Other [FanFic] Rose & Sunflower: The Music Within (Updates MWF) -Ch 64/64 [30 September] -COMPLETE-

Discussion in 'Fan Works' started by Risukage, May 7, 2016.

  1. mrobake

    mrobake Zero Gravity Genie

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    • Risukage

      Risukage Giant Laser Beams

      //Friday, whooo!! We finally wrap up at the community center today with some kickass imagery, so that next week the story can continue, as well as find out some bizarre events from Lys's history. The band now has a home and some songs, now they need to figure out a name. Will Elliott ever get back to that story? Will Lys finally see something grow at his farm? What is the air speed ratio of an unladen swallow in flight? We won't know that last one unless we determine if it's African or European, but we do know that coconuts come from the Calico Desert, and OH DEAR GODS Monty Python references are freakin' old... *Cicks coconuts together, skips to work.*//

      “So we’ve got a full band, which is great, but we still don’t know what we’re going to play,” Sam sighed, “I guess I’ll just keep writing what comes to mind.”

      “What you have so far is really good,” Lys supplied, cutting strips off of a roll of duct tape, “kinda a dance-rock, synth-pop thing. And as much as it would be hilarious to try to do an idol group since those are fairly popular right now, we’re all playing instruments, so we won’t be able to dance, and I’m sure that Sebastian isn’t interested in learning.”

      “What, you can dance?”

      “Yeah. Lots of theater, and mom is a dance instructor.”

      “Ha! No way. Hey,” he grinned, “does she know how to pole dance?” Lys gave him a flat look of strained patience as everyone else either rolled their eyes or sighed.

      “Just for me, take that question, and replace my mother with yours.”

      “Heh, why would I… That’s…” It was Lys’s turn to grin as Sam generated the visual image that went with that remark, and his face flowed through a series of emotions, from amused to confused to perplexed to horrified.

      “Oh sweet Yoba, nooo! Augh, I can’t un-see it! You have ruined that forever for me!”

      “You started it, I finished it.”

      “Ugh, you play dirty. I just thought that you knowing how would be pretty damn funny.”

      “I never said I didn’t.”

      “What. Did you date a stripper or something?”

      “No, just a biology undergrad. Though I helped her out with more...anatomical studies. Heh. But anyway, she took a class because it’s actually really good cardio and strength training, and it gave her amazing abs. Funny thing is that the hardest part of learning was just finding heels in my size.” Gradually all activity in the room spun down as everyone turned and listened in on this increasingly bizarre conversation.

      “...You have heels.”

      “Mm-hmm,” Lys replied, not bothered at all about discussing this sort of thing, as he taped down cables and wires to keep them in place, “just the one pair, strappy things in beige with chunky heels. They’d look cute on you, Haley.”

      “That is hilarious, dude, do you still wear them?”

      “No, it was only for- Wait, there was that one time when I paired them with those low-rise jeans and the t-back thong. I totally ended up winning that bet.”

      “That sounds like the sort of bet you lose! Why?”

      “That story has a three-drink minimum and I’m not buying.”

      “Please tell me you have pics,” Abigail interrupted, only partially serious. Lys thought for a moment, reached into a thigh pocket for his phone, and scrolled through his photos.

      “I’m pretty sure that I do. That was last year in...so they would be… Ah, here we go, this one and two more,” he said, handing his phone to Abigail, and Haley peered over her shoulder.

      “You almost make a better-looking woman than I do,” appraised Haley, “and I really don’t know if I’m impressed or offended by that.”

      “I am so jealous of your butt,” Abby whistled.

      “Not the first time I’ve heard that. That is only a two-drink story, albeit a separate one.”

      “This is not a conversation I had ever hoped to overhear,” Alex supplied, “but I can’t stop myself from listening.”

      “Well, look at this and tell me that you wouldn’t tap that.”

      “What? No! I-” Alex did a double-take, took the phone from Abigail, and stared in bafflement. “Damn, bro, you make a pretty cute chick. How the hell did you do that?”

      “Blush, bronzer, and highlighter can change the contours and lines of one’s face. Also, the mascara. It was a nuisance to find brown instead of black, but not as hard as finding red lipstick that wouldn’t clash with my hair. I just went with neutral lipstick to save myself the effort, and it looks classier anyway.” Sam snatched away the phone and gawked, while Elliott glanced over his shoulder and whistled in approval.

      “Dude, no wonder I kissed you last night, you’re hot.”

      Elliott burst into laughter as both girls and Alex shot Sam matching looks of shock, whereas Sebastian rolled his eyes again and Lys facepalmed.

      “You what? How long were you two out there after I left?”

      “Don’t pay attention to him, he’s just messing with you, though it is nice to see him taking it out on Lys for once,” Sebastian commented, checking a few final connections.

      “Actually, it did happen, right after you left,” Lys corrected, already knowing what everyone was going to ask, “and no, I didn’t start it, nor did I press the issue.”

      “Yeah, totes my doing,” Sam shrugged, "wouldn’t do it again, but still worth it at the time. I mean, it wasn’t bad, I just prefer girls.”

      “...So you did it anyway, why?” Sebastian asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer.

      “I wanted to see what it was like. It’s a bit different, and I can see why it works for him, but not for me. Hope there weren’t any hard feelings, or were there? Oh, zing!”

      “It doesn’t count if you ‘zing’ your own jokes.”

      “No, it’s alright,” Lys smiled, feeling the mischief again, “no ‘hard’ feelings either way, because although I’m flattered, I prefer men.” He patted Sam on the head, who looked at him with confusion for a moment, then it hit him.

      “Daaaaaamn, you don’t pull your punches, do you? You are such a firebrand, dishing out all of these sick burns.”

      “For what it’s worth,” Elliott said, handing back Lys’s phone, “you made that look both sexy and classy. No mean feat, there.” Again, Lys felt a rush of warmth at the compliment and put away his phone.

      “As much as I’d love to tell more stories, it looks like we’re set up. Alex, I’ve shown you all I can think of for the mixer, do you feel comfortable running that for us?”

      “Yeah. It’s weird, I didn’t think I had any kind of skill for that.”

      “Well, you don’t have an ear for music, but you do have it for sound and balance. I like what you were doing when I was setting up the mics earlier, so let’s see what you can do with us as a full ensemble. We should be completely hooked up and ready to start at this point.” The enthusiasm was palpable as everyone moved to their places and sat down at or picked up their instruments. Haley switched out batteries in her camera and checked the space on the SD card, and Alex put on the headphones at the mixer.

      “Like the first time I sat in with you guys, let’s run with ‘Planet Dance.’ We’ll try our own stuff later, but first let’s get calibrated with something we all know. Ah, sorry, Sam, I’m taking over again.”

      “S’okay, you’ve worked with a real band and done stuff live before, so you take lead on it for now.”

      “In which case, you’re on main vocals, Sam, I’ll back you up, and if anyone else feels comfortable join in as well. Ready when you are, Sebastian.”

      Sound filled the room, strong and energetic. There was no hesitation or uncertainty; everyone knew their part and listened for each other’s, instinctively blending and balancing with the rest of the group. Lys swept the band in a glance and tingled with the excitement of seeing everyone light up and give it everything. Even Sebastian was upbeat, joining Lys and Elliot on backup vocals, and Sam was right, he did sound good.

      I missed this. This harmony, this energy, this sense of belonging and understanding. I need this. I’ll do anything to make their dream happen.

      Alex made minor adjustments to balance and volume, but otherwise the initial calibrations had been mostly spot-on. They were not merely playing, they were performing. Five people working together as one, creating something greater than themselves, trusting everyone to know not only their part but how it fit with everyone else’s. When the song was over, the silence was almost deafening, which is why it made everyone jump when Sam whooped loudly and pumped his fist in the air.

      “Holy shit, we sound awesome! Lys, I would kiss you if I hadn’t done it already. It’s someone else’s turn, and he deserves it for this. C’mon, Sebby, how him some love, maybe some tongue, too. Or Abby, I’m not picky, though he may be.”

      “That’s not necessary, though I will accept any that are offered,” Lys laughed, “I didn’t do anything special, I just set the stage for you all to shine.” Sebastian exhaled deeply, looking impressed and introspective.

      “We really did sound good, though, and it’s not just a better setup in here, we actually had cohesion. Previously it was just the three of us tinkering together, but we actually sound like a group now, even with two new members. Maybe we just needed a change of venue to make it ‘real’ for us. Some place we could really cut loose and open up without disturbing anyone.”

      “I concur. This is my first experience performing with others, but there is something about this location that inspires musicianship. I am the least skilled of everyone present, but even I sound competent in this ensemble.”

      “Shut up, dude, you nailed it. And I’m gonna finish that song tonight, the one I started at the park. I can’t wait to hear you and me go at it, and you and Lys have that vocal battle again. You two just...mesh. Hot and cold, spicy and sweet. I said I was gonna grab you for one song, but I changed my mind, I’m keeping you. That piano opens up so much more to do, and I already know how I want to update some stuff I’ve already written.”

      “It sounds amazing from back here,” Abigail piped up, “and yeah, like Sebastian said, we really sound pro now, when we were mostly just doing whatever at Sam’s place. We just need to figure out what our sound is gonna be, you know?” Sam smiled broadly and hefted his guitar.

      “It’s gonna sound like this.” If the bass wasn’t on a strap across his shoulders Lys would have dropped it. Sam opened up with the beginning to Lys’s song, but as an uplifting electric guitar anthem. Before anyone else could say anything Elliott entered on the piano, with dense, solid chords that provided a foundation of sound upon which Sam stood. Caught up in the moment, Sebastian’s fingers danced across the synth, adding a multicolored sound that ran and danced behind them both, the bright fabric that wrapped around them all. Unslinging the bass and setting it on the stand, Lys strode over to Resonance and slipped it over his head as Abigail began a roll on the ride cymbal that increased in volume as everyone slowed in time in synchronous, until-

      As one, they met back at the top with a fortissimo crash, running with the song at the pace of a stately stride, a song with its back straight and head held high, a song of triumph and victory. Playing in counterpoint to Sam, Lys played with an energy and determination that he hadn’t felt in years. This was their song, their sound. Five different voices, one song together. An old song of friendship was now a declaration to the world that their voices would now be heard. One last time, they played the chorus, finishing with a lingering resonance that dared anyone to interrupt it. Sam dared, continuing to grin that impetuous smile.

      That’s what we sound like.”
      • Villain_In_Glasses

        Villain_In_Glasses Seal Broken

        Y'know, I'd have to say that the banter is my favorite part (those were some high-quality roasts right there :rofl:)...if I didn't LOVE ALL OF IT! For lack of more fitting English adjectives, sugoiiii!
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        • Gabaw

          Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

          alright so maybe some Aerosmith is warranted here :rofl: omfg that was a scene I tell you what.

          must say tho really impressed with the band rockin out. it's hard to express music through text but I was enraptured by the imagery so well done! I'm sure they'd sound like a hell of a band.
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          • Risukage

            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

            Uwaaah! Douzou, Shiroe-kun! :3

            But seriously, I am having so much fun writing for Sam and Lys/Sebastian, because either Seb is the patient straight man to Sam's goofiness, or Lys is the foil that always rebounds Sam's shenanigans back on him. Stuff like "I just wanna see Abby explain 'uke' to Elliott" still makes me giggle and I'm not entirely sure why...

