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. Risukage

    Risukage Giant Laser Beams

    //Thanks in advance for reading! This is going to be quite long, possibly, so I'll try to update twice a week, provided I'm not getting mentally hamstrung by crippling self-doubt again. It's a story about friendship and confidence, about love and hope, overcoming obstacles, finding happiness, and all of that other warm and fuzzy nonsense we all claim to call mushy but secretly enjoy. I promise that this won't be saccharine or ridiculous, and hope you'll stick with it until the end, if anything to tell me whether or not the whole thing is rubbish. Comments are welcome, and I've already got the entire thing scripted (just not written down), so don't worry, I won't quit partway through. ...Unless, again, depression kicks in again and I wonder why the hell I decided to embarrass myself on the internet... This also was mentally blocked out as a graphic novel, but I can't draw, so you'll just get boring words instead. :p Note: Author comments will be prefaced and ended by slashes to separate it from the story. Right then, on with the show!//


    Lys leaned roughly back in his computer chair, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. He’d read that paragraph three times and didn’t remember any of it. Removing a silver half-rim pair of glasses, he rubbed his eyes and sighed.

    Damn, I just can’t focus today. This week just isn’t getting any better. It’s not getting any worse, at least. Nothing can be worse than-

    He stopped that train of thought quickly, brushing a lock of copper-red hair behind his ear. He had considered tying it back, as it went past his shoulders and sometimes got in the way, but he felt safer hiding behind it. Placing the glasses next to his keyboard, he opened a desk drawer and reached for-

    Oh, Grandpa’s letter. Maybe it’s time to go ahead and open it. Not got anything to lose, really. Like it could make anything worse.

    Breaking the wax seal (Grandpa was delightfully quirky like that), he unfolded the letter and skimmed it, reaching for his coffee. He paused halfway to his mug, re-read the middle portion, and leaned forward to rest both elbows on the desk as he carefully read the missive. After reading it completely through twice he set it down and picked up his lukewarm coffee, absentmindedly swirling the half-sip left in the bottom as he mulled over what he had read.

    I could get away. Somewhere. Anywhere. Change it all and try again. Or am I just throwing everything away and running? Does it really matter? Anything has to be better. It’s not like I’m important or will actually accomplish something, I just want to be less useless…


    Later that month he watched the scenery speed by, his belongings reduced to two suitcases and a guitar. The bus was mostly empty; not many travelers went this direction this early in the morning. Fine by him, he really didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway. It had taken most of his courage just to get onto the bus in the first place. Everything had been packed and stored away in preparation for departure, and his contacts would meet him when he arrived, so it would be highly rude to leave them hanging. But dread and uncertainty howled a loud chorus in his mind, drowning out most other rational thoughts. He had partial success in muting them by focusing on the most mundane of tasks, and now here he was. The bus began to slow and pull into the far lane. Lys saw a bus stop with a man and a woman waiting, and he felt a sudden cold jolt of fear.

    Shut up. Just shut up and go. You’ve already gone this far, take the last step, damn it.

    He slung the guitar case strap across his chest, retrieved his bags, and stepped off into the fresh spring air. It smelled so green and crisp, and for a moment the noise in his head was interrupted as he enjoyed the new sensation. One of the two people waiting at the stop approached and smiled as she extended a hand in greeting.

    “Hi, I’m Robin, I’m the town carpenter. Sorry there’s really nobody else to meet you here, but we didn’t want you to be overwhelmed on your first day.”

    “Ah, that’s quite alright, sorry if I’m taking up someone’s time.”

    “Not at all, my boy,” the man replied, clapping him on the shoulder, “I was going to meet you alone but Robin insisted so you don’t feel alone. I’m Lewis, the mayor, and I remember your grandfather quite fondly. Good man. And you, Lysander, is it?”

    “Ah, Lys, if you don’t mind. It feels less…”

    “Pretentious?” asked Robin, with a knowing grin.

    “Yeah. My parents are history buffs, so… Apparently it’s family tradition to name after historical figures. I suppose that there are worse names that they could have chosen, though.”

    Lewis nodded sagely. “True enough! Well, I imagine that you’re eager to see your new home, so let’s be on our way. Do you need any help with your luggage?”

    “No, I’m fine, I packed only what I could carry right now. Everything else is in storage until I know what’s going to happen.”

    “And you’ve got enough money to live off of until you get settled?” Robin asked, walking next to him as Lewis led the way.

    “I should be fine. I have a fair amount saved up before I quit and moved out, I don’t have many expenses in the first place, and living here I won’t have to worry about rent, just utilities and food. I don’t eat a lot anyway, so that saves me a bit. Worst case, I suppose, I can live off of instant noodles until I get work doing something.”

    “Your first point of order is probably going to be a bit of yardwork,” Lewis hedged, looking a little bashful, “Robin and I unlocked the house, had a once-over to make sure it was habitable, and did some quick cleaning and dusting. It’s good to go, but the farm itself… Well, you’ll see in a minute.”

    They reached the start of the path to the farm (thankfully paved, Lys had wondered how isolated this place was) and a pair of chimneys came into sight. Robin and Lewis walked in silence, letting him take in his new surroundings, until-

    “Is this-?”

    “Erm, yes. Nobody has lived here for some time, and nobody comes out this way, so, well…”

    The entire farm was overgrown with trees and weeds, covering everything in varying shades and shapes of green. The house, fortunately, looked well-kept, and the paving had held up, keeping the wilderness from encroaching too closely. A small stream flowed into a pond, which led to another stream off of the property to somewhere else.

    What a mess. This is going to be so much work. What have I gotten myself into?

    Lewis coughed politely, breaking Lys out of his internal argument, holding up a set of keys.

    “All of these work, and that’s all of them. Wanted to make sure that there weren’t any surprises. How about we drop off your bags and see if we can answer any questions before we set you free?” Lys followed as Lewis unlocked the door and propped it open. Robin opened the windows to let in light and the breeze as Lys looked around, dropping off his bags and guitar in the bedroom. It was a two-room affair; combined kitchen and dining room with fireplace, and a medium-sized bedroom with another.

    “Winters get a bit cold, but the insulation in this place is excellent, so you shouldn’t need to have a fire that often,” Robin commented, leaning on the door frame and looking around, “and nobody has lived here in long enough that there’s no central heating or cooling. That can be installed later if you want it, but we’ll have to contract that out as it’s not in my area of expertise. And while the summers are hot this place does get a nice breeze, so opening a few windows even at midday won’t make the entire place stuffy.”

    Nodding in confirmation, he checked the kitchen for the status of its appliances. Electricity had been turned on earlier, as the fridge was cold, and he was happy to see that the stove was gas, not electric. Sitting down at the kitchen table, he took a moment to let it really sink in. He was finally there. Strangely, he wasn’t excited. He wasn’t scared, either, just worn out.

    I guess everything that’s happened the last month has used up all of my ability to feel anything for a while.

    Robin and Lewis took two of the other chairs and he took a deep, calming breath, running a hand through his hair.

    “Thanks for your help, a lot. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet, but for now I have a place to stay, and that alone makes things okay.”

    “Good! You’re a little far away from town out here, so let me give you our numbers in case something comes up,” Lewis said, pulling his phone out of his pocket, “there’s a land line in here, but damn if anyone remembers what it is, and anyway, there’s a cell tower up the mountain that provides good reception even out here. Ah, here!” He tapped the “send” button and relayed his contact information to Lys, who responded in kind, as well as back and forth with Robin.

    “If you need anything at any time, don’t hesitate to call,” she informed him, “either we or someone who can take care of it will be out as soon as we can. And when you feel like exploring and getting to know the area, send one of us a message and we’ll give you a tour. In the meantime, if you take the path out of the farm and keep going straight you’ll hit town. The medical clinic will be on your left after the path up to the fountain and park. The plaza will be on your right, and if you keep going straight you’ll end up at Pierre’s where you can pick up groceries and supplies. But feel free to drop into town at any point and say hi to everyone. We haven’t seen anyone new in a long while, so some people might be a little standoffish at first, but most of us are happy to welcome a new face.”

    Lys blinked at the sudden torrent of information, slowly coming to grips with the idea of a new community.

    Maybe I’ll be lucky and they’ll just ignore me. I could take that. I’m just so tired of everyone trying to hurt me- Ugh, shut up. It will be fine. There’s no reason to assume that every person I meet is out to get me. It was just that one time. But that one time, I…

    He looked up and realized that Lewis was trying to get his attention.

    “Oh, sorry, just thinking about something. It’s okay, it’s just a lot to take in.”

    “That’s all right, young man, take your time. Don’t want to drop you off and run off, but you look like you’ve got physical and mental unpacking to do, so we’ll be off now to let you take care of things. And we mean it; if you’ve got a problem or need anything, say something!”

    “The only problem is going to be clearing out all of that,” Lys said, gesturing at the tangle of miscellaneous foliage outside, “I’m not sure where it will all go even after I knock or mow it all down, and I’m not sure how I’m even going to go about doing that.” Robin stood up and pushed in the chair, walking over to the door and pointing to a small building adjacent to the house.

