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Author Topic: Estrea's Sandbox [6/4 - Treat]  (Read 128326 times)

Offline Estrea

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [18/5 - Dilemma]
« Reply #740 on: June 22, 2014, 11:41:47 AM »
Ok guys, I forgot to post the links here, but I wrote stories for Lilium after actually watching the musical. All are canon-compliant, some spoilers may follow:

http://archiveofourown.org/works/1771849 -- Marigold's backstory
http://archiveofourown.org/works/1812385 -- Snow & Lily
http://archiveofourown.org/works/1823935 -- Camellia/Sylvatica, some ending spoilers

Will continue adding to my Lilium-verse because the musical has been amazing and I haven't been able to leave it yet...lol

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline Estrea

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [18/5 - Dilemma]
« Reply #741 on: August 16, 2014, 04:53:31 PM »
Overprotected


Teenage hormones were something that happened to other people, Sayashi Riho decided. She was far too sensible for such nonsense; she had goals, objectives, so many things to do. She didn't have time for worrying about boys or having hangups over her self esteem -- though she did worry about getting fat, since as an idol she had an image to maintain. All part of the job!

She was actually early to dance lessons for once today too -- not that she was always late, but she was rarely the first in. It helped to have work before that, so she was already conveniently in the area, and since this was next on her schedule, she decided to just come in early to practice.

The room was vacant, locked until a helpful staff member had let her in upon spotting her loitering in the hallway. Now freshly changed to lesson gear (loose pants, baggy top and sneakers), she plugged her earphones into her iPod and thumbed the wheel speculatively, rolling her shoulders and doing some preliminary stretches to warm up.

Her thoughts wandered back. Coming from school earlier today, she recalled how during lunch break where all her female classmates were gossiping about boys. She had watched with a semi-indifferent expression, until some genius had directed the conversation towards her. As if they didn't know she wasn't contractually allowed to date! But no, inquisitive teenagers being what they were, they still wanted to know what was her 'type'. No harm in entertaining them, she thought. After all, she did want to fit in. If she gave generic enough answers, perhaps that would satisfy them?

Still, it was somewhat annoying to see the girls squealing over so-and-so from whatever class, as if that was the beginning and ending of their lives. Was that all they had to look forward to? Riho couldn't contemplate having her entire existence fixated on finding the right guy to marry. She supposed it would happen when it happened, since she did plan on having a family one day, but she did have ambitions for her life beyond becoming a wife and mother. And as things stood, she didn't have space in her busy schedule for something as trivial as teenage infatuations.

Her iPod wheeled on shuffle through her considerable playlist. She still had time, and although she knew that she would be better served by practicing the moves for the upcoming single, she figured she still had time to do something a little different for once. She was more than a half hour early, after all. Surely she could spare a few minutes freestyling for a while? It truly has been too long since she got to do that...
 
Click. Click. She switched playlists to her collection of Western music. For any number of reasons, she had picked up a small collection of Western dance music, a legacy of her training at ASH. She enjoyed the beat, it was something fresh to her, and her body already began to move in time to the rhythm. Her hair, already pulled to its usual loose side ponytail, swished as she improvised to the music.
 
Dancing had always been sort of a means to the end. She had wanted to take the stage, and dancing well was one way to get there. Along the way though, she had fallen in love with dance itself, to the point of neglecting her vocal training, a fact she had sorely regretted upon joining Morning Musume. She had struggled hard to catch up, and envied how Oda-chan seemed to take to it so effortlessly. There was no way she would allow herself to be shoved out of the spotlight by her own junior though, so she had redoubled her efforts to improve her singing. It was only right, as the ace and the center, that she had to put in twice as much effort to keeping her place. She had a responsibility to the group and to the fans; she had to be the best she could be.

That said, there wasn't really much time to just do what she loved for fun anymore. It was all work, and the formation dance that was Morning Musume's greatest weapon also locked her within its confines. She performed her role as expected, but a part of her chafed at the restraints at times. It was like a Ferrari being restricted to ordinary speed limits. Riho had not had the chance to let loose except at events, and even then it was still within tightly controlled limits. It was the price she had to pay, she acknowledged, but surely, just for a little while, she could cut loose...?

The next song came up, and for a moment, Riho stilled. Then very slowly, she smiled.

How very appropriate.

Now fully warmed up, Riho turned her mind off, letting her body take over as she lost herself within the music. She moved sinuously, smooth and deliberate, always in time, always on the beat. Rhythm is life! She could almost hear Tsunku-san say, and smiled again at that.

I need time
Love
Joy
I need space
I need... Me.


It was all in English, but Riho had looked up the lyrics before. Teenage hormones or not, she was still definitely an adolescent, and the rebellious streak did exist somewhere in her. She was always obedient and on her best behaviour most of the time, but she did act out once in a while. The rest of the time, she restricted herself to expression through music. Through dance, where she could be herself.

I don't need nobody telling me just what I wanna
What I what what what I'm gonna
Do about my destiny
I say, No, no
Nobody's telling me just what what what I wanna do, do
I'm so fed up with people telling me to be
Someone else but me

There was freedom here, in the motion, in the effort she exerted, the sweat that flicked off her forehead and slicked down her neck. Who needed boys or those other complicated things? She had her work, and her dance. That was all she needed for now.

What am I to do with my life
How am I supposed to know what's right?
I can't help the way I feel
But my life has been so overprotected


And stop. Her chest heaving from the effort -- it had been a while since she went all out like this, without following choreography, just doing whatever her body felt most appropriate to be in sync with the music. It was exhilarating, an adrenaline high that sent tingles through her. When she looked up, triumphant and gleeful, her grinning face sort of froze when she noticed she had an audience.

"Um." Riho swallowed awkwardly. It wasn't like she was unused to people watching her dance. God knows it was her job, and being in ASH before meant that she was already used to people watching her dance since a young age. Yet, somehow, it felt somehow weird to have someone watching her like this. It wasn't exactly private or anything, but she had been having a moment.

"Ah, sorry if I was intruding on you, Sayashi-san. I happened to arrive early and the door was unlocked so..."

The interloper apologized awkwardly, one hand scratching at her short crop of hair. Kudo Haruka had been leaning against a wall when Riho had finally come out of her dance-induced trance, apparently watching quite avidly until their eyes had met through the mirror that ran across the length of the wall Riho had been facing.

"No no, it's fine... You just surprised me a little, that's all." Riho waved it off, trotting over to where her things were and pulling a towel out of her bag to wipe at the sweat she had built up. Haruka followed her over, putting her things down next to Riho's. The lanky girl was already in lesson-appropriate wear, and came across more boyish than ever with shorts and t-shirt. Odd, really, Riho thought, considering how pretty a face the girl had. It almost made her a little jealous to see such perfectly balanced features, but Riho had long since given up on envying others for every little thing. When one was in the idol business, beautiful people were a dime a dozen, and Riho didn't want to depress herself by getting too hung up over it.

"But you were really amazing, Sayashi-san... that was really good." Haruka enthused, eyes sparkling as she complimented her senior. There it was again, the flattery. Well, not so much flattery considering how sincere Duu sounded, but Riho always had her doubts. It was a built-in defensive mechanism, what with the ikemen of the group dazzling half the girls in the Project with her good looks and almost gentlemanly charm.

Riho was not easily impressed, and it showed in her carefully impassive expression. She did make an effort to smile for the compliment, but it was awkward and they both knew it. Haruka instinctively took a step back, unsure what to say. It made Riho want to apologize for the weird tension, but she couldn't find the words, and the moment passed as quickly as it came.