            *Imaginary air guitar.* Yasssss, that is exactly the song for that moment. :D I am so glad that everyone got a kick out of that; it was one of those things that just happened and I said, "yes, that is a thing that would happen."

            And woo-hoo, it was hard to get the right words for the music, because this is one of those things that's intuitive and familiar to me, but sometimes hard to properly express. But yes, I think that they're going to do well together!
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            • Risukage

              Risukage Giant Laser Beams

              //Dang. This story is seriously messing with my head. I dreamed last night that instead of today's update I had accidentally posted some very hot and very NSFW pr0n. This would be extremely impressive since not only do I not have anything like that written, I very carefully vet everything I post, so hunh. I got in trouble with the mods because of course I did, but everyone else was all "MOAR." I don't even remember what characters were involved. It's gonna be a three-coffee morning...

              Have some not-pr0n story, with more narration, and Lys and Elliott being cute because they're just adorable together. I'm off to find coffee. And pants.//

              Their practice ran long and late into the night, and while it left them physically tired their enthusiasm never wavered. There was minor talk of what the name should be, but it was tabled for a while longer as they wanted to establish their musical style first.

              Lys trudged up the steps to the door of his house wearily, pausing long enough to bend down and scratch Xander between the ears, who was curled up on the porch. As he opened the door, however, Xander trilled and uncoiled himself, rubbing up against Lys’s leg as he padded into the house.

              “Excuse you! Pushy little thing, aren’t you?” Xander looked around, sniffed, and set about investigating everything, as cats are wont to do.

              “Well, at least there’s a cat door out back, better make sure that it works.” Lys’s copper shadow followed him as he tested the functionality of the cat door cut into the back door, and Xander had either used it previously or understood its use immediately, as it received another cursory sniff and a quick swat with a dainty paw before he returned to conducting an olfactory inspection of Lys’s home.

              “Looks like I won’t be able to keep you out, I suppose. Behave yourself, I don’t have the energy to chase or scold you tonight.” Lys propped Resonance against the bedroom wall like usual and only bothered with removing his shoes and jewelry before he sprawled on his back on the bed, too tired to care about changing right then. Once more, Xander was not far from Lys’s side, as he jumped up onto the bed with grace and settled down on Lys’s chest again, purring with a sound that was impressive for such a small frame.

              “I suppose that I can’t argue with this. You’re too cute for your own good.” He yawned deeply, which earned him a quick lick on the chin with a raspy tongue after Xander had yawned in response. Scratching his new friend absentmindedly behind the shoulders, Lys drifted off into sleep.

              The next few weeks were a pleasant routine into which Lys settled, feeling pleased with how well everything was progressing; upon opening the boxes from storage he remembered that he did in fact have a track suit (from when he had dated the runner), and it was much more comfortable and suitable for his morning run with Alex. Their times and endurance quickly increased, and while Lys still didn’t like it, he didn’t mind the morning exercise, and actually enjoyed the time spent with the sports major. Despite his “jock” exterior, Alex did have a sharp mind and ear for audio engineering, which was a skill he didn’t know that he possessed, he just knew what something should sound like. Lys talked him into enrolling into online classes at the local college to help develop this skill, and while initially reluctant, he came around after Lys raised the salient (and unpleasant) point that if something happened to him and he couldn’t play sports that he’d need a fallback option.

              After his morning run he would harvest some of the tall grass that blanketed the majority of the farm, as Marnie at the ranch to his south needed a reliable source of fodder for her animals. This provided her with a fresh, local source of feed, and a small but guaranteed source of income for him. One day it was picked up instead by her nephew, Shane, who looked sullen and rather angry at everything, but a quick glance at his clothes and posture told Lys that this was less of a poor attitude and more of a defensive mechanism; someone who has been hurt can often see it in others. Shane was prepared to snarl at Lys for any overenthusiasm or fake-friendliness, but one glance into the hazel stare made him reconsider, recognizing someone else who knew the value of putting up a mask around others. Instead he greeted Lys with curt courtesy, completing the transaction as quickly as possible, allowing them to politely ignore each other, as Lys implicitly understood that Shane wasn’t interested in making friends with anyone.

              His mornings were taken with maintaining his newly-growing garden, which was beginning to bear metaphorical fruit, and soon the literal sort, as he felt confident enough to attempt planting various berry hedges thanks to the grass-clearing. The herbs were growing quickly, allowing him to begin selling them through Pierre. They were in great demand, to his surprise, as quite a large number of residents liked cooking with fresh ingredients, and a portion of his profits went to expanding that part of his farming effort.

              Afternoons, however, belonged to him, and were either spent practicing with the band at the community center or down at Elliott’s cabin, enjoying the time to simply sit and chat or assisting him with his novel. Elliott always had a hot cup of coffee ready, and Lys made a mental note to bring a couple of bags of beans at some point to replace Elliott’s likely-dwindling stash. One warm, sunny day Lys sipped his drink as he sat on the edge of the table at which Elliott was seated and typing out a new idea that had just occurred to him.

              “So you’re really running with that idea I threw at you that day at the park? That romance-battle thing? It was just a silly suggestion.”

              “Perhaps, but after a few early drafts I do believe I have a functional narrative and compelling characters. Your input would be valuable once more.”

              “Anything in particular?”

              “To be blunt, one of the protagonists has been inspired by you, and therefore I would have your words so that he may be able to properly speak.”

              “Ha, no way, I’m not that interesting.” Lys ducked away as Elliott flicked gently at his ear, a gesture that he had begun to employ to express his irritation whenever Lys spoke badly of himself.

              “One of these days I will get you to accept that you are, in fact, interesting and worthwhile to be around. If you weren’t do you think that I would spend so much time in your company?”

              “Aww,” Lys teased, “I thought it was just because I’m so cute I can get away with almost anything.”

              “Now there is material with which I can work.”

              “Well, I guess, the question I have to ask is what his end goal is. As it’s said in my line of work, ‘what’s my motivation?’ I mean, is he fun and sweet? A teasing flirt? Or is he just trying to get into someone’s pants?” He giggled as Elliott nearly sloshed his own cup of coffee.

              “Your terminology is...descriptive…”

              “But effective! So, let’s get some character-building going on. What’s his motivation? What does he want to achieve? What is, as I said, his end goal? What obstacles are in his path?” Elliott set down his cup and reclined in his chair with a self-deprecating chuckle.

              “I may claim to be a wordsmith but you are the sculptor who carves a story out of an idea.”

              “Not really. We’re two sides of the same coin. You create the stories that I tell. I’ve just been doing stage and music for as long as I can remember, so storytelling is completely intuitive to me. I know how and why stories work, and I know their structure and flow. But the thing that makes you special,” he tapped Elliott on the forehead to emphasize his point, “is that you are the one that builds those stories. Like Pygmalion and the statue, you are the artisan who creates something beautiful, I’m just the one that gives it life.”

              “I believe it was a goddess that animated his statue,” Elliott smiled, picking up his coffee again.

              “You saw those photos the other day, I would make it look good. Besides, do you really think that I haven’t played female roles before? I am exactly what I need to be. Now, as for your story… Oh, have you something in mind for the other character, any idea what you’re going to do with him?” Elliott hesitated for a moment, hiding it behind the act of finishing his coffee. Lys noticed this and laughed.

              “No way, so you really took that idea to heart, hunh? Maybe Sam can turn that song into a full rock opera based on your story.”

              “Don’t laugh that hard, most authors do a bit of self-insertion into their story in some way, and for what it’s worth, our conversations and interactions have been a great source of material and inspiration for this project. I’ll change it at a later date, but for now this is a starting point. Another cup?”

              “Please,” Lys grinned, handing over the empty vessel, “and I’m just giving you grief, mate, leave it as-is. The thought of us being deliberate romantic rivals over a bet is hilarious. I want to see where this goes. And using our own voices for this project will make it sound more authentic and natural. In that case, if you’re writing for me, it mostly depends on the other person what I do.”

              “How so?” Elliott asked, pouring them both a second cup.

              “So I’m an unrepentant flirt, yeah, but the way it’s done depends on the person. A lot of it is based on touch, but again, technique depends on who I’m using it on.”

              “Sorry, I don’t quite follow.”

              “Right, so you’ve got that coffee, and you’re going to hand me a cup, which I would normally just accept. But if I was being flirty or playful, I’d do something like this.” As he took the cup from Elliott with both hands he allowed their fingers to brush and linger just a moment longer.

              “Nothing terribly overt or obvious, just enough to be noticed, and that’s the trick; to make them aware of you and get them thinking about you. And you did notice, right? But it could be brushed off as me just being extra careful about not dropping the cup, or maybe you’re just over-analyzing it. Regardless, it’s small gestures like that. You want them to think of you, to plant that seed in their mind and let them cultivate it. Also, body language and eye contact play a big part of it, but let’s focus on one thing first.”

              “I think that I understand now, although…” Elliott trailed off as he sat down and looked at what he’d already typed.

              “You had a thought?”

              “Mm, nothing, just a thought, is all.”

              “...You were wondering if and how often I’d done something like that to you, didn’t you?” Lys smirked over the rim of his coffee cup, and was rewarded with a slight flush in Elliott’s cheeks. “Don’t be embarrassed, everyone at some point wonders that. That’s one of those bad habits I’m really trying to change. Which isn’t an answer, I know, but as an answer, well…” he smiled mischievously and winked at Elliott, “that’s a secret.”

              “That’s more of your flirting, isn’t it?” Lys laughed with delight and hopped off of the table.

              “Got it in one! You’re getting the hang of it.”

              “You are fortunate that you are cute enough to get away with almost anything.”

              “Ooh, nice call-back. You are a quick study. Let’s see what you’ve got so far and I’ll see if I can give you any useful input.”
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              • Risukage

                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                //Oof, mornings are blaaaaah. Need so much coffee. No commentary today, running late due to allergies. Have a chapter update, I'm off to find some alka-seltzer.//

                SixStrings: hey, Sebastian’s offered to teach me how to ride that motorcycle. You think you’ll be okay without my help today? :p

                SeasideScribe: I suppose that I might be able to discern the usage of a keyboard on my own, yes

                SixStrings: :D

                SeasideScribe: in seriousness, Sam messaged a bit ago to work on lyrics this afternoon, so it appears that we both have our own individual sidebars to distract us today

                SixStrings: hoopy, the two of you make kickass lyrics, next practice is gonna be fun

                SeasideScribe: we will see about that tomorrow. Be safe out there

                The day was overcast and cooler than it had been, temporarily reversing the warming trend as spring faded into summer. Rain was not on the forecast, but it was possible. That afternoon Sebastian rode in, causing Xander, who was sprawled across Lys’s lap, to fluff up and hiss at the sudden, noisy apparition.

