help me out here,” I tried to look as sensitive and vulnerable as possible. Not really easy when my whole body felt heavy and sluggish. I felt like I deserved a standing ovation just for batting my desire to lay back and sleep. “I need you to tell me,” I told her, “is this love that I'm feeling? Is this the love that I've been waiting for?”
“You're such a prick,” she shoved me again. I was more prepared that time and avoided stumbling backwards. “I'm trying to help you and you're still being so difficult. What are friends for if not for helping each other out of jams?”
“You keep saying that, but I'm not in any kind of jam.” As an afterthought, I added, “mind if I played some music?”
“Yes, I would. You're just going to play that song.”
“Gahaha,” I laughed like it was a big joke, “busted.”
“Fine, I get the message, I'll leave you alone for now.”
“Aww, you will?” That was sweet of her, “I love you. You're the best friend a guy could ask for.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she took the bottle from me for the final time, “I think we've both had enough.” She gulped down the remnants and sighed.
“Tonight was fun, wasn't it?”
“It must have been, I get the feeling that I won't be able to remember most of it tomorrow.”
Things slowed down sharply after that. Neither games nor talk could keep me from wanting to close my eyes and drift off to dreamland. Eventually I stopped resisting, and collapsed while still fully dressed on my bed. At some point Suika must have fallen asleep as well, her snoring featuring even in my dreams. My colorful, strange and nonsensical dreams. Patterns of vivid pellets filled my vision, whizzing past and sometimes exploding into luminous displays of even more pellets. The projectiles were nice and mesmerizing.
The next day I found that I must have been drooling for most of the night. The condition of my pillow was disgusting, to put it kindly. It took a bit of effort to get up. Suika had fallen asleep across me, part of her body dangling off the edge of the bed. I had to wriggle my way out like some sort of worm. Worse still, the moist sensation I felt on my leg was drool as well – hers. The price of friendship, undoubtedly.
After drinking my fill of cool water in the bathroom, I discovered that it was already afternoon. I had missed school. We had missed school. I could not remember what time I finally fell asleep, I could just remember how tired I felt. Things were a blur. I took things slowly for a while, making myself a sandwich and lying down on the couch. Eventually Suika got up, came downstairs and simply stated that she was going to go home. She looked like absolute crap, about as bad as I looked. Another valuable bonding experience shared between us.
The next day Alice chewed me out for not going to school. She had come by in the morning and found the drunken pile of friendship on my bed and decided not to bother. I could only apologize while exchanging a friendly and furtive smirk with Suika. I didn't feel much like getting into trouble for a while. Trouble,regardless, came for me.
A familiar face with a friendly presence came waltzing into our class about midday.
“I need you right now Arc. I can't wait anymore, come to my office this instant.” Big Sis' line naturally set a wave of hooting off into the class. She blushed ever so slightly, covering her mouth with one had and waving limply with the other. Like she just realized the other way her words could be interpreted, “It's not like that class, I've just been discussing a matter with your classmate and we need to talk some more in private.” That didn't seem to help things either. If she was trying to start up rumors about me and her, she was doing a great job at it. It made me feel conflicted. On the one hand I didn't mind being associated with being so good that I had adults begging me for my services. On the other, however, I couldn't help but feel that she was doing it so it would be easier to manipulate me.
“What a pain,” I complained up loud, making a show of getting up and making it over to the door,” I better not be in trouble for some stupid crap again.”
“Watch your language, or I'll have you disciplined,” she winked and stuck her tongue out. What a terrible woman. She wasn't helping at all. I ignored the excited clamoring from the class and left with her. “You're one cool customer,” she said as we walked down the hallway.
“Am I? I don't like being jerked around.”
“Hm, I'm sure you don't,” she smiled. “How have you been?”
“Quite well. Mother and father are excited about the start of polo season and we've had a marvelous time at the club lately.”
“There's no need to be so hostile,” she lamented with a shrug.
“Well, you obviously didn't call me over for small talk. And I can't quite say no to school staff either otherwise I would have rather stayed in class.”
She kept a tight lid on things until we got to her office. I was offered a seat as she sat down. “I don't think you've had much success with your classmate,” she started.
“What could have ever given you that impression, big sis Yuyuko?”
“She hasn't come to school for three days now,” she informed me. “I take it that something happened over the weekend?”
“Maybe.” I kept the cards close to my heart, “it might interest you to know that she's the type of person to not care in the least about what others say to her. It's pointless to worry about it. She'll be back.”
