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James Hiwatari

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897 I Make This Look Easy

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About James Hiwatari

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    Cool Member

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Sexuality
    Bisexual, leaning male
  • Favorite Genres
    Fantasy
  • Location
    Glasgow, UK
  • Interests
    I write stories, draw my characters, and compose/perform music for them. I like languages. And messing with people's expectations makes my day, particularly when it comes to gender-related stuff.

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  1. James Hiwatari

    Scene 64

    28th January 1995 Dear Diary and Dear Lydia and Dear Beloved Mother Deity and Dear Everyone Who Made this Miracle Happen I just read everything you wrote to me. Kris confirmed it is true about the spell, the mind control. I didn’t even notice! (Though if I had noticed the spell wouldn’t have worked, right?) I hope you can read what I’m writing to you in the same way I could read what you wrote me. And I hope you’ll look at the diary again before tomorrow, so you can see it sooner! It’s Saturday today, right? We don’t have much time before Lóránt loses everything (and we lose them). The diary appeared as soon as Kris managed to break Zhofie’s spell on me. He doesn’t think it’s a coincidence. According to him, this diary is even more special than I thought. It’s got some magic in it that should make it able to show itself to me wherever I am, while its physical body remains where you left it. Apparently this diary was made by demons too, though I would never have guessed. It looks so normal, so… old? All those yellowed pages, falling apart at the cover… Though now that I think about it, I had never noticed its existence until I bumped into it when I was running away, so maybe it had been waiting for a specific moment to show itself to me? Creepy… Anyway, we can talk about the magic properties of my diary once we’re out of this place. Kris has tried to escape once already, but Zhofie is too strong for two powerless people to take on. We’re going to need your help (and Lóránt’s). The next handwriting you see will be Kris’s. He’ll write what he knows about the place Zhofie is keeping us in (and I won’t be able to read it because he’s definitely not doing it in Fadalesh…). Zhofie is using magic to disguise this place as a house in the suburb of Shinban. As this is the demon neighbourhood, it’s likely not the only place under such disguise. But we are next to a river that stinks more than dead bodies and she has got guard dogs at the front gate. Three of them at least. They are not normal dogs. They are the breed that my family specialised in optimising for dismembering spectacles: the Black-Fanged Howlwulf. You can recognise them for their silver fur marked with black dots (like a reverse night sky), the fact they are as tall as an adult demon while on all fours (and about the size of a two-storey building standing on their back legs), and by the black fangs that give them their name. They have eight of those in total, four in the upper jaw and four on the lower jaw. The fangs suck all light around them, so they are the blackest black in the world. And each of those fangs is at least as big as an arm, potruding out from the howlwulf’s jaws. They can perfurate anything and will cut you in half in an instant. The fact that Zhofie has those howlwulfs means she is working with my family. I don’t know why they want Nessa. But Zhofie is keeping me here so that she can deliver me back to them. I know I will not be able to escape them a second time. Walking into a howlwulf’s den will be a more pleasant death than whatever they will do to me. You must already know how powerful Zhofie is. She will sneak spells on you before you realise she is in the battlefield. She uses the kind of dishounorable tactics my family revels in. She is only keeping us alive because my parents have offered her a hefty reaward, but if you corner her, she won’t be above using us as shields. On the other hand, her mind control spell was easy to break, even without my former powers. Either Nessa has a strong will, or she forgot to strengthen her hold on Nessa’s mind. This might be a weakness you could exploit. I have no further advice at the moment. We await your answer and expect some kind of escape plan we can be ready for.
  2. James Hiwatari

    60 - Dinner Negotiations

    Don't worry, Nessa's chapter will come along a bit later today, once I'm finished with my paid work. *says the one answering the comment while technically on the work clock - bad, bad Jamie!* And it's very, very bad that you think angry Gunni is hot. Haven't you heard a thing Siggi has been saying since the beginning of the story? Gunni is a little precious kid who is as innocent as a cherub and as naive as a little white flower in the meadow. Well, this is the beginning of Gunni's road towards growing up, so it's only as bad as you think it is to have the hots for a 17 year-old kid who's only about halfway into adulthood.
  3. James Hiwatari