                “Gah! Chill, mate- Ow, ow, ow, claws, ow. Hi, Sebastian.” The leather-clad rider removed his helmet and grinned at Lys, who was trying to convince his quadrupedal companion to sit down and remove his claws from his leg. Sebastian swung out the kickstand and rested the bike on it, dismounting with ease, and tucked his helmet under his arm.

                “Good thing I’m not teaching him. Feeling up to this?”

                “Nervous but excited, this is a skill I’ve wanted to pick up for a while.”

                “I’d have done this sooner but I needed a better day for it.”

                “Yeah, you don’t do as well in the sunshine as I do, don’t blame you.”

                “That, and Maru and Dem are tinkering with something today and I had to get out. They’re just so...ugh…”

                “Well, you’re different from them. They’re scientists, but you’re an engineer.” Sebastian raised an eyebrow and reclined against one of the supports for the awning over the porch.

                “How do you mean?”

                “From what I’ve heard and have talked to them, they deal with science and theories, with tinkering and ‘seeing how it works.’ You, though, already know why a thing works and how, and you’re skilled at ensuring that it works that way, and maybe even better with a bit of tweaking. They deal with what could be, you deal with what is. It’s sorta a massive gap to bridge, especially if the other side isn’t interested in reaching out. They use their minds, you use your hands.”

                “That’s not a bad explanation, that makes sense.” Sebastian sighed and nodded toward his motorcycle. “I know every nut, bolt, and screw on it. I’ve handled every part myself and have more than a little blood and sweat invested in it, literally.” Removing a glove to inspect the back of one hand, he flashed a small smile of satisfaction. “I understand that bond you have with your guitar. We’ve both spent countless hours working with them, giving us a unique synergy, and very few other people can understand it, or are willing to.”

                Lys finally was able to stand, as Xander was no longer afraid of the motorcycle now that it was silent, and had begun sniffing it and rubbing up against anything within reach. Lys reached over and took Sebastian’s hand, noticing something.

                “Yeah, you’re an engineer. Your nails are clean and well-trimmed, but you’ve got grease and oil worked hard into some places, as well as a number of nicks and scars. You’re not afraid of a bit of pain or getting elbow-deep in grime. Same for the software engineering you do, I bet. I respect that. Ah, sorry, getting a bit personally physical there.”

                “As I said, weird as it is, we’re alone, so I trust you.”

                “It’s a weird world when the one person you can trust to be open and honest with when alone is the one who has shagged just about everyone.”

                “Maybe that’s why, you’re the only one here who doesn’t hide anything and isn’t embarrassed about it.”

                “Pretty much. There are a few things I don’t voice because I don’t want to make people uncomfortable or give them the wrong idea, but, yeah.”

                “Like what?” Sebastian asked, removing his other glove and tucking both into his helmet.

                “I said I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

                “We’re alone, you can’t say anything that would embarrass me right now.”

                “Well, if you’re certain of that, there’s the fact that if you ever ask me to, I’ll drag you inside and give you the best time of your life,” he paused to chuckle when Sebastian dropped his helmet and laughed heartily at the strange reply, “but I won’t because I know you’re not that kind of person, and I won’t do that to any of my friends. I respect you all too much for that.”

                “...Okay, I wasn’t expecting that kind of answer, that’s funny. But thanks, in a weird way.” Lys shrugged and picked up Sebastian’s helmet.

                “I know you don’t swing in that direction and you aren’t interested in me, so no, you don’t have to worry about me pursuing that line of thought. Also, I’m pretty sure that Abby would shiv me if I tried to make a move on you.”

                “And you’re hot for Elliott, anyway,” Sebastian smirked, taking back his helmet and placing it on the porch, enjoying the flustered look that Lys now wore.

                “I- What?”

                “Please, you wear a lot of masks when you know people are looking, but when you let your guard down you’re completely transparent.”

                “That’s not… I mean, it’s complicated…” He sighed deeply and folded his arms across his chest. “Fine. You’re right, I am. But I’m not going to pursue that, either. He deserves better.”

                “What’s that supposed to-”

                “So what’s the first thing I need to learn?” Lys interrupted, abruptly ending the thread of conversation. Sebastian was slightly annoyed at the way that Lys had changed subjects after everything that had just been said, but he knew a painful subject when he saw it.

                “First thing? Move.” Lys stepped aside as Sebastian took the bike off of its kickstand and gently set it on the ground.


                “At some point you’re going to dump it, either because you’re not paying attention, some other dumbass isn’t paying attention, you take a turn wrong, something. You need to know how to get it back upright without hurting yourself or breaking it.”

                “I hadn’t thought of that. That’s an excellent point. So how do I do that?”

                “Most motorcycles are fairly stable, so all you need is a bit of leverage. Grab it here and here, got it? Turn the handlebars that way, lift and push like so, and, there you are.”

                “That was easier than I had expected. It feels so heavy but pivoted up right away.” Sebastian repeated the drill twice more before he was satisfied that Lys knew what he was doing.

                “Okay, drop the kickstand and mount up. Since you already know how to drive a manual this should be somewhat familiar.” Lys complied again and looked over the bike with a new appreciation as Sebastian pointed out the controls.

                “Left grip is throttle and front brake, right is gear shift and rear brake, clutch is at your right foot. Try to use the rear brake as often as possible, as the front brake will stop you quickly but you have a good chance of going over the handlebars, and I speak from experience.”

                “Sounds like a painful one.”

                “Sorta, it was more scary than anything else. Some asshole in an SUV decided to brake-check me. Damn cagers. On the upside there was a cop who saw the whole thing so that guy got a ticket for reckless endangerment. I also had the satisfaction of denting his car when I bounced off of it. My riding leathers have saved my ass more than once, literally and figuratively.”

                Sebastian continued to have Lys show and repeat back at least twice everything he was instructed, and when he was finally certain that Lys had a solid grasp on the basics, he walked over to the porch and retrieved their helmets.

                “Now it’s time for the practical exam. The road out by the bus stop will be perfect practice; it’s wide and open with very little traffic, and if there is any traffic we’ll see it long before it gets here.”

                “Okay, so I’ll sit behind you again while we head out there, lemme get off so we can switch.”


                “Um-” “You want to learn to ride? It’s go time. Helmet on, I’m riding behind you. Until we get out there, where I’ll let you ride it alone.”

                “You trust me already?”

                “Why shouldn’t I?”

                “...I don’t have a good answer for that.”

                “Good answer.” Sebastian watched Lys start up the motorcycle and take the bike off of the kickstand before getting into place behind him.

                “You’re in charge now, remember what I told you.”

                “Okay. Well, let’s see if I’m as fast a study as I claim to be.”

                Despite a bit of wobble as he made the turn from the road to his house his first trek was slow but steady, and as he stopped at the main road, Sebastian got off and slapped him on the back.

                “Here, put on my gloves, just in case. Feel free to go up and down as you need to, at whatever speed. Get comfortable and confident at your own pace.”

                “I’m kinda worried I’ll wipe out and damage something.”

                “As long as you’re not hurt it’s okay. I showed you how to pick it up again, and there’s nothing that you can do out here and at these speeds that I haven’t done worse and still managed to repair.”

                For the next hour Lys practiced, under the amused watch of Sebastian, learning the sound and feel of the machine under him. Once he got over his initial trepidation, same as the ride down the mountain, he found his confidence without the arrogance. The motorcycle was a finely-tuned and -maintained vehicle, and it did everything that its rider commanded with mechanical elegance. Finally feeling good about riding, he pulled up to Sebastian and set it on the kickstand, letting it idle.

                “I think I’m good for today. I’ll want to try again in another day or two to see if it stuck, but let’s head back for now.” It was strange having a passenger again, after not having one for a bit, but he adapted and adjusted, understanding what Sebastian had been talking about when they had ridden previously. He pulled in at the same place that Sebastian had, parked, and shut off the engine.

                “Wow, okay, that was pretty cool. I said before that I understand why you get a kick out of this, but I really didn’t. Now I do.” Once divested of safety gear, Sebastian pulled a pack of cigarettes and a lighter from a zipped pocket.

                “It’s not something that many people are willing to appreciate. Want one?”

                “Sure, thanks. It’s kinda a pity that nobody else is interested in any of this, but then, I don’t mind. Weird as it is, I rather like having something that I can share with just one other person. Dunno why.” He took a drag from his cigarette, then looked at it curiously as he exhaled, a strange thought coming to his mind, and he laughed at both it and himself.

                “You’re in a good mood today.”

                “I’m just being weird again, don’t worry.”

                “And now I need to know.”

                “Haven’t you regretted the last couple of times you’ve said something like that?”

                “Not really, and it’s always been funny. What’s on your mind?”

                “Well, it just occurred to me that there’s another activity that two people might share a good smoke after, and it’s not usually a motorcycle ride,” Lys winked, and Sebastian choked in the middle of inhaling. “I mean, I know it was pretty good for me, but I don’t know about you.” Wiping his eyes, Sebastian coughed a couple more times as he laughed.

                “Is that all you ever think of?”

                “No, just most of the time.”

                “Like I’ve said before, I hope you don’t change. You are crazy, dude.”

                “And I have one last question for you.”

                “What’s that?”

                “Your motorcycle, what’s its name? And don’t try to tell me it doesn’t, you put too much work and love into it.”


                “‘Night Song.’ Nice.”

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                • Gabaw

                  Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

                  "Cagers" ah yes, when you're too cool for 4 wheels :rofl: I'm reeling in jellyfish left right and center tho. Damn bikers. So cool :p Anyway, despite my initial trepidation about following a story of this nature, your taste for fine motor skills, music and beer continues to interest and amuse me. The good stuff in life, eh?
                    Risukage and Alkanthe like this.
                  • Risukage

                    Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                    *Bows deeply.* You made my evening, seriously, you did. :)

                    I was sorta worried that people would see the title and a first few chapters and just write it off as, "oh, just another yaoi story, meh." But to successfully tell a story that pulls in even those who were hesitant to have given it a look, well, I think I'm doing pretty well. And damn it, I do demand the good things in life; I spend a few extra dollars to get something just right and that lasts a long time. I take the time to do something properly so it lasts longer or is done right. I will study a subject because of a love for the subject matter and the desire to improve myself. I live, because this is the only life I get, and I am going to do it well. Anyone who dedicates themselves to something, whatever it is, gets my respect, because anyone can do "anything," but it takes passion and dedication to make it amazing.

