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The very many ups and downs of youth, that much is certain.
Previous thread >>49278 Character blurbs: www.touhou-project.com/others/theater
The natural order of things had been upset too much for a single session. Alice, with that smirk of hers, was just a little bit grating. The shoe was on the other foot and it was not exactly a welcome change. Alice knew me well enough and she ought to know that all that I said had been difficult to say. I had to parcel out my honesty in small portions lest my soul escape from my body. Yeah, weird, but it made me uncomfortable not to take the lead with the people close to me. By taking the initiative I kept the conversation on more comfortable topics.
"You know what," I told her, finding the heart to muster up a smile, "I don't think I'll let that happen.."
"You're just saying that because you're scared that I have a little power now in our relationship," she pointed out astutely. How annoying. "You're just going to have to deal with it," she laughed. "Trying to change topics isn't going to make it any less true. When you least expect it, bam!."
"I'll look forward to it," I said, "but for now, let's do something different.."
"Like what?" she raised an eyebrow, clearly seeing through my already transparent attempt to take back the initiative. I wasn't going to pussyfoot. I was going to go all out.
"Like you and me, going out. Grab a bite to eat, celebrate our friendship. You know. All of that. My treat." I sprung my little modest proposal like it was no big thing. "Two delinquents cutting class and eating, completely normal. Me and Suika do it all the time.."
"I'm sure you do," her grin disappeared. The reminder that she was skipping class was enough to make her forget all about torturing me.
"It'll be fun, come on!" I said, "you can even take Shanghai if you want. Keep us company and junk.."
"Oh, we should be getting back to school, we can still make it for afternoon classes.."
"What's this?" I teased her, "embarrased to be seen with me in public? And after I bared my heart to you... how cruel.."
"You really are terrible," she sighed, "fine I'll go, but only this once.."
"Hooray!" I exclaimed with all of the enthusiasm I could muster. Alice shook her head.
We walked out towards town. I was my usual cheerful self. In a way it was sort of like our morning walk to school. Except the roles were reversed. Alice was the one who looked a little upset at the whole prospect. Understandable since someone could see us and report us to the school. That was part of the rush of truancy, not that she'd understand.
"Just relax," I told her, "no one cares we're not in class. The staff is too lazy to patrol the streets ever since they unionized and renegotiated their contracts."
"It doesn't bother you that we could be seen together?"
"Not at all! I'll just tell them that I need to have you in my life and spending time apart physically hurts," I joked about my own serious statement earlier. It was a good way to deal with the mood that had built up and with Alice's teasing.
"..."Alice stopped following me. Wait, was she blushing a little? It was the sun playing tricks on my eyes, surely.
"Are you alright?" I asked, not sure what else I could say.
"I'm fine," she forced out a fake cough, "there was a little something in my throat. Made it a little hard to breath."
"Oh, I see." I shut up for the rest of the walk. I was a little too self-conscious about the impact my words had on her. It wasn't usual. But hey, I thought, at least I had regained the initiative.
We arrived at the place. The corporate logo and kid-friendly mascot was a typical sight around town.
"A burger joint?" she asked, a little disappointed by the sound of it.
"Sorry it's all I can afford at the moment."
"No, it's okay," she shook her head, "I didn't mean to sound ungrateful. I just expected something a little less... informal.."
"Maybe next time we go out for food," I said. "We can dine out at someplace with actual tablecloths if that makes you happy.."
"No," she shook her head again, "I'm happy just spending time with you.."
"Ah, okay then, it's settled!" I opened the door in a rush, eager to hide how I was feeling my own cheeks burn up a little. I queued up and asked her what she wanted. She was considerate with my hard-earned cash, only getting a small combo. I got the same, not really feeling that hungry. The joint was a little noisy, like burger places tended to be. It was basically lunchtime and entry-level office workers swarmed the place for their short breaks.
I ate my burger slowly, trying to think of something to say. We had already covered the basics: ?Is the food good??, ?lots of people huh?" and the like. Alice was quiet, doing the same thing I was: Pretending to be engrossed in eating because she couldn't think of anything to say.
 Ask her how she feels about what our classmates say about us.  Talk about love. And school. A female perspective would be interesting. Suika doesn't really count.  Bring up rhythmic gymnastics and her take on how to get Reuiji to cooperate.
>>49738 Based on her previous reactions, it seems a bit embarrassing for her. They are called a "married couple" by teachers, right? Does it make her happy or not? I think we might have gotten a glimpse of the answer right here:
>?It doesn't bother you that we could be seen together?"
>?Not at all! I'll just tell them that I need to have you in my life and spending time apart physically hurts," I joked about my own serious statement earlier. It was a good way to deal with the mood that had built up and with Alice's teasing.
>"..."Alice stopped following me. Wait, was she blushing a little? It was the sun playing tricks on my eyes, surely.
So knowing this, I don't think that this choice is the best we can do right now.
>>49739 I don't think this would offend her, it'd break the awkward silence. I'm assuming here, but I think she'd be comfortable discussing these topics and it would take her mind off the the fact that they're on a *date*. The idea is to help her relax and feel a bit more comfortable.
So then, this leaves the final choice. I think asking for advice with Reiuji is a good idea but it might not play out as such in practice. It would work out fine in a conversation I think, but not as an opener. It would be a valuable insight, and we could use it to leverage results with Rin. It's pragmatic for sure and possibly the choice with the most potential for usable results, but I can't bring myself to swallow it.
[x] Talk about love. And school. A female perspective would be interesting. Suika doesn't really count.
[S] Talk about love. And school. A female perspective would be interesting. Suika doesn't really count. we appreciate Alice's take on this. I'm totally not trying to torpedo the alice route by voting for a friend zone flag for a better shot at a Marissa route. shhhhh
"You know," I said, "we hardly talk about things and junk." The opening salvo was as ambiguous as it was because I wanted to ease into the topic. "We're neighbors and classmates. There's a lot we don't talk about in the mornings. I guess I'm saying that this is a chance to cover all of that.."
"It is," she agreed, looking a little confused at to what I meant. Couldn't blame her. I wasn't entirely sure what I meant either.
"Well, you know people our age are supposed to talk about school..."my voice dropped to an embarrassed whisper, "and love." I didn't even get why I was being so bashful. If it had been anyone else I would have said it with a cheesy grin and boisterous laugh. Maybe made a color about the color of her undergarments for good measure.
"Oh, I suppose they do," Alice agreed, "it's the most popular topic among girls at school. Love that is.."
"I figured," I said, taking a sip of my cola. "So, what are your feelings on the matter?"
"Well, it's hard to say," she said evasively, "I guess I'm like everyone else.."
"And what's that like?"
"I want to be with the right person," she said quietly. "There's a lot I'd like to do with him as well, it'd be nice," she added a disclaimer, "it's not like I think about it all day or anything."
"Of course not," I said.
"School's okay though. A lot of different people, it's interesting to observe them. I don't always think I'm like the others though, I think about a lot of other things.."
"Like what?" I asked, "you seem to get along just fine with people.."
"I do, I just meant that I don't always care about the latest trends or rumors. That's not really the kind of thing I'm most concerned about," Alice explained, a little too haphazardly for my tastes.
"I like sewing and making dolls," she offered an example. "That's not really common in people our age. They'd rather look at fashion magazines or talk about their boyfriends.."
"I think that's fine, I'm not really like most other guys either."
"No kidding," she teased, finding humor in my statement. That was a good sign. I found myself laughing.
"Guess I didn't phrase that right," I said, "the guys in our grade also talk mostly about mainstream stuff like that. Which girl has the best set of- well, you know how men can be. It's always so competitive as well. I just participate when I have to.."
"You are a bit of a loner," she observed.
"Yeah, except for Suika, you and a few others I don't really socialize. It's okay though, I don't really mind it. It makes it easier to do what I want.."
"Isn't it lonely?" she asked. "Being so much by yourself, don't you want to occasionally open up?"
"I opened up earlier today," I said, sucking into my drink once again to hide what I was really thinking. If I looked into her eyes at the moment there was a good chance I'd start feeling awkward again. Her warmth was still fresh in my memory. If I closed my eyes I could still imagine her soft breath on my chest. "I think that's enough, isn't it?" Alice giggled. "What is it?" I asked, confused.
"Nothing," she smiled, eating the last of her fries. "I'm just thinking about how lucky I am sometimes. I got to see a part of you not many people do.."
"Oh, shut up," I grumbled, "don't make me regret taking you out for food.."
"Well, you haven't told me the most important thing yet," Alice interjected.
"I don't follow."
"This topic," she said, "the natural corollary is asking you about what type you prefer. You said the boys talked about it."
"Yeah, but it's mostly... not appropriate. It's a different kind of talk."
"You're dancing around the subject," she insisted, her eyes locking down on my face. Crap it was a silent but very real and very intense pressure. A little bit scary actually. She looked like a hound that was about to snatch a particularly tasty bone.
"Why don't you tell me your type first?" I asked, redirecting, avoiding the glare of death. Classic tactic when uncomfortable: turn the tables on the person who is asking.
"I asked first," she chuckled, now with an almost sinister undertone.
"Fine, fine," I sighed overly dramatically. "If it'll get you off my back, I'll square with you just this once.."
 "I like the lively and cheery kind.."  "Tell you the truth, I have a thing for the mature type.."  ?Whatever type you are... I'm, uh, joking...."
>>49760 Of course she isn't a mature woman right now, but the logic in that vote is to give her something to think about and maybe aspire to. I'm hesitant to choose the first one because she definitely connects Rin to the "lively and cheery" type. I'm not sure how she'll take it, that's all. I don't want to dodge the question either, so the "mature" option is a decent middle ground between the two.
I coughed. Seemed like the right thing to do. "Whatever type you are..."I said, leaving an uncomfortably long pause between my words, "I'm, uh joking..."Of course the line was delivered with all the smoothness of a country road. Embarrassing for my standards. "Sorry," I said, sounding even more pathetic, "that sounded better in my head.."
"It's okay," Alice said, looking a little confused but not insulted, "I know you better than you think. I'm satisfied with an answer like that, joke or not... I think I know what you mean.."
"I'm not too good expressing how I really feel, sorry about that," I apologized again. "I thought about other answers but I don't know, maybe they'd upset you and I don't really want to do that again.."
"You're being considerate," she observed. "I guess coming out with you to eat was worth it. Again I'm getting to see a part of you that you don't show to the world much."
I grumbled the best response I could, "shut up.."
"It's sweet," Alice said, "don't worry I'm really selfish sometimes. I'm not going to go around telling people about this. It's our little secret."
"Thanks," I said quietly. There was something exciting about having a secret with Alice, I had to admit. We weren't the most natural of confidants. Like oil and water most of the time. Well, I wasn't about to keep feeling timid after every misstep. I changed the focus to her, "what about you?" I asked. "What's your type?"
"My type?" she asked herself, as if she had to think hard about it. A gentle smile materialized on her lips. As if by instinct, my heart began to beat a little faster. "I guess my type is whomever happens to make me happiest.."
"Oh come on!" I protested her answer, "that's not a type at all!"
"True," she noted, "but it's the truth." Her eyes were alight with a happy look. Combined with that tender smile of hers it made her look... maidenly... girly... lovely. I didn't quite know what to think. My heart continued to beat quickly. "I want someone who'll be with me and look at me like I'm the most special person in the world... that's my type.."
"...I-" wasn't sure what to say. I could have said something snappy but what she said was just too genuine for me to belittle. I'd be doing the both of us a disservice. So I just let it slide with a nod. If she knew me as well as she claimed she could tell that I respected her response from the look in my eyes. That was all she'd get.
"Are you really going to go back to school?" Alice changed the subject abruptly.
"Oh, yeah, I am, I have to help out with the club.."
"You should get going then," she said.
"It's still early," I told her. "Still a few hours until classes are out. We can hang out a while longer.."
"I think I want to go home," Alice said. She played around with her straw a little, stirring what little ice was left in her cup. "Thank you for everything but I think I need to lie down a little. I didn't sleep much last night.."
"Oh, okay," I took the tray and dumped the trash. "What are you going to tell the teachers tomorrow?" I asked her. She wasn't like me, people tended to actually care when normal proper students missed school. And if it got out that she was skipping school... she'd be in real trouble.
"I'll get mama to write a note," she said as I got the door for her. "I don't think she'll mind too much."
"If they do give you trouble, just tell me. I've got a way of getting out of trouble now..."I almost told her about Big Sis. I thought better of it. "Can't really tell you how or why but I'll be glad to help you out.."
That was enough to get a suspicious glare from her. The old strict Alice had resurfaced. "You better not be getting in way over your head," she warned. "And if you are,remember that there are people who would gladly help you.."
"I won't, and thanks," I said.
"Thank you for the meal," she said quietly. "I can make you lunch tomorrow to pay you back."
"It's alright," I told her, "I'm always happy to eat your cooking but I don't want you to feel like you owe me."
"Oh? What happened to the Arc I know?"
"It's been a strange last couple of hours," I scratched my head, offering a bland smile. Enough of the peering into my heart for one day. "Let's just move on, please.."
"Alright," my statement amused Alice apparently. She giggled a bit, that liveliness showing up in her eyes again. I didn't know what that was all about. "I'll see you later then, do what you have to do. If you ever need help, just ask."
"I'll think about it..."I waved her goodbye as she started to walk back home.
Truth was, I wasn't sure if I understood what had been happening. Or if I wanted to understand. It was all too confusing. But that was that.
I didn't want ot miss practice but there was plenty of time left. I'd have ample opportunity to mess around in school. Check in on people, taunt others. Come to think of it, there was a place nearby where I could waste some time comfortably. The place with the plants. The date there didn't go so well but at least it was a nice enough place. The owner was beautiful too, I could talk to her again. She was the prettiest flower on display actually. She looked the other way with Marisa working there part-time so it was safe to bet that she wouldn't call the school on me..
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The pair of sunflowers that flanked the entrance still stood proud and tall, Their bright flowers were turned upwards, as if staring directly at the sun. I entered the cafe and found myself once again in that green garden full of nature. And nature was about the only thing present. The place was absolutely empty. Not a single costumer in sight. I checked the sign on the door, it clearly said ?Open?.
"Um, hello?" I sat at the counter and took a look around. The coffee maker was still on, liquid was bubbling inside. Someone had to be around. There was also faint music coming from the speakers up in the corners. Soft, almost inaudible. Classical, judging by the violins and other string instruments. Atmospheric stuff, probably to create a general mood.
The door to the staff area opened. Out came Yuuka, wearing an apron and holding a watering pot. It was cute too, with a little smiling sunflower painted on the side. Looked like it was a handmade job, didn't come from the factory looking like that.
Her eyes drifted to me almost immediately. "Oh, it's you," she said, "your little girlfriend isn't working here today.."
"No ?hello, welcome!??" I asked, smirking. She certainly was a no-nonsense type of person.
"You're not a customer," she dismissed me, coming from out behind the counter. With the waterpot in her hand she began to water the plant nearest to her.
"I've got money," I protested, "I could be a customer if I wanted to be. But after seeing the kind of service here..."