    “Your storage shed there has all of the tools and equipment you’ll need, and it’s all in good shape. There’s a small cart and four-wheeler that Sebastian cleaned, tuned up, and refueled for you to move all of it, and that area just north of the road as you enter the farm should be a good place to shift and stack everything. The existing wood pile will last you a while, but remember you have to dry wood for several months before it’s good to burn, so you should probably start creating a second pile soon, just in case.”

    “That’s… I’ll have to thank everybody later for their help. And I didn’t know about the firewood. I’ve always lived in the city. I really wonder if I’ll be able to survive out here.” Slapping him jovially on the back, Lewis stood as well.

    “You’ll be just fine. You seem to be the industrious, clever sort, so you’ll figure it out soon enough. Good luck!”

    “I… Thanks, a lot. Guess I’ll get unpacked and have a look around here.”

    “Sounds good, and let me know if you ever need any woodworking done. All of the structures here are in good shape, but you might want to upgrade something or add something new in the future. Bye!”

    He left the door open, closing but leaving the screen door unlocked, and went to the bedroom to unpack. First was the electric kettle, coffee press, and bag of ground coffee, which went straight to the kitchen to be used. While the kettle heated he unpacked the rest of his bags, which wasn’t terribly much. He had lived in a studio apartment anyway, and the guitar and laptop were the only really fragile and valuable items that he had; everything else could come over later. The kettle finished boiling just as he walked into the kitchen with the meager dishware he had brought, just one each of the basics. The water went over the grounds in the press, and he fished out a tin of condensed milk, one of the small luxuries he had allowed himself in order to reduce the weight and bulk of his trip. Some milk in the mug, a resealable lid on the can, the can in the fridge, the coffee pressed and poured.

    Once again he went to his room to unpack his guitar, leaving the case inside while he went out to the porch with the guitar and mug. Sitting down on the porch, he leaned against one of the awning supports and sipped the fresh brew, gazing out on the farm. It was a mess, and it would be a lot of work, but it was his place, and it was work that he could be proud of. For the first time in a while he smiled, feeling the warmth of the coffee and a bit of hope. After he had drunk half of it he set it aside, pulled up his guitar, and pulled the pick from where he had secured it in the frets.

    Plucking each string, he hummed the note he wanted and adjusted the tension with the keys at the neck until it matched. All six tuned, he strummed an experimental chord, making sure that everything was in tune. A pleasing sound echoed on the afternoon spring air, and he relaxed further. Things would be alright after all. With no particular song in mind, he hummed snippets of whatever came to mind, playing a complementing harmony, allowing himself to just think and feel. And for the first time in a while things felt quite good.


    Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
     
      Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
    • Alkanthe

      Alkanthe Oxygen Tank

      Wow... just, wow. I love this beginning! You write so well!
       
      • Miracle Panda-sama

        Miracle Panda-sama Astral Cartographer

        The beginning of the story really had me focused on the story and your character
        I'm pretty excited for the next chapter :)
         
          Alkanthe likes this.
        • Ghostly Fox

          Ghostly Fox Giant Laser Beams

          Hey, another member of the cripplingly anxious writer club. Like what you've written so far, though I already want to hurt whoever hurt Lys because that is my personality. Also, mildly amused that we also both chose flowers as a theme, in addition to sharing horrible (performance?) anxiety.

          ...I also want sweetened condensed milk now.
           
            Alkanthe likes this.
          • Risukage

            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

            //*Bows courteously.* First, thanks again for reading, and second, thanks once more for the constructive comments. @Miss Alkane: I cut my literary teeth on Tolkein, Adams, Twain, and Pratchett, so I hope that some of their influence (and skill) can be emulated. @Miracle Panda-sama: Good, I was concerned that it wasn't a strong enough start to get the reader interested in the character and their situation. Not too much, not too little. @Ghostly Fox: Apparently you're not a proper artist unless you are overly critical of one's work! And I'm also rather tickled that you picked up on that side of his personality; again, I wondered if it had been too subtle or mis-written, but it looks like I got across what I wanted to. No worries, it will be addressed in the future! Now that I've got the preamble out of the way we can start with some proper world- and character-building. This fic is loosely based on my game's playthrough, so parts of the game and character interactions will be a bit different than the game itself, assuming that they happen at all, because some characters I've hardly been able to talk to and develop friendships with. And yes, I did have quite a bit of fun writing the dialogue for Sam and Sebastian, though the "theater" bit took me longer than the rest of the chapter. Dear gods I am rubbish at that sort of thing... Apologies as well for the wonky formatting; I type it up in my Google Docs so I have access to it anywhere, but it just goes weird when I paste it here, and I simply can't be arsed to mess with it. Ah well, here's chapter 2, read and enjoy!//


            The first few days on the farm were spent clearing debris, trees, grass, and other detritus of having been left to the elements and nature for so long. It was tiring but rewarding; the satisfaction of working with one’s hands and seeing a definite result, the setting of goals for one’s self and meeting them, and the cool but not cold spring air that took the edge off of the sun. He’d found an old hat that kept it at bay, and designated a set of clothes to get dirty and damaged as work clothes, ensuring that he’d have decent garments for whenever he needed to go to town. His evenings were his own as well, and usually found him singing and playing whatever tune came to mind as he sat on the porch and sipping a fresh, hot coffee.

            By the end of fourth day he felt that he had done enough work to take a break, and his supplies were still viable, but he thought that it might be a good idea to at least see what the local store had, and it was probably time to meet the townsfolk. This idea jabbed him sharply and coldly every time he thought about it, but by the time he had finished his coffee the anxiety had finally subsided. It shouldn’t be bad, Robin and Lewis had been quite nice. Strumming away like usual, he paused when he heard the message notification on his phone beep at him. It was from the mayor.

            “Sorry for teh late notice, the Flower Dance is tomorrow, goign to be west of the Cindy Sip Forest.”

            Lys blinked, wondering if he had read that incorrectly, when another message followed.

            “Darn autocorrect. Cindersap Forest. It’s a bit south and west of your farm, just follow the signs, everyone will be there. Good chance to say hi and meat everyone.”

            Intermittent spelling and grammatical issues aside, that did sound interesting. And at a gathering like that it would be less stressful to try and greet the other residents. This could be fun.

            “MEET, darn it. Anyway, message if you have any trouble, it starts at 10, see you there. :)

            He sent a confirmation reply and picked up his guitar and mug, as the evening was tapering off to night. The guitar went back into its case, the mug went into the sink, and Lys went to bed, exhausted like usual, but pleased with his work.


            The next morning he fought down a momentary wave of insecurity as he got dressed, into one of the few sets of clothes he’d brought. A nice button-down in forest green, khakis, and good ankle boots. After he finished running a brush through his hair he put on his glasses and reached for a leather choker, intricately worked and tooled with a vine pattern in circles and triangular loops. He snapped closed the clasp and adjusted it for fit, feeling rather surprised at how comfortable and natural it felt by now.

            Good. This is me now. Can’t change what happened, but I can try to move on.

            The meager instructions from Lewis said south and west of the farm, so he obeyed, expecting to get lost or misdirected. They were correct, however, as the path out of the south end of the farm (which he was quite glad that he had cleared two days previous) led to a clearing and river with a stone-paved road. Signs directing the way to the Flower Dance were also posted, boosting his confidence in this endeavor. He didn’t see anyone else, but he was slightly early, and his farm was closer than town, so he took this as an opportunity to stroll casually and enjoy the view. After crossing the bridge he found the entrance to the dance, as well as Lewis chatting with someone he hadn’t yet met.

            “Ah! Lys! Glad you could make it. Sorry again about the late message, I’ve been working on this all week and it slipped my mind.”

            “It’s quite alright, I’m new and you probably have a lot going on.”

            “True, true. But my manners fail me again. Pierre, this is the newcomer, just moved in this week I told you about. Lys, Pierre runs the grocery and general store in town. I don’t think you’ve been down there yet.”

            “No, I haven’t, I’ve been busy taking care of a few things.”

            “If that place is as overgrown as I remember it you have a lot to take care of,” Pierre said, extending a hand in greeting, “you’ll be at that for a while. Don’t forget to take some time off to relax and visit. And be sure to drop by when you know what you want to do with the place. Between Robin and I we can get you set up without too much fuss.” Lys took the proffered hand and competed the courtesy.

            “I appreciate that, thanks. I’m still just trying to clear things out so I can do something.”

            “Just be sure to have a good time here,” Lewis interjected, before glancing at his watch, “oh, pardon me, I need to go take care of something.”

            “I must do the same, but if you need something be sure to seek me out as well.”

            This wasn’t so bad after all. Granted, I’ve only met three people so far, but it’s a start.

            He wandered through the festival area and sat down on a bench in the shade to enjoy the breeze.

            I’ll be social in a minute, just a minute. For now-

            “Oh wow, is that your natural hair color? It’s so cool!”

            He jumped in surprise and looked up to see a girl with purple hair and lipstick in front of him, wearing a fishnet shirt over a black camisole and cargo pants, her eyes and mouth wide in awe. Behind her walked up a boy with spiky blonde hair in jeans and a denim jacket, who was a half a head shorter than the other one who strode next to him in a gray hoodie and jeans.

            “It figures that the girl who dyes her hair is the one who asks that sort of thing,” grinned the boy, who smiled even wider when she blew a playful raspberry at him.

            “You are such a butt, Sam. About time you and your boyfriend showed up.” The dark-haired boy sighed and rolled his eyes.