                    (As for Sebastian's remark, my husband rides, and used to commute in California Bay Area traffic. THOSE assholes are "cagers." Most everyone else on the road is just another driver. :p)
                      MagicallyClueless, Gabaw and Alkanthe like this.
                    • Risukage

                      Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                      //Hello and welcome back for another installment of Rose & Sunflower! I know I keep saying it, but dang, even I am impressed at how well this is going and how long it's running. I've already written up to chapter 25, which is a mighty 74 pages in Word, and I'm nowhere near finished. So get comfy, grab a tasty drink, and enjoy chapter 22. Cheers!//

                      Two days later Lys entered Elliott’s cabin, wondering if he should have brought an umbrella, as thick, grey clouds covered the sky from apex to horizon.

                      “Hey, I’m here- Elliott!” His friend was slumped on the table next to his laptop, still seated in his chair. Unslinging Resonance and propping it by the door, he dashed across the room, beginning to worry. As he put a hand on Elliott’s arm, the other man started in surprise and sat up blearily. Lys’s feeling of concern was replaced with relief as Elliott yawned deeply and rubbed the bridge of his nose, blinking away sleep.

                      “Mmm, it appears that I dozed off. Damn. Good afternoon, Lysander.” He obviously had been up all night; his waistcoat was draped over the back of his chair, with the sleeves of his shirt rolled up and top few buttons of his collar undone, his hair was tousled (yet still stylish, somehow), and the stubble of two days was beginning to show.

                      “Did you get any rest after practice last night?” Lys interrogated, now feeling annoyed at his friend’s lack of concern for his own health.

                      “I did not, as I am in the final stretch of finishing my novel. With the end in sight, I seek its light, illumination at the end of the tunnel.” He chuckled at himself as he processed what he had just said. “Even in my current state I am given to moments of poetry.”

                      “Lovely. Get your ass to bed and get some sleep, you can finish it later.”

                      “Your concern is appreciated but unnecessary. Just a little more work and I can rest.”

                      “The hell you will, I know you, you’re going to work yourself until you’re ill because you’ll keep finding things to fix and clean up. You can finish it once you’ve had some sleep and can focus properly.”

                      “And once more I must refuse your demand. All I require is another cup of coffee and I shall be functional,” Elliott firmly replied, standing and picking up his coffee cup, but gripping the edge of the table as he swayed on his feet. Lys took the cup away, set it back on the table, put a fist on one hip, and pointed at the bedroom emphatically.

                      “No. BED. Get going.”

                      “I have work to do. I will sleep when it is complete.”

                      “I will make you.”

                      “I doubt that, now if you- Gah!” Tired of arguing, Lys grabbed Elliott by the waist, threw him over his shoulder, and marched to the other room.

                      “Lysander! Put me down, this is quite unbecoming.”

                      “Okay, you said so.”

                      “What-” He grunted as Lys roughly dropped him on the bed, frowning at the sudden handling and propping himself up on his elbows. “If you are done with being domineering I have work to-”

                      “No, you don’t,” Lys interrupted, putting a hand in the middle of Elliott’s chest and shoving him back down, “you need rest, and I’m going to wait here until you go to sleep. You’re almost as stubborn as I am and will work yourself to exhaustion if I don’t do something about it. I’m your friend, and I’m looking out for you. Now quit being a pillock about it.” Elliott was about to protest but was interrupted by another long yawn, which prompted a sigh of self-recrimination.

                      “Perhaps I am functioning in a diminished capacity, but that’s no reason to be so pushy.” Lys sat down on the edge of the bed, folded his arms across his chest, and gave Elliott a look that brooked no nonsense.

                      “Really? Can you say that you wouldn’t do the same for me if our roles were switched?”

                      “...I cannot.” Lys’s expression softened as he reached over and squeezed Elliott’s shoulder.

                      “You know I’m right. I understand, I really do, that drive to finish something when you’re just so close, but you also know that you might make errors while tired that could compromise the entire project.” Elliott clasped Lys’s hand with his own, already feeling waves of sleep break over him.

                      “You are correct. Very well, I will acquiesce to your demands. For the sake of what we have both worked so hard upon…” He barely finished his sentence before dozing off, and Lys bit his lip to keep himself from giggling out loud. Sitting there a moment longer, he allowed himself a moment to enjoy their touch, even though it brought a cold stab of regret.

                      Sebastian is right. I’ve got it bad for Elliott, and I’ve been leading him on and giving him signs that I’m interested. Damn it, I shouldn’t have done that, I should have backed off. He deserves so much better than me. I’m just going to get him hurt one of these days. But I was selfish and enjoyed the games I was playing, and I don’t know how to back out now, not without destroying a good friendship. So much I want to say, so much I need to, and I can’t, not yet. And yet, he’s never said anything, so maybe he’s not interested and it’s not a problem. Light burn me, Elliott, I love you. I’m sorry…

                      Carefully he disentangled their hands, trying not to wake his friend, pulled a blanket over him, and was about to stand but hesitated.


                      He gently brushed aside Elliott’s hair and kissed him on the forehead, smiled sadly, and left the room.

                      Besides, with my past, how could you ever trust me? You’re refined and elegant, and I’m loud and vulgar. Light help me, I just want you to be happy. I’ll do whatever it takes to help you achieve your dream. I just wish I was strong enough to let you go.

                      He slung Resonance over his shoulder and quietly closed the door behind himself as he departed the cabin.

                      With the rest of the afternoon open and his mind buzzing with noise, Lys strode through town and up the mountain. The sky was a darker grey but still not raining, and again he wondered if he should have brought an umbrella from the house.

                      What I really want to do is talk to someone. I wonder if Sebastian will listen. He’s well-grounded and has a level head on his shoulders. And he does know about... Even if he doesn’t have any advice for me I just need to sound it out, get it out of my head and into words. He’s the only one I can trust to talk about this.

                      The path that wound north to Sebastian’s house was quiet and unoccupied, and Lys was grateful for the solitude. However, large raindrops began to splatter around him, and he groaned in frustration, transitioning to a jog. He hadn’t gotten very far before he heard-

                      A flute? Sebastian doesn’t play that, does he?

                      He followed the path around a corner and saw Abigail under a very large tree, playing a wooden flute. She saw him and waved him over, an invitation that he quickly accepted as the rain came down with fury. Again, he unslung Resonance and set it down as he sat cross-legged on the blanket that Abigail had spread out to keep off of the dirt and pine needles.

                      “Yup, should have brought an umbrella. But wow, this tree has thick branches, it’s completely dry under here. That was really pretty, by the way, I didn’t know you did woodwinds as well as percussion.”

                      “Just the one extra instrument. Most of my skill is art, but this was one of those things that I just picked up somehow.”

                      “That was a lovely song. Can I hear it again?” he asked, opening the guitar case.

                      “You know, I just knew you were going to ask.”

                      “Everyone here has their own song, and I want to learn them all.” Abigail played it again, and Lys listened carefully, eyes closed as he focused on her sound.

                      “Got it?”

                      “Yeah, I have an idea… You lead.” The flute was deep, reedy, and melodic, like a gently flowing river, and on top of her melody Lys played a bright, plucked counterpoint, the sound of gentle raindrops dancing upon the river. Abigail grinned at the end, resting the flute across her knees as Resonance went back into its case.

                      “That sounded so cool. Usually you do a rhythmic backing, but this time it was just pick-work.”

                      “It seemed to fit your song and the weather better.”

                      “Heee. And now I’m properly inspired. I came up here to do some landscape drawing since I got some new chalks I wanted to try out, and they’re perfect for the weather and view up here. I was just getting into the mood to draw when you showed up.” She put her flute into its own case and reached into her pocket for lip gloss, which she applied with a quick swipe and put away.

                      “Is that blueberry?” Lys asked, catching a whiff.

                      “Yeah. Nice, isn’t it?”

                      Interesting… This could make a useful segue…

                      “It is. Which reminds me, I was going to visit Sebastian, and since the rain has let up for a bit I think I can dash over without getting soaked.”

                      “Why would my lip gloss remind you of that?”

                      “He likes blueberries, doesn’t he?” Abigail blushed a little and tried to hide it by rummaging in her bag for something.

                      “Ah, heh, yeah, he does.”

                      I thought so.

                      “How long do you think you’ll be out here? It’s a nice day but a bit cool. I don’t want you to catch cold.”

                      “A couple of hours at least. Don’t worry, I’ve got a warm coat on and it’s not too cold for me to draw. Hey,” she said, as he picked up Resonance, “say ‘hi’ to Sebastian for me, would you?” He smiled and made a dramatic flourish.

                      “The avatar of the goddess of love will carry your message to its destination, my lady, so swiftly must I be away to fulfill my errand.”

                      “You are such an adorable dweeb.”

                      “So true. Cheers, see you later.”
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                      • Risukage

                        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                        //Hey look, I figured out how to name tags. Go me. Now I can better keep track of just how long it's going to take me to finish this thing. And I'll probably get SO much hate for this chapter, and I don't caaaaaaare. Just stick around until Wednesday, something big happens then. *Spins around in office chair, giggles madly.//

                        A couple of minutes later he knocked on the front door of Sebastian’s house having just made it before the rain began again. Like usual, Robin answered, complete with a smile and a hug.

                        “Good to see you again. You probably want to see Sebastian?”

                        “Yeah, I just wanted to drop in and check on something.”

                        “Go on down, he’s up and about.”

                        Same as before, a knock produced the reply to enter, and Lys set Resonance against the wall before closing the door. Sebastian glanced up from his monitor with a look of surprise.

                        “Hey, dude, didn’t expect you, how goes it?” Lys sat down on the couch, a bit more heavily than he had intended, and sighed as the weight of his thoughts settled on top of him.

                        “I… I need advice. Or to talk. I dunno, just…” Concerned, Sebastian got up from the computer and sat down on the other end of the couch, lounging comfortably.

                        “What’s on your mind? I don’t think I’ve seen you like this before.”

                        “...You were right…”

                        “About what? I don’t recall us arguing about anything.”

                        “About Elliott.”


                        “And… I…” He sagged, elbows on his knees as he stared at the floor. “Damn it all, I love him. I haven’t felt like this for anyone before. It hurts…”

                        “So tell him. You don’t seem to be the type to get all angsty over this kind of thing.”

                        “I can’t…”

                        “Why not? You’re being strange.”

                        “I don’t want him to know. And I don’t want to hurt him. You’ve seen my temper, you know my arrogance and attitude. I don’t want to screw up our friendship. I’m terrified that I’ll do something dumb and… I already destroyed one relationship that way. Besides, I’ve lost count of how many lovers I’ve had, and I know he’ll always wonder… Look, he just deserves so much better than me anyway- Ow!” Sebastian sat back down, having knuckle-tapped Lys atop the head with no small amount of force and irritation.

                        “You sound like a whiny manga protagonist. ‘Ohh, I’m not good enough, I’ll screw up and everyone will hate me.’ Get over your pity party already.”

                        “...I’m scared that I’ll ruin everything.”

                        “The hell you will. Suck it up and talk to him. You’re both smart, you’ll work it out.”

                        “I’ll do that when you talk to Abigail.”

                        “Oh, whoa, you did not just try to change the topic.”