“Maybe she will, maybe she won't. Though it would be an interesting coincidence if she suddenly decided that school wasn't worth it. I'd be more willing to bet that it's due to outside influence.”
“Perceptive. They teach you that in college?”
“I learned a lot of things in school,” she smiled gently, not rising to the bait. Truth was, she was the cool customer, not me. “I think it's time to move on, cut our losses. It's clear you can't hope to do any more.”
“So I get to dick around as I please? Yay. See you later, sis.” I started to get up.
She waved me down, telling me to sit, “My, you might want to target some of your eagerness into your next task.”
That didn't sit well with me.
“Nah, I'm done here.”
“You're not done until I say you're done,” her sweet tone of voice could not muffle the threat behind her words. What a bother. “Since you seem unable or unwilling to do more for that poor girl, we're going to temporarily move you on to another favor.”
 Hear her out
 Screw it, insist on finishing up with Tenshi
>>45281 Yes, she does count. I'm afraid that was too late to be counted, however.
I wonder how many favors Yuyuko is going to request. She is understandably miffed at Tenshi not going to school, but it could be unrelated, and it's not like Arc knew that Tenshi is such a weird bitch.
[X] Hear her out
-[X] But in your spare time, screw it, finish up with Tenshi anyways
Big sis Yuyuko clearly has something else for us to handle, something that needs someone to work on. At the same time, we still have a prior engagement to finish up on. Arc can drop some of his delinquent habits to help people out.
Yes, I intend on making Arc a crusader of justice and problem-solving.
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>>45293 It pretty much is. I regret the wording I used for the choices but Yuyuko did say that it was time to move on. She won't bring Tenshi up with Arc again. That's not to say that she'll be gone for good - just that her plotline won't be forced in the story's progression.
I can't write now due to life being life, I'd say that updates have an ETA of very soon to upwards of a day. I hope to not eat those words but it's the best guess I can give. Maybe it's just as well if I wait a while, I'm not sure if the information in this post changes things for people. Sorry about that.
[x] Hear her out
Unable or unwilling eh? I'd say unable.
She's a real peace of work and her attitude is completely at odds with our MC. No sense in pushing forward if we keep running into walls.
If I wanted impossible and frustrating tasks I'd go vote in Glass Half Empty... or at least I would, if that story hadn't suddenly become smooth and entertaining at some point during its third thread (shameless advertising)
No, I want more time for Tenshi. And if we switch targets right now, when will we have the chance to fix things up? Will we have to choose between one and another? There's still potential in Tenshi's plotline; we shouldn't abandon her like that.
“I'm listening,” I held my tongue. There were a lot of choice words I could use on her but it didn't seem like the right time.
Yuyuko brandished her usual affable smile at me, as if somehow reading my mind and glad that I stayed quiet. Her new business was old business. At least in part. She explained, “I need you to play the role of the mediator, take more concrete measures against a more soluble problem. You'll probably enjoy yourself too, seeing as at least one of them is just like you. You know what they say about birds of a feather, right?”
“So who do I meet and what do I do?” I ignored the tangent.
“Not so fast,” she wagged her finger, like I was a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Annoyingly cute. My passive-aggressive eye-rolling wasn't going to cut it for her changing antics. With an equally annoyingly cutesy wink she added, “there's something you need to settle before you can get cracking. I do believe you had a wager with the PE teacher. The results of your little gambit saves me the trouble of trying to convince you to breathe a little life into the school's sports clubs.”
“You're telling me to pick a club and be its manager?”
“Right you are. Also eventually we'll need you to get into a cultural club,” she laughed as if she was recounting a silly dream of hers, “but that's best left for some other time. Baby steps first. Making you jump in without preparation doesn't seem to work.”
“A kind assessment on you part,” I noted with overt sarcasm.
“I can't help but feel like spoiling you more whenever we talk,” she stated, the edge of my words either ignored or deflected. “I'll give you a rundown on what clubs need the most help now so you can know what you're getting into.”
“Hooray for free will.”
“First up is the track and field team. They're doing great lately, the captain especially. The thing is, it's all really the captain. There have been complaints overheard through the grapevine about how she's a little too serious. It hurts the spirits of the others when they can't seem to do anything right.”
“...anyways,” she continued, “they need someone who can influence the captain and bring out the potential from the rest of the members. “
“Who is the captain?”
“A girl by the name of Inubashiri. I'm surprised you don't know her. She's come up on the stage during assemblies before.”
“I tend to sleep through assemblies.”