            “Abby, how many times do I need to tell you that we’re not dating? Though you are correct in that he would be the girlfriend since he’s shorter.”

            “Shut up, Sebastian, I’ll hit my growth spurt one of these days.”

            “Maybe if you ate your vegetables growing up you wouldn’t be as short.”

            “Ugh, you sound like my mom. ‘Go clean your room. Turn down that music. Quit watching porn and come to dinner.’” Abigail cackled in amusement while Lys gaped at the exchange. Sebastian rolled his eyes again.

            “She’s never said that.”

            “She’s never caught me.”

            “I hope to never catch you as well.”

            “You are so gross, Sam,” said another girl, giving him a look of disapproval as she stood with a hand on one hip, tossing long blonde curls over the shoulder of her sky-blue dress.

            “Hey, it’s our favorite pair of boobs. ‘Sup, Haley?” asked Sam, his grin somehow becoming wider. Haley made an exaggerated noise of disgust and looked over at Lys.

            “Who’s the new guy?”

            “You could ask him directly, c’mon. Sorry that everyone else here is so rude. I’m Abigail. That’s Sam, Sebastian, and Haley.” His momentary discomfort abated as the group offered greetings and he relaxed a bit.

            “I’m Lys. Nice to meet everyone.”

            “Not quite everyone, actually. I’m Elliott, pleased to meet you. Now, Lys is it? Short for Lysander if I’m not mistaken?” Lys turned around to meet the new arrival and forgot how to speak for a moment. Tall and with strawberry blonde hair to his shoulders, he had a warm smile, deep blue eyes, and silver earrings. He was also dressed far more sharply than the others; a charcoal waistcoat and trousers over a crimson red shirt, but somehow managing to make it look dashing instead of pompous.

            “I… Yes. Sorry, I was just thinking. I’ve always wanted to try earrings but didn’t think I could make it work.”

            “Not everyone can, but you might. Though your choker suits you well, and I doubt any of us could say the same. Though I admit to thinking of wearing glasses for the style and not function.” Lys felt both a cold jolt and a warm flush at this and was spared the awkward silence of a proper reply when Sam giggled.

            “I bet Sebastian could pull off that look. He’d be totally punk.”

            “I don’t do punk.”

            “Yeah, you’re more of a goth.”

            “And I’m not a goth.”

            “Oh yeah, with your hair and that mopey attitude you’re kinda emo, aren’t you?”

            “I think I understand why so many parents drink.”

            “ANY-way,” interrupted Haley, “what brings you here? There’s not a lot going on here. I hope you weren’t looking for excitement.”

            “No, I came here because…”

            I didn’t have a plan. I just wanted to run away. And I ran from one problem to another. Great.

            Sighing deeply, he sagged and slumped forward as the weight of it actually hit him.

            “Nothing, I guess. Just a change. I did something stupid and I wanted to get away and try again. I wasn’t really thinking, and now I’m here with nothing to show for it.”

            Sebastian shrugged and put his hands in his pockets.

            “What do you like to do? You’re on that farm, is there anything you think you’d like to grow?”

            “I don’t know. Maybe? I don’t think I’d make a good farmer. But I do like flowers.”

            “Ooh,” Haley exclaimed, “I love sunflowers!” Abigail looked thoughtful as she added her opinion, “sweet pea are quite nice.”

            “It’s difficult to go wrong with roses, I’m partial to them,” offered Elliott. Sam’s grin threatened to take the top off of his head.

            “Oh, I know, you should totally grow that one that takes years, but when it blooms it looks like a giant, erect-”

            “No,” interrupted Sebastian, punching Sam in the shoulder, “just don’t.”

            “You know, that is a good idea,” Lys said, partially to himself, “I like sunflowers as well. Maybe once I get a bit of space cleared I can see what grows up here and when.” Elliott nodded and looked thoughtful.

            “There is a surprisingly large library here in town. It’s on the far east side, over the river, so you’re quite a distance away, but they’re likely to have all of the information you need for anything local.”

            “...Thanks. All of you. I really didn’t expect to get along with anyone. I’m happy to be wrong. Not that I mean that I thought you’d be bad people, it’s just- Damn it, sorry.”

            “I understand your sentiment. Meeting new people and trying to make a good first impression is daunting,” Elliott continued, “and while some residents are standoffish and reclusive, just remember that most of us are gregarious and welcoming.”

            “A little, yeah, but I’ve just never had much luck making friends before so I’m really not sure how it works.” Abigail pulled out a butterfly knife and began flipping it idly as she gave him a look of curiosity.

            “You didn’t have friends? No way. You seem cute and funny and smart enough.”

            “I’ll take your word for it. Or those were reasons that most others had no interest in interacting with me. Also, when I was growing up I preferred music and theater to sports and television.”

            “I love theater! What kind?” asked Haley, who immediately perked up and seemed much more interested than she had earlier. Lys was taken aback but didn’t mind, as it was the first time in a while that he’d had the chance to simply chat.

            “A bit of everything. Musicals, plays, classic lit. I’ve done just about everything in the Avonbard list, now that I think about it.”

            “Ah, his stuff is so good,” she sighed, “it’s so romantic and tragic. Especially his Star-Crossed Lovers, it’s really his best.” She cleared her throat and made a dramatic pose, very firmly ignoring Sam’s giggling.

            “Our bond is something true and strong, so tenuous but lasting long. As soft as wind, as hard as… Um, no, wait...”

            “I know something else that’s hard! -Ow!”

            “Shut up, Sam.”

            “Our bond is something true and strong, so tenuous but lasting long. As soft as breath, as hard as steel, there is naught else that I would feel,” Lys recited, standing up. Elliott stood next to him, speaking the other part.

            “Warm and gentle like breaking dawn, I pale like dusk when you are gone. But like dawn’s light you shine once more, and with your touch my heart does soar.” Reaching out, Lys laced his fingers with Elliott’s, getting lost in the moment of the story.

            “Though misunderstood and oft-maligned, our destinies are intertwined. They know not what it is we share, though I know for certain they do not care.” Eliott reached out and put an arm around Lys’s waist, pulling him closer as he completed the last verse.

            “Then just for now I’ll hold you tight, if you’ll permit to stay the night. Our passions burning pure and hot, we find the climax we’ve so long sought.”

            “NOW KISS!”

            “I will stab you.”

            “Sebastian! Abby’s gonna stab me!”

            “She won’t be the last.”

            “That was wonderful!” applauded Haley, continuing to ignore Sam’s antics. Lys blushed deeply and stepped back.

            “Ah! Sorry! I really got into character there for a moment.”

            “Don’t apologize. You have passion for your art, and that’s quite admirable. You are a true thespian.”

            “But you two aren’t girls,” Sam piped up, eliciting a loud groan from Sebastian.

            “That’s lesb- You know what? Even I have no idea when you’re trolling anymore.” He massaged his temples with a look of pain, despite Abigail unsuccessfully smothering a laugh.

            “Haley is right, that was good. I didn’t know you read Avonbard’s stuff, Elliott, I thought you were just a writer.”

            “I am no mere writer, I am an author. I am the artist who paints with words. Any author worth their work knows the classics.”

            “Ugh, we’ll have to leave you two to discuss the cool stuff, then,” Abigail grimaced, putting away her phone after shutting off a notification alarm, “it’s time for us to get changed for the Flower Dance. I hate that silly white dress.”

            “You don’t look good in any dress. You lack the elegance and grace for it. I, however, possess both, and will make up for your shortcomings.”

            “Speaking of shortcomings, you’re dancing with Sam.”

            “Hey!”

            “I know, don’t ruin this for me.”

            The four of them walked away, bantering and bickering in good humor, leaving Lys and Elliott to converse alone.

            “So you’re not a part of this?”

            “I am not. My talents lie in a more cerebral area, less physical. Besides, I only moved here about a year ago myself, and have hardly made more progress than you have in learning names and putting them to faces.”

            “Fair enough. A writer, though? Sounds fun and tedious at the same time.”

            “True enough. If you have the time and inclination I would welcome the company. I live in the cabin on the beach. I had hoped that the isolation and pastoral peace that came with it would bring me the inspiration I need, but that has yet to come to pass.”

            “I was thinking of getting out and about tomorrow. I’ll have to do that.” A small knot of people began moving to the center of the festival area, signaling the start of the Flower Dance.

            “It appears that we will have to continue this later. If I do not see you sooner, I wish you a good evening.”

            “Same. And thanks again. Especially for not laughing, I do tend to throw myself into things too much.”


            The rest of the festival Lys didn’t really talk with anyone; he met a few new people and introduced himself, but once the dance was over everyone was busy with packing up and breaking down the festival area. Lys assisted the mayor, as he wasn’t quite sure who else to help and how, and made it back to the farm some time after dark that evening.

            It was a good day. No matter how tomorrow turns out it can’t tarnish what happened today. For the first time in a while I’m making progress. I think I’m actually happy.


            Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
             
              Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
            • Gabaw

              Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

              I like what you got so far! Especially the banter with the characters. They're all having a grand old time :confirm: Other than that, it's pretty obvious that this'll be a dude on dude Elliott route so I wish you the best in your ongoing efforts.
               