                        “No? It’s not terribly different. Why haven’t you asked her out yet? You know that she likes you, and I’ve seen the way you act around her. Hell, she basically told me that she would be waiting under that large tree for the next couple of hours and asked me to send her greetings.”

                        “That is different.”

                        “The hell it is. You can’t give me grief about not talking to Elliott when you haven’t talked to her, either. You’re comfortable opening up around me, you can around her, too.”

                        “I don’t want to-” Sebastian cut off and looked away, trying to hide a sudden wave of embarrassment.

                        “You don’t want to what? Offend her? Mate, she’s basically me with boobs and purple hair. Anything you can do or say around me you can around her.”

                        “I don’t know how to… I’m not… Ugh, I’m crap at affection, okay?”

                        “So you’re running away because you’re worried that she’ll hug you?”

                        “No! It’s not that, it’s the other way around. I’ve never… Nngh, this is embarrassing as hell to say, but I’ve never kissed anyone, okay? I know that’s what she’ll want and I just...wanna do it right for her…”

                        “Ah, well then.” He made a similar flourish as the one he had made for Abby. “Very well, as the avatar of the goddess of love, I hereby offer my resources for your use. Anything you want to know I will provide.”

                        “...You will?” For a moment, Lys was taken aback.

                        “Yes, actually. I was being cheeky for a second, but honestly, I’ve got a lot more experience than you do, so I’ll provide what help I can, and discreetly so.”

                        “...How the hell did we go from your problem to mine?”

                        “I’m a Rogue, I have amazing evasion and redirection abilities,” Lys grinned, and Sebastian chuckled in reply before returning to the topic at hand. “Well, you’re really the only person I can go to about this,” he mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck, but brightened with a laugh, “and you’re not so much a love avatar as you are an outright incarnation of Eros.”

                        “Ha! Guilty! Anyway, you’re a perfectionist, so I understand your hesitation. What do you want to know? Ask anything.”

                        “...This is going to make things weird, but...I just need practice.”

                        “That’s not weird at all. It’s not like you have an abundance of options. ...Okay, Sam would probably be willing to help, but that would be weird, I think.” Sebastian laughed again at the thought, grimacing slightly.

                        “He’d enjoy it way too much. He totally gets a kick out of getting a rise out of someone. No wonder he leads the town in community service hours.”

                        “Well, here, I’ll show you how it’s done and then you give it a try. It’s not like it’s software engineering or anything.” Sebastian cracked a smile but suddenly became nervous as Lys shifted to sit a bit closer, and closed his eyes, tensing up. Lys gently tilted up Sebastian’s chin and leaned in, then paused to chuckle.

                        “It would help me get in character if you could whisper, ‘Ahh, senpai’ for me.” Caught off-guard by the strange remark Sebastian devolved into a fit of giggles.

                        “You are a twit. And five bucks says that you and Abby share most of the same books and manga.”

                        “And you’d probably be right, but it worked, you’re not tense anymore. Just relax.”

                        “I know, it’s just-” He was interrupted as Lys leaned in all the way.

                        “...See? Easy. Your turn.” Sebastian’s attempt was clumsy and hesitant, as he dug his fingers into Lys’s sleeve, becoming tense again.

                        “Okay, um, sorry, that was…”

                        “I think you have the hang of it, you’re just overthinking things. Don’t think, feel. And it is a bit scary for some people, because that level of affection means opening yourself up to someone else, and it’s too easy for them to hurt you, even without thinking about it. Trust her, she’s probably the one person you can fully express yourself to.”

                        “...Even though we just…”

                        “So? I was helping you solve a problem, and there’s no reason for anyone else to know.”

                        “Heh, you are the strangest person I have ever met, and for some reason that’s totally alright.” He stood up, took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “Okay, I’ll talk to Abby, but you need to talk to Elliott.”



                        “No, he’s asleep right now. He pulled an all-nighter after practice yesterday and I damn near had to tie him to the bed to get him to get some rest. I’ll visit before practice tomorrow and talk to him.”

                        “Fine, then, but you had better follow through or I’ll be pissed at you for wasting my time. ...Are you sure that she’s…”

                        “When I talked to her earlier she was wearing blueberry-scented lip gloss.” Sebastian frowned as he remembered something.

                        “She doesn’t like blueberries.”

                        “But you do.” His expression changed as comprehension dawned.


                        “Yeah. C’mon, let’s head out.” He threw Sebastian the hoodie that was on his side of the couch and retrieved Resonance before striding up the stairs. Robin was working on something in the main room and looked up as Lys grabbed an umbrella from the stand by the front door.

                        “Going already? Oh, you too, Sebby?” Lys brandished the item as if it were a sword and pulled Sebastian in with a hug around the shoulders, striking a heroic pose.

                        “We are off to slay dragons, rescue princesses, and save the kingdom! Or run errands, whichever is more exciting.”

                        “You are such a twit,” Sebastian sighed, breaking free and adjusting his hoodie, “I’ll be back later, see ya.”

                        Outside Lys took three steps before jumping back under the awning with one leap.

                        “Whoops, it’s coming down hard out here.” Sebastian took the umbrella, rolling his eyes, and opened it, holding it over the both of them as they walked away.

                        “Totally a twit. But you’re a great friend. Thanks for your...help. With anyone else that would have been awkward and maybe even creepy, but, I dunno how to put it, you were professional about the whole thing.”

                        “A lot of people get hung up on physical contact as if any kind of touch were deeply intimate. I don’t. Not many people can understand that, so I’ve always been a bit of an outsider.”

                        “Whereas I’ve never liked being touched.”

                        “And somehow we get along excellently.”

                        “You know, for the longest time I thought that there was nothing that would surprise me anymore, that nothing would ever really make me laugh. For once I’m glad to be wrong.”

                        “And this is where we part ways for today.” Lys hugged Sebastian around the shoulders with one arm again, “just relax and be you. That’s what she wants.” To Lys’s surprise, Sebastian returned the hug with an arm around his waist.

                        “Yeah. Thanks. See ya.”

                        Lys got home a while later, rather soaked but unperturbed by it. Resonance was in a waterproof case, and it hadn’t been heavy enough of a rain to get to his phone. As he changed into dry clothes he saw a message light up.

                        L33tK3ys: you were a bit wrong. I didn’t like blueberries much before. I like them now

                        SixStrings: LOL. Glad that I bothered you to head out today?

                        L33tK3ys: yes, but tell anyone else and I’ll thump you again. As for your promise?

                        SixStrings: ...I know… I’m going by before practice tomorrow
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                        • Gabaw

                          Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

                          Worst you'll get is a groan and an eyeroll from me :p but "You sound like a whiny manga protagonist." makes up for it. Nobody wants to be a Shinji lmao! :rofl:
                            Risukage and Alkanthe like this.
                          • Risukage

                            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                            Heee, pretty much. Sebastian was the Asuka that Lys needed to put a boot in his ass an tell him to get in the damn robot confess his love already.
                              Gabaw and Alkanthe like this.
                            • Risukage

                              Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                              //Wednesday's update is going up early because I've gotta be somewhere early in the morning, and my best guess is it's gonna take me an hour to get there at the least. This chapter is one I've been working toward and on for quite some time, and I'm pleased with how the pacing, blocking, and dialogue went for it. We've had enough of your angst, Lys, go do something about it! Also, the character arc for him sorta reminds me of (was inspired by?) Frozen in that due to past events (both in and out of his control) he's having a hard time opening up to others, but instead of being a cute blonde girl with ice powers he's a cute ginger boy with fire powers, and it's called Burned. :rofl: Right, not really, he's not pyrokinetic, but he is learning to "let it go," as it were, as that's a big part of his motivation, and it's nice to finally show some major progress on that front. ...Though I won't lie, when mucking about with something the other day that imagery did wander through my mind, but instead of running to snow-capped mountains to build an ice palace he'd end up running to the mines in the mountains and carving out a sweet volcano base. Let it burn, let it burn, it's only then that they will learn! ...No, that sounds like a villain's song, nevermind...

                              And in completely random news, at peer pressure encouragement from @MagicallyClueless and @Miss Alkane I actually dug out my pencils and paper and made a half-arsed concept art for Lys. ...And it's actually not bad. I don't hate it, which is odd praise but strangely factual. Once I have the opportunity to clean it up a bit and try out some colored pencils I picked up on a whim I might upload it.//

                              Where the bridge met the beach and dirt turned to sand Lys stopped, gripping the railing of the bridge, his heart pounding.

                              I can’t. I can’t… But I promised Sebastian that I would, and it’s my damn fault for starting a conversation that would lead to this. Damn it all…

                              Taking a deep breath to settle himself, he stepped out onto the sand and walked to Elliott’s cabin. Like the day before, the door was open with the screen shut, and he let himself in after a polite knock.

                              “Hey, I’m here- The hell! You still haven’t changed?!” Elliott looked up at Lys’s arrival and broke into a broad smile of joy, still wearing the same clothes as before.


                              “Don’t tell me you- Ah!” Crossing the room swiftly, Elliott grabbed Lys in a fierce hug and spun them both around a couple of times.

                              “It’s finished! Lysander, I’ve done it, and it would not have been possible without you.”

                              “You- Oh wow, you did?” His initial errand forgotten as he was caught up in Elliott’s enthusiasm, Lys returned the hug. “Mind if I have a quick read?”

                              “Go right ahead, I had just saved a PDF copy when you walked up. And you were correct, I did need that rest. I slept the entire day and woke this morning with a fire in my heart and lightness in my fingers.” Lys dropped into the chair and scrolled to the top of the file open on the screen.

                              “I’ve gotten bits and pieces from our collaborations, but I’ve not seen it all the way as a coherent story.” He reclined and began to read, smiling to himself, and in a few minutes was engrossed in the tale. Elliott placed a cup of coffee at his wrist, for which Lys mumbled an absentminded, “thanks,” and replied with a noncommittal “mm-hmm” at a question that Elliott posed but he didn’t hear. This was the story that they had created together, and he was lost in it, enjoying every word, their words. Some time later he paused, having tried to take a sip of coffee only to discover that the cup was empty.

                              “Okay, wow, that is really good, I just got pulled in. You really know how to- You got changed,” he observed, very surprised. It was just now that he noticed the scent of fresh soap as Elliott buttoned up his waistcoat and fastened the ones on his wrists, his hair still slightly damp and face freshly-shaven.

                              “I did mention that I was going to get cleaned up while you read, but my words fell upon deaf ears. Normally I would find that irritating but now it is flattering.” Lys stood and stretched.

                              “And apparently you got me a coffee as well. I don’t remember that. Well, I think that that speaks highly of your work.”

                              “Speaking of, well, speaking, I…”

                              “Hmm? Something on your mind?”

                              “Yes. Well, that is, there is something with which I would like to discuss with you.”

                              “You’re being awfully hesitant today, what’s up?”

                              “I…” He cleared his throat and started again. “I no longer wish to be friends.” In shock, Lys staggered back and bumped up against the table.