"Well! You sure are early for lessons today Sayashi-san! Will you practice with me? Haru needs help with the new dance..."

Good on her for changing the subject, Riho thought with some relief. She couldn't help but be a tad more frigid with the boyish girl of late, for reasons she herself wasn't exactly sure about. Maybe it was a holdover from their roles in Lilium. Where everyone else had been going gaga over the cool False-sama, Riho alone had felt kinship with her character, Lily. So what if she was the target of the kabedon every single time? It wasn't like it meant anything anyway.

In any case, the musical had just made the already popular Duu even more popular with girls. Riho watched this turn of events with a detachment that would be the envy of Wada-san's Snow. Speaking of Wada-san, of course, she was the latest one in Duu's string of victims. Not to mention that Duu herself had been quite enamoured with the beautiful leader of S/mileage lately, sparing no effort in showing her appreciation. It was amusing to watch their interactions, even if it got slightly absurd since it was even extending offstage.

Riho understood business relationships. It was just annoying to see all the hue and cry over a manufactured character. Duu was just Duu. Yes, the girl was cool and good-looking and a really nice person. And so what? Were they all so starved for relationships that they'd just latch onto the nearest ikemen that was safe to go gaga over? Honestly!

Riho did not understand teenage hormones. It was ridiculous. Absurd! She had no time for such frivolities. Besides, these things were so fickle. Why, didn't Duu use to proclaim that she was her favorite person? But now the girl had moved on to greener pastures.

Not that Riho was upset about that, no. Of course not. It was ridiculous, that was all. It meant nothing whatsoever...

"Sayashi-san? You look irritated. Did Haru do something?"

Ah. Riho blinked, realizing that her emotions must have shown on her face. What was she even thinking? She sighed, shaking her head at the baffled expression on Haruka's face.

"It's nothing. I was just thinking about something. What did you want me to help you with?"

As they moved on to practice, Riho could not help but feel the familiar dissonance whenever she was near Duu. She dismissed it as always. Just a carryover from the play, she told herself.

Maybe I'm still stuck in Chrysalis?

=============================================


Inspired by Riho posting about listening to Britney Spears' OVerprotected on her blog a few days ago. XD It was just too good to let go~

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline kuro_808

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [16/8 - Overprotected]
« Reply #742 on: August 16, 2014, 05:40:55 PM »
I've been reading the Lilium-themed stories and I just get caught up XD

I need to see the play XD
Random Thought:

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R.I.P. Jab!  Dad/friend

Offline Estrea

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [16/8 - Overprotected]
« Reply #743 on: October 07, 2014, 09:36:41 PM »
This will not make any sense to except maybe kitaoji. (psst, think SOTN)

It's probably bad. I haven't seriously written in over a month. I'm out of practice. Still, no excuse.

Warning has been given. Tread at own risk.


===========================================================================


Step


How was this any better?

Fists clenching, fingers curling deep into the soft flesh of palms. A bitten lip, the metallic tang of blood raw on the tip of a tongue. Flicker, and gone.

Eyes wide shut, shoulders squared and feet apart, as if awaiting inspection or the firing squad. Ghost of a touch, lip throbbing in painful anticipation. Slowly, your eyes fluttered shut...

And sensation, not unpleasant, certainly unwelcome. It takes all of your will to stay still, struggling with your fight or flight instinct. Perhaps, not just your will, but unwilling subordination. There is terror, fascination, dread hobnobbing with hysteria in a dark corner, waiting for you to succumb.

It may be easier not to think. Seductively easy, to submit. To turn your will over to another. To break, lose control, be open and vulnerable. That was the name of the game, was it not? It was temptation and it was reward, punishment and trial both.

You had to hold still. Already, the reason for which you still fought dimmed in your mind's eye. What was it that was so important? Your pride, or the fruits of failure? What did it mean to win? Bile rose in your throat, an unwilling gag reflex matching the tickle trailing from low at your collarbone to high at your jugular. Breath matched pulse, and your nostrils flared, biceps tightening with sudden tension.

Was that a smile or a laugh beyond your tightly clenched lids? Fear was a fine wine, dizzying to the senses. Your head buzzed from the finest vintage, your mouth dried out. Your resolve, such that it was, wavered. It was too easy to forget, in a moment of weakness.

The voice that calls to you is hypnotic and alluring. You remained deaf to it, having shut out all extraneous input to cling on to whatever pathetic shreds of sanity you could still call your own. Those were tenuous, fraying strands, struggling to slip through your stiff fingers, brittle from disuse.

It would be so easy to break you. Was that you saying it, or was it said to you?

When you were alone once more, you could have wept for relief or fallen from exhaustion. You did neither. Like a puppet with its strings cut, you drop one limb at a time, a huddled form that sought the darkest corner to hide in, unseeing and unhearing.

If the sun rose through the French windows on the far side of the room, the rays never reached near enough to illuminate the longest night in your life, the first of many, hideous games that invaded your mind and soul; until one day, you either started playing along, or stopped pretending not to. Where did  that line start, and where did it end?

You did not know. You chose to forget. Perhaps that choice itself was illusion, but then one day, you would forget even the reason for forgetting. And the only self that was left was the void greeting your gaze in the mirror, the abyss reflected upon itself.

How was this any better, indeed?

=============================================


No, you would not understand. kitaoji, this is for you.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2014, 09:41:43 PM by Estrea »

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
- Lilium-related things. God save my soul.

On Hold:
- Everything Else. Too many to list.

I'm also on AO3!
http://archiveofourown.org/users/Estrea

Offline Estrea

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [8/10 - Step]
« Reply #744 on: October 30, 2014, 02:53:18 AM »
Stayed up to 4am to write this bloody thing. Churned it out in 4 hours which is pretty amazing considering the length. I was on a roll thanks to C-ute's new song I Miss You...so. XD Enjoy!

==========================================

Trick


The tinkle of chimes by the door announced the arrival of a new customer; a couple of heads turned -- not many, since it was late, and it was a discreet cafe, where the regulars were more inclined to mind their own business.

It suited the new patron just fine, her low heels clicking against the burnished wood of the floor as she paused briefly to check her reflection in the mirror. Long curls reflected doubly in the brief moment before she removed her shades, an affectation sure to have drawn some attention had anyone been paying any, given the time of day, or night, as it were. The young woman nodded briefly at the barista behind the counter, already moving towards her favourite corner, tucked behind a sharp turn just out of sight from the entrance.

Her tea came mere minutes later, after she had settled herself down. Gone was the earlier poise and easy grace as she slouched within the oversized easy chair, half tempted to kick off her heels, but regardless of the congeniality of her surroundings, she was still in public, and she had enough presence of mind to adhere to some decorum still.

Taking a sip of the tea, she ignored the buzzing and flashing of her phone, the numerous caller IDs and message headers showing different names, mostly male; some from work, some decidedly off it. She could not begrudge them for making the attempt -- she did run out of the afterparty following the successful wrapping up of the shoot. Speaking of the party, she was still dressed for it, which explained the heels and dress and purse. The sacrifices she had to make for the sake of appearances. Jeans and sneakers were far more comfortable, but her work in the public eye left opportunities for such attire few and far between.

Normally, she would be quite at ease lubricating the social circles her work demanded. Tonight though, she simply didn't feel up to that task. Just the thought of putting on her mask was exhausting, and fending off half a dozen advances from pretty boys who thought that a turn or two behind a camera lens made them irresistible to anything in a skirt could grow old after a while. No, not tonight. She needed time away, time to herself.