“How naughty,” she waved her hand at me like I was some sort of lovable scamp. How irritating. I hated how she would avoid any sort of direct conflict. Unfazed, she returned to talking about the clubs, “there's a club that you're familiar with that needs your help. The rising star of the rhythmic gymnastics squad is suffering from some sort of performance anxiety issues. She needs someone there to help her overcome her problem.”
“Why the manager? Surely the other people on the team can help her out.” I could think of one in particular. For all her shortcomings in regards to me, Alice was pretty good at teaching people at how to improve. Sure, she wasn't really a full-time member or anything, but she still helped out at times. She never officially joined but was pretty much a permanent member. I suspected that it had something to do with the large ribbon they sometimes used when performing.
“It has to be an outsider, and it has to be a man. You'll understand if you decide to help out.” A different kind of smile appeared on her lips, a knowing one. She hinted that it was the type of mystery that I would enjoy. That unforgivable monster. Yuyuko probably knew about my fondness for the team already. “Naturally the manager gets to sit in on the practice sessions as much as he wants. Synergy with the team is important so working in close-quarters is only natural,” she was about as subtle as a truck slamming into a wall at high speed.
“So there's at least one other club, right?”
“Oh you bet there is. I'm glad to see you so enthusiastic now,” she complimented me, probably feeling that the obvious attempt to appeal to my strong feelings about leotards worked perfectly. It had, but I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of knowing for sure. I just let her explain about the last club while I listened silently, “the school kendo club is about to be disbanded. It only has one member. Your job there would be to convince the last member to give it up and go do something else.”
“Wow, that's harsh.”
“Not especially. Recruitment for the club has been non-existant for the last two years and the only reason the club still exists is because the old counselor felt attached to it. I think that it'd be healthier for everyone if they just moved on.”
“Isn't it going to be disbanded anyways? Why does it matter if the last member joins some other club?”
“It doesn't, really,” she shook her head, undermining her whole request. “In fact,” she continued, “you should forget about it. If I give you too much freedom of choice, you're bound to end up trying to try doing everything at once. So let's just focus with the those two. The baseball club can wait until next semester.”
“What about the baseball club?” I frowned, feeling that I was being sucked in deeper and deeper into an unescapable abyss.
“Tee hee,” she giggled a little too artificially, “that's a super duper secret~ Don't worry your pretty little head about it just yet.”
I sighed. At least it wasn't as bad as it could be. The school could have had a lacrosse team. Nothing good ever came from helping out a troubled lacrosse team. Just drama and the pain of having to deal with personalities that were at odds with each other.
“Can I have the rest of the day off?” I asked.
“Because I feel like I deserve it given all that you've dumped into my lap.”
“Don't be silly, I can't set a bad example by letting you run loose in the school with my blessing,” she said, choosing to disregard the fact that I already pretty much did. I even had a key to the school, for crying out loud. What a terrible, terrible woman. “So make up your mind yet? I have to fill in the appropriate paperwork with the school for this one.”
“Oh, sorry about that. The last thing I would want to do would be to inconvenience you. Imagine how bothersome that would be.” A lot like being made to have an active school life against my will. “Let me think for a moment...”
...or two or three. I tried to make it look like I was seriously debating it, just to waste her time. Maybe Suika was right, I was plenty petty apparently.
 Help out the track and field team
 Manage the rhythmic gymnastics team
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Ok cool, so I can do another update nowish.
Before I started this story, I took the time to write down little blurbs for every touhou. Like if you were looking in a game manual, what it would say about the character in a few words. It's my intention to share that with you. Making a thread just for this is a bit inconvenient, especially since it will get updated as you meet people/hear about them (in order to avoid spoilers). So it's on the web server itself, which makes updating it seamless and easy.
>>45323 Easy, he'd just lie to himself like most people would, saying something about business and pleasure and adding a corollary about it being better not to get led on by Yuyuko.
>>45328 >>45331 Oh, this may turn out to be something that's retconned. I realized afterwards that fandom and unofficial art tripped me up.
That makes sense. A disturbing amount of sense.
>Rumia and Flandre in the same class
Haha. I am the passionate fan, it's me. It's probably for the best if they don't get focus... wait a second, I'm pulling an Arc. Fuck that. Give them all the focus.
>no Reisen despite her showing up in the story
>Genjii, Sokrates, Hourai
“I suppose that the track and field team will have to just deal with things themselves,” Yuyuko nodded like it really wasn't a big deal. It was hard to tell what she was thinking, her perpetual state of apparent kindness made it impossible to tell when she was disassembling. “I'm sure that you're eager to get started as soon as possible, so make sure to head on out to the gym after school. I'll have told the powers that be by then about the new manager.”