              • Risukage

                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                Yes, going to throw that out there now, there will be M/M with Elliott, something like another ten or more chapters down at the earliest, I've got STORY to do here! But that's not the focus, fortunately. Rather, in the next chapter that's something that I had planned for some of the characters to snark on; fictional characters hooking up for completely implausible reasons within that universe's rules. My OC is a bit rubbish in comparison to everyone else, to be honest; he's a vehicle to help tell the story of those in town, whose stories I quite like and want to expand upon (and not be a platform for fifteen chapters of LOL YAOI OMG). That's what drew me so much into this game, the interplay between the NPCs and the hints (or outright statement) of their past and present, and what their desires are for the future. THAT is the story I want to tell, but after I've read over what I've got (unposted) so far, eesh, I dunno... I'm still feeling weird from sleep deprivation, and I've had a little dark cloud of "BLAH" following me all day, so I'm not going to re-read or edit anything until I'm less of a Negative Nancy or Dramatic Debbie. (What's the opposite of the good-at-everything Mary Sue? 'Cause he's got like two things he's good at and is average at best for everything else. :3)

                Regardless of my shortcomings, thanks for the reply, it's good to know that something went right, but oh, yikes, I'm looking back at it and wishing I'd postponed a day to do a final once-over. By the time this went up I had been awake for over 30 hours straight, and 3/4 of this was done around the 24-27 hour timeframe. I'm happy with the banter, that's what I was looking for, and the theater stuff is just as dramatically horrible as I'd hoped (no, I did not like reading Shakespeare in literature class :p), but the staging and pacing feels disjointed and amateruish. The mayor's text messages still make me smile, though, so I know I didn't mess that up. This time. :p
                 
                • Ghostly Fox

                  Ghostly Fox Giant Laser Beams

                  I tried to make a more eloquent post six timea, but I am apparently too tired to English well enough to do so. So I'll just say that characters that are relatively 'average' can be nice when done well. The level of ability that an OC MC has in a Fanfiction (well, any story) is important. If they're good at everything they do without fail, they have fewer chances for character development and may also drive readers away from being annoyed with things never having even the slightest hint of struggle for the character. If they are bad at everything they do, readers tend to become annoyed with their incompetence, and if their personality is one of the things they are bad at, readers can get to the point they want the character to fail. It's a matter of finding the right point to start them off with that will make them likable, have room for growth, and still have to fight for success.

                  (Which is something I am worried about for my own story... Balancing flaws and gifts, and when to reveal which.)

                  Regardless of whether Lys is mostly average, he seems likeable enough, and it's apparent that some (most) of his issues link back to however he was attacked. I think it will be interesting to see if Stardew Valley helps him heal like he so desperately seems to need.

                  (Also, you just made me realize I should probably note the pairing types in my fic, even if it will be slow burn on the romance aspect, if I pull it off the way I want to. I''ll be doing that when I am not sleep deprivation-drunk.)

                  I will stop rambling nonsense now. Hopefully.
                   
                    Pudassassin, Gabaw, Alkanthe and 2 others like this.
                  • Miracle Panda-sama

                    Miracle Panda-sama Astral Cartographer

                    Rose(Elliot) & Sunflower(Lys), is that the meaning of the title?
                     
                      Alkanthe likes this.
                    • Risukage

                      Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                      Yeah, it is. It was intended to be placeholder until I could come up with something less dork-tastic, but that never happened. Though it put me in mind of Tiger and Bunny initially, which amused me, so it was better than nothing. :-\

                      Mostly it feels like it's misleading, as it's a story about lots of people, not just them. *Shrug.* The perils of episodic storytelling, yeah?
                       
                      • Miracle Panda-sama

                        Miracle Panda-sama Astral Cartographer

                        Well I never have been good at naming things so I think my comment can't reassure you but I'll tell you this, who cares about the title I'm already interested in your story and it may not be enough but some people have already started reading and noticing your story. I hope more and more will read your story and I will continue supporting and reading this fanfic. Ahh...I'm sorry for rambling and my insensitive comment about the title ehehe...but I hope you won't feel discouraged cause I really really like your story...and I'm just gonna shut up now bye.
                         
                        • Miracle Panda-sama

                          Miracle Panda-sama Astral Cartographer

                          So the stories about everyone BUT it focuses on your OC and his continued relationship with Elliot and everyone hence the name Rose & Sunflower *nods*. It's better than nothing I guess *shrugs*.
                           
                          • Risukage

                            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                            Pretty much, yeah, that's a better synopsis than what I had. ...Oh sod it, think Free! Iwatobi Swim Club meets Harvest Moon. :rofl:

                            *Laughs.* Sort of joking (though I have seen both seasons and have been listening to the soundtrack pretty much the entire time I write), but it's like how Free! was telling the group story of the team alongside Haruka's and Rin's story, if that makes sense, and is kinda what I'm trying to do. And no worries, your remark wasn't insensitive. I really do think that the title is a bit dweeby, but screw it, it's kinda cute as well. I'm just annoyed that I can't think of something better that isn't pretentious. *Bows in thanks.*

                            I've got chapter three done, and it's pretty good so far, and long. Going to do a proofread/edit tomorrow (AFTER COFFEE) and upload when I get home from work. I have a couple of errands after, though, and I'm on Pacific time, so it'll be up tomorrow, just not until evening. Also, over 200 views already? *Curls up under desk and hyperventilates into paper bag.*
                             
                            • Ghostly Fox

                              Ghostly Fox Giant Laser Beams

                              *gives empathizing back rubs* I understand how you feel. I've got almost three pages on my second character, and I'm maybe one third of the way done, if I'm lucky. Then whenever I do get the writing done, I'll spend probably two days rereading and editing it, and contemplating erasing the whole thing and starting over. Then it will be formatting it for the forum, spending another three hours considering deleting it. Then when I eventually do post it I will spend however long until the first feedback curled up in a ball in some corner trying not to stress vomit or pass out. Since it is my farmer's introductory chapter, it will be even worse than usual too, because what if people hate him.

                              I'm sure I'll like anything you put up, I adore Lys even with the little that we've seen so far. Even if the random theater made me cringe a little, because people doing anything that draws attention could be embarrassing for them makes me anxious for them. Which isn't saying it was done poorly, because you did it really well form what I could tolerate reading, and me being unable to read it more clearly is a me-issue, not a you-issue, so don't worry about it, because quality wise it seemed stellar.

                              What was I saying again? Oh, right, writer anxiety. Maybe the two of us should start a club for writers who can't write without freaking out over whether people will like it...though I have no idea what such a club would do. Run around and panic every time anyone in it posted a chapter, probably. So in lieu of a club that would make the stress worse, I will simply say that you have support from my corner at least. It's also worth noting that the forum has really strict rules about bullying, and even without (or maybe because of) them, people have been nothing but polite about feedback on everything, from what I've seen, even when they give constructive feedback.

                              Also, I am using flowers as titles for all of my chapters, and it doesn't seem pretensions to me. Then again, I am a nerd who has a fascination with them and is doing something incredibly dorky with the chapter titles that people probably stopped doing after the Victorian era. So I approve of your title because I am a huge nerd. All the titles I have in mind for the story itself are even more nerdy.

                              I am trying to be helpful and nice, I hope I am actually doing so because I'm not trying to make it about me, just trying to be reassuring, and I might be failing at that, which I apologize for. I just understand how stressful it can be, especially if you don't have something or so some to distract you from the worry and I figured it couldn't hurt to let you know there are other people who have as much trouble with not freaking out over it as you do.
                               
                                Risukage likes this.
                              • Risukage

                                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                //It's Friday afternoon and time for another chapter! I really want to get to a MWF update schedule, but not going to do that until I get more of a buffer in case of delays. Also, @Ghostly Fox, huzzah, that's just the reaction I was going for! I really enjoyed doing theater (I've done all kinds), but oh, sometimes the dialogue or scenes in the dramatic stuff just make me roll my eyes. NailedIt.jpg :p And yes, the comments here have been massively helpful. I sorta worry that what I have in mind doesn't "fit" the SDV "universe," or it's too serious, or something, but screw it, I like what I've got in mind and I think it's an interesting and compelling narrative. And part of the narrative is learning to open back up and be brave enough to take the risk to show to others something that is really close to you, even if you risk getting hurt or insulted in the process. So...yeah... This is kinda a form of mental therapy as well. *Laughs.*

                                Also, a lot of what Lys talks about and does here is drawn from my past experience. Music improv takes talent and confidence, and is SO much fun. One of these days I'll get back into it. Well, enough chattering. Chapter 3 is live, time to work on chapter 4 for Monday's upload. :)//


                                The east-facing bedroom window served as a useful alarm clock, and he sprawled on the bed, staring at the ceiling as he recalled the previous day.

                                That really was fun. Might as well take today to visit town. It’s not like everything will grow back if I do, and now that I’ve had the chance to meet most of the residents I should learn the geography, too.

                                Same as the day before, he dressed and donned the choker and glasses, opting for the only other shirt he had, in deep blue.

                                I’ll have to find out where I can get something else to wear. I’ll need something different for summer, and especially winter. At least laundry is quick to take care of right now.

                                On impulse he picked up his guitar case and slung it over his shoulder before closing the door behind him and walking east out of the farm, continuing past the path to the bus stop and on toward town. The small road widened into a larger street as he entered town and began to see houses, all still dark and quiet even though the sun was up and it was full daylight. The silence didn’t bother him. Rather, he enjoyed the tranquility of the early morning.