So here she was, in familiar surroundings, a place of refuge that has never let her down in years. She had discovered it before her career had taken off, before she had even considered it as a career, to be frank. She was so young then, and almost shy. Why, she would never have been able to come to a place like this alone, a place for adults.

And she had not been alone, not then. Not quite hand in hand, though their fingers had brushed in shocking flushes of heated contact, eyes skittering away from each other in tentative moments, the mating dance of youth. It seemed almost innocently nostalgic, looking back on those halcyon days. They had both been little more than awkward colts, more likely to shy away from each other than explore anything more intense than a simple hug, while the mere thought of holding hands would have given her a case of the sweats. The young woman she was now could only take her head ruefully at the wistful memory; how innocent she had been, and how shocked her younger self would have been, seeing how boldly she was able to hold her own now, against both men and women flirting with her.

How times had changed, how she had changed, but yet this place remained the same. A finger played idly with a long strand of hair, tugging it critically for a moment, before releasing it with a tiny sigh. The worn wood of her surroundings lent the illusion of hiding out from the world, and even the cuckoo clock on the far wall was the same old one she remembered from her first visit; a well-loved, well-mended timepiece that warbled on the hour with a rattle of handmade mechanisms.

She wondered why she came back here. Times there were where she stayed away for months, but when life got too intense -- be it from work, or from some spat with her mother over her vastly exaggerated bad habits (damn those tabloids) -- she found herself slinking here like a wounded fox to its hole. Every time she told herself it would be the last, that she would no longer want or need to chase shadows, or seek comfort in some fading memory of a love -- no, scratch that, a childish infatuation -- that never was. Yet, whenever the going got tough, whenever she felt the need to shut out the world, she retreated to this place they had discovered. Even the tea she was having was a taste acquired through her acquaintance with that person.

She did not think herself sentimental. This was just a place of tranquility, appropriately discreet and isolated enough for her to duck in and hide from the storm of the world. The tea was deucedly excellent, as were the biscuits that came complimentary with it. That was all there was to it.

She did not need to be reminded of how she still sat facing the timepiece on the mantel, able to, even to this day, name every scuff and scratch on the painted wood because of how intensely she had stared at the dratted thing because it was far easier than meeting the eyes of the person sitting opposite her at the time. Did you know that the cuckoo bird that popped out had mismatched eyes and a splinter had been chipped out of its left wing? She did.

Speaking of the bird, it made another chirping appearance, looking just a little worn, a little more paint having flaked off one side of its head since the last time she had been here. Midnight, it decried, and another pair of patrons exited with that last chirp, the chimes jangling in tune. She stared into her tea instead, and thus missed entirely the entry of a new patron. Not that she would have, given how discreetly located her present location was, but had she been looking up, she would have spotted the silhouette of the figure making that fatal turn round the sharp corner into her nook, and thus would have been more prepared to respond with something more eloquent than...

"Oh."

The words echoed in the musty silence, doubly reinforced by the identical reaction from the person staring down at her. A mug of steaming coffee (coffee? At this time?) occupied the newcomer's hands, and her cheeks were flushed from the bitter cold snap she had indubitably escaped shortly before. For an interminably long moment, both women took the chance to give each other a once over, eyes darting with unguarded curiosity after their enforced separation, years ago.

But the moment passed, and the guards snapped back on, on both sides. Our first young lady assumed a pose of professional grace, her model's mask firmly in place. The newcomer merely fell back into her usual inscrutability, a fact our ingenue noted with a certain sense of amused irritability. That, at least, was something that hadn't changed in the years they hadn't met.

After the briefest of pauses, the newcomer squared her shoulders and sat down primly across from the first woman. They sat in somewhat farcical silence for several minutes, sipping ostentatiously at their beverages and almost bullishly daring the other to break the silence first. Pride, she noted, had been their downfall in years past, and it seemed like time had yet to blunt their tempers significantly.

In the end, she gave in first. Wasn't that always the case?

"You're looking well, Sayashi-san."

A ghost of a smirk fleeted briefly across the thin lips facing her, half-hidden by the coffee mug. Gods, that was something else that hadn't changed.

"You're looking...different, Kuduu."

Different was an understatement. Once boyishly short locks were now flowing long tresses, and while she still hadn't filled out that much in the chest department, she still comported herself with dignity befitting a lady. The dress and heels helped.

Opposite her, Sayashi Riho was dressed down but still tastefully, with artfully ripped jeans and printed top. Her wavy hair was gathered in a side ponytail, and the sparkle of the studs in her earlobes caught the light in a distracting way. Kudo Haruka averted her gaze and pointedly refused to let her gaze travel down that neck and the chain that lay fetchingly against raised collarbones. She found herself staring at that cuckoo clock on the mantel again. Damn thing.

Awkward silence reigned again. Then again, Sayashi-san had never been one to volunteer conversation in most cases, Haruka thought bitterly. Oh, it wasn't like they never had anything to talk about. But that was years before. Before everything changed. Before she left.

"I didn't know you were back in Tokyo."

Haruka found herself blurting. It was getting difficult to pretend her tea held any interest (it was cold), and one could only stare at a clock for so long. Riho nursed her coffee for a moment before replying.

"Only for a month or two."

"Ah."

Silence again. It was Riho's turn to be staring into her coffee, and Haruka took the opportunity to sneak another glance. When was the last time they had seen each other? At the airport? Yes, all those years ago. I'll write. The letters had come for a while, then grew more sporadic, before halting entirely. She most definitely did not keep any of them. They were probably in some old shoebox at the bottom of a cupboard somewhere. Probably. No idea where those things were.

Now they were both older, engaged in their own careers, and most definitely too busy to relearn a friendship (or had it been more?) fallen by the wayside. Haruka had heard of the famous choreographer Sayashi Riho a year or two ago, through other channels. Newly returned to Japan then, after studying overseas for a number of years. She had not sought out the woman then, didn't want to ask why the letters stopped. She had her own career to worry about. Kudo Haruka, one of Japan's modelling darlings, and up-and-coming actress making her first inroads into that industry. The party she had skipped out on was for the movie in which she had had her first big lead role. She really should have stayed there tonight.

"You look a lot more feminine now..." Riho said suddenly, startling the younger girl. The dancer was looking directly at her now, pinning her with that disconcertingly penetrating gaze.

"Well, I couldn't have stayed a tomboy forever." Haruka retorted, and that elicited a brief smile from Riho. Haruka found herself echoing that smile for a moment, before tamping down on it with some effort of will. The fading of that smile drained it from Riho's face as well, and a pall fell over the pair again.

Haruka scowled to herself. She didn't want to be here anymore. This was her refuge, but with this woman here...well, some memories were best left buried. Besides, her tea was cold, so she had excuse enough to leave. She was about to stand when an absent, habitual-seeming gesture of Riho's caught her eye. A ring, no more than a simple band, encircled the ring finger of her right hand. It was hardly flashy, and didn't stand out in any way, which may have accounted for her missing it the first time round. A sharp pain stabbed at her temple; Haruka knew the beginnings of a throbbing headache when she encountered one.

"If you'll excuse me..." The young model murmured as she pushed off on the table with the flat of her palms, feeling rather faint herself. If she had access to a mirror right now, she would have noted the pallor of her complexion, which may or may not have coincided with her taking notice of that damnable ring.