                              I… Shit… I suppose that this saves me the trouble…

                              As soon as he said it Elliott gasped and realized his error. “No, not like that, I-”

                              “Ah, it’s no worry, I’ve been a bit of-”

                              “Light burn me, no,” he said, wrapping Lys in a strong hug, “not just friends, more than that. I… I need you.”

                              Oh no, Elliott, this is worse, please don’t…

                              “Just give me a moment, hear me out and then you can say anything, but I need to say this before I lose my nerve.” Elliott’s fingers dug into Lys’s back as he struggled to find the words he wanted to say. “You gave me a second chance. You gave me hope. You brought a light into my life that I had never seen before, and like a moth to a flame I am irrevocably drawn to it, and I care not if I get burned. Your energy, your passion, your kindness… It awoke in me a desire to be so much more than I was. You became my muse, my inspiration, and every day I awaited your arrival with anticipation. I realize that you said before that you are not pursuing a relationship and I respect that, but at the same time I cannot hide this any longer. I want to be at your side, to support you, to share everything with you.”

                              “Elliott… I can’t…” Elliott released Lys and backed away, looking hurt and embarrassed.

                              “Ah, my apologies, you did say that-”

                              “It’s not that-”

                              “Forgive me, I was too forward.” Angry and without thinking, Lys grabbed Elliott by the collar with both hands.

                              “No, you fool, I love you!” Feeling as though he had just been splashed with cold water, he froze as he realized what he’d just said. Elliott went from hurt to hopeful, and touched his hand hesitantly.


                              “It’s your turn to listen.” He released Elliott’s shirt and smoothed it, trying to find his own thoughts now. “I don’t want you to get hurt. I have fire, yes, and it’s too strong, I can’t control it. My last relationship… We… We had an argument, and both of us lashed out at each other. We were angry and frustrated. But I did so with the intent to hurt. I’ve never done that before. I wanted to cause pain in retaliation for what I felt, against the person I claimed to love and protect. I can’t let that happen to you. I won’t do that to you.”

                              “I’m not a delicate flower, this rose has thorns. I am strong enough to stand up both for and to you. Do you really think I will simply allow someone to strike or shout at me without provocation and let it go?”

                              “You saw what I did to Alex, I swing to hurt.”

                              “And both times were isolated incidents. You are not the sort to stay angry at someone for long, and given your regret over what happened with your last companion and how quickly you resolved issues with Alex I know that anything that causes you anger enough to harm someone is both serious and nothing that cannot be mended.”

                              “There’s a first time for everything. What happens if I get angry and selfish over something dumb and try to take it out on you?”

                              “Then we will resolve it once we are calm enough to discuss it like rational adults. You are causing yourself worry and pain over one moment in your past, one that is not likely to repeat itself. Do not let it hold you back and prevent you from being happy.” Lys was bewildered by the unexpected level of understanding and rationality from his friend.

                              “You’re not scared?” Elliott smiled sweetly and caressed his cheek, and Lys leaned into his touch.

                              “Only of being unable to tell you just how much you mean to me.”

                              He fills all of my senses and it’s intoxicating; the color of his eyes, the sound of his voice, the scent of his cologne, the touch of his skin…

                              Throwing away all other thoughts, he held Elliott tightly and tangled his fingers in his hair.

                              ...and the taste of coffee on his lips… I want it all. I need it all. Mine… He belongs to me.

                              “You...are quite good at that,” Elliott finally said, a little out of breath.

                              “I’ve had a lot of practice,” Lys smiled, and again was reminded of something. “That’s… It isn’t a problem, is it? My history? You know you aren’t my first.”

                              “As long as I am your last.” The empty coldness he had felt earlier was gone, replaced by a soft warmth that suffused him in entirety, an almost overwhelming feeling. Resting his head on Elliott’s shoulder, he held him and took a moment to feel, to just experience this new sensation.

                              “You are,” he whispered, and suddenly felt a surge of mischief, prompting him to growl playfully and nibble on Elliott’s ear. “Mine.” Startled, Elliott laughed.

                              “Yes, I am yours, all of me.” He suddenly remembered something and chuckled. “And you don’t have to be afraid of being a bit physical with me when displeased. You have already done so once.”

                              “When did- Oh, the community center. I’m still a bit miffed at you for that, you know.”

                              “Then I will apologize until you forgive me. I’m sorry.” He pulled aside the collar of Lys’s shirt to kiss him on the neck, and Lys smiled at the gentle affection and the tingly sensation it brought.

                              “I can’t stay angry at you. Fine, you’re forgiven. Sorry for slapping you.” Lys kissed Elliott on the cheek and hugged him warmly. “Though I feel like we’re forgetting something- Ah! The community center!” He looked at the clock and groaned. “Damn, we need to get going or we’re going to be late!” Elliott closed his laptop and picked up his satchel as Lys retrieved Resonance and took the steps to the beach in one leap. Closing the door behind himself, Elliott dashed out to catch up to Lys, who, on impulse, reached out and took his hand.

                              Chatting idly, the rest of the group waited in front of the community center, sitting on the grass and enjoying the early-summer sun. Sebastian was reclining in the shade and saw their arrival first, noticed something, and flashed them a small smile.

                              “Took you two long enough.”

                              “Sorry, it’s a bit of a long walk,” Lys apologized.

                              “No,” Abby giggled, having realized the same thing, “it took you two long enough.” She hooked her pinkies around each other and smirked at them. At the same time Elliott and Lys noticed that they were still holding hands. Sam put on his face-bisecting grin as he thought of something.

                              “Maybe they’re late because…” He made a rather naughty gesture to express his idea of what they had been doing, which elicited an angry growl from Lys.

                              “Damn, bro, you get feral when you’re mad,” Alex remarked as Lys snarled at Sam-

                              -and relaxed at a soft touch on his shoulder. Glancing over, he saw Elliott smile and shake his head. Shooting Sam a look of irritation, he sighed and nodded, and squeezed Elliott’s hand in a silent reply.

                              “I said you two were cute before, but you’re adorable now,” giggled Haley, brushing herself off as she got to her feet. Lys fished the keys out of his pocket and unlocked the community center.

                              “I should probably make a spare set of keys in case.”

                              “Why?” Sam asked, not at all bothered by Lys’s earlier ire, “it’s just the one time you were a bit behind, and really, we were all kinda early. No worries.” He brushed past to enter and turn on the lights and was followed by Alex and Haley. As Sebastian was about to enter as well, Lys tapped him on the shoulder.

                              “You’ve got a bit of chalk dust on you.”

                              “Crap, I thought I got it all off-” Sebastian paused and Abigail blushed, and both of them gave Lys matching, unamused looks as Sebastian punched him in the arm.

                              “Ass.” Grinning as well, Lys waited for them to walk inside as he returned the keys to his pocket. As Elliott walked in after the others, it was his turn to reach out for Lys’s hand.

                              Maybe I can learn to forgive myself. Except for that... But they don’t have to know, not yet. Not until I’m strong enough to confront it. But for now, I won’t trade this feeling for anything else.
                                Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
                              • Gabaw

                                Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

                                haha I was wondering when you'd finally get to it! tbh I feared this moment tho... happy to say that there were only a few convulsions and just slight foaming at the mouth due to my severe intolerance for romance :rofl: It was a touching and strong emotional scene so fans of interpersonal intimacy will surely be pleased. also "Burned" 10/10 :confirm:
                                  Alkanthe and Risukage like this.
                                • Risukage

                                  Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                  Heh, you're not the only one who was apprehensive about this chapter. I don't really like "romance," and I can't stand rom-coms or chick flicks. Excessive schmlatz or displays of affection are just...weird. But a strong emotional and mental connection created from mutual trust and respect? That sort of thing I like a lot. Appeal to my logic and give me concrete reasons to feel, and then I will. As such, it took a LOT of re-writing to get this to work right, because why are they getting together, and does it make sense?

                                  Further, we as readers and players of the game already have knowledge of the potential plot, but the characters don't, so trying to convey the worry that not only will his interest not be reciprocated but he'll lose a friend in the process was tricky. It might have worked better if I had done more "on-camera" time of them working together, but still, it seems to have been enough. Don't worry, though, while they're cute together in public they are not given to being overly affectionate around others. Besides, if I save moments like that and use them sparingly then they have that much more impact.

                                  And "Burned" will never not be funny. I need to practice drawing so bad, because you have no idea how much I want to make that happen. :p The sun shines down on the mountain top, not a shadow on the ground. A desolate landscape, and the wind the only sound. The scorching rays of summer sweep across the sky. I feel it deep within, an inferno inside...
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                                  • Gabaw

                                    Gabaw Spaceman Spiff

                                    I didn't mean to diminish the chapter in any way if it came across like that but it looks like we're on the same page here. Schmooze flix, am I right :rofl: As far as the drawing thing, I don't think you need any more encouragement but before I started putting my garbage up, it was basically stick figures :p Trying to bring the most ridiculous s**t to life in a way that was halfway decent really spurs on the desire to create and improve. You got a bunch of good stuff to work with and I'd love to see your vision of it on some sort of canvas :up:
                                      Risukage likes this.
                                    • Wildroses

                                      Wildroses Void-Bound Voyager

                                      I was also kind of relieved they managed to get together in one chapter. Romantic angst is fine in it's place, but when it's being used to delay the protagonists getting together for several chapters or the entire book I get annoyed. I just don't see why two people who are obviously into each other can't just talk like sensible adults and stop being so silly. So I'm glad you chose not to go down that route and instead they talked like sensible adults.

                                      However, if you aren't planning conflict and drama around Lys and Elliott getting together I'm assuming you must be planning new problems down the line, as I do not at all get a vibe that you plan to finish this story anytime soon and no story can survive without conflict. Is Elliott's wealthy family going to resurface and be annoyed he picked an unrefined impulsive commoner? That's probably what I'd do if I was writing this. Or are some utterly spectacular fights in the happy couples future?
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                                      • Risukage

                                        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                        //@Gabaw no worries, mate, I admit I did have a moment of, "hey, now!", but only for a moment. I know what you mean. Also, Thursday was my last day of work, so if I have time and energy after I do housekeeping in the morning I'm gonna finish and scan that pic. It's funny: my handwriting is illegible marks, and I type as fast as I think, but apparently pencils are my artistic medium. I really need to have a good look at my character sheet someday and see if I can figure out why I put my skill points where I did. :p

                                        @Wildroses, I'm also of the opinion that a little angst/tension to build up to a relationship is fine, since it makes it that much sweeter when they do get together. But I can't stand it when authors throw in conflict later on just for the sake of drama. Yes, at some point a couple will argue and have a disagreement, because that's part of life and living with another person. The important thing is what you do afterward, and Lys and Elliott aren't the types to play games and hold grudges or have a tiff over something trivial; they'll take a few minutes apart to calm down and think, and then sit down and talk about it. However, that's not to say that the rest of the story is just fluff and fun, as Lys still has some dark spots in his history that haunt him and that he hasn't resolved yet or told anybody about. It also raises the question of what would happen if the usually-stoic and patient Elliott were to get proper angry, and what it is that would draw his ire. Hmm...