"Spare me," she said dryly. She wasn't bemused in the slightest. Yuuka saw right through my little fake outrage act. "If you were a customer you'd come by later and not in your school uniform. You're here to kill time while ditching class."
"Ok, fine, so maybe I am," I admitted, dropping the act right away. I didn't feel there was anything else to gain by lying to her.
She turned to me after she was done watering a bank of plants, a broad smile on her face. It reminded me of one of the looks Alice had shown earlier. Self-confident, to an almost predatory extent. A little smug even. "Well kid, what can I do for you then?"
"I really don't know," I said, "I guess I wanted to get to know you a little better. This is an interesting shop.."
"Just a project born out of vanity," Yuuka laughed, turning her attention once again to her plants. I observed her. She watered them quite carefully, making sure that they got precise amounts of water. Not even a single extra drop seemed to be wasted. "My real interest is gardening," she said, "in case you haven't noticed. This place just pays the bills, keeps me rooted in the real world. Otherwise I'm liable to never see another human being.."
"I see. Slow day then?"
"Just what you'd expect right after lunchtime," she shrugged. "most of my customers on weekdays are housewives out for shopping and occasionally the secretary on their breaks.."
"Need any help?"
"With the store? No, not right now as you can see. With the plants? I wouldn't trust anyone but myself to take care of them properly. They're my babies after all." Her unconventional statement was hardly surprising. I could see that she also talked to the plants between waterings, whispering nearly inaudible messages to them.
"What about the vines?" I asked, looking at the green lines that twisted around the trellis above the counter.
"They have a drip system," she answered. Yuuka finished watering the last potted plant and returned to the counter, placing her waterpot down. "So are you just going to sit there and loiter?" she asked.
"Unless you kick me out," I replied.
"Hmm," she donned a pensive look, like she was seriously considering doing just that. "Well, want to make yourself useful instead?"
"I get the feeling that you're going to make me an offer that I can't refuse."
"Oh, don't worry about that," she smiled a little too sweetly, "I don't like using the threat of violence to get things done."
"...who said anything about violence?"
"At any rate," she ignored my question, "I'd like you to distribute a few circulars for this place. Around your neighborhood. Also in your school. I'll have some coupons for sweets handy. Girls are suckers for sweets and I have quite a few cakes, pies and cookies for sale."
"Devious, what's in it for me?"
"Besides my eternal gratitude?"
"Besides the obvious," I said dryly.
"I'll let you bring a date here and provide the both of you with free sweets and tea. I get the feeling that's the kind of payment you'd enjoy the most," she said while leaning forward so her neckline was in full view. Where her apron ended, her blouse began - and the top button was undone. If she weren't wearing the apron I would have been able to appreciate a bird-eyes view of her bountiful cleavage. With what was clearly a devious smile, she added with a whisper, "unless, of course, you can think of anything else you might like instead.."
"I don't know," I acted like a hard sell, "I have a lot to do these days. I'm not sure I have the time to help you out.."
"We'd both be doing each other a big favor, and I'm always suitable grateful for those. Just ask your blonde little girlfriend," she said, leaning in heavy on her natural charm. And boy was there a lot of it. That short but wavy hair looked a little messy but framed her jawline rather well. She was a looker alright. Whenever she smiled or looked me in the eye I couldn't help but compare her to something fresh and lively, like one of the many flowers that were in full bloom in her shop. And like her flowers, there wasn't any single blemish to mar her features. She took good care of herself. Even her scent was as like a flower's, light and understated but fragrant and memorable. If I were a bee, I'd happily spend my time buzzing around her.
 Flyers and coupons sound doable  It's too much trouble
She wouldn't see people otherwise eh? Getting mixed up with this Yuuka could possibly be problematic and I wouldn't blame Arc for backing out but ... this is only a small favor for a decent reward. Even if we end up in her pocket, that's not a bad place to be.
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"Alright, you have a deal," I said, "I just happen to have some spare time now that I can use for distributing those flyers and coupons.."
"A pleasure to do business with you," she stopped leaning forward, lifting herself up. I hadn't noticed before but, now that my eyes were glued to that missing top button, I noticed that there was a significant amount of movement in her chest are. That could only mean one thing. She wasn't indulging in the feminine luxury of the modern lifting and separating system of brassieres. Made me look at her legs, where her skirt ended. Was she also abstaining from the bottom set? It was all I could think about. "I'll just go get things from the back," she announced, walking away at a slow, almost deliberate pace. Well shaped and well accessorized; her slender legs were covered by a lubricious-looking pair of black stockings. Silk if I had to guess. What I wouldn't give to rub them and find out for sure.
With my mind preoccupied with... less than wholesome thoughts, I happily stayed seated until she got back. Forget my involuntary fantasies about pedagogs, lascivious thoughts about bright flowers were as good or better. Fertile soil for my imagination. I sure wouldn't mind getting my hands dirty gardening a little...
"Alright, this is what you have to distribute in your neighborhood." Yuuka plopped down a large stack of flyers in front of me. It started me, snapping me out of my daydream. I'd have to pick up thoughts of the hose and fertilizer later. "Shouldn't take you too long."
"Quite a while, I'd say."
"Nothing a fit young man can't handle," she smirked. Well played. Appealing to my sense of pride when I was weak to her charm was real smart. Handing me a smaller envelop, she added, "these are the coupons, distribute them to your classmates. Girls mostly, but guys that want to bring dates over are good too. Two for ones bring the crowds in - they don't understand what profit margins are.."
"Alright, got it," I said. Her business couldn't be doing too poorly with all of the savvy she was displaying. "I'll get to it right away."
"Good boy," she smiled. "Come see some other day about your end."
"Shouldn't I ask for an advance?" I asked, just to put up a bit of a show.
"Alright, I guess that's only fair, let's give you something you won't soon forget? she said with an enigmatic smile. I didn't know what she meant until she came over to my side of the counter. Leaning over from behind me, she whispered softly, "it's rude to stare." She grabbed my hand and ran it along the length of her leg. Taking her time she let me lose myself in the tactile bliss. Definitely silk. Soft as a cloud and smooth as a dream. The tour ended when we reached the embroidered top of the stockings. Clearly it was being held up by a thin strip of textile, presumable attached to a garter. "How's that for an advance?" she asked, blowing a little on my ear.
"...I'll get right to work," I said, incapable of thinking of anything clever to say.
"Atta lad," she said. She left me to pick up the stack of flyers while she got the door for me. "By the way, I can't recall what you said your name was,"
"It's Arc," I said, getting the heavy pile of flyers from the counter and walking to the door.
"I'll be sure to remember it this time," she winked.
And that was that. Burdened with the papers, I got right to it. It was harder work than I had reckoned. The distances were moderate and the sun was making things hot. Still, by the time I gotten near my home I had gotten rid of at least half of the flyers. The well-ordered neighborhood had mailboxes in front of every house so I didn't have to bother slipping them under the door. I took a look at one. Promised good coffee, good tea and good sweets. Not very colorful and it was a copy of a handwritten original. All it had in the way of decoration were a few sketches of sunflowers. "The place were the flowers are," was something of a slogan, I figured. But all that might work to Yuuka's advantage. Something cozy and familiar trumped cold corporate chains, I felt.
I was done with them in a timely fashion. Classes would be over soon but I still had enough free time to go to school and hand out a few coupons before practice began. I couldn't just barge straight into class, I'd get pinched for truancy and then I'd have to talk to Yuyuko to get out of it. The longer I could remain fully outside of her pocket, the better. My options were limited at the moment. I had to go somewhere where people were around but not under the close supervision of teachers.
 Start with bookworms researching at the library  Art students sketching in the courtyard are better
Word of mouth is what we're going for here. The library is mostly where introverts gather for the studious and quiet atmosphere. These types are usually loyal, repeat customers. A cafe would offer a different atmosphere that might also be conducive to reading at the right times. This type of customer is valuable to a business owner.
Artists on the other hand might be more affluent and entertain a larger group of friends. The sticking point is that while they offer more in quantity, they also tend too blow with the wind, so to speak. It's a stylish cafe, but is it enough to overcome this? Maybe, maybe not.
I'd rather go with the library for the bookworms and honor students. Quality or quantity and all that.
[X] Start with bookworms researching at the library
Art students like to draw. Flowers gives them an object to draw. Bookworms love to read so they don't really benefit from flowers. Of course, you could say that bookworms buy flowers to decorate reading places, homes etc but so can art students too. Both benefit from sales on sweets. Besides, I think bookworms have already favorite reading spots in other places. Cafe is not a quiet reading place compared to a library.
>>49819 Just because they may have other favorite reading spots, doesn't mean they won't be on the lookout for new ones. Starbucks, Panera Bread and the Barnes and Noble cafes are all excellent places to go and read. They might get a little noisy, sure, but there is nothing that headphones cannot fix. I don't know about you, but I usually don headphones when I read for enjoyment.
It isn't just bookworms that might frequent the school library either. Honor students are also known for being diligent in their studies. They would benefit from a flower cafe since it offers such a great place to relax and take a small break from studying. Or they might stop in and grab a coffee and/or a bite to eat before a long night of studying.
Go ahead, justify your art choice and tell me it has more potential than both bookworms and honor students.
I can't say anything on your thoughts about reading places since I both rarely read long books for leisure and I hate reading in public. Reading in public has all kinds of distractions for me.
We are actually talking only about bookworms but I'm nitpicking.
Art students have more friends. (I'm basing this assumption on my years during high school. Bookworms were very quiet people and they were rarely seen on weekends and freetime. Other students had a much more active social life) More friends in free time = more people that get to know about the flower cafe. People love to hang out with friends after school and loosen up. Nothing is better than coffee and sandwich after surviving a torturous day in school. Bookworms and Honor students aren't the only people that need to relax and take a break. That way the flower cafe gets more people and the word gets spread around faster and farther.
[X] Art students sketching in the courtyard are better.
Yeah gonna go with personal experience here. Not so much for the fact that a flower shop can turn into a pseudo-cafe and "source of inspiration" but the idea of having more places to lounge around somewhere nearly freely would entice any art student; bound to be some artists who focus on "organic" mediums such as plants especially.
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During normal hours the library was a spot where the best and the worst minds met. Those who were cutting class sat in the back, reading comics and using the computers. The ones the teachers trusted to do work by themselves (ie: honor students) sat at the tables by the books, cracking away at some textbook or doing individual research. The rest of the school population only used the library during breaks or after classes had already ended.
I circled around back first, keeping clear of the librarian and her line of sight. Slackers were wary that I was going to nark on them but also seemed grateful for the chance to talk to someone else. I handed out a few coupons, explaining where the cafe was and urging them to try all of its delights. With friends, if possible. It was a place to remember and the proprietor was lovely. How she was lovely, I kept to myself. And to my certain-to-follow dreams.
I got to my first proper bookworm. A gentle-looking girl reading a thick and complicated-looking book. She wore glasses, had short hair and seemed completely engrossed by reading. She was a diminutive little thing, it felt like I reached out and touched her she'd shatter. The ribbon on her uniform indicated she was a first year. I tried to talk to her but only got rebuffed. All I managed to get out of her was an absent-minded ?thanks? for the coupon.
I moved on. My timing was off. I just missed someone from my level. The one who was rumored to be irresistable in short shorts. Was it one of the guys who watched volleyball practice that had told me that? I wasn't too sure. Maybe it was someone that saw her on the weekend or during summer. The name kept drawing a blank in my head. She closed the door behind her, carrying a pile of books. Well, whatever, her younger sister was the one that was in vogue these days.
A girl I vaguely recalled being in my grade sat at another table. It was at a more remote and quiet cornet of the library where it would be easier to take a nap without getting caught. Like the previous girl, she had a pile of books next to her while she read a thick and difficult-looking book. Physically, though, they were rather different. Long hair with twin long chest-length strands of hairs tied with ribbons, the color matching her dark eyes. She projected a serious and aloof sensation. I had never talked to her, I wasn't even sure what class she was in. Still, for the sake of doing a thorough job I sat down next to her.
"Sorry to bother you," I started.
"I'm feeling alright today, you needn't bother," she said, never lifting her eyes from the book.
"I'm sorry?" I asked, puzzled.
"Oh..."she stopped reading, looking up with those intense eyes of her at me. "My apologies, I thought you someone else I used to see frequently. He helped me with my bouts of anemia." I thought. I had no idea who she meant. A classmate, surely? I don't recall any boys talking about her, however. Their preferred subject was usually one of waifish blonde underclassmates. Her straightforwardness only added to her mystery.
"What happened to him?" I couldn't help but ask, looking for an 'in' with the girl. Didn't want a repeat of just earlier.
"Just up and vanished from the bathroom one day," she said with a small cough. Was she for real? I couldn't tell if she was joking or not.
"I'm... sorry to hear that," I expressed my condolences though I wasn't sure exactly why.
"Well, what do you want?" she asked, bringing the conversation back to where it was supposed to start.
"I have this coupon here for a great cafe in town, I was hoping you'd take it and go sometime.."
"With you?" she raised an eyebrow.
"No, not necessarily," I told her. Didn't want to overwhelm her. The main point was to get her to accept the coupon.
"I do not have anyone else to go with," she stated and then asked, "is that a problem?"
"You can go by yourself, that's no problem," I added, "but surely there's a classmate you can ask to go with you in the very least?"
"She is busy with her unbridled passion these days," she remarked casually on affairs of the heart. "Being the third person with a couple is bothersome.."
"Well, take the coupon," I handed it over to her, "if you want somebody to go with, you can always ask me. I'm Arc from II-C in case you didn't know.."
"Duly noted," she said, "Patchouli, II-D.."
"Pleasure to meet you, Patchy," I smiled.
"Patchy?" she asked, raising an eyebrow again.
"Sorry, it sprang to mind. Your name is a bit hard to say quickly so I gave you a nickname.."
"How flippant," she said, now showing an ambiguous smile. The Mona Lisa had nothing on that girl. At any rate she seemed to accept the nickname. "Well then Arc, I may just take you up on your offer. It has been a while since I had a cup of tea with someone interesting.."
"I'm interesting?" I said, pleased at her observation. "That's always nice to hear. You seem interesting too. Truth be told I don't recall ever seeing you during field trips and PE.."
"I have something of a recurring health issue," she explained, "I'm excused from physical activity at school and often am in no shape to go very far on those trips.."
"Oh..."I connected the dots with what she had said earlier. "I hope that whatever it is that you have it's not serious.."
"Not very, no. It does preclude any sort of serious exertion on my part, however. I get winded easily and have to take a puff of medicine if I do try to do something strenuous. But it goes quickly enough. Usually." She sighed, reaffirming how inconvenient it seemed to be. "Well, it lets me spend plenty of time in the library, reading. I enjoy getting lost in these books."
That sounded a little lonely. She didn't seem like the type that begrudged company but was instead just poor at meeting new people. They had to find her. I thought about what I could do to help her socialize more.
 If she liked she could come and watch practice at the gym.  Invite her to meet friends from II-C.