"Are you alright?" Riho rose with her, and Haruka noted with a small satisfaction that she towered over the older woman, especially when in heels. Granted, she already had a small height advantage previously, and the heels merely allowed her to maintain a lofty stance. Back straight, chin up. Posture was everything. So was grace, and poise.

"I'm fine. Just tired." Haruka stepped out from behind the table, but couldn't resist dropping a passing barb.

"Congratulations on the engagement."

It could have ended there, with Haruka sweeping out in high dudgeon, righteous rage burning in the deepest pits of her belly. She would have stepped out into the cold night, hailed a passing cab, and then gone home. With her luck, her mother would still be up, they would exchange words about coming home at an indecent hour, and she would retire to bed with no small irritation boiling in her veins. Then she would wake up to a new day, and everything would have washed away, to begin anew. And she would forget tonight, as if it had been a mere aberration. She would probably avoid the cafe for the next month or two as well.

Alas, things do not often go along to script. Life had a nasty habit of doing that.

"What are you talking about?"

Genuine puzzlement coloured Riho's voice, and Haruka made the first mistake of turning back to gesture broadly at the ring on her finger.

"You could have picked someone who could give you a flashier ring. Not even a single diamond on it? What a stingy fellow." Haruka sniffed in a superior manner, concealing any hurt she might have felt behind affected distaste.

Riho was frowning at her, but the words led her to look down at her own hand, as if finally seeing it for the first time. Then, to Haruka's surprise, she burst out laughing.

"Oh, this thing?" Her shoulders trembled with suppressed mirth, though Haruka couldn't see what was so funny. She had just insulted the woman's fiance, why wasn't she offended? Riho collected herself after a few moments, though her eyes were still alight with amusement when she met Haruka's gaze with something of a sly twinkle in those dancing orbs. Haruka immediately felt a sense of foreboding; she had been on the receiving end of that look more than once in the past, and it had never ended well for her. Ever.

"You're right, I should have picked someone better. But you see, that was all they could afford at the time..." Riho trailed off, watching the expressions flicker across Haruka's face, first dour, then surprised, before becoming resigned. The bright twinkle in the older girl's eyes never faded; in fact, it seemed to grow in intensity.

"I see... that person must be very special to you." Haruka mumbled, wondering if turning around and walking away quickly was an option allowed in polite company.

"Oh, yes.... Proud and stubborn as an ass. Difficult too, but still, a really kind person at heart..." Riho let her words fall and watched Haruka carefully, noting the minuscule droop of her shoulders, the crease of skin at the edge of her eyes, the twitch of her lips. There was only so much teasing Kudo Haruka could reasonably take, and Sayashi Riho, out of practice she might have been, still remembered the limits of yesteryear like no time had passed at all.

"Good for you then." Haruka was not going to cry. She was too old for this nonsense. Not to mention that whatever they shared was over. Gone. No more. Over and done with. Riho was free to date and marry whoever. They had never gotten that far anyway. It would never have worked out in any case. They were both girls, it would never have been accepted by society.

"Oh, Duu."

When did that woman get this close? Haruka's mind shrieked warnings at her as Riho stepped within hugging distance, but thankfully did not initiate such contact. What it did do, however, was place the offending hand right under the younger woman's nose.

"Take a closer look. Don't you remember?"

Haruka looked. Up close, the ring was even cheaper and gaudier than she had first assumed. It was almost jarringly out of place considering everything else Riho was wearing. The dratted thing was just a cheap piece of plastic, not unlike a child's toy, or something that could have been won from a gacha machine...oh.

"Oh." Her lips echoed her brain. That was literally all the vocabulary Haruka could dredge up in that instant. Her mind was scrambling to keep up, having tripped and fallen flat over one very important fact: that cheap toy ring was hers. Well, hers for the short period of time she had gotten it from a gacha machine until she had seen Riho next, and triumphantly slipped it on the older girl's finger. It had been too big for her then, though it fit perfectly now.

How old had they been then? 10? 11? Young, certainly. Haruka had been very enamoured with the new neighbour's daughter, who was a year older than her. That childish friendship had eventually developed into a full blown crush as they stepped into puberty, though Riho had been blissfully oblivious for a time until a combination of nerves, prodding from various friends, and sheer terrified foolhardiness had led Haruka to a babbled confession that hardly made any sense at the time.

The awkward confusion had lasted for an interminable few days, though at the time it had felt like years. Haruka almost rolled over and died from shame, and Riho was so rocked by the unexpected confession that she hid inside her room and didn't emerge for a good long while. The next time they both met at school, there had been a great deal of hemming and hawing, with Haruka bolting like a terrified rabbit more than once. When Riho finally caught up with her (re: trapped her), they had had a very long talk.

They didn't start dating then. The emotions they were experiencing were strange and raw and just weird. It wasn't like two girls liking each other was considered normal. They agreed to give it some time and continue being friends, though now with the added spice of, dare I say it, sexual tension.

Everything went well for a time. They were even able to delude themselves that nothing was happening between them (well, the delusion was mostly on Riho's part, Haruka was quite aware that her infatuation was being incredibly persistent and that any kind of touching was bad touching in her mind....hormones being what they were). It surprised no one, not even the parties involved, if they were to be honest with themselves, when almost a year later (they were very stubborn, clearly), they succumbed to temptation and kissed for the very first time. The world spun, galaxies came into being, stars went supernova -- you know, the usual things life gets up to while you're not paying attention -- and they decided to not do it again. Because it was weird. And awkward. And made them feel funny.

They would proceed to break that promise over and over again over the course of the next few months. Each time was just 'a mistake', or 'an accident'. The only people they were fooling were themselves. It only took them six months this time to decide that there were only so many times an accident could happen before it stopped becoming an accident. Intimacy could be very habit-forming. Not that they went quite that far, of course. Either one of them might have spontaneously combusted had anyone even suggested it at the time.

Their innocent experiments and tentative groping (not literally, mind) towards establishing their budding romantic relationship was abruptly cut short when Riho's parents were scheduled to move abroad for work. America was impossibly distant. Even with the conveniences of modern technology, it was going to be a trial to keep in contact, especially with draconian parents who restricted access to said technology. Snail mail was an option, but it was slow, and who was to know if they would still feel the same after being separated?

It had not been an easy parting. They even managed to keep in contact for a time, then, silence. Eventually, Riho's parents had found out about the letters. It had been cute to see their daughter being so attached to her friend, until they realized the attachment went beyond what was normal. They had put their foot down after that. And Riho never had a chance to explain, while Haruka grew bitter at the silence.

Time passed. They grew up, grew apart. Lived their own lives, pretended to have moved on. They even dated others in their own time. Some even went pretty well, at least for a time. They didn't work out in the end. But now here they both were. Older, somewhat wiser, and no less stubborn than the last time they had seen each other, and Haruka couldn't recall the last time she had been at such a loss for words (right after she confessed her feelings to Riho for the first time). She simply stared at the tacky old ring adorning Riho's finger, and swallowed hard.

"You...kept it all this time?"

"Well, that was the only way to make sure my parents didn't dump it."

Riho said this offhandedly, and Haruka felt more than heard the bitter undercurrent in those words. She might not have guessed at the whole meaning, but she could sense the wealth of stories untold in her tone. In that instant, Haruka wondered how much time they had wasted away from each other. Her gaze never wavered from the incriminating ring on Riho's finger.

"It's a tacky old thing. It doesn't even go with what you're wearing."