                                        Further, once more, thanks to everyone who is still reading and has made a significant time investment in my little project. It started out as just a silly seed of an idea, but the more I thought about it, the bigger it got. I didn't expect it to really go anywhere, but after sitting down and laying down a few chapters in a document file I found that I had a story that I wanted to tell, and so I posted it because why the hell not. It may not be epic or grand, but it's fun and warm, and it's about "us"; that strength one gains when looking out for someone else because you found something that you want to protect and help it become something greater, and in return you achieve something yourself. ...And it's also about learning to forgive one's self for what they've done in the past...//

                                        “Let’s take a quick break. This is sounding really good but I need a few minutes to rest,” Lys said, flexing his tired hands.

                                        “Then it looks like my timing is impeccable,” said someone at the door.

                                        “Oh, Lewis, how goes it? Yeah, we could use a few minutes of down time. What’s in the box?” inquired Lys, seeing a small box tucked under the mayor’s arm.

                                        “I thought that I would just drop by and drop off the pictures I said that I’d show you. I’d have done so sooner, but I wanted the chance to go through them by myself first. I haven’t relived those memories in many years.” The rest of the group was likewise interested in the photographic collection, particularly Haley. Lewis sat down at a large table and set aside the lid, pulling out a few pictures at random, apparently looking for something in particular. Lys noticed that a few were newer than the others and reached for them.

                                        “That’s odd, I would have thought that-” He stopped short as he saw one in particular, dropping them onto the table and backing away with a gasp, his hands over his mouth and eyes wide.

                                        “Dude, what, did he slip a spider pic in there?” Sam laughed, retrieving the photo to which Lys had reacted, “Is that… Hey, you’re playing, what was it, Harmony for your grandpa, yeah? Poor guy must have been sick if he was in bed like that, that was nice of you-” He cut off abruptly as he realized what the context was. “Oh… Damn, I’m sorry.” Eyes tightly shut and tense as piano wire, Lys held his breath as he tried not to break down. He felt Elliott put his arm around his waist in a soft, supportive hug, and calmed slightly.

                                        I’m stronger now. It’s okay… I just… I never expected to see that moment again.

                                        “I was trying to find that before you did,” Lewis said, taking the picture from Sam and sighing deeply, “your parents sent this and a few others to me after Lex passed. It’s strange but satisfying to have a record of my friend’s entire life and legacy. I’m glad to see one of us found true happiness.”

                                        “Your grandpa’s name was Lex?” asked Alex, looking curious.

                                        “Short for ‘Alexander.’ Apparently we’re big on giving large names and then using extremely short nicknames. I’d have mentioned it sooner but I didn’t want it to be awkward.”

                                        “Nah, it’s cool, it’s just a funny coincidence.”

                                        “Not really,” Lewis mused, looking through other photos, “Clara did say that she named you after her favorite uncle.”

                                        There was a very loud silence. Lys raised his hand.

                                        “I have so many questions right now.”

                                        “Let’s see, Alex, you’re Clara’s boy, and she was Evelyn’s daughter. And Lysander, your mother is Lynn, and her father was Emmett, Evelyn’s brother.” There was another loud silence.

                                        “Half a moment, Alex and I are cousins?”

                                        “I forget the exact term of whatever-removed and second-whatsits, but yes, you two are cousins of some sort.”

                                        “Wait, if I’m related through mom then how was grandpa her ‘favorite uncle?’ He was from my dad’s side.”

                                        “He was always an uncle of sorts to everyone their age when your parents were growing up, and when Lynn and Art- short for Arthur, since I know that someone will ask- got married he ended up being related that way. Clara was quite fond of him, and he enjoyed taking care of Art’s friends and watching after them. A large number of people in town spent their childhoods playing on his farm. Though Art and Clara’s husband didn’t get along at all. The first time they met they got into a rather nasty fistfight and Art put him on the ground.” Lewis was interrupted by Lys breaking into peals of laughter, and Alex simply looked poleaxed.

                                        “It is interesting what gets passed down the generations,” Elliott observed, providing a solid figure for Lys to hold onto as he sagged and gasped for breath. At Lewis’s perplexed look, Alex shrugged sheepishly.

                                        “Uh, long story short, when we first met, we also kinda got into a fight, and he also knocked me over. But it’s cool! We fixed things, it’s all good.”

                                        “Can’t breathe… Oh, by the light… It hurts…” Lys giggled, now having slumped completely to the floor, his energy sapped from laughing until he got a stitch in his side. Shuffling through more photos, Lewis finally found what he was looking for and set it out for everyone to see. Three young people, one quite obviously Lys’s father, and two girls were looking at a jar of fireflies.

                                        “I assume that the blonde is Lynn and the brunette is Clara,” Abigail offered, looking at the picture quizzically.

                                        “That is correct.”

                                        “Wow,” remarked Haley, “the guys in your family all look really similar. And that’s definitely Alex’s mom, you can see it in the eyes. Your mother was cute, though, Lys, she looks like some of my younger pictures. Hmm? What is that look about?” Having recovered himself enough to sit up, Lys scratched his head and shrugged.

                                        “Umm… I never wanted to say anything about that, either, but you do look similar to my mom.” Lys poked through his phone’s gallery and found a recent photo of both of his parents, which he set down next to the old picture.

                                        “I usually would take offense at being told that I look like someone’s mother, but in this case, I hope I age as well as she does.” Lys noticed that Alex was now rather quiet and thoughtful, and grinned as he thought of something to cheer him up.

                                        “You know, I just remembered that I was hitting on you once. I feel like I should be playing banjo instead of guitar.” This had the desired effect, and Alex laughed brightly after a moment of surprise.

                                        “You are weird, bro. No, wait, I guess I should call you ‘cuz’ from now on, hunh?”

                                        “You know, I think I’d like that.”

                                        As they had practiced for several hours they enjoyed a little time to sit down and look at and discuss the many pictures that Lewis had brought. This break ran for a couple of hours on its own, and as it began to get dark out they decided to call it a night. Alex had seemed to be a bit down for a little while, but Lys didn’t want to ask anything around everyone else, and Alex left before he could get the opportunity to talk alone. Lewis put away the photos as everyone else filed out and Lys and Elliott shut off the lights.

                                        “Thanks again, Lewis, that was interesting. I’ll bring some tea by your place later this week, I want to see the rest of those and read his letters.”

                                        “That sounds like a plan. Have a good evening.” Elliott waited outside as Lys locked up, leaning on the wall of the community center and enjoying the warm, early-summer breeze.

                                        “So it appears that we are an ‘us’ now. Are you comfortable with that?” Lys put away the keys and hugged him around the waist.

                                        “Of course I am. The reason I wasn’t chasing a relationship previously is because I didn’t want to risk any of the friendships I had here, and even if I was, I still had a few issues to work out. I still do, but, well, you already addressed one of the big ones. I’ve been interested for a while now, but I didn’t think that you were, or would want to be with someone so easy and such a constant flirt. I didn’t think that someone like you could trust someone like me.”

                                        “Then perhaps you can give me credit for looking past that and seeing all of your other qualities. You’re not as ‘easy’ as you claim to be, and your penchant for flirting is just you expressing your love for others. I admit to being selfish in wanting to keep some of that love just for myself, something that noone else has.”

                                        “I’ll give you anything you ask. ...Within reason,” he amended with a chuckle.

                                        “Then I must consider my requests carefully. But for now, my only desire is to feel your touch again.”

                                        “I wonder what flavor of lip gloss you prefer,” Lys wondered out loud, remembering and being amused by his conversation with Sebastian the previous day, and immediately felt extremely silly when he realized that what he thought was inner monologue was actually external exposition.

                                        “Um, that’s… Sorry, long story.”

                                        “I do not know what the context for this is, but I am quite partial to strawberries, although you are a bit more ginger. Regardless, the taste I want right now is that of you.”

                                        Damn, he is smooth. And I’m the one with the experience, but it’s his kisses that are warm and gentle. It’s just not fair, but then, they all belong to me. I think I can put aside my ego for a bit of selfishness.

                                        After a lengthy and warm silence, Lys pulled back with a sigh of resignation.

                                        “As much as I love doing this with you, it’s always going to be a bit melancholy, because at some point I will have to let go of you for a while.”

                                        “Then you can simply look forward to our next encounter.”

                                        “I suppose I’ll have to. In the meantime, I did want to go track down Alex. Something is bothering him and I want to see if I can do something about it.”

                                        “He did leave as quickly as he could without being rude. I will leave you to your task.”

                                        “See you tomorrow, I’ll be by again same time as always.”

                                        “I look forward to our next encounter.” They shared a laugh and went in separate directions; Elliott to his home, and Lys to Alex’s. He knocked on the door and was greeted by an elderly lady with a cheerful face and white hair tied neatly into a bun. Before he could introduce himself her eyes went wide with surprise.

                                        “Well, I’ll be, Art, I haven’t seen you in years! You haven’t aged a bit, although you’ve done something very different with your hair. No, I’m wrong, you aren’t Arthur,” she corrected herself, examining Lys more carefully.

                                        “Arthur is my dad. I’m Lysander. Nice to meet you, Evelyn, is it?” Her cheerful smile became an open-mouthed “O” of happy understanding.

                                        “Well, I’ll be, and as I recall he married that lovely girl, Lynn. Yes, you’re her boy, you have her smile. What a lovely surprise, dear, it is so good to meet you.” She gave him a welcoming, grandmotherly hug, patting him on the head. “What can I do for you? Alex isn’t here or I’d introduce him to you.”

                                        “Actually, I’m here to talk to him. We’ve been hanging out for a few months now, but we just now realized what we’ve got in common. He isn’t back yet?”

                                        “He did come home but got something from his room and went back out. He didn’t say where he was going, though, didn’t say anything at all.”

                                        “Darn. I’ll have to message him and hope he answers. Sorry if I’m rude, but I really do need to track him down, I’m a bit worried.”

                                        “That’s quite alright, dear, if it concerns Alex you go on and do what you need to. But do drop by again some time, I’d love to hear how my niece is doing, as well as what’s going on with Art. We lost contact with your family when Lex moved away from town and I would be delighted to catch up.”

                                        “I definitely will, thanks. Oh, excuse me,” he apologized as his phone rang, “I need to get to this. Thanks again!” Pulling out his phone, he saw that the call was from Elliott. “Hey, couldn’t wait to hear the sound of my voice again?” he joked at the call from out of the blue.

                                        “As much as I’d like for that to be the reason for reaching out to you right now, I actually have information that is useful to you.”

                                        “Oh, how so?”

                                        “Alex is out at the pier. I’ve not talked to him, but he does not appear likely to wander off any time soon.”