                                To the north was the road to the fountain and gardens, and further east the white-painted building of the medical clinic stood next to the general store. The road expanded dramatically as it became the town plaza to the south, paved in smooth stones and decorated with weathered stonework that was easily as old as the town. He turned here and strolled through the plaza, its landscaping neat but natural, in the bright green of early spring. It went for some way until it ended at a street perpendicular to itself, running east and west. Going west would take him back toward the farm, so, east again. He continued along, continuing to see nobody, when an offshoot road going south became a bridge over the river (that he assumed was the same one far to the south of home) that appeared to lead to a beach.

                                Didn’t someone say that they lived out this way? Elliott, as I recall.

                                He took this route and paused at the far side of the bridge. Trees and grass gave way abruptly to sand, running a quarter of a mile to the ocean where a pier stood, with a couple of small boats docked and a shack that had been repaired so many times it was unlikely that any of the original materials were still left.

                                I wonder where… Oh, that’s close, actually.

                                A cabin stood only a few hundred feet from the tree line, set far enough away from the bridge for privacy but not far enough to be isolated. It was still a bit early, though, maybe he should return-

                                Piano music?

                                It didn’t sound recorded, the resonance and timbre weren’t right for it. Curious, he approached, and paused at the door; like his house, the main door was open but the screen closed to keep out pests but allow the breeze. He leaned against a support post and listened, hesitant to knock and disturb.

                                I don’t like interrupting someone’s practice time, and I’ve no idea what to say anyway.

                                His phone chirped at him with a message notification, making him jump in surprise, and the music stopped. He facepalmed, feeling slightly embarrassed.

                                Damn. I’ll check that message later.

                                “I thought I heard someone. Hello, Lys.”

                                “Sorry about that, I wasn’t expecting any messages or I’d have turned off the sound. I heard you playing and was about to come back later when you aren’t busy.”

                                “To the contrary, I find myself vexingly idle right now. Please, come in.”

                                Lys knocked the sand off of his soles and followed Elliott in, who walked back to the piano and sat down at it, looking about the room and finally gesturing to his computer chair.

                                “I don’t have many places to sit, as I don’t often see company. There are many who would find that a sad state of affairs, but such is my state of mine at the moment.” Sitting and unslinging his guitar, Lys shrugged in sympathy.

                                “I lived in a studio apartment for a while, so you’ve got more furniture and space for company than I used to. Not that there was anyone to come visit.” Elliott chuckled in dark humor.

                                “As I said yesterday, I had thought that I would find here what I sought in order to create literary works, but it seems that my vision is greater than my sight.” He nodded in the direction of the laptop on the table, next to a potted rose and a half-empty cup of coffee and sighed.

                                “If I were using pen and paper I would have a room full of discarded scraps and only a handful of something useful. I would aver that my muse has abandoned me, but that implies that one was present at all.”

                                “You’re ahead of me at least, I just play stuff that others have written. The only time I’ve done anything of my own was when I was sitting in with dad’s group and- Hey, I’ve got an idea. That song you were playing, run it again.” As Lys bounced to his feet, picked up his guitar case, and set it on the table, he missed Elliott’s look of amusement at the sudden change of demeanor and attitude. He was much more upbeat, not the quiet wallflower he wore as his usual face, and his posture was confident instead of withdrawn. Elliott replayed the tune as requested, smiling to himself. Opening the case and listening carefully, Lys slipped the guitar strap over his head and settled it comfortably across his shoulder, rolling the pick between his fingers until Elliott finished.

                                “Okay, I’ve got it. We’re going to do some stream-of-consciousness lyric writing.”

                                “How do you mean? And you already know my song?”

                                “I can read sheet music but I usually play by ear, and I pick up on music fast. My dad has a small local band back home that plays in the community center and the like that I sit in with now and then. In some pieces we’ll repeat the chorus section and each of us takes sixteen or so bars to do a quick solo, just something improvised based on the melody and chords, and on occasion our own lyrics. It’s a lot of fun because you never know what you’ll do, it’s just spontaneous.”

                                “That’s… Actually a good idea. I’ll give it a go.”

                                “We need a theme. Um… Well, we’re by the shore, let’s go with the ocean. I’ll start off and do two lines and pass it to you, you do two and pass it back, and we’ll go around a couple of times and see what happens. I’ll give you four bars intro before I start.”

                                The guitar came alive in his hands with a rhythmic series of chords to back up the melody, and Lys dove in without hesitation as the Elliott joined the tune.

                                “The smell of sand and sunlit sea, a summer’s memory, comes back to me. Long-forgotten sounds and places that I’d forgot exist.”

                                “So long it’s been since I had seen this windswept seascape, so blue and green. All of those old friendships and places I’ve missed.”

                                “Far from this home I left one day, I’ve journeyed blindly to my dismay. Is there anyone who will still remember me?”

                                “When last we talked and said good bye, you said, ‘be sure to write me,’ I said I’d try. Now upon these shores it’s only you that I can see.” Lys grinned, enjoying the duet.

                                “Good! Key change and final verse!”

                                “Wait-”

                                “Keep up!” Elliott stumbled for a moment but adjusted quickly, moving up a half a step and embellishing the melody further.

                                “Now I’ve returned and here I’ll stay, will you forgive me being gone away? I’ll wait here for you now, in sun or in the rain.”

                                “Upon these shores we’ll reunite, no longer memories, the future bright. There is nothing more that I want than to see you again.” Twirling the pick again, Lys grinned in appraisal.

                                “Not bad for a first try, that was fun. You’re pretty fast on the uptake.” Elliott said nothing for a moment, lost in his own thoughts as he idly picked out a tune with one hand, then burst out laughing.

                                “Damn if it didn’t work. I suddenly feel the urge to write. My mind is full of ideas that demand to be transcribed. From one set of keys to another,” he said, bouncing up from the piano bench and dropping into his computer chair, tapping away swiftly as he took a few notes.

                                “I should probably leave, then, looks like you’ve got a lot to do.” As Lys put away his guitar Elliott leaned back in his chair and pushed back from the table.

                                “Yes, but I will do you the courtesy of at least seeing you off, first. Though if you get the time, I would ask a favor. If you have any horticultural skill could you have a look at that rose? I’m just not sure what to do for it.”

                                Lys snapped shut the clasps on the case and reached for the potted bloom, examining and prodding it thoughtfully.

                                “You’re not under- or over-watering it, so you’re good there. It looks like it could use more light, though. Roses are rather sun-loving. See if you can put it in a south-facing window. It might also be worth mixing in a small handful of used coffee grounds into the soil if you don’t have anything specific for roses; they prefer something slightly more alkaline than some other flowers.” He stopped short and put the rose down quickly, clearing his throat.

                                “Sorry. I didn’t mean to get- I’ll go now.” Elliott was once more surprised at how quickly the “mask” had gone back on, and gently put a hand on the guitar case before Lys could pick it up.

                                “You’ve got talent and knowledge. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed of it.” Lys didn’t say anything, still reaching for his instrument before pulling back to rub his arms in indecision.

                                “Maybe, but…”

                                “You don’t need those glasses, do you? You wear them as a shield.” Lys shot him a wary look and didn’t reply, which was confirmation enough.

                                “I won’t ask why, but you’ve been hurt and now you’re hiding. I’ve been there, for different reasons I imagine, but I know how to see it in others. You need a friend, and I’ll be that if you want. I confess to being bored and lonely out here, and this was the first time in a long time that I’ve felt properly challenged. Thank you for that.” Hugging himself tighter, Lys stepped back and stared off at nothing while he sorted out his thoughts.

                                He’s right. I’m scared and hiding. But if I didn’t really want to change I’d never have moved here or tried to meet anyone. And I haven’t been challenged in a while, either. It was difficult to keep up at first.

                                Hesitantly, he extended a hand.

                                “I’d like that.” Elliott reached up and warmly completed the handshake, and Lys relaxed, feeling a sense of satisfaction that he’d not had in a long time. He slung the case over his shoulder again by its strap as Elliott stood up and stretched, following him to the door.

                                “If you have the time tomorrow I’d like to try that again. I’ve got music scores stashed here somewhere that I haven’t read in some time if you want to try something different.”

                                “That’d be fun. Most of my stuff is guitar tabs, so it’ll take me a bit to get used to regular scoring.”

                                “Then whenever is best for you. I’ll try to have coffee ready.”

                                Lys waved from the steps in acknowledgement and headed back to the bridge. Then he remembered the message he’d received earlier and pulled out his phone.

                                Mom? “Hi sweetie! Your father and I haven’t heard from you in a while, just wondering how things are going.”

                                He typed out a quick reply, sent it off, and returned to town.

                                “Going well here, it’s a nice place. Sorry about the slow reply, was visiting a friend.”