>>49833 Even if Patchy doesn't really enjoy herself (if we're lucky, Alice will be there) as I doubt she'd get along with Okuu or Orin.
Going and introducing Patchy to Arc's classmate might make him late, but I'd figure Orin'd be less upset by Arc actually helping someone compared to Arc dragging some person to the gym just so save work.
>>49829 Now there's an excellent Patchy pic for my folder.
>?My apologies, I thought you were someone else I used to see frequently. He helped me with my bouts of anemia."
I salute the fallen. Never forget.
>>49830 I'm not sure if you've revoted or not, but the II-C option will most likely cause Arc to ditch practice. That would most likely not help Arc's chances with Okuu. It's Arc's responsibility and I highly suggest that we not shirk it.
>>49831 Alice is essentially confirmed to still be resting. If anything, she'd show up at practice, not class.
>>49834 From a VN standpoint, these options generally take up the entire afternoon. Patchy could offer some valuable insight concerning Okuu. If Arc explains the situation and asks Patchy specifically, we might learn something new. I feel that if anyone could begin to solve the Okuu puzzle, it'd be Patchy.
>>49835 Alice is still resting, this leaves Reimu, Suika and maybe Marisa if she isn't absent. Of those three, Patchy has the best chance to get along with Marisa, I believe.
>>49837 >>49838 My main concern is Suika. She's still pissed at Arc and is going to make every effort to get under his skin. Avoiding Suika with someone new and impressionable is a higher priority for me than introducing Marisa and Patchy at this point. It isn't even guaranteed that Marisa will be there either, therefore I choose to go to practice with Patchy. The potential insight she could give concerning Okuu is too damn valuable for me to pass up. It seems like she's just looking for some company.
[x] If she liked she could come and watch practice at the gym.
We can plan a day where Arc, Marisa, Alice, and Patchy go somewhere and do something at a later date. Hell, I'd even ask Patchy over to dinner at Arc's or Alice's place ... with permission of course. I can't see Arc introducing Patchy to Alice going very well. We should probably get Marisa to do it.
"Do you have any plans after this?" I asked Patchy.
"After school?" she asked calmly, unfazed by the awkward prospect of being asked to do something by a guy she just met. "The club isn't active at the moment, so no.."
"Well, would you like to hang out with me for a while then? I'm the manager of the rhythmic gymnastics and I have to supervise them." I preempted the thought that most people would have at that point, "I know it sounds boring but really you'd just be sitting with me and talking for a while. There'll be other interesting people there too.."
"I suppose the Lemegeton can wait," she said, closing the book in front of her. "Very well, I'll accompany you. Company will be a change of pace.."
I watched her return the books to their proper shelves. She took a while, examining each call number carefully and matching it to the right spot. After she was done she came back to the table and told me she was ready. We walked together towards the gym. I matched her slow pace. As we reached the first floor the bell rang and classes were out for the day. We had just missed the initial tidal wave of students leaving for home or clubs and made it ahead of the swell to the gym.
"We can sit here on the bleachers. It'll be a while before they get changed and come out," I indicated to Patchy a spot where she could sit. It was close to where Reiuji normally set up to practice. "I'm not going to being much. My current strategy is just to watch and occasionally say something."
"Strategy for what?" Patchy asked.
"Oh, right, you wouldn't know." I told her about Reiuji, "the most talented girl has a few issues she needs to work on. She won't talk to me, just her best friend. It makes it a little frustrating.."
"Interesting," she commented after I told her the general story about my trials and triumphs with Reiuji. "The lack of research may have held you back until now."
"What do you mean?"
"You know nothing of her affliction except for the oblique comments made by her friend, correct? It seems like it is the central issue. If you do not understand what it is and how it came to be then the prospects of resolving it are slim." That was her opinion. Not unreasonable, of course. It showed that she was quick on the uptake and, despite her sedate appearance, her mind was sharp and held a capacity for keen analysis.
"What's the plan for today?" A new arrival interrupted. It was Kaenbyou, coming in with her book bag tossed over her shoulder. She paused, looking confused when she realized that I wasn't alone.
"Staying the course. With you here it might be easier to get her accustomed to me," I told her.
"Who is that?" she asked, looking at Patchy with an undisguised look of unease.
"This is Patchouli," I introduced her, "a friend of mine.."
"A friend of yours?" she looked displeased with the information. Perhaps it was because I was using her first name with some familiarity.
"Yes." I turned to Patchy, "this is Rin Kaenbyou, a friend of mine, she's close to Reiuji.."
"Pleased to make your acquaintance," Patchouli extended her hand, she looked no more pleased than Kaenbyou was. But, unlike the redhead, it was just her natural quiet and slighty dour-looking default expression. "It's Patchouli Knowledge, from II-D."
Kaenbyou took the hand reluctantly, returning the greeting without enthusiasm.
"Where's Reiuji?" I asked.
"She's getting changed," Kaenbyou grumbled, "she'll be out in a moment.."
"Alright," I motioned to the spot next to me, "have a seat."
"No thanks," she crossed her arms, electing to stand.
"I do not think she approves of me," Patchouli commented in a hushed tone. "Have I done anything to offend her?"
"I don't think so. She just has a temper. And it seems that every other thing I do sets her off. I'm sorry."
"Quite alright," Patchy said, "I can leave if you think it'll help. There is a lot that I can do by myself at home.."
"No, don't be silly." I wasn't going to let Kaenbyou ruin the nice thing I was doing for Patchy. She needed a friend and I was easing her into my world. "Just follow my lead and things will be fine. Reiuji seems to be ready," I said as I saw the other girl emerge from the locker room. She ignored me as she always did. That didn't keep me from waving to her and smiling in a friendly manner. What was it about those two that made them snub people? I shook my head, wanting to sigh.
 Ignore Kaenbyou until she's ready to make nice  Call her out on her childish behavior
[x] Ignore Kaenbyou until she's ready to make nice.
If we call Rin out, it'll embarrass her. I can say that she's not really honest with herself, based on past events. If we ignore her, she will probably come around.
As for why she's upset, I'd wager that she sees Patchy as competition. I can think of no other valid reason, thoughts?
I use this technique on my cat all the time, works wonders. If I try to pick her up, she'll have none of it, but if I sit at my PC and ignore her, she'll be all over my keyboard making a nuisance of herself. Yes, that's right, I'm advocating for treating Rin like a cat.
[x] Ignore Kaenbyou until she's ready to make nice.
From her point of view it is that Arc brings a girl to the practcie that the two do together. She likes him so you can guess what she is thinking. Rin is already in a bad mood so telling her that she is wrong surely will not help to improve the situation. Arc waved to her, is being friendly and just now can only ignore her in hopes that she will come around. If she sees that they are having fun then she probably will.
Hell, I like that Patchy. She has a pretty frank character and is eager to help Arc in his situation. I wonder if she can help the situation.
"Do you know anything about rhythmic gymnastics?" I asked Patchy, striking up a conversation. Kaenbyou could rot, for all that I cared. Being rude like that was inexcusable.
Patchy shook her head. "I'm afraid that I'm not well-versed in these sorts of recreational activities. Save for volleyball, once when I was doing better, I haven't participated or read up on any sport.."
"I'll give you a rundown of this then," I said and began to explain the basics to her. It was a chance to show off the intense study I had done when I first was appointed manager. I had yet to see any proper scoring and my own amateur eye probably couldn't discern between 'excellent' and 'mediocre' so I only spoke about theory. I made it clear that I wasn't sure how good Reiuji actually was. She hadn't dazzled me but, then again, she didn't seem to be able to practice comfortably with me watching. As we spoke she did her routine, ever wary at my presence.
"It's an intriguing activity," Patchy concluded after my rundown.
"It's serious enough to have interschool competitions," I told her, "and then regional and even nationals. You could make it all the way to the olympics if you were good.."
"It's interesting that you're the one in charge.."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Usually with any sort of activity that involves competition they get qualified coaches and experienced managers. Correct me if I'm wrong," she said quietly, "but you are not very experienced. You've only joined the team recently.."
"That's true," I said. It was a rather big inconsistency.
"From what you've said previously your main focus is on this girl and her situation. There's someone who is directing you to do this, isn't there?" Patchy guessed what neither Kaenbyou nor Alice had.
"Yes," I admitted. Without giving up too much of why I was doing things I told her in no uncertain terms what my objective was, "sorting out her is more important than leading them to victory. I doubt I'll remain manager if I do resolve this issue.."
"Likely not," she observed, "there must also be a reason why the staff isn't getting directly involved.."
"Faith in my people skills, that's the reason," I chuckled. I hadn't the foggiest why Big Sis was doing what she did.
"That may be a factor," Patchy admitted, adding, "you did approach and convince me to accompany you just now. While I wouldn't say that it's because you seem entirely trustworthy, you do have a presence that makes suggestions... more agreeable. I'm not entirely certain myself, I would need a control subject to observe the phenomenon.."
"I'll take that as a compliment," I told her. "I just wish that my suggestions were more agreeable to her."
"Don't worry about it," Patchy reassured me, "there are probably many ways to solve this but using the friend is one of the most efficient ones."
"You mean the friend that's trying to," I turned towards Rin as I said the last bit, "trying to eavesdrop desperately.."
"Well, excuse me," Kaenbyou glared at me, "it's rude to whisper when someone else is standing right next to you.."
Getting back to Patchy, I purposefully lowered my voice. "Do you have any advice on the situation?"
"Too many unknown variables. You really needed to have done some investigating. Talked to classmates, teachers and anyone else who knows her. I would be remiss to suggest a solution if I do not understand the problem entirely.."
"Do you want to talk to her?" I suggested, "she doesn't deal well with me but perhaps she'll do better with you. And if she doesn't we can conclude that she doesn't deal well with most people.."
"Not very thorough, but I would be glad to be of assistance," Patchy stated, "my interest has been piqued.."
"Do you think we should involve her?" I asked, nudging my head towards Kaenbyou. "She might respond better if you're introduced by her friend.."
"It's your decision, either way you'll have more information," she stated. "You may have to secure her cooperation first. I think she would be reluctant to hear any request from me.."
"You're right about that," I agreed with her. "But I can handle Kaenbyou if needed. She is, after all, trying to listen in to this conversation desperately.."
"That is most amusing," Patchouli concurred, smiling slightly. "It's been a while since I've dealt with her type.."
"And what type would that be, pray tell?" I asked, amused.
"The type that doesn't like to be left out, let's just leave it at that for now. I need more data to confirm my other hypothesis. If proven correct, I think that you'll have a definite way to sort out your target using her to help you.."
"I take it that you have an experiment in mind to test that hypothesis out?"
"Yes, a very simple one. But I'll only proceed if you want me to. She is your friend, after all. It's not my place to potentially change your way of viewing her. I'm just an outsider.."
"And you say that you'll have a good idea about her nature and how to use that to my advantage?" I asked, implicitly understanding that the experiment obviously had the possibility of yielding a different result than intended. I was definitely dependent on Kaenbyou to make headway with Reiuji. I realized that some time ago when I had stopped approaching Reiuji directly. It had been a conscious shift in strategy.
"There is a slight risk, I must warn you. I cannot tell you until I begin for the experiment requires you to be an independent variable. For empiricism's sake," she sounded like a real scientist. Had to be nice to have her as a lab partner.
 Go ahead with Patchy's experiment.  Just have her approach Reiuji by herself
Whoa whoa whoa, take it easy now. Of all the choices up until this point, this one in particular has the most potential to backfire.
We need to make sure we understand both options and what they mean before making an educated decision on what's best.
Let's weigh the consequences first. Going along the kiss err, Patchy's experiment can possibly provide more information on Rin and by extension, Okuu. It will reveal Rin's nature and possibly make Arc see her in a different light while potentially alienating her in the process. What does this sound like to you?
>?And you say that you'll have a good idea about her nature and how to use that to my advantage?"
I believe that we already have enough evidence to ascertain Rin's nature and figure out how she feels about Arc. The only missing component is how to use this with Okuu.
I'll walk you through my logic. Here are some examples: >?And to think that I thought you were kind of cute! You're nothing but an insensitive jackass!."
This is taken from thread 4 after Arc's little stunt with isolating Okuu. I'd recommend reading that little fight for context and info. From this, we can infer that she is attracted to Arc, but not so much that she is blind to his faults.
As evidenced by that fight, she is fiercely protective of her friends. Therefore it logically follows that she would also be rather protective of her love interest, right? Hence her anger just now when she saw that Arc brought another girl to practice. Think back to when Arc and Marisa visited Rin at her home. Marisa got them in using flattery and telling Rin that Arc thought she was a nice person. While I don't think she's the vain type, real compliments go a long way. Take a look at this:
>?She'll probably listen to you even if she pretends not to, because she knows you're right," Marisa made a bold statement without much in the way of evidence backing her up. I really didn't know if she was going out on a limb or if she really had sized Kaenbyou up during that brief exchange of theirs.
Rin is full of contradictions. She puts up a strong front, but the best way to deal with her is to catch her off guard, so she doesn't remember to be difficult. This is evidenced here when Marisa pushed the envelope in a deteriorating situation and cornered Rin:
>"... She's the type that's not honest with herself when pushed into a corner. Trust me.?
It was right there that Arc took her first kiss. I'd say that she's fallen for him. Before this, she wouldn't have reacted badly to Arc's association with other girls. Heck, she didn't react badly at all to Marisa at first. This was the turning point. Now, the only question remaining is this: how can Arc leverage this to work with Okuu? Could he consolidate his relationship with Rin? If he was in a proper relationship with her, Okuu might be more apt to respond to Arc. She trusts Rin, therefore it might be possible to surmise that she'll trust someone that Rin does. I think this is where Patchy is going with this.
Are there any other possible outcomes that I missed?
The other option simply bypasses the experiment entirely. This would accomplish two things. First, it would let us know for sure whether Okuu reacts adversely to both male and female. If we can narrow it down to men, there's only a few plausible reasons for her to be like this. None of them are pleasant. Second, it would avoid putting Rin in an uncomfortable spot. Here's the basis:
From the fight between Rin and Arc.
>?She won't talk to you, she wants nothing to do with you.."
>?Can't I at least know why? What have I done to her that is so bad, anyways?" That was the burning question on my mind. Getting rejected with a clear reason was one thing. Being treated like I had been was just terrible.
>?It's not what you've done," she shook her head, "it's who you are. She can't possibly begin to trust you anytime soon."
>?Can't you help with that?"
>?No," she said quietly. There was a tinge of regret in her words, like she wished that that weren't the case. "She wouldn't talk to you even if I begged her to. Nor most of the people at school for that matter.."
>?What happened to her?" I asked, knowing that I wouldn't get the answer that I wanted. I could only imagine that the truth wasn't too nice.
>?It's just something unpleasant that happened in the past, when we were in middle school. She hasn't gotten over it even though I've tried to help her." A frown formed on her face and I could see that it was something that frustrated her. Her anger was still there but it wasn't directed at me. The resentment that peered beyond her eyes was reserved for someone or something far away. I began to understand her strong emotions for her friend. Whatever had happened, Kaenbyou had been there for Reiuji for all those years.