Getting through the day was a challenge. I didn't really feel like paying attention in class but I couldn't simply go to sleep either. I was being a little too obvious about things as well. My toothy and broad grin got me more than just one look of mixed disapproval and suspicion from the teacher. Not to mention Alice. She was trying her hardest to pretend that she was paying attention in class but I could tell that she was keeping an eye on me. In case I did something stupid. She would have better luck standing in the rain and not getting wet than stopping me from acting stupid. It's what I did. Part of the lovable rogue charm.
“You and the counselor get it on?” Suika passed me a note during fifth period. If we hadn't been in class she might have slapped me on the back to congratulate me. I scrawled a clear “no” on the note and passed it back. Not that it mattered what I replied. Once she made her mind up about something she would stick by it, no matter how divorced from reality it was.
End of classes for the day. The bell rang and signalled the beginning of afterschool bliss.
“Hey, do you want to walk together for a bit?” Marisa came over to my desk with a bright smile. Maybe she saw my good mood as an opportunity to spend a little time together. It normally would have been.
“Sorry,” I told her, “I have things to do today. I'll take a rain check. Let's do it some other time.”
“Oh...” the smile vanished for just an instant but was back soon enough, and with an even greater intensity, “ok then, some other time.”
“That's rare of you,” Suika badgered me, “saying no to a girl. That counselor broad must be one fine piece of tail.”
“Shut up. I say no to you all the time.”
“But not to soft-looking lips and long fluttery eyelashes apparently,” she laughed. In any case, she at least took the hint that I really had something planned and mercifully left me alone. I wondered sometimes if she wasn't more trouble than what she was worth.
I waited a while before going to the gym. There was something I needed to finish up first. A lot of paper and a lot of glue was used. My messy penmanship did me no favors neither. I had to start over a few times, finally getting to the final glitter-sprinkling phase and getting it done. My art teacher would groan in dismay but I was plenty proud of my achievement.
“So finally decided to uphold your word like a man,” I was greeted at the entrance of the gym by none other than our excitable PE teacher. Yuugi carried a binder with her.
“I was getting to it and now I have, what's the problem?”
“Nothing,” she answered. “I just would have gone to your home and dragged you to a club if you hadn't shown up by the end of the week.” Though she laughed like it was a joke, I could really see her doing just that. There was no pussyfooting with her, it was all or nothing. “At any rate, I've been informed of your decision and am here to give you a dossier on our team's history and the sport itself.”
Dossier? Now there's a word I hadn't expected out of her mouth. I took the binder from her and flipped it open. “Wow, this is intense,” I said of the random page that came up. It wasn't about choreography and style, like I suspected, but about fatigue and possible medical concerns from extended training.”
“Wahaha,” she roared, “well what did you expect? We live in modern times. A manager has to be on top of not only the morale of the team but he also has to do all sorts of other things. Like settling logistics for meets, helping secure spaces for practice and concerning himself with the overall health of the athletes. Welcome to the scientific age.”
“Oh bother,” I shut the binder close, not really caring about all the complicated parts. “I'm going to just use my zeal to get things on track. All of the theory can wait.”
“Right,” Yuugi grunted. “I applaud you, really, but if it were that simple then the athletes would be able to manage all by themselves. You're here to create an environment where others shine.”
 Confidence is all that it takes to make a great first impression
 Being in the backseat on the first day isn't bad. Yuugi can do a lead-in
>>45346 Reisen isn't on there because the description includes a mild spoiler about her. It's better to witness that side of her first in-story.
As an aside: guy who PM'd me in IRC. I just missed you by ten minutes when I got back. Thanks anyways. Do come back some other time if you like.
See, now you've got me curious.
I wonder what Reisen's deal is...
Looking forward to seeing it, whatever it'd be!
[X] Being in the backseat on the first day isn't bad. Yuugi can do a lead-in
Let's not tempt fate here.
If we try to do things ourselves, we're likely to screw up, somehow.
Taking the safe bet seems like the best option.
And she's right - we're here to help others, not show off.
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Will write now. Expect a new thread.
This feels like a bit of knee-jerk reaction to me. I hope that's not the case. This story isn't nearly serious enough justify having readers second guess themselves. Maybe I'm worrying too much but cheesy fun takes priority.
>>45359 Imagine what she feels like with how things went down. ...sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm an evil, wicked man so please take the above with a grain of salt. At least so far as canon is concerned. Sunshine and puppies is the name of the game.