                                Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
                                 
                                  Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
                                  Pudassassin, mrobake, Gabaw and 2 others like this.
                                • Miracle Panda-sama

                                  Miracle Panda-sama Astral Cartographer

                                  Looks like Lys is a music lover (I'm jealous of his guitar skills :()
                                   
                                  • Risukage

                                    Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                    So am I, but then, I'm badly out of practice, so I'm not that good anymore, even though I USED to be. (But on clarinet, not something cool. *Sigh.* Need to sit down with my guitar again now that everything is out of storage.) And no lie, I am a massive fan of shows like the Macross series and Uta no Prince-sama, so it kinda influences my writing and storytelling. Also, lot of his music/theater/performance experiences are drawn directly from my own, and they're really good memories for me, so I apologize for indulging in a bit of fictional nostalgia. :p

                                    Also, chapter four is typed and proofed, gonna have one more good look at it tomorrow before it goes up after I get home from work. Just a couple more chapters to establish a few more character connections and then the story can really take off. This is going to be a LONG fic, now that I've had the chance to block and frame it out. Wow.
                                     
                                      Alkanthe likes this.
                                    • Risukage

                                      Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                      //Hello and welcome back, hope your Monday is going well! If not, well, maybe this will help. I've actually started to charge ahead on chapters, and if I can get a few more up as buffer I'll try for a M/W/F schedule, 'cause I've got a lot of story to tell and I don't want to leave everyone hanging. (Or I could just post really long chapters, but I want each chapter to be its own "scene.") And maybe by posting more often I'll finally get over the jitters of "OMG, I just posted and everyone will hate it time to hide under my desk." Also, an internet cookie for anyone who knows the song reference in this chapter, though you'll only get it if you're a fan of 90's anime. Once again, thanks for watching, be sure to like and subscribe! ...Wait, this isn't YouTube... :D//


                                      It was late morning, moving toward afternoon, so Lys returned to the main road and followed it north back into town, intending to find the general store and talk to Pierre again. As he was about to leave the plaza he noticed a woman with a number of grocery bags, looking tired from the weight. Reflexively he smiled and approached, waving in greeting.

                                      “Hi! Sorry to bother, but you look like you could use a bit of a hand.”

                                      “I could, but I don’t want to bother you, either.”

                                      “I offered first and I’ve got the day ahead of me. I think I met you yesterday, um… And I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t remember your name.” Lys blushed and rubbed the back of his neck, chuckling at himself.

                                      “That’s okay, dear. I’m Jodi. You’re Lys, right? Sam was talking about you last night, he said you’re a theater major?”

                                      “Yes, and no? I’ve done a lot of it, but it wasn’t quite a major. Here, I’ll take a few of those bags for you so you’re not just standing there.” He took half of her bags, and she visibly straightened, looking far less fatigued as they continued to her house.

                                      “Thanks, I really appreciate it. The walk to Joja Mart is a bit long as it is, and there were a few things on sale I really wanted to stock up on. Normally Sam helps out, but he’s practicing with his band and I don’t want to take him away from that. It’s nice to see him so enthusiastic about something constructive.”

                                      “He didn’t say anything about that, but then we didn’t get much time to really talk. I guess we’ll have something in common after all.”

                                      “You look like you play, too,” Jodi remarked, noticing the guitar slung across his back, “you two should get along just fine. Oh, we’re here, let me get the door.”

                                      Jodi invited him in, and he followed her to the kitchen as the sound of upbeat music cut off and was replaced by Sam and Sebastian discussing something.

                                      “Dang, I like that bit, but something feels off.”

                                      “I know, but I’m not sure what I else I can add without oversaturating the whole thing. Synth can only do so much, and I really don’t want to change the lead guitar.”

                                      “I keep telling you that we need more rhythm and bass support,” Abigail chimed in, “I’m kicking ass back here, but I’m also really the one driving the beat.” Peering into what looked like Sam’s bedroom, Lys saw Sam sitting in a plush chair with an electric guitar across his knees, while Sebastian stood at the center of a complex synth keyboard rig in front of Abigail, who was seated at a full drum set.

                                      “It’s not like we’re magically going to get a new band member out of nowhere, so we’ll have to make do. Hey, mom, you’re back,” Sam observed, then grinned as he saw Lys set down his cargo, “and the lesbian, how goes it?”

                                      Jodi gasped as Abigail laughed, Sebastian rubbed his temples, and Lys looked shocked.

                                      “He means ‘thespian,’ Jodi,” Sebastian clarified, “and hello again, Lys, I apologize for him because he has no damn shame.”

                                      “Oh yeah, right. Okay, let’s take it from the top with these changes, I want to hear how it goes all the way through.” Lys leaned against the doorframe and watched with interest as Abigail gave them the tempo. He closed his eyes and listened, hearing their music the way an architect would observe a building or an engineer a machine. Abruptly the music stopped as Sam began laughing.

                                      “Sweet air guitar, man.”

                                      “You stopped us for that? C’mon!” Abigail sighed. Lys realized that he’d been subconsciously “playing” along with them.

                                      “Ah, actually, ‘air bass,’ to be honest, you seem to be missing something to support the melody.”

                                      “I TOLD you so,” she nodded, twirling a drumstick expertly in one hand.

                                      “And I think you’re missing the big picture here,” rebuffed Sam with an air of importance, “he said ‘air BASS.’ You play, dude?”

                                      “You can’t just conscript people! ...Even if they are cute,” she pointed out. Sebastian shrugged at Lys with weary patience.

                                      “I’m going to have to apologize for both of them, it seems.”

                                      “It’s fine, really. I do play, I just don’t want to drop in uninvited. I’m just some person you met yesterday.”

                                      “You’re invited, then, get over here and show us what you’ve got,” Sam demanded with a grin, “a rubbish player is better than none.”

                                      “I’m very good, thank you very much,” Lys sniffed, setting aside his guitar before picking up the bass and plugging it in, “I'm better on guitar than bass, but I'm still skilled. And I don’t need a warm-up, I was working with Elliott earlier so I’m good to go.”

                                      “The writer? What’s he need a musician for?”

                                      “Well, he doesn’t, but he did need help with writer’s block, so we did an improv exercise. He’s a talented pianist,” Lys paused to roll his eyes in synch with Sebastian as Sam giggled with immaturity, “so we just did some quick lyric-writing with a random song. It’s something that I’d do with dad’s group all the time and it seemed to help.”

                                      “Wait, you were in a band?” Sam asked, perking up. Lys shook his head as he tested a few settings.

                                      “No, my dad has a local band, and I just sit in with them sometimes.”

                                      “You’re pro? Dude, that is sweet!”

                                      “What? No! I’m just skilled, not a professional.”

                                      “You’ve played in front of audiences, right?”

                                      “Well, small ones, yes. But that’s not-”

                                      “Close enough, it’s more than we’ve done.”

                                      “I still don’t-”

                                      “Just shut up and play,” Sam laughed, “I wanna hear a pro bassist rock that thing.” Abigail leaned forward with interest and Sebastian folded his arms across his chest, watching him intently. Lys plucked a few strings to get the feel for the instrument before segueing into a jaunty “walking bass” line.

                                      “This is a quality instrument,” he observed, “you’ve got good equipment.”

                                      “Hmm. You know ‘Planet Dance?’ Bass and lyrics?”

                                      “Yes. I know most of their discography, actually.”

                                      “Kick ass. You can take over backup lyrics for Sebastian, he’s got a good voice but he hates singing.”

                                      “You really want me to-”

                                      “Let’s do this! Ready when you are, Sebby.” Sebastian opened up with the synth lead, and the other three entered as their parts required, with Sam belting out the lyrics with enthusiasm. Listening with a musician’s ear, Lys backed up Sam’s vocals the next verse, his warm tenor supporting Sam’s bright alto. The usually stoic Sebastian looked suitably impressed, while Sam and Abigail just seemed to be having fun. The last notes were accompanied by Jodi’s applause.

                                      “That sounded so good, Sam! You’re really taking this seriously.” He chuckled at her praise as she walked off and shifted his grin to Lys again.

                                      “Dude, that was cool. Usually the backup goes higher than lead.”

                                      “Yes, but with your sound I thought it better to drop an octave and sing fifth rather than third in yours. I thought it gave a better harmony.”

                                      “Can we keep him? We’re keeping him,” Sam asked to nobody in particular.

                                      “I get to stare at three cute guys, works for me,” giggled Abby. Sebastian hooked his thumbs through his belt loops and shrugged.

                                      “I’m not averse to that, and you’re what we need. However, nobody here has asked what you want, or even if you can devote the time to it. As you said, you just met us yesterday.”

                                      “I don’t mind, really, but I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. Other than trying to clear out the farm and- Damn! I’ve been meaning to talk to Pierre but I keep getting distracted.”

                                      “I’ll make sure dad has time to talk to you today,” offered Abigail, “I think he mentioned something about you needing gardening supplies.”

                                      “He’s your… Oh, that’s handy. Thanks. I need to get started on something soon. I’ve got some cash saved for a while, but it won’t last forever.” Suddenly feeling tired, Lys sat down heavily on the sofa, rubbing his eyes.

                                      “Sorry. It’s just… I came here with no direction or purpose, and absolutely no plan to support myself. Stupid.” There was a moment of silence as nobody knew quite how to follow that.

                                      “Damn. Sorry again. I’ll leave you to practice.” As he stood and set aside the bass Sam gave him a look of irritation.

                                      “Oh hell no. You do not get to blue-ball this group by playing that and leaving.”

                                      “Don’t be rude, Sam.”

                                      “I’m not! I’m telling it like it is. Did you hear how good he made me sound?”