    60 - Dinner Negotiations

    “Is everything OK, Siggi? You made such a fuss about not want to waste time stripping, but now that I got your dick in my mouth, you don’t seem that much into it.” “It’s nothing. Keep sucking.” “Fine. I’ll make sure you can’t think of anything else, then.” ‘I thought you would be sensible enough to throw your feelings for me aside when I asked for help with your best friend.’ “Leave me alone, kid.” “Did you say something? I thought I heard you mumbling. Do you want me to do something else?” “No, don’t stop. You’re fucking me today no matter what. I’ve waited too fucking long for this.” “You sound grumpy. Is something worrying you?” “I didn’t say you could stop sucking!” Dmitri got up anyway. “Do you want to tell me what is troubling you? I don’t want our first fuck back together to be spoiled by something I have no control over.” “The only thing troubling me is how far your mouth is from my cock!” ‘I thought that no matter how much you hated me, your feelings for Dmitri were stronger.’ “You know what? Forget the blowjob. Destroy my arsehole instead.” My body laid face-down in the mattress, trousers down to my knees and arse up in the air, ready to be broken into by a wild animal. Instead, Dmitri found a lube sachet. He wasted our time putting on a condom and dumping the whole sachet on his cock before finally thrusting it all in at once. My cries were muffled by the bedsheets, but my attempts to impale myself on his cock should have made clear what I wanted. Dmitri was so out of practice he took too long to put all his body weight on top of me and pound my arse deep enough for his cock to come out the other end. ‘You’re childish, vindictive, and immature.’ Dmitri dug his teeth on my neck to keep his voice at a socially acceptable level. His mad thrusting stopped too soon and his body relaxed on top of me. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t hold it in.” Bites turned to gentle kisses. His body rolled away, leaving mine exposed to the cold of his absence. A lazy hand played with my hair. “We should finish you off too.” ‘The one who needs to grow up is you.’ Shut up. “You’re half asleep already, you’re useless now. I’ll take care of it.” Dmitri smiled and closed his eyes. He fell asleep without noticing I did not bother trying. *** Arnar did not look up when I walked into the living room. His head was buried in a thick book on his lap and the music player blasted a horrible quality recording of a lively violin and cello duet. He only acknowledged my presence when I loomed over his shoulders to see what was so interesting about that book as to make him ignore his surroundings. “Hi, Siggi. I didn’t see you coming. How was rehearsal?” “The usual. What are you looking at?” The book turned out to be an old photo album. A younger Arnar and a vaguely familiar kid with freckles all over his face and an annoyingly bright smile posed together on every picture of the page. The kid clung to Arnar’s waist in all of them. “My counselling session today was about regrets. We talked about things I should’ve done more often that I can no longer do, and playing this song is one of them.” “I don’t recognise it.” “You wouldn’t. I wrote it over twenty years ago with a great cellist friend of mine when I was still at university.” “It’s not bad.” The lively duet turned into an emotional cello melody with accompanying cries from the violin. “Is it the two of you playing?” “Yes. We recorded it in a practice room. Not the best recording I’ve done, but it’s the only one I have left.” His hand brushed the untameable mess that was the kid’s hair in the picture. “The last time I played this was seventeen years ago, when I learned of his death. I played to mourn him, and then I forced myself to forget about it so I wouldn’t have to think about how much I missed him. Now, even if want to remember, I’ll never be able to.” The violin repeated the cello melody, embellishing the notes as the cello played a descending base line of increasing darkness. “That’s the cello guy? He’s just a kid!” Arnar chuckled. “Those photos are from a university recital. He was two years older than me.” “I don’t believe you.” That was too much of a baby face to be in his twenties. He had no beard to speak of, and his eyes screamed childish innocence in a way only a certain kid had been able to pull off so far. “Hrafnkell always looked much younger than he was. He had a late puberty and he couldn’t grow a beard no matter what. We bonded over that.” Arnar scratched his chin, showing off the scruffy beard his twenty-year-old self lacked. “You didn’t need a beard to look your age. This guy could sit in a primary school class and nobody would notice.” Arnar stared at the photos like his eyes were permanently glued to them. His hand brushed the cellist’s face. “I didn’t pull out these old albums just because of the song.” Arnar finally lifted his head from the album, only to show wet eyes and a tear running down his cheek. “You’re the first person I’m telling this other than the counsellor. What I’m about to say is something I spent over twenty years completely oblivious too, and now, no matter how much I want to do something about it, there isn’t anything I can do.” Silence. Long, uncomfortable silence. Arnar should know better than to expect me to know what to do. “Are you going to say anything?” “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable, but… I thought you would like to know that I… I realise now that my feelings for Hrafnkell ran deeper than just friendship. He’s the only guy I’ve ever had a crush on, and maybe more…” “You’re telling me you think you’re not straight?” “Maybe. I haven’t thought too much about it. I’m still processing the fact that I’ve been in love with my best friend from university for all this time without noticing.” “So I’m not the only one who sucks at feelings, then?” Arnar laughed. “I guess not. And I’m even worse than you, because I was supposed to have no problems understanding my feelings. Come commiserate our collective obliviousness!” Arnar motioned for me to sit next to him. His arm came over my shoulder the moment I sat on the couch. “Am I supposed to do or say something now?” “Not if you don’t want to. Some people like to thank others for trusting them with their feelings, or try to offer words of comfort, but you don’t need to do anything. I’m happy to just have you around.” “Good, I guess.” Arnar’s hand squeezed me. “Sometimes being a physical presence is all we need. You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.” “About that…” ‘I still think of you mostly as that guy who can play so well it makes my heart melt, who can be as gentle or as daring as the music demands.’ “Gunnar said something similar.” “Did he?” Arnar failed to hide his smile. “Yes, and some other stuff too.” “Other stuff that made you angry or confused?” “Does it have to be one of the two?” Arnar put the album aside. He turned his body to me, locking his eyes on mine in a way even I could tell he saw nothing but me, and my problems became more important than anything else going on in his life. “Do you want to tell me what Gunni said to you?” The words had been floating in my head for days. Haunting my every waking moment. They were at the tip of my tongue, yet buried deep inside my throat. But Arnar waited like we had all the time in the world to coax them out of my uncooperative body. And he listened as I struggled to force a single sentence out. And another. And another. It never got easier. He never gave up. “Gunni calling you childish and immature must have gotten to you. You always say that about him, so it can’t have been nice to see the tables turned.” “Do you think he’s right?” Arnar smiled. His hand gripped my shoulder with the same intensity as his gaze. “I think I can see where Gunni is coming from. I know you’ve been trying to hurt him on purpose, and this is something I don’t approve of. Your behaviour is not that of a well-adjusted adult.” “I’m not a well-adjusted adult.” “No, but you’re working on it. You’re a few years behind everyone else in your emotional development, and it shows in situations like this. I think Gunni is right, but that doesn’t make you a bad person. He’s also right about the good things he said about you.” Arnar smiled. “Actually, I’m surprised by his patience, and how much he can grasp about who you really are.” “He doesn’t know me!” “He doesn’t need to know you to have enough emotional maturity to understand you’re going through a hard time and that it affects your behaviour. This doesn’t make your actions more acceptable or justified, but I’m sure most people would have lost their patience with you a long time ago. I’m surprised Gunni took this long to say anything, or that it took Dmitri being involved for him to snap.” “Is that your way of saying he’s a perfect little angel?” “That’s my way of saying he’s more capable than his age and looks suggest. He seems to think of you in a similar way I did when we first met, and I’m sure he has the same wish to see you blossom beyond your angry façade.” “So you trust him? You trust him with me, with your orchestra, and everything else?” “I’ve always trusted him with the orchestra. If our colleagues decided he would be a good fit for the job, they couldn’t all be wrong.” “And the rest…?” “The rest is up to you. You’re the one who has to trust Gunni to help you. I can go on all I want about how he’s doing a great job so far, but if you refuse to open up to him or let him show you what he’s really capable of, nothing will come of it.” The kid could not be all that. He was just a kid. But Arnar was never wrong. He would not sing such high praises for someone who did not deserve it. “Siggi, do you think you can trust Gunni?” “I think, at least when it’s about Dmitri, I don’t have a choice.” For everything else, we would have to wait and see. *** The week’s guest conductor had not even left the stage after announcing our break when Dmitri came crashing into the string section. The second violins squeezed out of his way with reflexes born out of having their toes squashed too many times in the past few months. But Dmitri’s whispers in Gunnar’s ears did not last long, nor did they involve the usual melodramatic kissing and blushing. They turned to me instead. “Siggi, would you like to join Gunni and me for dinner tonight?” “Like? No, I wouldn’t. But I know you’ll drag me along anyway.” “It’s important.” Dmitri leaned towards me. His hand was clinging on to Gunnar’s, though, so the kid lost his balance with Dmitri’s movement. “I have something I need to talk to both of you about.” “Are we doing this at home? I thought I was going back to Arnar’s today.” “I was thinking of going to your favourite restaurant. It’ll be my treat to you both, a nice change of air.” “My favourite restaurant?” That was not a title it deserved. “You mean the only place in town that has some chance of not killing me? Do we must go through that trouble?” “It doesn’t feel right doing this at home. I need you both together, and I don’t know what is going to happen afterwards, so I would rather not drag you home for you to end up sleeping with Gísli or having to go back to Arnar. Also the neutral ground might… make it easier?” “What do you want to talk about?” Dmitri bit his lip, but didn’t say anything. “What does he want to talk about?” Gunnar’s eyes widened, as if he never expected I would talk to him. His answer took too long to come. “I don’t know. He didn’t tell me details either.” “And you’re going along with it anyway?” “I trust him.” Gunnar smiled and squeezed Dmitri’s hand. His love-struck boyfriend smiled too and stood closer to him like a pathetic shadow-clown. “I’m sure Dmitri is just trying to build up his courage to say whatever he needs to tell us rather than hiding it on purpose. So I’m happy to give him the time he needs to do that. I would rather have him focused at dinner than press him now for answers he’s not ready to give.” I should have an answer to that. The fact he understood Dmitri’s feelings better than me should not have been a surprise. It should not have made it painful to look at Dmitri’s relieved face. “Can I count on you tonight, then? We can go there together straight from rehearsal.” “Fine. Do as you like.” As long as I did not have to look at how well his body glued to Gunnar’s despite their height difference, or how Gunnar’s answer to Dmitri passing an arm over his shoulders was to pull him even closer by the waist. “Great. I’ll call and make the reservation now. Thanks, Siggi, I really appreciate what you’re doing. And I’ll pay you back when the time comes.” “You better. The last time wasn’t up to your usual standards.” “I’ll make it up for that too.” He winked. Gunnar shifted away, his face finally in that tomato shade that fit him so well. “I’m going to call Jó, then, and let him know he won’t need to pick me up today.” “Good on you, kid. Don’t make your surrogate parents worry sick that their precious little darling is not where he’s meant to be.” “That was uncalled for.” Gunnar did not look at me still as he dragged Dmitri away to their special secluded corner of kisses and cuddles, phone already in hand. I took my phone out too. Ágústa needed to know I would not need her lift from work today either. *** Dmitri’s last minute change of plans meant my cello became a fourth dinner guest instead of safely resting in Arnar’s house. It had to be strapped to the taxi’s front seat while the three humans crammed on the back. The car’s disappointing (yet expected) lack of leg room for freakishly tall humans meant the middle seat became mine by default. Gunnar could at least have entertained me with his impression of a tomato that he did every time he invaded my personal space. Yet, even though my leg had been squeezed on top of his, and our arms touched all the way to the wrist, he did not bother to look at me even once. His eyes remained glued to the window, as if it was a screen to the most interesting movie in the universe. Dmitri was the one who tried to get my attention instead. “It’s a nice weather outside, don’t you think?” “It doesn’t make a difference to me. The cold makes the asthma worse, but spring brings all the pollen. I’m fucked either way.” “True that, but at least we don’t have to wear heavy coats anymore.” “There’s nothing nice in putting away the only thing that gives me some significant body mass.” Dmitri’s hand patted my thigh. His attempts at useless conversation continued until we