Thus, from what I can see, the first option has the potential for a higher reward and the second option is safer with a chance to figure Okuu out further. That said, the first one is only risky if you do not understand the parties involved and how they'll react. This same exact thing happened before when Yuyu gave us that isolated room. Had Arc chosen Rin there, we'd be in a different boat entirely. We didn't account for Okuu's response adequately and it lead to a rather long resolution process. I think the stakes are even higher right here. In the end, the real question is whether Rin has sufficient affection for Arc. I'm willing to wager that she does due to both kisses. All that's needed is the proper push.
[x] Go ahead with Patchy's experiment.
I've justified my vote enough to warily climb aboard this bandwagon. I'm not an expert in relationships, but given the right contextual clues, I can hash something out. The risks are clearly presented and the potential for it to backfire is very real. Make sure you understand where I'm coming from and read up on the previous instances featuring Rin.
>>49871 So in short you are saying that Patchy is planning to push Rin so far that she comes to terms with herself liking Arc, which will have them get into some sort of relationship, which will make Okuu trust Arc more because the two of them are just together?
This is bold and brilliant at the same time!
>It's not my place to potentially change your way of viewing her This way you can view this sentence as her saying that she is not responsible for Arc falling in love/getting together with Rin. Patchy views love just as a part of the whole and does not care or understands this.
>"... She's the type that's not honest with herself when pushed into a corner. Trust me.." This can only work if we can be sure that Rin is actually in love with Arc, which I think that she clearly is but just not accepting that fact yet. It is quite a risk and I hope that Patchy just has a good plan that will push her into a "corner" so she will come out with it.
>>49871 here, revoting. Further reflection has changed my mind. Climbing off the bandwagon in light of recent choices.
Here's the last few choices for perspective.
[x] Keep at it Okuu [x] Just keep talking to her while she performs until she's used to it Okuu [x] Kiss her - that'll shut her up! Rin [x] Call it a day and deal with the distraction Rin [x] "If you were supporting me during practice this would be easier." Rin Alice Tangent Patchy Tangent [x] If she liked she could come and watch practice at the gym. Orin and Okuu [x] Ignore Kaenbyou until she's ready to make nice Rin? [x] Go ahead with Patchy's experiment. Rin
Okuu x2 - Rin x3 - Alice Tangent - Cafe Job - Patchy Encounter - Orin & Okuu - Rin x1
Given the last choice, I say that we continue to ignore Rin until she's ready to make nice.
[x] Just have her approach Reiuji by herself
This still gives us plenty of new information without sending the wrong signals.
I've got to say something: Aren't you guys aware that you might come off as inconsistent, ignoring her in the past choice and then paying attention in this one. Though I saw that some of the logic was "better to ignore her until she's social then try paying attention) Just soem food for thought.
I'm still thinking over the choice as the experiment one looks tempting.
>I've got to say something: Aren't you guys aware that you might come off as inconsistent Not at all. In a real-world situation (not sure how much that applies here) we might come as a bit of a jerk to Orin but she kind of had it coming. The 'inconsistency' lasted a few seconds at most and even if we were acting strange, she would (should?) let it go because we are trying to help her friend. Unless she has a reason to not want that, but I digress.
Now, if you're asking about seeming inconsistent to the writer I'd say that it is already a sure thing.
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The sweetly melodic greeting echoed down the hallway, gaining a momentum of its own and seemingly increasing in volume until it reached my ears. Quite the feat in a crowded hallway full of students loitering and chit-chattering as they made their ways home for the day. It was hard to hear oneself think, let alone make conversation with someone standing right by. Of course it meant that everyone turned their heads towards the source. And, in a logically proceeding course of events, then turned their heads towards the intended recipient. In other words, they stared at me.
A more bashful sort would look away or smile nervously. I simply nodded at her, acknowledging her presence while waiting for her to trot along to where I was. She was going to anyways. She usually did. That boundless energy of hers would be the end of me.
"I thought you had practice today," I said to her, ignoring the still observing stares of onlookers.
"Nope!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. "All of our seniors have important exams coming up, so club activities are suspended for a while. That means that I get to spend a lot more time with you!" She then giggled, of course, and pressed herself annoyingly close to me. This was the kind of thing that started rumors and got me into trouble.
"That'll be a blast," I said, ruffling up her hair while I was at it. I wondered what we looked like to the other students. Older brother and cute sister? That's how she carried about around me, anyhow. Personally, I didn't think I looked much like an older brother type. Maybe it was just philanderer and younger victim. More tongues would wag in tune to that gossip, definitely.
"Mmmph," she pouted a little, clearly not enjoying how I messed up her hair with my hand. I couldn't help but smile at her childish expression. "You're putting on a little weight," she said, maybe shooting back at me for the unwelcome ruffle. She poked and prodded my belly, adding, "it's all flab down here.."
"Oh, so that's how it's going to be?" It was my turn to pout. Or at least feign it. "I guess I won't be taking you out for ice cream if I'm too fat. I'm going on a diet so that means no more going out to eat with you."
"Ah that's not fair!" she protested, punching my chest with cutely weak blows. "I have nothing but time so you're definitely going to take me out for loads of ice cream!."
"Why don't you ask your number one fan over there to take you instead?" I teased cruelly, pointing with my eyes towards were her self-proclaimed ?#1 fan? was waiting, looking at us and trying to look inconspicuous. Someone like him always stood out, however. The focused intent in his eyes gave away his motives right away. Oh, his eyes met mine briefly. I could almost feel his jealously burning into me.
"Oh, he's still there?" she frowned, "how disgusting. I don't want to hang out with a loser like him. I'd much rather be with someone cool like you, Arc.."
"I'm flattered," I told her, "but I'm afraid the damage is done. No ice cream.."
"Is that so~? Not even if I do this?" she looked up at me with those big wide eyes of her. Eyes that would kill a lesser man of a cuteness-induced heart attack. Doe-like innocence was her specialty. And she didn't stop there either. She stood on the tips of her feet and quickly, but boldly, planted a kiss on my cheek. A coldly-calculated sweet act. She knew that everyone else would react to it.
And so I was forced to act. "Alright, fine," I caved, "you can have your stupid ice cream. If only so that we get away from this crowd." Her fan was sure to knife me outside of my home after dark at this rate. If he told her other fans about it, I'd have a whole pack of desperate losers to deal with.
We retreated from the hallway and towards home. Quickly so as to try to lose any followers. She changed up our route too and, instead of going down the stairs and to the shoe lockers, she opened the door to the music room and pulled me in, gesturing for me to be quiet. Making sure we gave those idiots the slip was a big deal.
I listened closely for any noises coming from the hallway. There were a couple of footsteps that were going down the stairs and then... nothing. I looked over at her and found that she was sitting by the teacher's conducting podium, her feet on the steps leading to the platform. She looked up at me with a smile, gesturing for me to come and join her. I sat down next to her. Now all there was left to do was to wait for a while.
She suddenly grabbed my chin, spinning my face towards her. My eyes managed to register that none of her practiced bashfulness was present shortly before she made her big move. She pressed her lips against mine quickly, almost hungrily. I could feel my desire rising in tandem with hers. She unbuttoned my shirt with a deftness that only came with much practice ans I returned the favor and undid her cardigan and white blouse. The music room was an interesting choice for this but I wasn't about to complain. Not after the great time we had in the gym equipment storage shed the other day.
Still motioning me to be quiet, she undid the top button of my trousers, with a coy little smile that was absolutely fetching on her. Again she pressed on with that same voracious appetite of hers, jumping in with full throttle and even more mixed metaphors. Well, I wasn't about to complain as she feasted. This was just what our relationship was like in private. A far cry from the wholesome pseudo little sister type that she seemed to be. But I was fine with it. I couldn't come out to and confess to the world that I was in love with her. At least not yet. But the day would come. Maybe after we graduated and got away from her obsessive fans.
"Rumia?" I called out to her softly, toning down the passion for a moment. We weren't thinking of her stalkers anymore.
"Yesh?" she looked back up at me.
"Summer break if coming up. How would you like it if we took a vacation just by ourselves?"
Her eyes lit up with more of that endless energy of hers. I had my answer and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
I feel bad about posting empty-handed so the above is partially an apology. A lot of things happened in my life in the past few weeks. Likewise I've had a lot of time to think and react to these things. There were times that I wanted to say different, sometimes conflicting, things to you but held off. The thread dying down ingloriously instead of getting people asking after me also made me hold off from saying stuff. As horrible as it may sound, the lack of any perceived interest gave me an excuse to get lost with some of the other problems I was dealing with. With that said I am not resuming the story out of the blue just yet. I may have dealt with a lot of real life stuff recently but I'm not feeling particularly inspired or confident to continue writing this at the moment. Sorry. It's been hard getting into the mood for writing and generally overcoming the writer's block of the past few weeks. I don't know if there's anything much people can do to help either but if anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears.
Also, this is the closest you'll ever get to a Rumia route.
You've had more than a month to come up with a new self-pity rant, and that's the best we can get? Come on Teruyo, that wasn't even close to your usual standards. I was actually looking forward to this moment bro, and you let me down.
Nice update by the way. Allow me to take a second to preemptively grieve for our fallen brothers who's bodies were not adequately prepared for this.
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"Take one," she insisted, shoving the small bag into my hand. Though she was smiling, I could tell that it would be the last time she would offer so politely. "I made them especially for you," she added, staring right into my face, "if you don't even try them I'll get upset with you.."
"Well, alright," I said, feeling a little cornered. Her room was spacious and full of girly things. Dolls, pillows and other soft things abounded. It was hard to move around without tripping over an oversized teddy bear or... tapir. It was quite the collection, I had to admit. To my back there was a large window and balcony but a pretty high drop that went along with it. With her standing right in front of me, it meant that there wasn't anywhere where to escape to in case of emergency.
"Yay~? she cheered gleefully, and clapped her hands, as I took the little bag with the heart-patterned print.
"Hm, cookies," I observed with a forced smile as I opened up the top of the bag.
"It took me all afternoon to make them. I made them without help and I put all of my love into them," she bragged, looking incredibly pleased with herself.
"Oh, it shows," I said dryly, having noticed immediately the uneven shapes (stars... and hockey masks? No, bear faces maybe) and the odd charred bit. "You made them just for me?" I said a little bit more genuinely.
"Uhuh! I wanted to show you how special you are to me!" She pounced on me with all of her might. It caught me off guard.I stumbled backwards onto a large stuffed whale. Luckily for me. "Wheee~!" she giggled, having a blast. Good for her but bad for my back.
"You're going to crush the cookies if you're not careful," I warned her, secretly hoping that they had been crushed. I wasn't really looking forward to trying them.
"Don't worry," she said with a sweet laugh, "I have loads more downstairs. Now am I going to have to feed you or are you going to try them?"
Without waiting to hear my answer, she decoupled herself from my torso and sat up. She used my lap as a seat as she snatched the bag back from me. "Open wide~!" she said in singsong as she crammed a particularly burnt exemplar into my mouth. I suppressed the urge to gag and decided to tough it out. It was very sugary and very hard. I covered my mouth with a hand just in case she didn't think the one was enough and tried to chew as best I could. "Well?" she asked.
"Not bad for your first time," I said quietly. "The ones that are less... cooked are probably going to be even better.."
"Glad you enjoyed them!" she exclaimed, wiggling about on top of me happily. "Sis told me that if I wanted to win somebody over that I should cook for them. She said that's how she found her special person.."
"Say," I started, thoughts about the clandestine nature of my visit surfacing, "you said that she isn't home, right?" I had come over after school at her insistence partially because I was afraid that she was going to throw a tantrum in public and partially because she had assured me that everyone else in her household was away... somewhere... doing something.
"Yup! We're all alone," she said with a knowing smile. "You're hopeless, you know that. Do you want me to help you out with my feet again today?"
"...I didn't come over for that," I said. I was becoming increasingly aware of how she was rubbing me every time she squirmed.
"You shouldn't lie," she giggled, "you're looking at me the same way as the other day.."
"I've been meaning to tell you-" I paused, collecting my thoughts. "What happened in the club room was unintended.."
"But you had fun, didn't you?" She wasn't taking my comment well and looked slightly agitated. She rocked back and forth a little, grabbing onto my chest by digging in her nails slightly. It didn't hurt, it just had the potential to get messy if she pierced the skin. "I want us to have loads of fun together. That's why I'm wearing nothing under my skirt and extra long socks. You wanna look right? Right?"
I did want to look. But it wasn't under the kind circumstances that I had envisioned. Just like last time, I was losing control with her. She took the lead and I just went along with her whims.
She stuck her pinky finger into her mouth, sucking on it as if it was a lollipop. Then, without asking, she shoved it into my mouth. "Have a taste," she commanded with a smile. "It tickles when you lick my finger," she giggled and withdrew her finger. Just what the hell was I doing? "Now, if you behave and play with me a little, I'll give you a big reward. That sounds nice, doesn't it?" Her childlike candor was completely at odds with her very adult actions. She leaned back over me, sniffing my neck and clothes. "You smell a bit like my old toys," she observed, "I like it. It makes my head feel funny like a balloon.."
"Flan-" I said softly, still holding onto the last lingering vestiges of my rationality. "I don't want to get too carried away. You should only do this sort of thing with someone you really like." I was feeling a little guilty. I feared that maybe I had taken advantage of her last time. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect her to take my jokes seriously. And one thing led to another and she ?played? with me. It hadn't gone any further since then and I had been struggling all week with how to deal with the situation.
"But I really like you. You're like the older brother I never had. I want to do all sorts of things with you. I want you to be happy, 'cuz then I'll be happy too. You're a bit shy even though you're always talking about naughty things, so I don't mind being a little naughty myself to get past your shyness," her explanation was a bit simplistic, but heartfelt. She was inexperienced, she didn't know any better.
"We can be friends without you having to do any of this," I said, "I mean we haven't even kissed or anything. I don't want to force you to be my lover.."
No sooner had I finished speaking that she smooched me right smack on the lips. "There! We kissed! I don't like it when you're feeling all mopey. I like it when you joke around and play with me. Let's be lovers if you want but let's have a lot of fun doing it. The bit of you under my butt wants to come out and play. I've felt it poking through my skirt for a while now.."
 Forget the rest and play with Flan-chan.  Cheating on Rumia would be wrong.
>>50802 Where is Arc even going to get the money for that vacation? He's in high school. I think he made a promise that he can't deliver on and it's going to break Rumia's heart.
Now look at it this way. Flan's family is very well-off. Ingratiating ourselves with Flan could have certain benefits, one of which could possibly allow us use of the family beach getaway. The main hurdle in that case would be getting Rumia and Flan comfortable about sharing Arc.
With that a distinct possibility, I can vote for Flan knowing that there's a great good being served here.
It was a hard choice to make. On the one hand, I was head over heels over a girl. On the other, this other girl seemed to be head over heels over me. And she was rubbing up against me too. It wasn't fair. Instinct beat its drum vigorously, drowning out the voice of reason. Morally wrong, yes. But it felt so right. I had no where to escape to either. Flandre didn't seem like the type that took rejection well and the only way out was a multistory fall.