                                      “I wasn’t that good. I’m just skilled.”

                                      “And I want that skill. C’mon, just give us one more day. I’ll buy the beer.”

                                      “I… If I can get figured out what I need to on the farm… I don’t want to be a burden. But you did ask and it would be rude of me to refuse. You’re not too far away, and a couple of hours here and there won’t cost me. I’ll need the change of pace anyway,” he said, working out the problem verbally, “I guess, yeah, I’ll stay if you’ll have me.” Sam whooped in exultation and bounced to his feet, giving Lys a powerful and playful hug around the waist that nearly knocked the breath out of him, which was impressive since Sam was nearly a full foot shorter.

                                      “This is gonna be sweet. We’re going to be rock stars!”

                                      “If we can ever decide on what style of music we’re going to write.”

                                      “Ugh, harsh my groove again, Sebby, why don’cha.”


                                      Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
                                       
                                        Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
                                      • Risukage

                                        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                        //So apparently I've got the literary equivalent of a runner's high, because I've broken through the writer's block and have several chapters already typed up, with more mentally queued now that I've got it started. As such, I'm going for three updates a week, so yay for all of you who for some reason find this compelling. :p//


                                        They practiced for another hour, doing nothing specific, just learning how to work as an ensemble group. The addition of Lys did provide the sound they were looking for, and the four of them went back and forth on the piece of music that had been in the works when he had arrived. Sebastian typed comments on a notebook that he had bolted to his synth rig for this purpose, while Sam made notations on a sheet of music, his quick scribbling surprisingly legible. As a performer but not a writer, Lys provided what insight he could from a bass player’s perspective, but unsuccessfully hid his dismay at not being able to provide much more.

                                        “I’m just a support class,” he sighed, running a hand through his hair, “I’m a rubbish lead and creator, but I’m great at backing others up. That’s one of the reasons I’m not a professional.”

                                        “S’okay man,” replied Sam, “I can’t stand doing backup work. I’ve gotta be out front and doing something. I mean, I can, I just don’t like to.”

                                        “Speaking of work, let’s go talk to dad, Lys. We’ll leave them to tinker with the details while we get you set up with what you need.”

                                        “Ah, sure. It won’t be a problem to just pack up and go?”

                                        “Nah, have at it, me and Sebby know what needs to happen here, we just need to get it written down so we don’t forget.”

                                        “In which case, I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.” Sebastian looked up from his notes and smiled, which seemed to be a rare expression for him.

                                        “Cool, sounds great. Wait, before you go, you should get our info so we can stay in contact.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his phone and Sam followed suit.

                                        “I got so wrapped up in this I forgot we don’t have any way to get ahold of you. Hey, Abby, get him set up with Chatter tonight, would’ja?”

                                        “I’ve already got a login, I just don’t use it much,” Lys offered, saving the contact profiles that he received and sending off his own, “you have your own chat group?”

                                        “Yeah. It’s not like we’re totally far away from each other here, but sometimes it’s just nice to be able to send a quick message or pic or something. Lemme get you added in real fast, since you’ve got your email address in your contact info. ...Annnnnd… Done! Awright, laters!”



                                        For the third (perhaps fourth, he’d lost count) time that day he journeyed in the direction of the general store, this time escorted by Abigail.

                                        “Thanks for putting up with Sam like that. He’s sweet but he has no brain-to-mouth filter and can get kinda pushy sometimes.”

                                        “It’s not a problem. His honesty and enthusiasm are refreshing.”

                                        “Oh, I want to record and save that for later, just so I can play it back for you in a few months when you’re tired of his shenanigans,” she laughed, “he will try your patience now and then but he always means well. It’s funny how he’s the older brother but always acts like the annoying youngest.”

                                        “He has siblings?”

                                        “One, his brother Vincent. You might have seen him at the dance. Usually Penny babysits him and Jasmine and tutors them at the library, so they’re not at the house much.”

                                        “I’m an only child, so I can’t say I know what his perspective is like.”

                                        “Same here. We’re the odd ones out, I guess, ‘cause Sebastian’s got a half-sister. They get along okay, but they’re not exactly friendly. Ah, sorry, I shouldn’t gossip like that.”

                                        “No worries, it happens. But thanks for taking the time to help, I’ve got so many things to take care of and I keep getting sidetracked. Once I get the issue of the farm settled I still need to look into things like updating my wardrobe. I’ve been here a week and I already need to do laundry.”

                                        “Aww, you don’t like your sexy librarian look?”

                                        “I… What?”

                                        “Well, the long hair and glasses, the spiffy button-down shirt… Just gender-swap you, and trade the pants and boots for a pencil skirt and heels and you’re several guys’ fetish.”

                                        “Right, time for a total outfit change, then.”

                                        “Awww! Well, any idea what you’re looking for? Ooh! I bet you could emulate Elliott’s style. That vest and slacks look, unf!” she grinned, biting her lip, “damn but he makes that look hot.”

                                        “I think he wears it better than I would, and I need something a bit more durable and functional right now. I’ll worry about looking good once I’ve got a place to do so.”

                                        “Meh, true that. If you need something custom we can ask Emily, Haley’s sister. She’s a hell of a seamstress. But if you know your sizes you can order stuff to be delivered to the store, as it is kinda a pain to get the time to go out to the city to do any shopping. Speaking of, here we are. Hey dad! I think you two have business together.” Pierre straightened up from behind the register where had had been shelving something and dusted off his hands.

                                        “Ah, I was expecting you today. What are you interested in growing?”

                                        “I really don’t know, to be honest. I could use a bit of advice and see if this is even something that’s worth pursuing.”

                                        “Well, let’s have a look at the catalog and see what we can come up with.” He pulled out a clipboard and paper and set it on the counter, then navigated to a page on the computer next to the register and began taking notes on the clipboard. Lys leaned on the counter where he could see both the screen and the paper, and they discussed back and forth the possibilities. He took the pencil to sketch out the general layout of the farm and what he’d already cleared, then passed it back as Pierre marked additional notations, asking about particulars and specifics to narrow down design and content. There was a lot more to it than Lys had originally imagined, and for a while he felt the sinking feeling of being overwhelmed, but continuing prodding and conversing brought him back around to being optimistic.

                                        “It seems like you’ve got a good plan of action with this. Talk to Robin for the hardware portion and we can have you set up in a few days. That should give you enough time to clear out any more space you need.”

                                        “I think I do. Still, it does feel a bit silly, just growing flowers. Doesn’t seem like a real job. Will I really be able to live off of this?”

                                        “They aren’t in major demand, but there’s always a use. There are a couple of places in the city that you could contract with eventually, and if you set aside a space for spices and herbs those could sell well in-town, too. Caroline loves cooking with the fresh stuff, but it’s difficult to grow in small batches, and you have to use the stuff from the store quickly before it goes bad if you don’t want to go with the dried kind.”

                                        “I hadn’t thought of that. And they’re fairly easy to grow and maintain. Though I’ll want to get that greenhouse repaired before winter.”

                                        “Well then, you’re set up here, I’ll give you a call when everything is in. Robin should still be at home if you want to try to take care of that today.” Abigail reappeared from the door to the common area, having listened to most of the conversation.

                                        “I can take you over there now if you want, she’s just up the hill.” Pierre initially frowned, the natural reaction of a father to unsupervised time alone between his daughter and a strange man, but glanced and Lys and nodded. For some reason Lys felt that he should be insulted at such a quick change in opinion but he picked up the paperwork, thanked Pierre for his help, and followed Abigail outside.

                                        “So I talked to Haley and she says she can get you a haircut.”

                                        “I… There seems to be a conversation somewhere that I missed entirely.”

                                        “Well, you did say that you wanted to change your image. And you’ve got such nice hair, it’s a shame you don’t do anything with it.” He wrapped a lock of hair around his finger and studied it, puzzled.

                                        “I just... keep it washed and brushed. There’s really not much more, is there?”

                                        “Oh, she is going to have so much fun with you.”

                                        “The only reason I haven’t fled in terror yet is that I don’t know where to go.”

                                        “Don’t be a wimp. I promise she’ll make you look great. Please?” she asked, winking cutely.

                                        “Fine, but if she brings out cosmetics I will run.”


                                        Meeting with Robin took less time than it had with Pierre, as most of the groundwork was already sketched out and there wasn’t a lot that needed to be ordered or made. Abigail had gone back after escorting him over, and shortly after that Sebastian returned home, nodding to Lys in greeting but not interrupting the discussion. When they finally finished work on the plans the shadows outside were getting long, not quite evening but definitely late in the afternoon. Like Pierre had, Robin promised to contact him once everything was in stock, and he picked up his guitar and notes once more, wandering down the mountain to town and back home. He smiled to himself as he walked, finding small humor in the situation.

                                        Funny, I’m here at the beginning and the end of the day. But I did get a lot done. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Though I do worry about what Abigail and Haley consider to be “fun.”