reached the restaurant and he paid the taxi driver an extra tip for being careful around my cello. “You know it’s their job to not break their passenger’s belongings, right?” “Yeah, but I’m feeling generous today. I was nervous at rehearsal, but I’m more optimistic about what we’ll do now.” Gunnar finally decided to speak, though he avoided me by clinging on to Dmitri’s other side as soon as he was free from the backseat confinement. “What changed your mood?” “I think being around the two of you together without you ripping each other apart makes me happy. You’re the two most important people in my life, so I hate to see you hurting each other.” He looked at each of us, as if he was not blaming someone in particular. Our usual waitress spotted me as soon as we walked in. “Hey, guys, welcome back! The chefs have been told Siggi was coming, so we cleaned off a section of the kitchen to make your food safe from cross-contamination. Are you going to have your usual or would you rather try something different?” “I have a concert to play this week, so I would rather not risk any accidents.” “Sure. Please get settled, and I’ll come back for the rest of your orders in a bit.” The waitress smiled at us and left. Gunnar kept staring in her general direction until Dmitri nudged him to sit next to him (and in front of me) at the four-seat table. Dmitri chose to sit on my left side, while I accommodated the cello on my right, in the corner, safe from clumsy costumers. “Is it always like this when you go out to eat?” Gunnar asked before he picked up his menu. “Yes. Every other place I’ve been to didn’t believe me when I listed all my food allergies and either refused to sterilise their kitchen or didn’t let me order simplified versions of their menu to avoid the things that could kill me or make me explode in their toilet. Or both.” Gunnar stared at me until Dmitri caressed his cheek. The kid leaned into his touch like a well-trained puppy. “It must be really hard for you to eat out.” “Well-done. Did you reach that conclusion all by yourself? Your observation skills are exceptional.” “Please, Siggi, you don’t need to be rude to him.” “It’s ok. I knew what I was getting into.” Gunnar shrugged. He refused to look at me. “The aloof act doesn’t suit you. You’re too much of a cute, sweet kid to pull it off.” “Are you saying this because you would rather see me cry when your words hurt?” Dmitri let out an overly-dramatic sigh and put his hands on each of our shoulders. “Guys, please, can we keep it civil? I didn’t bring you here so you could spend the whole evening bickering.” “I’m sorry.” “You apologised even though it wasn’t your fault?” Gunnar turned to me. Something about his expression changed, but I would give up my cello before I figured out what it meant. “I could have chosen my words better so they wouldn’t sound like I was digging at you. I’m trying my best to not let you get to me, but you make it difficult sometimes.” “I can’t help it. Your presence brings out the worst in me.” “Enough!” Dmitri squeezed my shoulder. This feeble attempt at reassurance did not mask the anger seeping into his tone, though. “Maybe we should look at our menus for a while. The waitress will be back soon and Gunni doesn’t know the food here.” The words forming at the tip of my tongue stayed there. Gunnar followed his boyfriend’s lead and turned his attention to the little leather-covered book that housed the bazillion food options anyone with normal functioning intestines and immune systems could enjoy. Even touching that cover would give me enough hives to make it impossible to play cello for a week, so I had to watch the kid ask his boyfriend for advice on what to fill his stomach with instead. “You should avoid anything with peanut. Siggi can get a reaction just from breathing around them, so we’re safer if there isn’t a plate with peanut particles floating right in front of him.” “Ok, I’ll look out for that. Anything else?” “I’m sorry.” They turned to me at the same time. Their looks of surprise were easy to identify because my face had the same expression. “What did you…?” “I get it. This is important to you. I have to be a better friend. It’s just… It’s hard.” “I know. And I appreciate that you’re trying.” Dmitri tapped my shoulder. Gunnar looked away, as if he made a point of staying out of it, though his smile was too obvious to miss. “What made you think of apologising?” “I don’t know. Maybe you forbidding your boyfriend from passively killing me. I need to get my shit together if whatever you brought us here for is so important.” “Thanks, Siggi. It makes me really happy to hear you say this.” Dmitri’s smile showed all his teeth. Gunnar turned to us too, though he avoided looking straight at me. “I’m going to make this as quick as I can, so you guys don’t have to be together for too long. Let’s just order food and we can start.” As if on cue, the waitress materialised by our table. Gunnar ordered the most ridiculously spicy food in the menu, Dmitri ordered coq au vin (because why would he eat anything other than a homophone of male genitalia doused in alcohol), and I asked for tap water for the sake of ordering something. The waitress confirmed one last time that I would be eating plain steak and potatoes, and finally left us to our business. “I want to start this with an apology as well. I should have believed you when you tried to warn me about my behaviour. The fact that I couldn’t – that I can’t see when I’m getting too deep into Gunni’s life is what I’m most scared of. And the last few days just proved why. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you, Siggi. I’m sorry I hurt you, that I didn’t see you suffering, and that I wasn’t there when you needed me. I’m sorry I was too clingy, Gunni. I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable and didn’t make you feel safe enough to talk to me about this. I’m sorry if you thought I would be hurt. And I’m sorry if there’s anything else I’m forgetting about my horrible behaviour.” “No, I don’t think you are.” Gunnar did the shoulder squeeze thing to Dmitri. I should have been a good friend and done the same. But my hand would not move. Gunnar made it look so easy. So simple. “Thank you for apologising, though in a way it wasn’t your fault.” Dmitri leaned into his touch too. “It was his fault in that he promised to listen to my warning, but he ignored me when I tried to say something. He should’ve known better.” Gunnar scowled, but Dmitri smiled at him. “He’s right, Gunni. That’s exactly why I needed to apologise.” Dmitri put our hands on his, keeping a firm grip even when my first instinct was to move away. “I want to do better from now on. I spent the last few days thinking about my talk with Gunni. Now that I’ve experienced what it is like to not realise I’m doing something wrong, I want to trust your judgement above my own. I need you to tell me when things are going wrong, and call me out if I’m ignoring you again. But in order to do that, we’ll have to work together.” Gunnar and I looked at each other at the same time. Dmitri obviously knew what my answer to this would be, but his grip on my hand tightened just as I was about to tell him where to shove his teamwork. Gunnar had no trouble speaking, though. “What