Rumia's warm smile and naughty gaze were still fresh in my memories. I still yearned for that summer we promised to spend together.
"We really shouldn't," I said, "even though I really want to. It's not your fault, I'm just not ready." Or so I thought I said. In reality, it was closer to a mumble. No human could have possibly heard my words clearly. Maybe I wanted that. It presented a front. If the decision was out of my hands then I couldn't be held responsible for what was going to happen.
"I think you're eyes are telling me exactly what you want to happen," she giggled again. "You're so lewd, you know. But it's okay because you also make me feel lewd. I'm all tingly right now. I want you to touch me and make the both of us happy.."
"I- guess it's fine then..."I was giving in too easily. "L-let's feel good together. I'll be in your care today again. But I promise to try to make you feel good too.."
"That's the spirit," she said with a grin, "I feel safe with you. I'm glad you're going to be my first, onii-"
"Homewrecker!" a new arrival yelled out, interrupting us. She was mad as could be. "Get the hell off of my man!" Rumia charged across the room, flying across and knocking Flandre off of me. "This is my man, bitch.."
Flandre bolted up, looking pissed off like hell. And then the knives came out. It was a battle to the death. Both girls wrestled, grappling each other and trying to score a lethal hit on the other.
"Girls, girls!" I shouted desperately, "I'm not worth fighting over! Come to your senses!" Mumbling under my breath I added, "there's plenty of me to go around for the both of you.."
"This hussy must die!" Rumia snarled through gritted teeth.
"He likes me better!" Flan got in a painful-sounding punch in the ribs, sending Rumia sprawling back.
"Make love, not war!" I interjected pathetically.
"That totally didn't happen!" she finally snapped, having heard enough. She banged her now-empty beer can on the floor, completely interrupting my train of thought. "I don't know what your deal is but you're full of it.."
"Hey," I snapped back, "you're the one that's being all pry-y and inquisitive-y here, I'm just trying to enjoy my drink.."
"That reminds me," Suika said and paused. I studied her face. She'd gotten all serious all of a sudden. Maybe my story had been too graphic, after all. She held up a hand silently, signaling me to wait before I said anything. Then it came all at once, with overwhelming force. A cacophonous and wet-sounding belch, loud enough to wake the dead.
"Goddammit Suika," I hit her on the shoulder, "cut that out, Auntie is asleep.."
"Oh lighten up," she was in stitches, laughing at her own performance, "that was art, man. If she kicks us out we can go back to my place.."
"If she wakes up she'll raise hell, that's what'll happen," I told her, "no more parties, period.."
"Such a fuddy-duddy," she lamented, with a level of ham-fisted acting only possible after five or six beers. "You're my burden in life, didntcha know? I have to put up with your nagging and your obviously fake stories-"
"Hey!" I interrupted, "that totally happened."
"Yeah, you were getting it on with two girls at once. Both of them really popular. And both of them totally loved the kinky crap you're into.."
"I know it sounds like a longshot, but it really happened... probably."
"Sounds like a lot of bullshit, that's what it sounds what. Now hand me another beer, lover boy," she mocked in the special way that only she could.
"Fine, whatever, maybe I am making it up," I said, grabbing another two beers from the cooler. I handed hers over and popped open mine, taking a big gulp. I had lost track of how many beers I had had. There were a few cans sprawled on the bedroom floor and a few others under the bed. Too much of a hassle to count them. The conversation about my love life had started stupidly enough, like it always did. She mocked my choice of the lolita-looking character in the fighting game and then I had to defend myself. Naturally she wouldn't let the subject drop, prodding and calling me all sorts of names. Really annoying, that. "I told you from the beginning, I don't like younger girls. It's got to be my age or up. The story about those two was supposed to explain why I find them annoying. Or something. What may or may not have happened isn't important. It's, uh... a metaphor? I think? Or what's that thing they do in holy books? Parable! That's it! Maybe.."
Truth was I couldn't even remember why I started talking about those two to begin with. It may have made sense at the time. The story seemed legit. Plausible? There was definitely something that happened with a younger girl. Or girls. Some time ago. It turned me off to them. Yeah, that probably made sense. I hoped.
Oh, whatever. It didn't matter what Suika thought. I was comfortably numb, my body relaxed and my mind focusing on the beauty of the moment. Or trying to, anyways. Getting badgered by the dwarf was trying.
"So you wouldn't mind if I walked up to either of those two tomorrow and asked them if the had ever been close to you? Or even talked to you before."
"Yeah, nah, s'cool. Do what you want. I don't think you'll be making it to school tomorrow. I doubt you can even walk right now.."
"Oh yeah?!" she took my provocation as a challenge. Standing up, wobbling and then toppling, she proved me right in a flash. "Hehehe," she laughed, "guess I'll have to prove you wrong later.."
"I'll look forward to it," I said and took another gulp. The story I was telling was becoming all fuzzy. Even though I was describing it to Suika with vivid detail - enough to make it seem real - I wasn't sure what I had embellished anymore. Maybe Suika was right, I may have made it all up. Wait. What if life was all a byproduct of my imagination. Alice, Marisa, Suika, Auntie... even myself?
"Stop thinking so much!" Suika threw an empty can at my face. "Beer is 'sposed to make you stop thinking."
"Oh screw you!" I retaliated, throwing a different empty can at her. I had to get her back now. Eventually our fight spiraled out of control. A ceasefire was called so we could shotgun another beer before hostilities were rekindled.
I don't remember much else. There was something about me being awfully close to stupid, unfun redheads lately. Which I countered with the finest of counterarguments - a friendly punch or something. Well, we had fun. That was what mattered. The headache the morning after was proof of that. It was nice to take a break from school life and just hang out with a buddy sometimes. Even if we each just ended up talking crap.
A few thoughts in no particular order:
- If there's ever an actual contentious and important choice in the story I may only accept votes from people who have voted at least once before in the thread. Because, let's face it, this and choices like these on the site where people come out of the woodwork are insulting to the readers that are there every update. I severely doubt a good portion of the people just now are regular readers or, indeed, readers at all. There's suspicious (read:spam) votes as well. They should be able to have a large and significant impact on a story they don't normally care for. Luckily this wasn't an important choice. I doubt I'll have to ever do this but I'm just putting it out there.
-This story is not like any other story on the site. Stop it with the bullshit attitudes of 'us' vs 'them' or comparing it to ancient dead stories which only a handful of the newer readers have read. It's not a valid comparison because I'm not operating the same way those other authors were. Those old rivalries/discussions about characters and votes died with those stories. I've said this before and I feel that because of this recent experiment it's worth stating again. I mean, I don't know if you realized it but some of you behaved in the exact way that I've satired in in this very story. See: descriptions of Flan and Rumia earlier in the story as well as in the character blurbs. Yeah, that was about you guys. You know who you are.
-Please be more proactive in talking to each other about choices. It's cool that one guy spends forever writing up a huge post but any and every opinion and observation is important. It influences the story subtly because I take and borrow ideas from you and it influences your peers when you engage and talk to each other. That in turn changes attitudes and votes. You want to spend more time with Marisa, for example? Well, try making people pliable before an actual Marisa choice by putting ideas out there and arguing with people. When it comes to vote time you might find that people might change their minds more easily as a result. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
-As a corollary to the above see that no one mentioned Patchy, Okuu or Orin here. I know the above posts was a surprise ?treat? of sorts (hope it made you chuckle a little anyways) but there's plenty of time you guys overlook stuff in the story. Be more verbose. Remind each other (and sometimes me) about your other choices and other characters. I did say that the first post was the closest you'd get to a Rumia route, after all. Hope you enjoyed our little minitheater of youth, regardless. I'm pretty sure no one reads what I say about the story and updates anyhow.
-Expect your regularly scheduled main story sometime soon. As soon as this sinks in. All of this helped me get back into the mindset of the story. See what happens when no one suggests anything to help me out? Hah.
You've got balls son. This could have ended poorly. Normally I keep quiet and only vote in a few stories.
>If there's ever an actual contentious and important choice in the story I may only accept votes from people who have voted at least once before in the thread. Because, let's face it, this and choices like these on the site where people come out of the woodwork are insulting to the readers that are there every update. I severely doubt a good portion of the people just now are regular readers or, indeed, readers at all. There's suspicious (read:spam) votes as well. They should be able to have a large and significant impact on a story they don't normally care for. Luckily this wasn't an important choice. I doubt I'll have to ever do this but I'm just putting it out there.
That hurts me, it really does. I know you say you doubt that you'll do it, but that means you have considered it in the past. And things change. If you don't count all the votes, unless they really are spam votes, then that is an abuse of power.
You are a good writer, and I don't want to see you go down this road. Doing so may simply cause more issues.
>As a corollary to the above see that no one mentioned Patchy, Okuu or Orin here. I know the above posts was a surprise ?treat? of sorts (hope it made you chuckle a little anyways) but there's plenty of time you guys overlook stuff in the story. Be more verbose. Remind each other (and sometimes me) about your other choices and other characters. I did say that the first post was the closest you'd get to a Rumia route, after all. Hope you enjoyed our little minitheater of youth, regardless. I'm pretty sure no one reads what I say about the story and updates anyhow.
I chose to forget about the whole Utsuho situation while you were writing this because I knew it was a noncanon "treat". I felt there was no point in trying to forcibly drag us back to the main event. I mean really, what am I going to do, force you to sit down and write what I want you too? That wouldn't work for multiple reasons. Also, you say no one reads what you have to say, but that isn't true. I read everything you have to say! I want to know what is going on that head of yours so I can be in the proper mindset when I choose to vote or contribute to the conversations that are being had.
Well, that's my two cents. I'm going to go hide in the dark corners of the site until I feel like posting something again. Keep up the good work you Glorious Bastard!
>>50883 Pretty sure that's not what he's saying or implying. The gist of what I think he's saying is that this story requires much more than a simple token vote because every choice is influenced by the comments and discussion of the readers.
Apparently this is even the case for the votes that don't win. If that is truly the case, discussion and argument is never truly wasted. It builds into each update and follows reader expectations more closely.
Now, compare that to other stories here and I think it'd be difficult to find one with the same exact formula. There are cases where it might happen, but not consistently. It doesn't mean that ToY is somehow a better story than the rest, it just means that you have to be a better reader. Make sense?
The next time you vote, try including the answer to one or more of these questions: Why did I choose this? How is this going to play out? What will be the other character's reaction? Where will this take the story? Who does this choice favor?
>>50884 Pretty sure that happens in every story here. The only difference is that the writer demands that anon not be the way anon has always been.
Can you blame them for not taking that well? Especially with adding to that the fact that the writer will gladly discard votes when it suits him (denying non-previous voters from voting).
It's not flagrant, but it's still abuse of his mod/admin powers. At the very least, it's a conflict of interest. I would be opposed to this. I was opposed to it last time, when he deleted posts he disagreed with. I was against it when he did a votespam check for himself. It's still a conflict of interest and against the spirit of the site.
>>50881 The thing is though it's just a different way of looking at what this story is supposed to be. My intent is to create a story with a group of people that are engaged and invested. It's a very collaborative effort. I've stated that and the particular means I hope to achieve it numerous times. The bottom line of it is that it's unfair to both me and the readers that are trying their best and participating every vote if the story gets hijacked. Why should someone who has not invested any time into the story just come up randomly and have a disproportionate amount of impact? The people who I write for are the people who are reading and participating as much as they can. Not random people who may see a single choice in a story that they don't read and vote only to disappear again by the next option. That's the logic, anyhow. I do not think it is unfair but impractical to enforce. Like I said, it's not something I am likely to do but I think that the previous 'vote' and so many others like it in other stories are the strongest argument that things on the internet are not fair to dedicated readers.
And yeah, I was just making a general observation about people not pointing out stuff. I predicted that what happened, would have, and part of the objective was to see how people were going to behave about several other thigns as I tried to restart my creative juices. The impression I got from the comments was that people were getting swept up in the moment. It's cool and you should just do what you can. As for the people not reading, well, I know that some people read. It's mostly self-depreciative humor. I've been doing it since my earliest stories on the site, heh.
>>50883 I've never claimed that my story is better than any other. You seem to miss the entire context of that sentence: the paragraph that follows it. My story is different than a lot of other stories on the site and definitely is different to every school AU. Why can I say that? Because it was designed with a different mindset. From the outset I've set to minimize the concern with routes, factions and other things that were ubiquitous in them. It was done through me saying that they were like old-school VNs, by satire in the story itself and by the choices and their outcome. If you look back you'll find me reasurring people to have fun and forget about the other stories numerous times because their concerns simply do not apply here. Whether that's good or bad in a story is still the reader's call.
>>50887 At this point you're beating a dead horse and creating problems where there are none. I have never intentionally discarded a vote nor censored anyone who was saying anything constructive or topical about the story. Clearly you don't trust me and, as evidence by your persistence, there is nothing I nor anyone else could say to change your mind. Because we've been over this before in great detail before. Please go away and complain elsewhere about me. Don't clutter the story thread with strawmen and paranoia.
>>50892 >You seem to miss the entire context of that sentence: the paragraph that follows it.
You're right, I suppose I did.
>I have never intentionally discarded a vote nor censored anyone who was saying anything constructive or topical about the story.
Here I disagree, but it's a to-may-to to-mah-to thing, I suppose. It depends on where you draw the line of topical.
>Clearly you don't trust me.
Yes and no. You've not shown the best judgement in the past regarding this. Think of it more as 'a warning and hoping you don't do this sort of thing (again, arguably)' and less 'I don't trust anything you say'.
I gave Patchy the go ahead with a nod. We were being watched and she knew it. That's why what came next shouldn't have surprised me. With a boldness that few schoolgirls would possess, she gently but firmly grabbed my hand. Her hand was smaller than mine and felt like a soft little animal trying to grip onto me. Her eyes were directed forward but there was a gentle but ambiguous smile on her lips. It was like something straight out of a fine painting. For all intents and purposes, she was acting intimate with someone that was close to her.
To Kaenbyou there was probably little doubt in her mind what was going on between us. I felt her hard leer on us but I didn't dare turn to look at her and confirm my suspicion. Besides, I was kind of enjoying the feeling. It was amazing how something so simple as holding hands could be so gratifying. I figured I also had a role to play in Patchy's plan and allowed a smile to manifest itself on my face.
And that wasn't the end of it. When Reiuji paused and began to rest, Patchy began to whisper into my ear. "Keep on smiling and occasionally chuckle," she said. I gladly obliged, laughing like she was telling me a private little joke. The next level after that was even more eventful. In between whispering and looking half-hardheartedly at Reiuji, Patchy stole a kiss. Well, it was just a peck on the cheek. But it was mushy enough to set Kaenbyou off big time.
"Have a little respect for the rest of us!" she angrily exclaimed while punching me on the shoulder. "This is practice, not a place for dates." I looked up at her with feigned surprise. Her eyes were narrowed and clearly displayed that fiery temper of hers. More amusingly, her cheeks with puffed up with self-righteous indignation. Kinda looked like a hamster storing food, actually.