What am I even saying? Haruka yelled internally at herself. Riho brought her hand back to her chest, cradling it with the other hand.

"Perhaps not. But I like it."

And there really wasn't much else to say to that. Haruka may have said something along the lines of "I would invite you for a coffee, but we're already here", and the resulting clever banter would have occupied several more pages and entirely too much screen time, so we're going to skip that and head for the ending.

They didn't go home together. Home was in different places. Work called, so Haruka was kept busy from one shoot to another, and Riho would soon have to travel abroad for her next engagement working on another project. They were both extremely busy and successful people. That was an excuse for them to retreat into their own shells to contemplate their next moves. On the bright side, they were grown adults and the increased wisdom should stand them in some good stead. At the very least, it shouldn't take them a year and a half to get down to business this time. One could hope.

I've missed you.
Me too.


Perhaps this time, they could work something out. But that's a story for another day.

=========================================================


You can see how I got really tired towards the end. XD Happy belated birthday, Duu!
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 04:53:49 AM by Estrea »

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Offline kuro_808

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [30/10 - Trick]
« Reply #745 on: October 30, 2014, 03:22:31 AM »
Another home run :)

The chance meeting to have a little bit of nostalgia although ending going their separate ways not know when time will get them back together :nervous
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Offline enigmationx

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [30/10 - Trick]
« Reply #746 on: October 30, 2014, 04:27:19 PM »
Yes, yes, I know you've already warned me in the title already but what can I say? I'm an easy target for such traps :sweatdrop:

Good job using all the recent happenings and put them all right here in one story. *cough* okama *cough* pettanko *cough* WHAT ARE ALL THESE JAPANESE TERMS I'M LEARNING FROM YOU?! XD There's nobody to blame except Duu herself huhuhu. I wanted to say "poor thing" but she looks like she's having a lot fun digging her own grave anyway... same goes with this story. Happy Birthday to Duu indeed  :rofl:

Like the flashback, like this line "Perhaps not. But I like it." (so cute I can die), love the cuckoo clock so much think it deserves to have a bit more screen time :D





Also provided an empty one for anybody who wanna have a go at what the bird says. Bird's named Reina. Not my idea.

http://38.media.tumblr.com/797d6ebecd2178aa187dfaa92d7f161f/tumblr_ne9jkaC8m61qhw67ro3_1280.jpg
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 04:41:00 PM by enigmationx »

Offline Yuuyami

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [30/10 - Trick]
« Reply #747 on: October 31, 2014, 03:48:03 PM »
HOW DARE YOU.

FEEEEEEELS

どうして?!

Offline eruchan

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [30/10 - Trick]
« Reply #748 on: November 22, 2014, 07:31:32 AM »
omg, sayaduu! young duu is so adorable and awkward  :nervous
the part where riho teased duu is amusing to read, especially since the image of riho's smug face keep popping up in my head  :D

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [30/10 - Trick]
« Reply #749 on: April 04, 2015, 08:27:46 PM »
So I've been super excited over the new MM play coming up in June, titled Triangle: http://forum.jphip.com/index.php?topic=38972.0

I've read the original manga, but since it doesn't give us much background about Lieutenant Kiri (Riho's role), I kind of came up with a background (that could be entirely wrong, but hey, I'm having fun XD).

Thus I present a new short story o_o I hope my writing skill hasn't gone into the gutter during my long hiatus >_<

================================================================================


Kiri


For years, he was always just "Runt".

All the other children in his platoon went by the same "name". They were worms and maggots. "Runt" was the kindest term their sergeants ever used on them. Train, drill, train some more. Quick march through the night, a light breakfast at supper, and off you went again.

Those were his earliest memories. There was no need to differentiate between individual platoon mates. A simple "you" sufficed, made easier by their natural empathy. They knew what they were, who the other person was. Names were irrelevant, and titles were only to be earned. Every runt there dreamt of earning rank, of climbing up the hierarchy to lead as their abilities dictated. Strength and capability was all that mattered, not lineage nor connections.

Raised together in platoons and companies, the children had never known parents. They knew their corporals, feared their sergeants for the harsh taskmasters they were, and worshipped the commissioned officers like the icons they aspired to be.  It was all he knew.

Even as a child, a mere grunt deserving of neither rank or title, he had distinguished himself in drills. Out of earshot, his trainers would grudgingly admit they had a budding prodigy on their hands. The wooden sword all the children practiced with was as an extension of his arm, and he seemed to grasp a swordsman's movements and field control as easily as any trained veteran. Yes, his technique was not yet refined, he was yet to develop his full strength, and he still struggled with the natural gift  all Vita-born were cursed with: psychometric telepathy.

"He could go far, if tempered properly." That was the consensus. There was no hiding it in the close knit environment of boot camp, especially not with everyone capable of varying degrees of telepathy. The trainers pushed him ever harder, keen to hone his edge and forge him into the weapon he was meant to be.

Control. That was the key. The leaders drilled them mercilessly, enforced military precision on the kids from the moment they were ready to crawl, a defensive bulwark against the weight of the outside world. Untrained thoughts and emotions could crush a Vita native, leaving them irrational and prone to violent outbursts. Their squad would be their safe zone, trained from the cradle, the familiarity of the unit protecting and buffering them against the mental violence outsiders posed.

If their people had the reputation of being warlike and violent, it came from a long history of knowing exactly what outsiders thought of and wanted to do with them. They had been a captive people, once. The stories handed down spoke of how their ancestors had been forced to serve as truthsayers or interrogators, held on a tight leash and never ever truly trusted in their roles. Hatred and suspicion destroyed Vita minds faster than any torture, and they were subjected to it on a daily basis through the fear and ignorance of off-worlders.

Never again. The Shadow Noon rebellion took care of that. The triple eclipse  at noon triggered a planned revolt, where Vita-born truthseers and servants turned on their masters, exploiting their own weakness and turning it into strength as they read every movement and slaughtered with abandon. The repressed anger found an outlet; they beheaded leaderships that held them captive, banded together and proclaimed a free nation for their people. It then led to a long, bloody war to retake their home planet of Vita, and the establishment of an empire to rival the ones that had held them in bondage.

What followed was not taught to the tyros now. He would not have known until after he had fled the chaos of his home planet, to read the histories others had written of his people. A bloody history indeed, of the Mind Lords who ruled with an iron fist and left you no privacy, not even the sanctity of your own thoughts. The Inquisition was ruthless on enemies both within and without. They had been an empire born out of nightmare.

But as a child, he had not known that. He had only known the secure cohesion of the unit, the closest thing to family he could comprehend. The training to mold him into a living weapon in service to empire was simply what everyone he ever knew did. He could not have known the political realities, such as they were. That he was born military caste, and thus a tool of those who held the reins.

He could not have known that, as a teen barely in the first flush of manhood, he would be ordered to slaughter his own people as part of a purge, in what was framed as a “training exercise”. He had always been sensitive, which was part of what made him so feared on the training ground. He could sense intent from further than most of his peers, which made him particularly deadly against those who failed to adequately master their minds.  It was what made him different, how he could read deeper, even without touch.

In this way, he had felt every stab of terror, every slash of pain, as he moved according to orders. As trained, he was moving as part of a unit, efficient and brutal. He was the personification of Death, his longsword reaping a full harvest of lives.

He had made it quick. All around him, he felt the satisfaction of his unit, the thrill of the hunt galvanising them with every kill. Where he finished with quick strokes to end the echoes of pain reflected back to him, some of his unit had revelled in the terror they caused., toying with their victims before dispatching them.