kind of cooperation do you have in mind?” “We have to discuss our relationship. We need to set some rules, some boundaries, so that Siggi doesn’t feel like I’m ignoring him and you don’t worry that my life revolves around you.” “What you’re saying is that we should treat this as a poly relationship.” Gunnar’s jaw fell. He could not take his eyes away from me. “A poly relationship? As in… the three of us…” “Exactly. Your dear boyfriend wants us to become a triad, or a ‘v’ at least, with him in the middle and the two of us as his lovers.” Gunnar’s neon tomato face was definitely worth the hassle of eating out. “You don’t like this idea?” Dmitri’s hand that had been on mine decided to caress the kid’s cheeks instead. Gunnar leaned into the touch as per usual, but his flaming red face and amusing stare never turned away from me. “No, it’s… it’s ok, I think. I’m just…” “You just can’t believe your boyfriend is actually making you get in a relationship with me? Like you planned all along when this shit started?” Laughing on his face was much better than I anticipated. “Please, I’m sure he just made all your wet dreams come true.” Dmitri opened his mouth to speak, but Gunnar beat him to it. “I think we’ve moved on from that plan for a while now. Dmitri didn’t think he would fall in love with me then, and I didn’t think I would figure out so much about myself as I did in the past few months. I was just taken by surprise now. And I do still like you, sort of, so the idea of being in a relationship with you, even if through Dmitri, is something I would like to look forward to. But it depends on how you’re going to take it.” Two sets of eyes stared at me. “We haven’t even made it official and you’re already ganging up on me. If that’s how it’s going to be, then I –” “It’s not how it’s going to be. The whole point is that you and Gunni can gang up on me when I screw up.” Dmitri’s smile proceeded to kill all the words rising in my throat. “I know it’s a lot to ask when you’ve just proved how hard it is for you to even have a civil conversation, but we need to be able to do this. We experienced how horrible things can get when I’m out of control. I love you both, even if in different ways, and I don’t want to lose either of our relationships. They’re the most precious things I have in my life. So I’m going to fight for them with all I have. And it would mean the world to me if you did the same.” What could we say after that? Gunnar fumbled with his napkin, eyes down and lips tuned to a thin line. My napkin too suddenly became the most interesting thing at the table. A lot easier to look at than the people in front of me. A distraction in that awkward silence I could not break. Eventually, Gunnar did, though. “How do you want this relationship to work, then?” “To be honest, I haven’t thought it through that far. I need your input anyway, because I can’t decide on something this big and important by myself.” “What about you, Siggi? Do you have any thoughts?” “Other than who named you our facilitator for the evening?” I raised an eyebrow, but Gunnar smiled and shrugged. Dmitri’s hand gripped mine again, another one of those physical comforting gestures they used so naturally. “I want Dmitri fucking my brains out at every opportunity. And I want you out of my way as much as possible.” “That’s understandable.” Gunnar nodded. Dmitri grasped his hand too, though he kept his eyes on me. “I don’t want to feel like I’m just an afterthought in your life. I don’t want you babbling about how amazing your dear boyfriend is as soon as you’re apart. I’m fucking tired of him intruding in my life because of you. If it depended on me I would rather your relationship didn’t exist at all, but I understand it’s not something I can ask. So when I’m spending time with you, I want to be with you, not your attachment.” “I don’t remember the last time you were so eloquent about your feelings.” Dmitri reached for a hug. That ‘eloquence’ was not a surprise only to him. “I wonder if it’s because you’ve been spending so much time with Arnar nowadays. He could have that effect on you.” “You mean because I was forced to be with Arnar so I wouldn’t have to have the kid’s presence shoved down my throat? Is that you trying to find something good about your massive screw-up?” “No, that’s me examining a real possibility. I’ve seen it happen. Arnar always brings out the best in you in a way that nobody else manages. I’m a bit jealous of him for it, actually.” “So you would rather keep me with Arnar while you enjoy your boyfriend?” Dmitri dropped his head on my shoulder. It should have hurt more than it did. “It’s not like that. I just think that being around Arnar is good for you, so maybe what we should do is have me divide my time between you and Gunni, and have you divide yours between me and Arnar. And I suppose that means Gunni will divide his time between me and his cousins. We just need to find way that works out for everybody. What do you think, Gunni? How do you feel about this?” My mouth opened before Gunnar’s. The words had been there much earlier, but I thought their urge to come out had died when Dmitri spelled out how much I meant to him in a way that should have pierced through the wall of my conscience. It did not pierce far enough, though. At least not as far as to prevent me from screwing things up for no reason before I realised what was happening. “Gunnar thinks you’re suffocating. That you overwhelm him with your intensity. You put a lot of pressure on him and he’s not ready to take it.” Gunnar’s face turned from deep red to paler than mine. Dmitri broke the hug. Somehow it was easy to see he was confused and hurt as he looked between me and his boyfriend. “Did he tell you that?” “Those were his words when he came asking me for help. I guess he wasn’t as frank with you?” “You had no right to tell him that.” That low, threatening rumble sounded nothing like the kid, but there was no question it came out of his mouth. His fists curled at the table. He bared his teeth and his eyes locked on mine glowing with the one emotion I recognised so well I could smell its presence. Anger. “How do you do this?” Gunnar’s words spilled out of his mouth, each hitting me with the force of a punch. “Every time I think we’re doing well and you understand how serious it is, you find a way to screw up. Is it on purpose? Do you really hate me so much it’s worth destroying your best friend’s life over it?” The world beyond that anger disappeared. The kid looked at me, but he was no longer just the kid. His childish, innocent face became anything but. My body forgot how to breathe. How to speak. How to do anything other than stare back at him waiting for the moment he would throw the table at me, drag me from the chair by my hair and punch my face into the wall. But the table stayed in place. The kid never touched me. Naïve, innocent Gunnar took one last look at me and ran away so fast his chair crashed on the floor. No words. No pain. “It’s ok, Siggi. Gunni won’t hurt you.” Dmitri’s voice came from somewhere in the nothingness. It floated in the air, never quite able to break through to this strange new world where even the kid was dangerous. “It’s ok, Siggi.” No, it wasn’t.
  4. James Hiwatari