"We have done nothing to elicit such scandal," Patchy said dryly, still holding onto my hand firmly. "My boyfriend and I were just behaving as we always do.."
"Your boyfriend?" I could clearly see something snapping inside of Kaenbyou. In a venomous mix of indignation and malice, she shared her feelings on the subject, "This lout is the most unfaithful neanderthal on the face of the planet. Hah, he's tried to force himself on me several times." There was an almost twisted tinge of pride in her last few words.
"A waif like you?" Patchy scoffed, "seems unlikely. My Arc prefers his women with a little bit more substance. Which is why we're happy together.."
Oh, there was something I didn't get to see every day. A schoolgirl about to pop her eye out of its socket from rage. Kaenbyou was absolutely livid. Veins on her temples were engorged and her fists were so tightly clenched that they had gone white.
"That's it!" Kaenbyou bellowed. "Let's take this outside. You and me, sister. Right now."
"And why should I oblige you?" Patchy asked. "He is my boyfriend and I don't see why his tastes or love life concern you. Don't flatter yourself. Tell me, do you even like him?"
"What does that have anything to do with anything!."
"If you want to fight me it's because you care for him. Otherwise you wouldn't care. So just admit it, you like him," Patchy pressed her.
"Who would like a lech like him?" Kaenbyou lashed out, a new emotion besides anger creeping into her face.
"Then we should have no quarrel." Turning to me and planting another kiss on my cheek, she added, "don't you think so honey?"
"I- well, we.... it's still something not appropriate for school!" Kaenbyou found her anger and her argument weakening. "I don't care who it is just don't do it during practice.."
"Oh, but when you care about someone you want to show it as often as you can," Patchy said. "You want to help them out and should be willing to go to any end to do so.."
"Just stop... flaunting yourself so shamelessly," Kaenbyou said weakly. Her rage had dispelled almost as quickly as it had appeared.
"Well," Patchy whispered into my ear, "I think we've laid the groundwork appropriately. Confirmed her character and introduced some of the themes we'll wish to exploit. She'll be more pliable from now on, I wager. It's now your decision whether or not to come clean right away. My assessment that there will be backlash if the truth is found out now and it will be more difficult to direct her and get her to cooperate in the immediate future. In addition, there may be some benefit if she thinks it necessary to impress you and win you over. Jealousy is a major driving force in fiction."
Fiction? Now I understood where her boldness came from. She was certain of the world because of the truth she saw reflected in books. Still, she was showing results. There might have been something to it. The downsides were obvious to me as well. If there was reason to be cross with me after learning the truth right away, there would be more if I kept up the act. I was smiling idiotically at Kaenbyou, I realized. Time to make up my mind.
 Come clean  Pretend to be an item for a while longer
Jesus christ, this was just too perfect. The plan worked out and Patchy showed that she knows how to handle Rin. The question on what to do next is a tough one.
Do you pretend to be a couple longer and have Rin do what you want? It will most likely bring many funny moments and Rin trying to steal him away.
Or do you wish to tell the truth and have her be furious about it. With how the story is and what kind of writer Teruyo is, I am not sure if this will bite us in the ass later on.
But hey, you can easily turn this into a Rin route with "breaking" up with Patchy later on.
[x] Pretend to be an item for a while longer
Pretending for a while longer is not bad at the moment. It will help Rin realize her feelings and work towards helping Okuu(but now with more Rin help) plus you leave the option open for more Patchy. She seems like a good help. But we should watch out not to drag on the pretending for too long else someone might get hurt.
If I were used in this way, I don't think I'd want to be friends with that person anymore. Would you? Now, that said, the ulterior motive here was to get Rin to be more honest with herself, right? Totally not the way to do it, but it's something.
Let's do a recap of the previous events. We had secured Rin's help after an interesting process which started after kissing her. Now Arc is here with Patchouli, pretending to be a couple in order to ... what? Determine Rin's feelings? Make her more cooperative with helping Okuu? Didn't we already know how she felt about Arc before? And did we not see her acquiesce to supporting Arc more around Okuu?
So then what's the point of carrying this on longer? We can't change the past, therefore we need to make the most of this choice. Ending the experiment now will put Rin off at a critical point, but it will be easier to make it up to her afterwards. Prolonging it will make getting through to Okuu easier and it might get Rin to be more honest with her feelings in the process. I would also like to point out that Patchy seems to be enjoying herself, maybe even more than she would have if we introduced her to Arc's other friends. However, Rin will be pissed later on. At worst, it could scuttle his entire relationship with her and by proxy, Okuu.
All in all, we have the most to gain by prolonging it. Rin may be further pressured to face why the fact that Arc has a faux girlfriend bothers her so much, we'll most definitely secure her cooperation with Okuu, and we could potentially score some points with Patchouli.
[x] Pretend to be an item for a while longer.
This is agonizing. Coming clean is the good and honest option, but there is more at stake here. A break in the Okuu puzzle is what we're fighting for, but we've gone down a shaky path to reach it. Diverging here from our previous choices may ruin it like we ruined Tenshi's arc. Despite my misgivings, I vote to stay the course.
I understand that there will be consequences, but I'm confident we can deal with them.
Pushing on might get more results but Patchy's method of getting results comes from fiction, so her method is not really reliable unless she has read some scientific mumbo-jumbo on human social behaviour (even then unreliable) or she has personal experience on this matter (which we don't know).
This could backfire really badly eg. Rin shutting us out and stopping all kinds of support helping Okuu (She might even stop Arc from helping because she might think that Arc just wants to mess and play around even with Okuu not genuinely help Okuu) for acting with Patchy because we might be playing with her emotions, or end up really well eg. Rin seeing that her hate(/love?) relationship with Arc is distracting Arc and herself in helping Okuu which might lead to solving Okuu's problem with the full and willing support of Rin. This could also end hilariously with Rin stealing Arc away and anon starting to railroad.
On the other hand, telling the truth will enrage Rin but her finding out(or we telling, as I suspect what the other choice means) the truth later might have even more damage. Arc could explain this short act as "messing around with you". We might miss some funny(or a "Good job Anon. How will you fix this now?" scene") scenes with this choice.
I'll go with [X] Pretend to be an item for a while longer
Everything or nothing
Damnit, now I gave Teuryo ideas for bad endings/choices/scenes. Also, if someone finds a really stupid flaw in my logic or generally in my post then I apologize. Posting and thinking at 00:11 is bad. Seeing Teruryo update means he updates in 12 hours or he updates in a week/month. Not taking chances here
I'm taking this because the other has real potential to bite us in the ass later down the road. It could be funny in the short-term, but the possible consequences are not worth it for the long-term.
By the way, have we seen Marisa lately? I may have missed something, but hasn't she been absent for the past few days?
>>50899 The problem I see is that you seem to be assuming that Rin and Okuu are the only ones who are going to be effected by this. What about the other girls who share an infatuation with Arc? If we pretend to be an item, won't a situation like the one we had with Alice could come up?
>>50908 I totally agree. There are going to be some serious consequences and it will bite Arc in the ass. My reasoning is that we're already down this rabbit hole. While it would have been better to avoid this entirely and focus on Okuu, we didn't vote that way. It's a "bad or worse" situation where we need to carefully weigh these two options.
Coming clean now will probably destroy any chance of progress with Okuu today. Prolonging it might destroy any chance of progress after Rin learns the truth. Neither is ideal, but the latter is only a chance whereas the former is absolutely certain.
>>50905 It is never a good thing to lie but I don't see how she would get hurt badly by this. They are never a couple or nearly there. At most it can serve to make her more truthfully with her feelings. Making them come out is something different than thinking that there might be some.
Like I said, we need to try not to drag this lie on for too long or it might really backfire when we have no more control over it. If things start to get too real it should either be told or, with the help of patchy, defused. Patchy seems to have fun and I am sure we can count on her again.
Rin's already had to admit how she feels, and more importantly the wind's out of her sails at this moment. Admitting this was an experiment right away not only spares us from hate down the line, but also allows us to put the best light possible on why we chose to do this.
I can't in good conscience vote to string Rin - or anyone - along for some indefinite amount of time. Add the pain of being used to everything else that's been going on and that's one explosion I don't care to even imagine. Nobody likes being told their heart and mind have played center stage in someone's game.
Now what I want to know is: what is your objective anon? To finish the task is mine. And Rin's jealousy might end up actually being the edge we need to get her to, finally, start to help us fully. As for the alternative, she doesn't need a reminder of our MC's deceitful nature.
[x] keep pretending you're an item.
Risks? While Teruyo enjoys punishing anon (either consciously or unconsciously) for ambiguously 'wrong' choices and lies have been a capital sin in CYOAs ever since Kira's opus, I find the notion of Rin or her friend finding out about the lie very unlikely. Patchouli may 'spill the beans' as it were, but she doesn't seem the type to do so, even if "keep lying" weren't an option she herself made. So the only risks will be our friends finding out. If (although if I know this story, it should be 'when') they find out, what shall we do? Suika's reaction isn't of importance due to the current state of her relationship. Marisa is delicate but I have a hunch she won't find out (a flimsy reasoning if I even can call it that) Tenshi is a trainwreck that has already killed everyone on board and the whole station (and by that I mean that the situation can't, literally, get any worse. And, last but anything but least, Alice... she has changed. I think she fully understands him now and accepts him like he is. Wishful thinking? Probably.
Long story short: benefits outweight risks. Go for it.
I ended up just shrugging. Kaenbyou shook her head in disgust. It would be a difficult confession either way and so I might as well take the time to gather my thoughts and think of how to break it to her gently. Wouldn't want a repeat of her jumping on me again.
"I understand you're her closest friend," Patchy spoke to Kaenbyou, apparently deciding that I wasn't going to tell the truth.
"We've known each other for a long time," Kaenbyou said, with a clear level of antipathy showing.
"Why is she doing this? It doesn't seem like she's comfortable out there.."
"It's complicated," she said, "I'm not comfortable talking about it. It's a personal issue and she's entitled to privacy.."
"I'd prefer it if you were," Patchy said sharply. It was wholly unexpected to hear her sound so incisively aggressive. "Helping this girl all all my boyfriend has been thinking about - he's been worrying himself sick - and anything that can solve the problem and move on is important. I want him spending time with me, not other girls." I didn't have her pegged for much of an actress. The erstwhile saturnine girl displayed enough convincing emotion to make momentarily think she really was a jealous girlfriend.
"I don't care if you miss him," Kaenbyou stated, looking away from the imperious Patchy's hard stare. "Private is private.."
"Fine, if you won't tell me, I'll just ask her myself. I get the feeling she's a real pushover too," Patchy further stated, stunning me into silence. Her transformation was remarkable. I was starting to feel sorry for Kaenbyou. And myself.
"You leave her out of this," Kaenbyou warned, starting to get worked up again.
"Either behave like a grownup and cooperate or get out of our way.."
"Just what the hell does he see in you?!" Kaenbyou snapped, "you're a nosy and pushy and a horrible person.."
"Are you quite done?" Patchy asked calmly. "What's it going to be? With us or without us?"
"..."Kaenbyou looked down at the ground. Her fists were clenched, all ready to let fly another punch. Her likeliest target would be me. But she held off. I could tell she was trying to think quickly. Her bottom lip trembled a bit and her brow was creased. She let out a large sigh. "Very well, I suppose there's no more hiding it. I'll talk about it. Just not here, not now. Too public and I don't want her to know I've betrayed her trust. After practice I'll be waiting behind the gym. Now stop tormenting me at least.."
"Good," Patchy simply stated. I couldn't believe it. She had accomplished more in just a few brief minutes than .I had in several days. And she was treating it like no big thing, calmly smiling a little and continuing to play the role of the interested girlfriend.
Kaenbyou kept her distance for the rest of the practice session. I didn't know if it was because she was frustrated or intimidated by Patchy or both. She stood near the door, her gaze never once drifting towards us, the happy couple.
"That was quite something," I couldn't help but to compliment Patchy. "I found myself believing that you really were my girlfriend there.."
"It exhausted me," she said quietly, "thinking of the appropriate thing of say rapidly was very draining. I do not think that my acting abilities would have confused anyone else.."
"I'm sorry for getting you this involved in my own problems. We hardly know each other, after all.."
"It has been interesting and I have been cooperating because of that.."
"Well, let me know if it gets too boring. You don't need to push yourself for the sake of a stranger.."
"How could you be a stranger?" she remarked with a soft laugh, "you are my lover, after all."
A line like that automatically prompted my more familiar instincts to kick in. A smiling and cooperative girl was something that shouldn't be wasted. It'd be a sin to simply let the opportunity pass by.
 If she ever needed a boyfriend - fake or otherwise - it would be no trouble at all to fill the role.  She deserved to be treated to a good meal as payment.
- Sorry, I meant to post earlier that I wasn't going to go full throttle tonight but I forgot since I was in a rush to leave when I posted. This update is also shorter than I inteneded because I think it works better for pacing and there would be too much to process in a single sitting. This choice is blatantly filler though, don't sweat overthinking it. It's more of a "bonus" choice rather than anything that has tangible impact. Don't expect anything until tomorrow (or much later site time).
>>50943 We haven't seen much of her but she doesn't seem that kind of girl to me.
[X] She deserved to be treated to a good meal as payment. While I agree with the spirit of the first vote, I think we should take it slowly. I know being kind of brazen is his style but it won't work all the time. Er, unless this is a 'character building' vote, in which case I should've gone for the first option.
File 137226370997.jpg - (171.07KB, 700x990 , another character who plays no role.jpg) [iqdb]
Leaving it another half hour or so open then we're back to full steam ahead, gentlemen. It'll be an all day affair today.
>>50942 My laziness and the need to put a quickly thought up choice so I can post and go to sleep.
>>50964 Questions you should ask yourself: what would Arc do? And then, optionally, what would Teruyo do? Forget the part about Lunarian gold and smut the latter thought yields. That said, if I voted in the story we would probably have met less touhous and focused more on tenderly loving certain characters. And trying to make Suika look/act more girly just to piss her off. Thinking about it, I guess you shouldn't think like me. I'm a terrible role model to emulate. That's the moral of this directionless rant. Oh and that if your intention is to see more someone's character you just have to go ahead and state it in your comment. If it's doable - I'll write it in, it's what I do.
As we watched Reiuji practice, several notions flitted through my brain. I don't think I was very eloquent with my choice of words. "You know, you've done more for me than I thought it possible. I know we've just met, but I have to do something nice to pay you back.."
"You do not need to repay me for anything," Patchy replied, "I am here of my free will and I have acted the way I have because I wished to. If anything, I should be thankful for you for obliging me with my experiment.."
"It was a really good experiment. You manipulated her into helping us in a way I don't think I ever could have.."
"I simply took stock of her character and tried a solution which I thought would yield results. If I had failed I may have complicated things for you instead."
"But you didn't," I told her, "that's why I want to treat you to dinner sometime. Or lunch. As a thank you, of course.."