He thought nothing in response to that. To think anything in response would be treason, and he was a good soldier. He simply took their pain and cut through it, a methodical killer. Cut, slash, repeat. The terror, hate, and pain; he cut through them as if they were physical threads before him, dancing a ballet of death through the massacre. He left none alive, as the objective demanded, even cutting into the intended victims some of his unit mates had been toying with.

After their first sortie, most of the runts received a name in recognition of their action. It was as much title as description, something that would define you along with any rank you might earn. That night, he became Kiri – he who cuts. He was his sword, and the sword cut down all before it. It was, he reflected, a name he had been built to become.

Not yet a full man, and in some cultures still a boy, he was sent into battle after battle. Internal conflicts and external wars; he was a veteran by the time he had to shave regularly. He was Kiri, the Sword. Rank followed accolade, and he was the youngest ever to make Lieutenant, after a particularly valorous action where he had made a daring rescue of political prisoners. He was only 20 at the time.

Less than 2 years later, he would desert, becoming the first and only decorated officer to successfully do so. Traitors were always hunted down and executed, but he had proved the better of any hunter set on his trail. Cast adrift without purpose, he drifted through world after world, restless and uneasy, forever on guard against a universe seemingly oversaturated with unguarded thoughts. Training took over at these times, and his cold front was barrier enough in most cases. He had no desire to eavesdrop on the innermost desires of others. They could keep their secrets, and he would keep his.

Eventually he had drifted to the far off world of Alpha, a place that had never known war. It was an alien concept to him; war had defined his entire life. He had been raised to become a weapon. His very name was an act of violence. An entire planet devoted to pacifism? How did they even survive?

Sufficiently intrigued, Kiri made his way to the planet. He noticed the complete lack of any defensive structures before he even left the shuttle. The people all had open and friendly faces. Even with his barriers up, he could feel the peace of the place. They still had their petty quarrels and minor disagreements, but the lack of hate was remarkable and refreshing. It was like a breath of fresh air after a lifetime inhaling smog.

For the first time, Kiri felt like he could breathe. The peace of Alpha touched him like nothing else had, a peace that reached deep into his bones and whispered for him to lay down the burdens of war. It was a salve on a wound that cut so deep, he had not even been aware that it existed. It was a wound that he had lived with all his life, that he had built his life around, so much so that he was the wound, in some respect.

It only took a day for him to decide to stay. He was not the only immigrant that day at the office, and there was a definite hush for a moment when he was asked to state his name and place of birth for the registrar. Even the officer at the counter paused in the midst of entering his details.

Kiri waited for the inevitable. He doubted they would try to kill him – he had yet to feel anything even resembling killing intent thus far on this planet – but he could still be asked to leave. It would not be the first time he had been politely (or in some cases, fearfully) asked to move on. Kiri accepted it as part of his lot. His people did not have the best of reputations.

The moment came and went. Conversations restarted as if nothing had happened, and if there were a few questioning glances his way, it was more out of curiosity than actual hostility. The lack of it was refreshing, and Kiri continued in his application for residency with something akin to relief. What few questions there were were also standard and minimally invasive: intended length of stay, occupation and skillset. No one questioned his reason for staying. He was glad he did not have to explain as well.

Alpha was a friendly commune. Every newcomer was allotted a place to stay, free of charge. They were assigned jobs based on their stated skillset, and those with overspecialized skillsets (such as Kiri), would get assigned to less complicated forms of labour if they were unable to make a good match. Everyone contributed to the community in some way, and no one went hungry or became destitute. It was a peculiar place to Kiri, but he said nothing and merely performed his assigned duties to the best of his ability.

It did not take long before he was taken to the palace, and Kiri was surprised it took them a week to notice him. After all, he was the only Vita-born immigrant on this planet of peace. He had been waiting for a summons ever since the first day. He was curious too, about the ruling family of this planet. How did they hold power, if they did not exercise fear on their people? Why would anyone consent to be ruled then? It was a mystery he could not comprehend, but he would try to do so anyway.

The audience went only halfway to his expectations. To begin with, he had anticipated them enlisting him into their service. However, he had not expected what was required of him. Most Vita-born were always exploited for their inherent talent to read minds, and Kiri had fully expected something along those lines. Instead, he found himself drafted as a mere guard – no mindreading necessary, only his skill with a sword.

A guard in a place where violence didn't even occur to the natives? Kiri would have laughed if he had known what the action entailed. But he could see the point to a degree: Alpha was a melting pot of immigrants from all sorts of planets, and integration did not occur immediately. The nature of the planet discouraged violence and hatred, and the natives were an open and friendly sort. They were still bound to human foibles however, but it never escalated beyond a moment's fury, soon to be forgotten as the peace of Alpha worked its subtle magic on all upon it.

Kiri was to be a peacekeeper, to help sort out any problems as they arose. A glorified policeman or even referee, really. It was a concession to his stated occupation of soldier and field officer. In a way, he was almost touched at how well they matched his talents to a place that didn't require them at all.

He never could find it within himself to discard the longsword he bore, but he decided that he would find purpose beyond it. Here on Alpha, he would finally be human, not a weapon. It was, Kiri decided, a place to heal. A place he could protect, without reserve. A place to recover from the poison of fear and hatred, to find himself beyond the sword.

He would always be Lieutenant Kiri, but now he could choose for himself what that meant.


=================================================================================================



I wrote this based on the explanation from the princess's maid about Kiri's people. All we know is:
1) his people are known to be warlike and violent
2) Kiri is the only one of his people known to be on Alpha
3) his people are capable of reading minds via close physical proximity

The maid also said something very interesting, and I quote "(the princess's fear and suspicion of Kiri's mindreading ability) is poison to his spirit". Unsurprising, if he can read her mind and can feel it personally, it must hurt him.

Anyway, can't wait to see how this play is like :3
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 08:32:51 PM by Estrea »

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

Currently writing:
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I'm also on AO3!
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Offline kawaii beam

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [5/4 - Kiri]
« Reply #750 on: April 04, 2015, 10:48:37 PM »
your skill is still great essy omg ;3; im glad you're still even writing!!!
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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [5/4 - Kiri]
« Reply #751 on: April 04, 2015, 11:27:06 PM »
Fairly interesting insight into Kiri although the play may bring out a bit more :)

It's nice to see an Essy work once in a while XD
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Offline Estrea

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [5/4 - Kiri]
« Reply #752 on: April 06, 2015, 07:55:00 PM »
And I came back again. Such shock, I know. XD Maybe I found my groove again?

A different POV from the story Trick, but essentially the same events :)

============================================================


Treat


It had been on a whim when she had chosen to enter the shop that day. Nothing more than a moment’s caprice, even though it was late and she usually drank nothing but coffee whenever she used to come here, years ago.

Perhaps she should change her order, that was her thought as she pushed open that familiar, battered oak door. The sound of chimes remained the same, years after her last visit. In the end, she went with her old order, nostalgia and habit influencing her decision.

First week back in her old stomping grounds, and here she was once more, in a place she used to come alone, until she didn’t. Back full circle now, aren’t I?

Slender fingers tapped against the worn wood of the table she had chosen, while her chin rested in the curve of her palm. Eyes tracked the well tended wallpaper, spotting the careful repairs in the intervening span of years. She sat here alone, in this particular corner that catered to single customers. All alone, with her earphones and a book, back in the day. This cafe used to be her special place, where she could nurse a cup of coffee and read, or stare out through glazed glass at the figures on the pavement outside. She had not felt compelled to share it with anyone, not her parents nor close friends (such as she had), until that person had managed to worm into her confidence.