    Scene 22

    I don't think it's just the fairies that agree with you about the no green city. Sure, Enkyo's population density is on par with London's, but it's only because plenty of people put their money ahead of overall quality of life and pretty scenery... As of today you made it to nearly a third of the story! Yay! (Now let's hope it doesn't become a competition of who takes longer - you to read the next part or me to reply to comments...)
  5. James Hiwatari

    Scene 21

    Now, now, we shouldn't let the actions of one group of nurses define our entire image of Daisenian nurses. Maybe other nurses out there are actually capable (or, more likely, willing) to make fruit salads. Maybe the place Nessa is going to has such nurses. Or maybe we'll never know because Nessa's life will be so wonderful she'll never need nurses again! (Yeah, right...) I think by now Nessa has decided the diary will be named whatever is most fitting for the occasion. Why bother with a boring repeated name when you can just call your best friend anything that comes to mind?
  6. James Hiwatari

    Scene 20

    Well, well, what do we have here? A prophetic oracle who can see the future and guess all the not-at-all obvious plot points! How could I not have seen this coming! Or maybe not? I mean, "magical creatures"? You make it sound like Nessa will have an entourage of cute little animals around here. Which is actually a cool idea. I''m sure the image of Nessa riding into battle in a rainbow unicorn that poops glitter is something we all would like to see. Right? Right?
  7. James Hiwatari

    Scene 19

    Here's hoping that taking almost 2 months to react to a comment doesn't put me in too much a bad light... (Le'ts leave the negative reputation for the people treating Nessa, shall we?) At least answering your comments makes me look back into the story and sometimes even find things I had little memory of...
  8. James Hiwatari