"And here I thought lovers did such things regularly. Implicitly part of the social contract," she observed wryly. We were still holding hands. Even though Kaenbyou wasn't looking anymore. For all intents and purposes, to the world, she looked the part of the loving girlfriend.
"You're one strange girl," I chuckled, "but I think I kind of like that. Not many people would have gone along with my plans just like that. Maybe the implied nature of our accord is affecting me too. I feel like I have to say that I would like to return the favor as well any time. If you ever need a boyfriend for whatever reason, look me up. I'm not picky about the terms either. I hope you find I'm an interesting person too."
"Interesting enough to come along like this, yes. I must also admit that I find your confidence... well, alluring. It reminds me of a few things that I've read.."
"..."I found that my face was getting a little hot. I tried not to look at her directly, lest I lose all control and look like an affected fool. Worse, yet, I saw her from the corner of my eyes. I wasn't alone in my reaction. It seemed like the quiet yet insightful girl was finding it difficult to justify looking straight at me. A bit of color brightened her otherwise pale cheeks.
Practice was soon over. Kaenbyou scrambled out of the gym. Likely that she couldn't stand us anymore. I faced Patchy again with a sense of purpose. It let me play off the rest of my thoughts and feelings. "Let's go," I told her, "I think the moment of truth has arrived.."
Kaenbyou was waiting for us behind the gym. There was an path that was overgrown with plant life which led to what was probably an old custodian's shack. It wasn't a place where most students ever set foot in. It was a place where some of the trouble students came to smoke and cut class. Naturally, cigarette butts and food wrappers littered the ground. I was familiar with the location, comfortable with it either. Patchy walked gingerly, mindful of the missing pavement and properly navigating the mud puddles. It likely irked Kaenbyou that she followed me closely. It must have looked like she was being antagonistically clingy.
"Alright, we're here," I spoke to her, noticing that she must have stepped into one of the puddles. Her left shoe was completely muddied and her sock was tarnished up to her ankle.
"I can see that," she said, sounding annoyed.
"Stop pressuring me already," Kaenbyou complained. "I'm only talking because you've left me no choice. I do this under duress and protest at it.."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," I rolled my eyes, "let's get on with it.."
Patchy just eyed the exchange silently, evidently deciding that it wasn't worth jumping in at the moment. She stood beside me, on a dry piece of of tile, and waited patiently.
"Fine..."Kaenbyou relented. "Me and Okuu have been friends since elementary school. I don't know if you know what it's like to have a friend who has always been there for as long as you remember. It's really special. I'd gladly do anything for her and she'd gladly do anything for me. That's why I don't want to be direct with her. It's not fair to use the influence I have over her in every scenario. Especially when she's being earnest and really wants to do something out of the bottom of her heart. I don't know if you understand," she sighed, "but it's a big deal to me.
"We've been through a lot together. Same schools, same class and same interests. Summer breaks spent in the same places. It'd be strange if I spent more than a day apart from her, I think. It'd be like a part of me was missing. A part of me that was good and wonderful. I'm certain that she feels the same way about me." Kaenbyou's expression clouded. There was an uneasy pause as she seemed to get lost in her own thoughts. I caught myself thinking that what she had was something that I couldn't ever really understand. My relationships, even my childhood friends, were different. They may not have been as intense and reciprocal. For the most part. I could understand her statements on an intellectual level but anything else would be a leap. "Whenever our parents were being harsh," she continued," we'd lean on each other. Same with bad results at school. Cheering each other up and helping each other get around groundings and whatever.."
"It sounds like she has a very well developed sense of empathy," Patchouli cut in. "She's a sensitive girl, isn't she?"
"Yeah, she definitely is," Kaenbyou didn't seem to mind Patchy's observation, nodding in agreement. Guess she was getting into the groove of things. "But sensitivity can be a bad thing as well. If you're overly sensitive to the world. I suppose I've always tried to keep an eye out for her because I know that life isn't fair to people like her. I don't want to see her get hurt. There was a time where she was much more open with people."
"What happened?" Patchy inquired. "I take it that things have been this way for a while now.."
"Heh, I really shouldn't be telling you this," she smiled sardonically. There was a world-weary sigh that went along with it. She knew that there was no more point in trying to forget about it. The issue was front and center. "Something happened almost nearly two years ago. When we were at another school. We were in the same class, as usual. It was your typical experience. Being nice to classmates, only being close to a few people. You know, normalcy itself. Like I said she's a sensitive and kind girl, she made plenty of friends. She was always smiling back then.
"I still don't really know why it happened. One day I'm away in practice and I see that Okuu isn't waiting for me outside like she usually did. So, naturally, I start looking for her. It didn't take long to find her. She was still at her desk. No one else was in the classroom. She was crying her heart out. Like, inconsolable sobs. It still makes me sad to think of her like that." Kaenbyou paused, leaning back onto the wall. She sighed again before continuing, "I never did get her to admit what had happened directly. But I knew soon enough. People are cruel and say wicked things because they're jealous. Okuu was such a sweet girl, always ready with a smile. Some of our classmates started a vicious rumor. Just because Okuu looked more grown up than them, they couldn't stand it. The rumor began spreading, reaching other classes and eventually the whole school. People stopped talking to her, started whispering behind her back. Boys would make crude jokes and some of the more brazen ones made it a point to proposition her while saying the most disgusting things. The school staff didn't understand, they instead started calling her out for guidance sessions, which only isolated her even more. In the end, by the time we graduated, I was the only one that would still talk to her and still treated her the same.."
"She doesn't trust anyone anymore," Patchy stated. "The experience couldn't have been easy for her.."
"I'm her only friend in the world," Kaenbyou said, her eyes focusing on something far away. "She hates being in the spotlight because she remembers those miserable months where she was ostracized and treated like garbage.."
"The question then becomes, why is she doing something so very public?" Patchy asked a natural followup.
"Rhythmic gymnastics?" Kaenbyou shook her head. "That's simple. I hurt myself and she wants to help me out like I've helped her out. If I can't compete, she'll compete for me. That's what I think it is.."
"Even though she knows she'll be in the spotlight again?"
"Even though... she knows. She's stubborn and there's nothing I can say to get her to quit. I can't protect her anymore. It's horrible to see someone who you love get hurt right before your eyes.."
"It makes sense now why you asked me to get her to quit," I said. "You really were just looking out for your friend.."
"Well, now you know the truth. Most of it, anyhow. There rest are pointless details," Kaenbyou said with a heavy sigh. Though she no longer had to hide the reason why her friend was having such a hard time nor why she was so invested, it didn't look like a weight had been lifted off of her shoulders. On the contrary. Instead of looking relieved, she seemed more downtrodden and mired in despair. The quiet, solitary kind of despair, where the bitterness of reality is almost too overwhelming. She was too distraught to cry.
"We're going to help," Patchy assured her. "I can't promise that the resolution will be fast but it will come for certain. You're not alone anymore. Neither is your friend. If you need a moment to let that sink in, I understand. We need to move on and act decisively if we're going to fix the problem.."
 Give Kaenbyou a hug  Give her some space to process things - >>50980 It's a secret
It is good to see that Patchy is not so hardboiled like she behaved there. And that Arc is still a boy at heart. Those two actually fit pretty good together.
The situation is not an easy one. She had a horrible horrible experience and instead of getting over it she just couldn't handle it and tried to hide. Rin, being her, could not help her get over it too. Before we move on and help Okuu over the situation the best would be to just reassure Rin that she actually made the right choice here and that they ae here to help and not some enemies. She is feeling pretty shit.
[x] Give Kaenbyou a hug. From both of them.
She sees Patchy as a natural enemy at the moment due to the situation with Arc. She needs to know that she is here to help. Everything is hard for Rin, watching her closest and best friend hurt. She needs someone too to give her strength and a hold. What is better than a group hug so she can cry her heart out?
>>50987 >>50989 I hear warning bells going off right now. Mixed signals is the game of the day. Arc has ignored Rin, kissed her, showed up to practice with a girlfriend, ignored her, coerced her and then ... hugged her? Really? The moment she connects all of that is the moment Arc will lose his balls.
[x] Give her some space to process things.
I'm not exactly married to this option because you also have to consider that overwhelming Rin is the best way to get through to her. Remember the magic that Marisa used on Rin? She had just asked Marisa and Arc to leave, but Marisa really pushed the envelope and caught Rin off-guard. The results were profound.
You have to deal with her in such a way that she doesn't have a chance to figure out how she can be difficult.
Kaenbyou stood there, silent, pensive and passive. The sun hung low in the sky and the last rays of daylight barely made their way through the tangled mess of foliage surrounding us. Most students would be long gone. Probably only the student council members and those sports teams that were under pressure to improve before a big event remained. The three of us could probably be mistaken for a group of dedicated students, as no self-respecting problem student would still be around at the hour.
At long last, Kaenbyou sighed. She looked up towards the darkening sky and then back at us. "What happens now?" she asked.
"We talk things through," Patchy stated. "First, with you. We need a realistic solution. Then, with her. Depending on what we agree on you may have to speak with her or all of us will.."
"Talking?" she smiled bitterly, "I wonder if that will work."
"You are the key to this," Patchy said, "if you are as important to her as she is to you, then she will pay heed to what you have to say. All we have to do is decide what the best thing to say is.."
"You sound confident. Me? I'm not too sure.."
"I think she might be stronger than you give her credit for," I opined. "I mean, she has this huge personal issue she hasn't resolved and she still chooses to perform. If despite of all of her insecurities and hardship she manages to somehow pull through I think it's safe to say that she still has quite a bit of spirit left.."
"I agree," Patchy supported me, "there's very little reason to believe that she is beyond help. It would be strange for someone devoid of hope and beaten down to do something so public and painful. There is a space for us to insert ourselves and pull apart all of these figurative knots that compound the problem.."
"I am an accomplice whether I like it or not," Kaenbyou grumbled, "but let's do this some other time. It's getting dark and I don't want to get home too late.."
"Tomorrow is a half day. Let us meet after class if there is no objection."
"We'll need to find a place where we can talk," I said. My home was unacceptable. Auntie would be there and I wanted to keep this away from her and from Alice. I told them as much. "I could maybe see if I could secure us an empty club room." Big Sis probably would rubber stamp it.
"That would be adequate," Patchy remarked. "Is that alright with you?"
"I suppose. It's short notice but I guess I can blow off things for just one Saturday," Kaenbyou acquiesced. And it was so settled.
On our way to the school gate, we stumbled onto another paragon of duty and responsibility.
"Oh, what's this?" our lovely competitive and tall gym teacher asked, "a young man escorted by two young ladies coming from a dark and secluded corner of campus. What's more, one of those ladies - the very same the boy kissed in public - looks ashamed and disheveled. I think I may be witnessing the aftermath of a major event.."
"Hi Yuugi," I greeted her nonchalantly, "how are you doing?"
"Not as good as you, I'd wager," she let out a dirty-sounding chuckle. Not at all appropriate for a teacher.
"Ms. Hoshiguma," Kaenbyou greeted weakly, looking intimidated. Patchy mumbled a disinterested but polite greeting.
"Girls," she smiled knowingly, "why don't you go ahead and go home now? I need to speak with your dashing friend here.."
"Um, yes'm," Kaenbyou quickly left us alone. Patchy didn't seem interested in sticking around either and quietly left. I prepared myself to for the inevitable verbal lashing.
There was a crooked grin on Yuugi's face. If I had to be honest, I'd even say that it was slightly lecherous. Like a dirty old man fondly recalling a young girl that talked to him for whatever reason. That always bode well. "Now, I think that you don't want me to pry into your own private affairs too much, but I am a teacher and I have certain duties I have to fulfill," she began.
"Really, I know what you're probably thinking, but nothing happened. We were just talking.."
"Sure you were," she laughed. "You're young and this is the sort of thing that's expected of you. As is smoking, drinking and doing other stupid things. There's something more important to talk about. While you were talking did you remember to use protection? I know you guys live in the moment and don't think about the future but you know that I also teach health class. I don't want to see anyone ruin their lives so young. Love is great and really fun but you have to be responsible. Once you're out of school and an adult then you can start your family.."
"I didn't need to..."I began to insist again.
"Even if it was non-vaginal, remember that there's always the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. I know you kids are creative and like to discover more about your bodies when you're intimate but the same rules about responsibility apply.."
"Oh and don't worry, you can count on my discretion. I won't tell the other staff or any other students about this, naturally." She concluded with another laugh, "it'll be our little secret. You stallion.."
That was behavior entirely inappropriate for a teacher. And I wasn't sure if I was glad she acted the way she did. I was a little flattered, I had to admit, but also a little bit angry she completely misinterpreted the situation. After all, a reputation had to be earned not accidentally received.
 Insist on convincing her of the truth  Just let it go
"Yuugi," I tried to capture her attention while she again digressed and talked about the unintended consequences of reckless youth. She was making theater of it, showing off her knowledge and 'wisdom'. No one needed to know the particulars of genital warts, I felt. "YUUGI," I said a little louder. I couldn't take it any more. I drew the line at cysts and pus. "YUUUUUGIIIIII!" I yelled out at the top of my lungs.
That finally got her attention.
"Huh, what?!" she looked annoyed. A scowl adorned her face instead of a grin. That was a start.
"Pay attention to what I have to say and I won't yell again." There was no need to yell so long as I had her attention. But I was prepared to step it up again if she continued to ignore me. "You're aware that I'm doing a certain overbearing counselor's dirty work, right? Of course you are, you know that's why I'm the manager of a team I know precious little about." I felt like sighing. I usually didn't get to act patronizing towards my elders but I could tell that it was not a good idea in general. "Kaenbyou is the key to shaping the team up and so I've been focusing on her. My other friend was there to help me get through to her because she can be a bit thick at times. There was nothing inappropriate going on. I'd be proud instead of explaining this to you carefully.."
"Right," Yuugi rolled her eyes, "a girl you kissed, in public, and seem to have chemistry with and another girl with whom you spent all of practice acting like the perfect couple go to a out-of-sight place for a long while and just... talk?"
"As hard as it may be to believe, yes.."
"I don't know why you're so intent on saving face. If I weren't a teacher I'd give you a high five.."
"That's nice to know, even a little awesome, but not the point. I'm just setting the record straight.."
"Your other girlfriend has a weak constitution which is why she is exempted from physical activity. You really shouldn't be doing anything bold and exhausting with her," Yuugi said. "At least not outdoors or in circumstances where she has to really exert herself.."
"Read my lips," I said, enunciating my words carefully, "nothing happened. Nothing. Happened."
"Ok, fine, if you're going to be that way, I'll go along," she winked, "nothing happened.."
"You are annoyingly stubborn," I said.
"I could say the same about you," she simply laughed at me. "Most women wouldn't like that. You must be especially skilled to keep both those girls happy.."
"Ugh, what did I do to deserve this?" I blamed the heavens. It was easy to. It saved the trouble of blaming myself. "Listen, is there nothing I could say to make you believe that nothing was going on behind the gym?"
"Not a thing.."