                                        “I’m at his house right now, and yeah, his grandma didn’t know where he had gone, so you just saved me some time. Thanks, love.”

                                        “Already using terms of endearment? Perhaps I need to find something suitable in return,” Elliott replied with good humor.

                                        “Heh, well, I’m interested in seeing what you choose. I’m on my way over now, thanks again.”

                                        “Good night, let me know if you require anything.”

                                        Lys jogged down to the beach in good time, even with the awkward weight and balance of Resonance on his back. As Elliott had reported, Alex was still sitting on the pier, watching the waves roll in and out. Lys walked up, hearing the gentle tinkle of a music box over the white noise of the ocean. Alex acknowledged his presence but didn’t say anything, and Lys sat down next to him, unslinging Resonance and taking a deep breath of the fresh, salt-edged breeze.

                                        “So, cousin, what’s on your mind?”
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                                        • Risukage

                                          Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                          //A happy Fourth of July to you other denizens of the United States! Be safe with your activities tonight and have fun celebrating with explosions, because we all know that that really is the best way to do it. For the rest of you, hope your Monday morning is going well. :)

                                          Today I continue to deviate from the game and give the protagonist a bit more connection to Pelican Town, as it seems, well, natural for him to have more roots in this place. Not a LOT, but enough to hint that he's got a bit of history here besides "grandpa had a farm, here you go, have a nice day." It also gives more meaning and motivation to his actions; he's got more at stake and something to invest in besides the musical group. Further, it amuses the hell out of me and kinda makes sense to have a bit of a link to Alex, because their families and upbringings are SO different, and yet that gives them a common ground. Like it? Hate it? Let me know, I'm genuinely curious.

                                          Though I can feel myself starting to hit the downward slope of personal criticism, because I keep looking at this and thinking, "this is just bloody well silly, why am I doing this again?" Well, maybe I just need to do something silly, and at the least, it's not a bad story. It's no Lord of the Rings, but then, it's better than Twilight, so I can at least feel good about that. If the quality slips in the next few chapters, that's why, and I apologize in advance! But damn, I keep re-reading this and thinking that it feels somehow so contrived and is little more than a wish-fulfillment fantasy rather than a light novel based on a game series. Lys is cute and kinda fun, but he still doesn't feel "real" to me yet, he's just a "character," and I'm not even sure if he's a good one. Feels almost like a "caricature." *Scratches head, shrugs.* But again, we tend to be our own worst critics, and it's almost a personal failing that I'm convinced if I can't make it amazing then it's crap. Perhaps I should be nicer to myself. :p Don't get me wrong! I'm not fishing for sympathy!! But if the tone or quality of the story shifts soon, well, that's why, and I wonder if maybe voicing some of the concerns in my head is something that others can resonate with and let them know that they're not alone. I'm just the only voice out here shouting about it. Right or wrong? Damn if I know, but at least it's honest.

                                          (Though for what it's worth, this chapter was somewhat difficult to write correctly because I've been there, and trying to put it in words was, well... It was hard to not make it depressing or melodramatic, or go the other way and be flippant. I think I got it, though. I know your feels, Alex, those feels...)//

                                          Alex fiddled with the music box, looking for his thoughts.

                                          “It’s been...twelve years since mom passed.”

                                          “I see… So those pictures and stories today hit a bit of a sore spot, then. Sorry.”

                                          “You didn’t do anything wrong. And it’s not a sore spot, just a sad one that still hurts. I’m happy that you still have your parents and love them, and I guess I’m kinda jealous, but today just really rammed home the fact that I’m mostly alone. I mean, I’ve got grandma and grandpa, and they mean well, but I can’t really, well, relate to them, and I don’t have the kind of bond that you and your grandpa had. All I have are memories and this music box.”

                                          “And a promise, one that you’ve kept so far. I don’t know if it’s any comfort, but you’ve got me now, as a friend and now as family. You’re not completely alone.” Alex smiled a little and wound the music box again, holding it on his palm as the tiny drum turned and played its song.

                                          “Mom said that she got this from her favorite uncle. I guess that was Lex. She played it for me when I went to sleep at night when I was growing up. So it looks like I’m one of many in this town that owes something to him.” He became quiet again and Lys waited for him to continue. “Like your grandpa, I at least got the chance to say goodbye, but… I didn’t know what to say. I just… I just sat there and held her hand. I was so scared to say the wrong thing, but at the same time I was scared that I didn’t have enough time to tell her everything. How do you compress a lifetime into just a few words?”

                                          “Did you tell her that you love her?”

                                          “Yeah, I did.”

                                          “Then she knew.”

                                          “How do you know?” With a short, sad smile, Lys pulled his knees to his chest and rested his arms on them as he stared out over the ocean.

                                          “Because when grandpa passed I was in the same situation. All I could do was play his song for him one last time, and I couldn’t find the words when it was done to say everything I wanted. But he just smiled and said, ‘thank you,’ and I realized that he already knew. I’m sure that she did, too.”


                                          “You were there for her. No matter what happened with school or your life, or everything with your dad, you were always there. And in her last moments you were able to provide comfort and support. You’ve always tried your best, haven’t you? You wanted to make her happy and give something back for everything that she had given you. You tried hard at everything and she was proud of you for it all, right?” Alex sniffed a little and scrubbed at his eyes with the back of a hand.


                                          “Then she knew.”

                                          “It still hurts.” Lys put a hand on Alex’s shoulder.

                                          “Dying is easy. It’s living that’s hard. And it will hurt for a long time, but as strange as it is, that’s a good thing.”

                                          “How the hell is this feeling a good thing?” Alex asked, incredulous at Lys’s statement.

                                          “Because it still means that you care. That even after all of these years she still means something to you. Remember today and the first time I played grandpa’s song for you all? You saw how much it hurt. And as much as it hurts I worry about the day that it doesn’t, because it means that I don’t care anymore or I’ve forgotten.” The music box had stopped again, and Alex turned it carefully in his hands. Lys smiled at how delicate Alex was in handling the tiny object, despite his size and strength.

                                          “...Thanks, I…” He trailed off and wiped his eyes again as Lys pulled out Resonance, humming the tune from the music box. Like Abigail’s song, he plucked at the strings brightly, mimicking the sound of Alex’s device, and after playing it once he transitioned into a gently strummed waltz, transforming from a sad song of memory to a tune of nostalgia and hope. He stopped when he heard Alex sniff again, putting down the guitar and reaching out to him.

                                          “It’s okay, it’s just us here. I understand.” He gasped as Alex gripped him tightly around the chest, sobbing quietly. Once he got his breath back, Lys tried to provide a supportive hug, which was difficult as Alex was somewhat larger than he was. “Don’t dwell on it, but don’t hide it away. Take the time now and then to just think, feel, and remember. You’re stronger than you think, and you’re on the right path. Just keep doing what you are now and you’ll get there. I’ll be there to help, I promise.” He hummed the music box’s melody, a warm and resonating sound in his tenor range. After a couple of minutes Alex sat down and sighed, sniffing again but smiling.

                                          “Thanks. I really needed that, all of it. You’re… You’re a pretty cool guy. I’m glad we met. But… You won’t tell anyone what happened here, will you?”

                                          “Don’t worry, I don’t think that anyone else noticed you were a little out of it, and in any case, it’s none of their business. This is family stuff. Think you’ll be okay now?”

                                          “Yeah, I’m good. I’m feeling better about everything.”

                                          “If you ever need to talk again, about anything, I’m here. Not sure if you ever want to, but if you ever need to vent about your dad and stuff, I’ll do what I can to listen and be impartial.”

                                          “I… Yeah, I might need to. Dunno when, but I probably will.” He brightened a little at another thought. “Same for you, if you ever need to talk, I dunno if I’ll be as much help, but I’ll do what I can. Not sure if I can do anything if you and your boyfriend get in a fight, though, I’m not good with relationship advice.” Lys blinked a few times as he processed Alex’s commentary and chuckled.

                                          “Yeah, I guess he is my boyfriend, isn’t he? I kinda forgot what that’s like. It’s a nice feeling.”

                                          “Well, he better treat you right or he’ll answer to me.”

                                          “Already protective of your cousin? Heh, I’ll take that, I don’t think I’ve ever had someone else look out for me before.” Taking a deep breath of the fresh, now-cool evening breeze off of the ocean, Alex stood up and tucked the music box into a pocket after putting it into a box to protect it. Lys returned Resonance back to its case and accepted a hand from Alex to get back on his feet. He shot a quick glance in the direction of Elliott’s cabin, and felt a strange duality of disappointment that the lights were out, but happiness that he trusted him to take care of the situation on his own.

                                          “I’ll be heading home, then. See you in the morning like always.”

                                          “Sure thing.”

                                          Much later, Lys strolled down the path to his home, the air finally beginning to cool from the day’s heat and the farm softly illuminated by the moon. The only sound was gravel and soil crunching under his boots, leaving him to his thoughts.

                                          I did it. I can’t believe it. I woke up terrified, worried that I’d ruin everything and lose one of my closest friends. But it worked out better than I’d ever have hoped. He stopped to look up at the sky, into the deep velvet blackness speckled with the gemlike glitter of distant stars.

                                          He feels the same way, and for the first time in so long it doesn’t hurt inside. This ache, this emptiness, it’s finally fading. We’ve only known each other how long now? But in that time, working together like we have, I know him better than many people I’ve known for years. His smile, his laugh, those eyes the color of a summer sky… I drown in it all and I’m happy to do so. His wit and charm never fail to make me feel welcome and appreciated, and his touch… I’ll do anything for it, that gentle warmth and sincerity.
                                          His thoughts picked up a thread of doubt and wove it into the tapestry of his inner monologue. Subconsciously, he rubbed at the inside of a wrist, dragging a thumbnail back and forth.

                                          Do I deserve it, though? After what happened back then… Am I allowed to be happy now? Worse, will this just be a temporary happiness, because I’m going to go and screw things up again? I’m trying to be positive, to look ahead and make a change, but the problem has always been me, and I don’t know how to fix it. I’m trying, so hard, but I’m also so scared that I’ll break it all. I’m not strong enough. For his sake, I need to be more than I am now. And I now have family here, too. Alex, how strange that we of all people would have that in common. I’ll need his help, he’s the only one strong enough to take me down if something goes wrong. I hate to ask it of him, but it’s for the best…

                                          A loud yowl of greeting from the front porch shook Lys from his reverie, as Xander stretched and demanded petting. He strode over and picked up the cat, scratching him between the shoulders and receiving a loud, rumbling purr for his efforts. With a bit of difficulty, Lys opened the door and then kicked it shut behind himself, dropping Xander on the bed and leaning Resonance against the wall. He took off his accessories and folded his sunglasses carefully, placing everything atop the dresser before pulling his shirt over his head. A thought occurred to him, and he allowed it to drift in a naughty direction before laughing at himself and throwing the shirt into the laundry basket.

                                          One of these days. Eventually. But for now, I can wait.
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