    Scene 63

    28th January, 1995 Dear Nessa, This morning Lóránt woke up us earlier than our alarms. The house's front door was overtaken by people with cameras and flashes and megaphones. They called for Lóránt, for them to give statements about the situation and why they let a convicted criminal close to us. 'They want my head,' was how Lóránt summarised the situation to us. 'And your wings, and your reputation, and your freedom, and your job,' was Unn's idea of an uplifting come-back. 'What are they even doing here?' I asked, before Unn's comment had the chance to sink in. 'What do you think? News of Nessa's and Kris's disappearance travelled fast once the case reached court. Public opinion against demons is already at an all-time low since they used Daisen as a battle ground last year. And it has been turning against angels too because the celestial cities refuse to help. So this is too perfect an excuse to cause mass panic and enrage Daisenians.' 'To be honest, I would be fed up with the angels too.' You must have realised already that there are times when Unn simply cannot be pleasant. Must be some cultural obstacle she is still to climb. This was one of the times. 'I mean, everybody has known for centuries that they're the only people demons fear. Everybody has been suffering for centuries with demons thinking we are their play-things. Nobody has ever been able to effectively keep demons away for long. Not even top Daisenian technology can stop those monsters. But the angels' sole reason for existing is stopping demons. And what they do instead? They build pretty sky cities to pretend the world down here doesn't exist. And all we get are the spares ones who are not fit to live close to the sun.' Lóránt was standing right next to Unn when she said that. To their credit, they kept a decent poker face, though it is not hard to imagine that Unn's words stung like hot metal on the skin. 'Either way, you are not to leave the house today. Don't speak to the people outside. Don't give them a chance to take pictures of you.' Lóránt turned away from us. 'What if they don't go away?' I asked. 'One way or another, this will be over by Monday.' Lóránt left us then. I wish I had the presence of mind to tell Unn how this was all her fault. She should have measured her words properly before spewing out words against angels like that. She lacks the empathy to understand how hard it must be for Lóránt and all the other albino angels who are forbidden from being with their people - not because they were banished like us, but because staying up so close to the sun would kill them. Surely she could understand that...? But alas, Unn and I obeyed our orders. We stayed in. And Lóránt did not leave their room for the rest of the day. The only way this will be over by Monday is if they find you by then. Love, Lydia
  9. James Hiwatari

    Scene 62

    27th January 1995 Dear Nessa, Four days have now passed and we are not anywhere closer to finding you or Kris. Is four days enough for the demons to take you to Skull Island? For their hypnotic powers to take away your free will? Have you already been turned into their mindless servant, ready to spend the rest of your life fighting their wars for them? I have not told you this yet (although this should count as me telling you), but I have been to Skull Island. I saw with my own eyes the soulless people they hold captive. Their eyes were dull. Their life was gone. Yet, when they were not fighting, they led perfectly normal lives and were not aware of what had been done to them. The first real fairy I spoke to was one of the captives in Skull Island. He was already a full-grown man, whereas I was a child accompanying my elders on a business trip. The fairy was acting like a butler, having been sent to welcome us and see that we were comfortable before the hosts' arrival. He still had his wings, so he must not have been one of the fighters. Those wings were your favourite shade of pink (you would like them, as long as they were not too strong a reminder of your loss). My Fadalesh was limited at the time, but this was my first trip with the elders and I was curious. The only conversation I could have with that man was about family. 'I have a daughter.' His voice had little emotion. He looked at me, but his eyes stared off in the distance. He didn't see me then. 'And I have a partner. A giant. He is the mother of my daughter.' The man smiled and I thought finally some genuine feeling had shone through the demon's spell, but the impression was short-lived. 'I am glad that the master paired me up with him.' His voice turned emotionless again. 'I am very happy here. I have a family. The master is good for our family.' Back then I did not know that demons not only captured beings from all races, but paired them up strategically to create mix-race beings to fit their ambitions. That fairy's daughter would be part fairy and part giant, and possibly have some power over both nature and earth. And she would most likely not be the only one of her kind. Even as a ten year-old, I did not take well to hearing those things. Did the demons force this fairy to pair up with the giant? Was their mind control ever lifted, so they could get to know each other's real selves? Or were they both living machines, just doing what was programmed in them? And was the daughter already under the demon’s control? What if she lived her entire life not knowing the meaning of free will? It only got worse as the fairy was told to take us to his master. We needed to go into a different building from the one we had arrived at, and on the way to the meeting point we passed by the captive's village. I took some time to understand what it was: a long street filled with rolls of identical houses on both sides. The houses were simple structures over two floors, not too different from the buildings in Daisen (however nothing like the tunnels back home), with small gardens at the front. Children ran around, playing and laughing and looking like they were having a good time. Adult giants and dwarves and fairies and shape-shifters surrounded them, also looking like their lives were as normal as yours or mine. But then a voice spoke over a loudspeaker, and everyone stood still. Their eyes glazed over, the joy disappeared from their faces. And everyone, adults and children, marched in synchrony back to their houses. By the time we arrived at our destination, the street was silent as dead. Once the business meeting was over, the fairy butler was meant to escort us out. I told him I hoped his daughter was happy and he blinked. 'I have two daughters.' 'You said you had only one.' He blinked again. 'I have one daughter. She is happy and I am happy. Thank you for asking.' The visit was creepy from start to finish, and that was my opinion as a child who liked (age-appropriate) goth literature. I had never been so anxious to return home and be free from that strange place. And I tried to ask the elders why our community insisted on having demons as clients, but they told me off for my curiosity. 'You will understand when you are older,' they said. Two months later, I was on the run. And ten years later I still don't understand. And now I fear you will become one of those soulless people with a happy façade. If worst comes to worst, at least I can console myself in knowing you will likely live in material comfort with a good, comfortable house, and a partner and children to make you company. You will not have the chance to love said partner and said children, and they will never have the opportunity to learn to love you back the way you deserve, but you will not be in pain. You, the Nessa I love, will be gone forever, and only the empty shell of your body will remain in this world. If this is where you are now, if this is the life that awaits you... I will rescue you. I will find a way to break that control and bring you back. I cannot bear the thought of the loveliest being in the world being gone forever. Tomorrow is another day. Another hope. Always yours, Lydia
  10. James Hiwatari