She knew she was no good at expressing herself with words. It was a major flaw, one of the many reasons she never had many friends. She was usually reticent, preferring to express how she felt through action rather than words. Even when she wanted to say something, it somehow never came out quite the right way.

It may have contributed to her choice of occupation. If her body could tell the story better than her lips could, then that was how she would express herself. And once she had decided on something, she would have it...or so she thought.

She had that one great failure. Perhaps, she should have tried harder. Perhaps, more could have been done. Perhaps, if she had been more careful, her parents would not have found out, and nothing would have changed.

All the “might have been”s in the world could not change “what is”, and she dismissed that familiar regret with her usual practicality. She had given in to the pressure, suffered through the therapy, allowed practicality to rule her choices until the day she could finally win her freedom. It had taken years. She persevered, even when the reason for persevering grew dim and she forgot the reason for which she fought. Only the singular goal, “away”, remained.

Away from the judgement. Away from the control. Away, and free.

She held on to a few little things, just enough to remember. In the isolation, through the shaming, in the darkest moments when suicide had seemed the final option. She wasn’t that strong, not always, but in the end she had been strong enough. Scraping through with the barest scraps of sanity, with what little of her “self” that still remained after the weekly sessions threatened to scour her of any personality she might have had.

Her eventual occupation had been what saved her, in the end. Her frustration, her fear, her distress; all of it melted away and was transmuted into a fury that showed in every move. Her dance was the perfect storm, and her inner self remained in the eye of the hurricane, a spot of quiet in chaos. It was an outlet. It was escape, and it became freedom in the end.

Lessons led to competitions, which eventually led to accolades and a possible future weaving itself before her eyes. She had leapt into it enthusiastically, embracing the art with an enthusiasm that pleased her parents. They only ever wanted her to excel, and excel she did. And the moment she was ready to leave, they could not stop her even if they wanted. It was all she ever wanted, the freedom to choose.

What remained of her coffee was cold. When she went for a refill at the counter, she spotted a vaguely familiar back disappearing round the other corner of the shop. She had started then, wondering if the caffeine late at night had led to hallucinations. But it couldn’t be. Caffeine didn’t do that, and she had drunk more before, at even stranger timings.

She should have been wrong. There was no way that back was in any way familiar. It had been years, for goodness sake. Not even a perfect memory would hold up against the changes time wrought. Besides, that person was in a dress and heels, and  more than that, was sporting long hair. There was nothing at all that could have triggered a memory, but the shoulders had caught her, just like that. That, and the oddly familiar tilt of the head, the hint of a vastly different gait in that swaying step.

She hesitated, at first. Coincidences like these couldn’t possibly exist; what were the odds anyway? In this little cafe that held so many memories for her, it was as if the ghosts of the past refused to let her forget. Nor did she want to forget, perhaps. It was one of the few ways she had of rebelling, back in the day.

While she waited for her new drink, she did not return to her seat. Instead, she stared at the corner, as if by force of will alone she could penetrate wood and concrete to see round it. It was a blind spot from the counter, she knew. She used to sit there, first alone, then with that person. It had been too much this evening to return to that spot for her, so she had taken a different seat.

If it is her, would she be there, in our usual spot? Does she remember me like I do her?
If I see her again, what would I say?


Indecision kept her there until her coffee arrived, and she absentmindedly took it in her hand. What harm could it pose to just walk over? Just one look would banish old ghosts. If she didn’t check, it would always gnaw at her.

Sayashi Riho didn’t do regrets. Not anymore. She took her coffee and turned the corner. It was probably nothing. She was probably overthinking it. She was…

...absolutely correct.

8 years had certainly made a difference. That visage was not unfamiliar to her, though. Upon her return to Japan for work, she had been greeted by enormous billboards of the person she had once loved, then lost. It had been a shocking thing to come home to, to say the least. Even with all the changes, she had recognized the woman her once boyish girlfriend had grown into. All that promise of femininity she had seen back in the day had blossomed into full glory, and she felt a sharp pang of longing once more, in the present.

The real thing was far more compelling than the billboards. Even with the familiar slouch (honestly, didn’t that girl ever learn about good posture?), Kudo Haruka shone like a candle flame in the night. Everything else seemed to fade into the background in the supernova of her presence, the magnetic allure still functioning even in ‘off’ mode.

Riho felt her cheeks flush, a mixture of embarrassment at her own reaction - that wildly electric thrill that governed her most primal responses - as well as a strong surge of remembered emotion when she recognized that Haruka had not only taken the same table, but was seated in her usual spot in the exact same pose she used to fall into. Some things, it seemed, never changed.

Then she looked up, and it was the same eyes that had graced dreams and nightmares both.

“Oh.” The words escaped her lips without thought, matching the same syllables that left her counterpart in the same breath. A hitch caught in her chest, a surge of something approaching pain churning within. Those eyes were as mesmerizing as ever. And so very close, within reach, unlike all the fleeting images that had haunted her for years.

Then Haruka composed herself, and Riho found herself following, that stubborn streak of competitiveness within refusing to lose even the most trivial of competitions. She stood no more than a few arms’ length away, and for a moment Riho contemplated escape.

It had been years, after all. What could she possibly say to her? Sorry? Years and years of stories had gone untold. As it were, Haruka could have found someone else (not currently at the moment. Riho had checked). It could have just been a phase for the other girl. They couldn’t just pick up where they left off. It had gone too far for that.

It was a decision all heart and entirely unlike herself. Only Haruka ever moved her to such heights of irrationality, though she never put them to words. Though usually shy, she would suddenly show initiative that would shock even herself, all because she wanted to elicit a certain reaction from the one she loved.

So she sat down, bold as brass and not quite believing herself, taking a sip from her steaming cup to hide her own shock. The near comical sight of Haruka’s eyes widening was almost worth it. Riho smiled into her drink, and waited.

True to form, the younger girl caved and addressed her first. Her reply was a bit more flippant than she actually felt, but Sayashi Riho was a master of concealing how she truly felt in the moment. The conversation felt more like a tentative clash of hidden glances and unspoken sentiments, and Riho found herself falling into familiar rhythms as she relearned the game. Before she knew it, a smile lifted a corner of her thin lips, mirrored by the answering one on Haruka’s.

Only for it to collapse under the frown that suddenly knitted Haruka’s brow, as if the girl was struggling with herself. Riho winced internally. She had almost forgotten that things weren’t as they used to be. It had been too easy to fall into old patterns, except that everything had changed and they could never be the same.

Oh, she had tried moving on. Dated a few boys her parents had set her up with, if only for appearances. They had barely interested her. When she had won her freedom, she experimented with other girls, but nothing ever lasted. It was as if she kept internally comparing them to her first, and since she felt she could never be fair to those others, she had broken things off in turn. It just didn’t seem right if she couldn’t devote herself wholly to someone. Casual relationships though, that had fewer strings attached. Riho could live with herself as far as that, at least.

The reason for her uncertain relationship status now sat right across from her. Riho didn’t blame Haruka. If anything, it was her own fault for not doing better. Concealing a sudden urge to frown, she looked down and ran a thumb restlessly over the ring resting on her finger. It was a calming gesture for her; ironic, since the source of her calm originated from her current source of distress.