"Great. I'm going to forget this conversation ever happened then. Later, Yuugi.."
"Later." She still had that stupid grin plastered on her face when I left her. There was no winning with her and to try to change her mind would be like tilting at a windmill. I already have my fair share of craziness in my life.
Because of the time I wasted talking to a teacher, I got home after dark. Which wouldn't have been half as bad if a sudden rain shower hadn't completely drenched me. Rationally, I knew that it was just a stupid coincidence but my mood plummeted as a result. I didn't feel like doing anything else for the day nor talking to anyone. I shut myself in my room and wasted time until I fell asleep.
Morning came and did no wonders for my mood. I sulked and mumbled to myself all morning and barely said anything to Alice as we walked to school. I lay my head down on my desk in the classroom and shut the rest of the world out for as long as I could. The teachers were surprisingly lenient, ignoring my lack of motivation and skipping me over when it was my turn to solve a problem or to read. I couldn't blame them. These half days were terrible and all anyone could think about was coasting until time was up.
During the break I remembered to ask the useless counselor for permission to use an empty room. Well, it wasn't so much permission as it was confirmation that there would be an empty room that we could duck into.
"I take it you're making progress?" Big Sis asked with a charming smile. It was wasted on me. I knew better than to let myself get distracted by her pretty lips and gentle-looking eyes.
"Might have it cracked soon, no promises," I answered ambiguously.
"Well, just remember that school is not supposed to be a motel."
"What's that supposed to mean?" I found myself getting a little angry, "she said she wasn't going to tell anyone-"
"Who wasn't supposed to say what to whom?" Yuyuko looked a little confused at first but then, realizing at the same time as me that I had said too much, she defaulted to her usual unreadable smile. "All I meant was that some of your methods for advancement might be better suited for private domiciles. If you get caught doing something inappropriate it falls to me to bail you out and explain your actions.."
"My heart bleeds for you," I stated dryly. "I won't be doing anything that could get you in trouble. Not yet anyways. Don't worry your little petty bureaucratic head over it.."
"This type of manifestation is new for you," she observed.
"It's something new that I've started doing. I'm still seeing if it sticks."
"I recommend you drop it. Not everyone is as understanding as I am. Your homeroom teacher would have your head if you talked to her like that."
"I'll take that under advisement," I said with a smirk. Big Sis shook her head but said nothing else on the subject.
"Is there anything else I should know?"
"I might ask you the same thing," I mused. It might not be the worst idea to pump her for useful information.
 There's no need to give her more material for blackmail.  Her take on Patchy's reliability would be interesting  Tenshi is still out there. Have there been new developments regarding her?
>>51035 While I do like the idea of asking right up front about the clubroom, I don't think that write-ins are welcome unless the writer specifically asks for one. I could be wrong though.
I don't think Arc can just forget about Tenshi this easily. After seeing her again the other day, I think it's plausible that he'd ask Big Sis about it.
It's tough though, only one of the options can help us right now and that's the Patchouli one. I believe she has her limits. If there's something she proposes that we do not feel comfortable with, it would be wise to explore that option in greater detail before jumping in head-first. She may not be correct all the time.
>>51055 Alright, so the choices are to either walk out and avoid giving Yuyuko more ammo against Arc, gain information on a relevant associate, and gain information on a not so relevant topic. The write-in is indeed interesting, but since it wasn't originally a topic, I'd imagine the writer would have it pop up later. Arc needs to be in the right state of mind for that situation and none of these options promise to pull him out of it. Therefore I'll reconsider my vote and go for the Patchy option.
[X] Her take on Patchy's reliability would be interesting.
This is important, if we're going to let her help, we need to trust her implicitly.
I'm sorry to say I don't know what to vote here. I'm torn between telling her about Patchouli or keep Knowledge for ourselves. I guess it depends on who we trust more: while either have nothing to gain by screwing with us, Yuyuko might do it out of sport. Then again, walking out seems like a wasted opportunity.
"Tenacity can be confused for an inability to let go if prolonged for too long," Yuyuko commented with all the trappings of friendly advice. "Focus on one thing at a time and do that one thing well instead of worrying about things that you cannot possibly influence.."
"That's real valuable advice," I condescended, "but I asked a different question altogether. I want to know what you know.."
"Of course you do," she said, the smiling never once fading from her lips. "The Hinanawi girl - she's still not integrated adequately into the school. I don't know what it is you wish to know about her. I am not about to violate a student's privacy in order to sate your curiosity."
"Of course you won't. What has Tenshi been up to?"
"I'm confused," she furrowed her brows. It may have looked like a natural to a casual observer but I was certain that it was all part of a well-practiced act. "I do not understand why you simply don't ask the girl herself about her well-being.."
"You know that we didn't part on the best of terms."
"Regardless, what could I tell you that you wouldn't know already? All that I know are her grades and other administrative details. I cannot see into her mind nor can I tell you any privileged information. You should forget all other complications and focus on what you can actually change and do.."
"Useless, as always," I lamented.
"Perhaps I shouldn't allocate the room to you then," she teased. "I'm so useless that I actively sabotage your efforts."
"There's no need for that. I get your point." Break was almost over. I didn't feel like hanging around Big Sis any more than I had to. I excused myself and skulked away, feeling no more satisfied than when I walked in.
No one bothered me for the rest of class hours either because they either sensed my poor disposition or because they were eagerly awaiting the start of the weekend. The end result was that I managed to get a nap in before the bell rang rang. It refreshed my body but not my spirit.
After lazing around in my chair for a few minutes I got up and walked over to II-D. Shameimaru was hawking her wares to all students leaving the classroom. It looked like business was good - I witnessed a few boys giving her money for pictures of heavens-knows-who. She saw me from the distance and threw a cheerful wink in my direction. I didn't really want to have anything to do with her and ignored it. I was there for someone else.
No, not the petite little girl I saw on the roof with her slim, tall friend. They walked past me chatting happily, lost in their own little world. Their secret was safe with me. I scanned the room for my newest acquaintance and fake girlfriend. Found her reading at her desk in the last row, by the window. I went on over and greeted her.
"We're all set for today," I told her, "I have the keys to an unused club room. We won't be disturbed there."
"Let's go then," she closed her book and placed it in her book bag. Since she didn't make any attempt at small talk, I didn't either. We marched silently to II-A where Kaenbyou was still cramming her notebooks into her bag. I waved at her and bid her to come with us.
"That teacher is going to leave us alone, right?" Kaenbyou asked instead of giving a proper greeting.
"Yuugi?" I asked, "yeah, I think she will. Even though she still has the wrong idea of what happened. I think we can trust her to be discrete.."
"Good, good, you didn't say anything inappropriate to her when you were alone, right?"
"I only said what I had to," I replied ambiguously, not really in the mood to indulge her paranoia. "I've got us a room," I jingled the keys, "let's go.."
The room I was given was just beyond where some of the art rooms were. It probably used to be a small office for a teacher or a supply closet. There was a table by a window and a few chairs, the rest was clutter. Stacks of boxes and miscellaneous supplies took up all of the non-walking room. It was a discreet place, I had to admit. It was tucked out of the way, far away from a main stairwell. I didn't know if it could be used as a motel room, as Yuyuko sordidly implied. Two people could barely stand next to each other without bumping into a pile of junk.
"Let's sit, I don't think we can do much about the mess," I ushered the girls in, closing the door behind me. There was enough free space to position the chairs around the table so that we had a little bit more than the bare minimum of personal space. Kaenbyou sat down at one end and Patchy sat down in the middle. I was left next to Patchy and at an angle to Kaenbyou. I wasn't sure where to begin. Truth was, my mood still wasn't as good as it could be. I found myself suddenly seriously entertaining what was originally a stupid random thought.
 Hold on to Patchy's hand for comfort.  Just start talking and hope for the best.
>>51065 I agree with the spirit of what you're saying, but I'm wary of reinforcing this charade any further when Rin is present.
[x] Just start talking and hope for the best.
This is a tough choice and I'm willing to try almost anything pull him out of this funk.
We need to be careful, or else Arc might really fall for Patchy. While I'm not opposed to this, I don't really want to flaunt it in front of Rin. IF there was a way to hold hands like, under the table out of sight from Rin, I'd totally be down for it. Arc has a Patchy-sized hole in his heart.
One thing we shouldn't forget in light of the last choice is that despite appearances, Patchy barely made it through the charade. We need to keep that in mind for any future endeavors. Don't let her overdo it.
>>51069 He's not 'maintaining the charade' he really feels like shit due to the recent reminder of the Tenshi trainwreck (as >>51035 predicted) and actually needs comfort. While I agree that this might end up annoying Orin (which may actually be positive: not everything needs to go wrong all the time!) and may startle Patchouli and ruin everything (I don't think so, but I'm paranoid as fuck) I think he needs some comfort, badly. As the story said, he was on automatic for the entire day and he needs to bring his A game for this part.
I recalled the words of a famous mountaineer, 'because it's there'. That was the best justification that I could come up with for the actions that followed. The two girls evidently expected me to say something. They were silent and the atmosphere was, frankly, a little heavy. I wasn't in top form either. My mood was rotten and my thoughts were on anything save for the matter at hand.
I remembered the passive joy I felt just simply holding hands through the practice session. It was something so innocuous and so simple that it was a surprise that it registered at all. Surprisingly warm and safe. In a nutshell: comforting.
That's why I decided to go for it. I reached out and grabbed Patchy's hand. If it came as a surprise to her, she didn't show it. My hands were cold and clammy in comparison to hers. It may have been a little simplistic on my behalf to feel holding her hand, but it felt nice to have a little human contact. It helped to focus me a little. Kaenbyou didn't really react. Rather, she was conspicuous in ignoring what I was doing with Patchy. She looked out the window, a look of boredom on her face.
"Messaging is the biggest problem," Patchy spoke up. I think she interpreted my holding her hand as a sign that she should take the lead. "The first thing to decide is what to say and to limit everything to the essential. There shouldn't be any confusion in the central message. Some sort of resistance or even hostility is to be expected. If you begin to squabble over an unrelated issue then the whole project is in peril.."
"So I'm definitely the one that's talking to her?" Kaenbyou said with a sigh. "I feel like there's a lot of pressure for me to perform well. Okuu hasn't opened up to me yet, what makes you think that she'll do so now?"
"We cannot assume that she will talk to you under normal circumstances. Part of this is creating a scenario where there's no other choice but to engage you.."
"Like what? Conk her on the head, blindfold her and kidnap her? I don't think that'd go down that well.."
"No, nothing like that," Patchy contended, "something that will make her realize that any other option but dialog would be ludicrous. Perhaps you should open up to her as well. If you are as close as you have suggested, then there's grounds to believe that she will respond to you opening up.."
"Got it. Get Okuu, take her back home, tell her we need to have a heart to heart and if she cares for me at all that she should take it seriously. Emotional blackmail 101.?
"You make it sound harsher than I intended," Patchy said and shook her head.
"Well, what else is it going to be? You can dress it up all you want but in the end I have to take advantage of our relationship to get things going. Where are you going to be with all of this?"
"I suppose that it depends on how it's going. We should only intervene if we must."
"Ok, got it. You'll hide in my closet and wait. If you hear the keyword come rushing out and help me out," she said, laughing dryly. I wouldn't be confident if I were her either. Patchy was suggesting very general ideas, not exactly actionable plans. "Yeah, sounds real foolproof.."
"What value do we add if we're there with you? Would we stand silently beside you as you talk? Intimacy is key in this. I believe we would only hamper your efforts if we were obviously present.."
"Moral support? I dunno. It might even help her understand that she's not alone. You being there might help to convince her that she's not alone. Other people who care... you know, that sort of thing." Kaenbyou sighed, sounding exasperated and worked up. "I really don't know, I'm not good with getting into other people's heads. It's hard enough to deal with what I want, you know.."
"The mind is a complex thing," Patchouli stated. It didn't seem like she was going to suggest anything else by the looks of it. She closed her eyes, as if deep in thought. The uncertainty hung in the air, heavily, seemingly weighing down any new ideas before they could even be suggested. It wasn't a good mood for certain.
Though I still felt safe holding Patchy's hand, it wasn't panacea. I wasn't confident that I had any of the right answers. I'd wager we all felt like that at the moment. Kaenbyou's distant but uneasy expression threatened to turn into a scowl at any moment. Patchy was more measured but certainly showed no signs of divine inspiration. If I looked at myself in the mirror, I think that my own face would be somewhere between those two. We really didn't have the confidence in any one theory. But at the same time, I realized that it came down to me to move the conversation along. Things would remain stagnant otherwise. We couldn't reach any sort of consensus if we weren't talking and discussing.
 Kaenbyou should definitely talk to Reiuji alone and establish an intimate atmosphere.  Everyone should be present so Reiuji knows that she has several friends.
[x] Everyone should be present so Reiuji knows that she has several friends.
It would be unfair to first make her do this and then to leave her all alone. She could talk to her on her own but Arc and Patchy are now part of this. Everyone wishes to help her so stick together and do the right thing. Besides, Rin too needs someone she can depend on in that situation. It certainly is not easy to see Okuu while she can only stand around and do nothing.
[x] Kaenbyou should definitely talk to Reiuji alone and establish an intimate atmosphere.
Alright folks, since no one else seems to have fully explored this option, I'll put in my two cents. Think back to the first time we isolated Okuu, the poor thing was terrified. It left a rather nasty impression. Now we're about to do the same thing. Granted, it's under different circumstances, but we don't want to send the wrong message.
I feel like Okuu would be a lot more receptive if it was just her and Orin, one on one. In the end, the problem is originating between the two of them.
Does Okuu need good friends? Absolutely. But is this really the way to start out? I for one don't think so.
[x] Kaenbyou should definitely talk to Reiuji alone and establish an intimate atmosphere.
Okuu doesn't need Arc or Patchy as a friend. She needs Rin. Rin's the only one who can help her and has been from the start. Rin's the only one she trusts. If she scared of Arc alone, imagine how much a complete unknown like Patchy would scare her.
Trust in Rin and Okuu's friendship and bonds. Both of them have to open up and talk with each other, not Arc. We can escort Rin to the meeting place and give her support along the way, but we shouldn't interfere.
[x] Kaenbyou should definitely talk to Reiuji alone and establish an intimate atmosphere.
It should be Rin and only Rin that confronts Okuu. Patchy might be able to step in and help with the conversation but the moment Arc shows his face, Okuu will shut down harder and faster than Madagascar.
Besides, as much as it would be good to show that other people besides Orin care for her, she's pretty much forcing herself to compete for Orin's sake. So the only one who has a chance to stop her is Orin.
>>51082 This is key. We can't keep voting while ignoring the context. Patchouli can stay but she won't, not alone, so the best option that remains is to give them so privacy. Some time to do a heart to heart now that Rin's decided.
The other two should come only when it's right: to show that she's not alone anymore and that there are people that care for those two (Y'know, ala Evangelion's 'Congratulations' scene) or, in the worst case scenario, if Orin backs down/get's mad
[x] Kaenbyou should definitely talk to Reiuji alone and establish an intimate atmosphere