    Scene 61

    26th January 1995 Dear Nessa, The third day of your disappearance brings bleak news: Kris has also disappeared. And, much like you, he left us to follow Zhofie. He left a note behind, as if that made the situation any better. This is what he wrote, translated from the original Daisenian: To Lóránt and everyone else, I think I know where Nessa is. I had a dream about her. She is safe and Zhofie did not hurt her. But she will only let Nessa go if she can get me instead. So I'm saving everyone the trouble by going there on my own. I will make sure Nessa comes back safely. Don't come after me. It's not like you know where I'm going. Kris So obviously Lóránt is looking for him too now. The first thing we learn about demon dreams is that, as prophetic as they can be, they are also one of the easiest things to manipulate. Kris had not shown any aptitude to demon magic ever since he got here. The loss of his horns affected him the same way it did your loss of wings. So anyone with a reasonable amount of logic should be able to conclude that there is no possibility of his dream being true. Zhofie must have sent it to him to lure him there. And now, out of the four people Lóránt was in charge of protecting, only two remain (and potentially not for much longer. Unn and I already have a plan for the moment Lóránt announces they're no longer searching for you). The Child Protection Board is considering taking them away from the job for "gross incompetence". Lóránt might also be persecuted for "child neglect" and "endangerment". We won't know about any final decision until next Monday, but that is another thing Lóránt has to worry about now. It is the evening of Thursday today - can the Board really make such an important decision in such a soshort a time? The only good thing about this whole affair is that Lóránt is now more motivated than ever to find you and Kris. They're pulling all the stops - Unn and I are to stay in the house tomorrow and miss a school day because our bodyguards will be patrolling the city looking for clues. Lóránt is getting in touch with other angels to help out. If it was not your life that is in danger, I would feel like I was inside a television drama, one of those detective stories with police car chases that Unn likes so much and I never saw the appeal of. All I can hope for is that we get a happy ending out of this. As much as I blame Unn and Lóránt for what happened to you, and as much as I feel they both should partake in your suffering, it is not my wish to see Lóránt disgraced and out of a job. They are a good guardian angel for the most part, which is more than I can say about the previous guardian angel I lived with before moving here. The house feels empty without you. Kris's presence never makes a different because he's quiet and anti-social, but you have been away long enough that I am now questioning how I was able to truly enjoy life before I met you. You are always in my heart, Lydia
  11. James Hiwatari

    Scene 60

    25th January 1995 Dear Nessa, This is Lydia again. Another day goes by in which we have no news of you. Lóránt has not given up, however, so please be patient. We are coming for you. Even if Lóránt does give up, I shall not. And neither will Unn. I will ask for my emancipation earlier if I have to, if Lóránt considers me still a child unable to search by myself. I have spoken of my fears of leaving this house many times to you, but if it is a choice between watching everyone giving up on you and turning into an adult so I can officially live my life as I wish, the choice is clear. I will search for you high and low, up to Skull Island if I have to. Unn is also feeling guilty for your situation. She believes that if she had not asked you to watch the spell-casting session, Zhofie would not have been able to hypnotise you. She has already committed to finding you whatever it takes. This is motivated more of guilt than of friendship, as far as I can tell, but I will not questions those who share my objective. Even if I agree with her assessment of the situation. I blame Unn for putting you in this situation. And part of me wants to never forgive her for it. If we never find you again... If we never find you again, I will make Unn suffer as much as you must have been suffering in the hands of the demons. As a dwarf, I believe in communication and empathy. I will communicate your pain to Unn and make her empathise with your suffering in the best way I can. Not that any of this will bring you back. But I will feel better knowing that the being who caused you such distress is in the same boat. You understand, of course. I shall write in your diary every day until your return. This is proof of how much you are missed. How much I care about you. And through these writing you will be able to know what happened in your absence when you finally return to us. You will return. So I must prepare to receive you with love, affection and comfort. I wish there was a spell that could be cast in this diary to enable you to feel its contents as I write them. If nothing else, we could use it to communicate. Even as a one-way communication from me to you it would be useful. You must be scared now. Hurt. Not even the Great Builder of Worlds could possibly know what you are going through right now. If I still believed in prayers, I would be asking both our sacred creators to guide our reunion. But my faith was gone a long time ago. I have instead admired yours, how you kept thinking of your Mother Deity even after they stripped you out of the very essence of your being. Would your wonderful Mother Deity even be able to hear me? Would they hear you after they took away your wings and your powers and made it clear you are to blame for a death that was in self-defence and in no way your fault? Despite my misgivings, I do hope someone is listening. That soon you will be back by my side and we will have the great times we always did. Please be safe. I love you. Lydia
  12. James Hiwatari

    Scene 18

    Something big is definitely coming... and whenever you catch up to the current scene (59 today), you'll have more of a glimpse of that. Which isn't to say you won't have to wait 8 seasons to find out what it is, but...
  13. James Hiwatari

    Scene 17

    Good to see you back! Even if I took 3 weeks to say so! You'll have to keen wondering for a little longer. At least some 50 scenes longer... and then some more...
  14. James Hiwatari

    Scene 48

    I don't know if it's only teenagers who would rather have fun than do boring chores. To be honest, it seems like the logical choice to me... (The difference being that teenagers can actually get away with not doing their responsibilities for a while...)
  15. James Hiwatari

    Scene 47

    Nessa is going to need a lot of learning to get out of the fairy's isolationist ideas...
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