The sound of chair legs scraping on worn wood echoed loudly in that confined space, and Riho looked up abruptly to see Haruka push herself up and away, jaw locked in a half hidden grimace. Unconsciously she found herself rising to follow, concerned by the sudden pallor in Haruka’s complexion. Did the girl feel unwell? It was cold outside.

“Are you alright?” Riho looked up at Haruka, uncomfortably aware that the other girl now towered over her. Their once-miniscule height difference had been exacerbated by the fact that 1) Haruka had gotten taller, and 2) those 3-inch heels. She had one hand half-extended unconsciously towards Haruka when the girl flinched away, stepping out and around the table. The dancer could not help but notice the clenched jaw as Haruka turned away from her, ready to leave. A pang seized the older girl -- she didn’t want it to end like this…

She barely heard the muttered excuse, and was still struggling to find the right words to keep Haruka with her for just a little longer that she almost completely missed what the model said a moment later. Riho blinked rapidly for a second, then shook her head. What did she just say?

“What are you talking about?”

Haruka turned, and Riho caught the fleeting flash of hurt cleverly hidden under an air of dismissive indignation. It was so much like her to do so, to pretend it did not matter, when it did so much. It was almost enough to make Riho want to hug Haruka on impulse, to hell with the long silence and years of separation between them.

Then Haruka mentioned the ring, her eyes guarded in defensive resentment as she disparaged it, leading Riho to look down at her own hand in response. The absurdity of the situation took a moment to register, but when it hit her she couldn’t help but laugh.

The befuddled expression on Haruka’s face only made it worse, and after a few seconds she was red in the face and gasping for breath. Oh, the irony! Riho wiped tears of merriment from her eyes. This was too good an opportunity to let go.

"You're right, I should have picked someone better. But you see, that was all they could afford at the time..." Riho watched carefully as Haruka struggled to keep her emotions off her face, but that was one thing her ex-girlfriend had never truly mastered, at least not in front of her. It had been years, yes, and Haruka had improved in masking how she felt, but there was no mistaking the raw jealousy that seethed within. Riho glowed inwardly; things were looking up indeed.

"I see... that person must be very special to you."  Haruka mumbled almost inaudibly, and Riho caught the tensing of her body, like she was preparing to bolt. She subtly repositioned herself to ensure that she was blocking Haruka’s escape route from the cafe. It reminded her of the time where she had had to corner the younger girl in school when she was actively trying to avoid her. It was almost nostalgic.

Riho knew it was probably an evil thing to do, but it had been years since she last got to do it, and Haruka was starting to resemble a kicked puppy. She couldn’t resist just a little more teasing in this case. It was like forcing a reluctant pup to take a bath. There were times where Riho could be truly sadistic, and none more so than when she was before her beloved.

"Oh, yes.... Proud and stubborn as an ass. Difficult too, but still, a really kind person at heart..." Riho watched Haruka carefully, concealing her glee at the way the younger girl seemed to take it almost personally, defeated by this imaginary adversary. It was a little mean, and Riho would sooner die than admit it, but bullying her Duu like this was the best feeling ever. If she was feeling more evil, she could make the girl cry, but she decided to have mercy. After all, it has been years. It wouldn’t do to push too hard, too fast.

Taking pity on the poor girl, Riho sighed and stepped in close, holding out her hand for Haruka to take a closer look at the ring. The same ring that Haruka had gotten her, over 10 years ago, when they were still only best friends and neighbours who played together. She still remembered sitting at the swings at the playground, waiting for Haruka to join her. Little Duu, still smaller than her then, pelting straight towards her like a bat out of hell. The girl tripping and falling in her enthusiasm, scraping her knees and bursting into tears until Riho rushed to her side. Then, still in tears, Duu had slipped the ring onto her finger before bawling even harder and latching on like a remora, refusing to let go.

The memory still brought a fond smile to her face. Haruka used to be such a crybaby. Riho was more the shy type herself, and it had made her happy to have the other girl come looking for her all the time. It had come as a shock when Haruka blurted out her feelings to her during a sleepover, before retreating in horror and pretending it didn’t happen for a full 2 weeks until Riho finally put her foot down and cornered the panicky younger girl. She hadn’t really known how to feel about the whole situation, but Haruka was important to her, and she couldn’t stand how the confession had come in as a wedge between them. It was one of the few times Riho had been extremely proactive in her personal life, and she regretted nothing about that.

Riho snapped back to the present and waited patiently as Haruka finally grasped the import of the ring, understanding blooming in her eyes. Her eyes were fixated on the incriminating evidence on Riho’s finger, and Riho idly watched the curve of her ex’s throat as the younger girl swallowed -- damn, if anything, her collarbones looked even better than they did years before.

"You...kept it all this time?"

"Well, that was the only way to make sure my parents didn't dump it."

Riho couldn’t quite keep the bitterness out of her voice, try as she might. The undercurrent of resentment was still there, much as she had tried to make her peace with her parents. They loved her and wanted what was best for her; that much she knew and understood. It was just that what they wanted for her was not exactly what she wanted for herself. They may never understand the choices she chose to make, but she could at least choose to forgive them the sin of loving her enough to try and remake her in their own image. She was here, now, and she would choose for herself. They would just have to live with that.

“...it doesn’t even go with what you’re wearing.”

Haruka mumbled awkwardly, running a hand through her now long tresses. Such a familiar gesture, and it instantly brought Riho back to before, where Haruka would mess with her hair whenever she was feeling nervous or awkward. Some things, it seemed, just never changed. It brought a smile to dance on Riho’s lips, and she hugged her hand to her chest, gazing earnestly back at her one-time lover.

“Perhaps not. But I like it.”

She said it. She knew what it meant, and there was no way Haruka could have missed the not-so-hidden implication, even with how dense the other girl used to be. It would never be exactly the same as before, but, if Haruka was willing, they could try starting over again. They had been so long apart that just learning about each other all over again would be work enough.

But it was work Riho was willing to put in, and she had put herself out there. Now all she needed was for Haruka to meet her halfway. She would not force her or trick her. No lies, no evasion; just the stark reality of her being here and available.

If you would have me, here I am.
I still care for you.
Do you still feel for me?

A tired smile lit Haruka’s face like a hesitant flame, a wounded spark almost afraid to do anything more than flicker. Riho didn’t dare to breathe for fear of disturbing it. They were on the edge; it could go either way. If Haruka chose to walk out now, Riho knew she could not, would not stop her. The ball lay in the younger girl’s court. All she could do was wait, hope and pray.

“Man, I just can’t win against you, huh?”

Haruka said half to herself, shaking her head in a familiar gesture of defeat. When she looked up again, a wry smile tugged at her lips, and her arms folded behind her back as she straightened, looking Riho straight in the eyes.

“Okaeri.”

Riho felt herself breath again, her clenched fist finally relaxing and falling to rest on her thighs. The weight she didn’t know she had been bearing slid off as imperceptibly as rain down a gutter, sight unseen.

“Tadaima.”

Maybe, just maybe, things would work out just fine after all.


===================================================================


*poofs away*
« Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 04:54:01 AM by Estrea »

永遠に咲き続ける花なんていない、すべてはいずれ枯れて朽ち果てしまう。

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Offline kuro_808

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Re: Estrea's Sandbox [6/4 - Treat]
« Reply #753 on: April 06, 2015, 08:19:25 PM »
Had to reread Trick to get the gist of this one and that was an adventure reading this one to see the other side of the conversation :thumbup
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