                                        Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
                                         
                                          Last edited: Jun 17, 2016
                                        • Risukage

                                          Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                          //And here we are at the end of the week, hurrah! More story today, and a bit of character-building. Doing some edits for Monday's update, which is where I'm finally going to start getting to what I really want to tell, now that I'm done with setting the, well, setting. I should hopefully be able to do longer chapters, as I'm trying to tell "scenes" with each section, and they should be getting longer from here on out as more can start happening. That said, here's chapter 6, and I'll see you all again Monday!//


                                          He didn’t quite like it, but he dressed for a third day to go into town instead of continuing work on clearing the farm. But, he had promised to visit Elliott again, and Haley had made the nice offer to do something with his hair. Besides, he wanted to get to the library to look up a few things. His phone was tethered to his laptop, giving him internet access to look up everything he needed to know about gardening, but anything specific to this town was going to have to come from the library. Where was it, though? The same as the day before, he followed the road east into town and turned south. He remembered that it was supposed to be on the far southeast of town.

                                          There’s a road that runs parallel to the river, just before the bridge to the beach, I think I need to go that way.

                                          “Lys! Hey! Over here!” He looked around for whomever was trying to get his attention, and saw Abigail standing next to Haley at the home next door to Sam’s place, jumping up and down as she waved at him.

                                          So note to self: anything I plan to do first thing in the morning immediately gets sidetracked.

                                          “I didn’t expect you to be in town so early. Still, cool, we can take care of it now.”

                                          “Only if it isn’t a bother. Hello, Haley, thanks for offering to- nnmf!” He was cut off as Haley reached up and grabbed him by the chin, looking at him thoughtfully as she made inner calculations.

                                          “Right, I know what needs to be done. I’ll be right back.”

                                          “I...guess I’ll wait here, then.” Haley was gone less than a minute, and returned with a folding chair, a towel, and a small bag.

                                          “Sit, and don’t move. If I mess this up because you got twitchy I will be very annoyed.” Feeling somehow intimidated, he set aside his guitar and complied as she wrapped the towel around his shoulders and removed his glasses. Abigail flopped on the grass near them, grinning with anticipation as she pulled out the butterfly knife again from one of her many pockets and twirled it, in what appeared to be a reflex when idle. Haley set down the bag and produced from it a comb and a pair of professional-looking scissors, stood back to observe him one last time, nodded to herself, and began combing his hair in preparation.

                                          “No way, you’re giving him a haircut? Darn, now he won’t have that sexy librarian thing going on.”

                                          “I said the same thing yesterday,” Abigail remarked as Sam bounded over with enthusiasm, “and what are you doing up so early? I didn’t expect to see you for at least another hour.”

                                          “What? Sometimes I get up early.”

                                          “Your mom woke you up because she was doing housekeeping, wasn’t she?”

                                          “...Yes.”

                                          “Heh.” Haley appeared to be quite good at ignoring Sam, as she made no indication that she had heard him while she made small snips and trims, being careful to not cut too much at once.

                                          “Ooh, I know, give him spikes like me, we’ll be twins!”

                                          “He’s ginger and you’re blonde, doofus.”

                                          “It would still look cool.”

                                          “Please do not antagonize the women holding sharp objects,” suggested Lys, trying not to move, “and don’t make me laugh, especially while she has those same sharp things in my face.”

                                          “If she bends down a bit more she can put something much softer in your face.” This jibe produced a sharp glare from Haley for a moment before she went back to work, punctuated by a sniff of disdain. Stepping back again, she combed a couple of adjustments into place as she checked what she had done so far.

                                          “It’s looking good. Your hair doesn’t part in a strange way so I don’t have to adjust for that. You’ve also got good cheekbones, and I really want to frame them a bit. Just a little more…” Feeling snarky, Abigail patted Sam on the shoulder in a reassuring manner.

                                          “Just remember that she has to bend down to do that to him while sitting, but they’re right in your face when you’re both standing, so you win in the end.”

                                          “I know you’re taking the piss because I’m short, but you make a very compelling argument.”

                                          “Sharp...objects…”

                                          “Quit whining, if she slips you’ll have a cool scar.”

                                          “Oh, lovely, I can tell everyone that I need an eyepatch because my friend was being a pillock when I was getting a haircut. That will buy me drinks.”

                                          “If it’s cold enough out here she could still put out an eye with something else right about now.” Sam snickered, and Abigail made no effort to contain a fit of giggles. This time Haley stepped back to heave a deep, frustrated sigh, which Sam watched with unabashed lechery. Putting away the knife, Abigail sat up cross-legged, elbows on her knees and chin in her hands as she watched Haley finish, who reached into the bag again and pulled out a length of ribbon. She deftly pulled the rest of his hair back and tied it in place, knotting off the ribbon, and studying her handiwork critically with her hands on her hips. Satisfied, she removed the towel with a flourish.

                                          “I am brilliant. That came out better than I had expected.”

                                          “Damn straight,” whistled Abigail, “he looks like the lead of a romantic film.” For a third time Haley rummaged in her bag, handing him a small mirror, and he was pleasantly surprised. Feathered bangs swept across his forehead, and a few locks ran long on the right to his cheek and framing the side of his face, but the left side ran longer to his chin. Not enough to tie back, but enough to tuck out of the way.

                                          “It’s the asymmetry,” Haley explained as she put away her tools, “if I’d have kept it balanced it would just look girly or cute. Unbalanced and tied back like that looks roguish but aristocratic, and still gives you a bit to hide behind.” He almost dropped the mirror at her astute observation and was about to protest when he saw her no-nonsense look.

                                          “We all can see it, sweetie, you’re hiding something. I’m just the only one honest enough to say it to your face. But, we all do respect your privacy and aren’t going to pry.”

                                          “...Thanks. Very much. I definitely owe you something for this.”

                                          “I’ll think of something. For now we’ll just call it a favor owed and I’ll cash it in later.”

                                          “He owes you something big, then, because that came out pretty good,” observed Sebastian, who had just strolled up. Sam waved gleefully to him from his spot on the grass.

                                          “I thought you weren’t going to show up for practice until later.”

                                          “I wasn’t, but that bit of code is giving me trouble so I figured I’d come back to it in a while. Wasn’t expecting to see Lys here, either, I was just going to look over what we’d written yesterday.”

                                          “If you want to work on that for a while I can go away and come back. I need to go by the library, and also promised to drop in at Elliott’s for a bit, so I’m in no hurry.” Haley sighed wistfully.

                                          “He is just so dashing and stylish. A pity he doesn’t come into town more, it’s dreadfully lacking in sophistication here without him.”

                                          “I’m almost envious of that, to be honest,” Lys admitted, “he’s naturally suave, but I need to work to get into character for that.”

                                          “Yeah, right,” laughed Sam as he sprawled on his back, “you’re too cute to be smooth.”

                                          “You’re just jealous that Lys is sexier than you are,” Haley rebuffed, crossing her arms across her chest.

                                          “Like he can really pull off sexy. No offense, man, but you’re more adorkable than hot.”

                                          “Hmph, challenge accepted,” Lys grinned. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, and almost appeared to change into another person; his timid posture straightened as he threw back his shoulders, relaxing into a standing swagger, and his smile went from warm to smolder. Turning to Haley, he bowed and reached for her hand.

                                          “Many thanks, my Lady of the Garden. Your skill is that of a botanist’s, carefully cutting away the excess to showcase and highlight the beauty of the bloom. I was tangled and strangled, but now I breathe free.” Sam’s mouth hung open as Lys kissed her hand, leaving her blushing and giggling helplessly. Abigail slow-clapped in appreciation.

                                          “Proper smooth, but Haley is a sucker for the mushy stuff. Eh?” Lys knelt in front of her, taking her hands in his, giving her the same smile.

                                          “And you, my Lady of the Blade, I could not have been guided to this transformation without your intervention. I equally owe you my thanks, though I am at a loss as to how this act of kindness must be repaid.”

                                          “Erm, that’s… Yeah, Sam, you lost this bet. He’s hot.” Sebastian chuckled and shook his head.

                                          “Sorry, Lys, but that’s just funny more than sensual or whatever.” Lys’s smile didn’t change. Rather, it also became somewhat thoughtful as he got to his feet and regarded Sebastian with curiosity.

                                          “That is true, but you and your needs are different from theirs.”

                                          “Well, yeah, that goes without- Um-!” In two steps Lys was in front of Sebastian, wrapping an arm around his waist and pulling him close as he ran a finger gently and slowly down the other man’s face, from ear to chin, where he paused.

                                          “I wonder, what is it that you desire?”

                                          “I… That’s… You…”

                                          “We’ll find out one of these days!” Lys smiled in a friendly manner, clapping Sebastian on the back before walking away with his hands in his pockets. Sam and Abigail laughed uproariously at Sebastian’s expression of complete bafflement, who was still trying to figure out what had just happened, and Haley was snickering behind a handkerchief, trying not to be too obvious about how much she had enjoyed their exchange.

                                          “You… Don’t do that!”

                                          “Why, are you afraid I was really going to kiss you or something?” Lys smirked, not bothering to hide his amusement at Sebastian’s discomfiture, and fixing Sam with a look of mischief.

                                          “As for you, my affection…is that of a fondness for one’s little brother,” he teased, ruffling Sam’s hair.

                                          “Oh, ohhhh, that’s harsh. You leave them hot and bothered but leave me out in the cold. You are a villain, dude.” Putting his glasses back on, Lys retreated behind his soft and quiet smile, having discarded the previous face in the time it took to pick them up.

                                          “I told you, I’ve done a lot of theater.”

                                          “I think Sebastian needs a cold shower.”

                                          “Shut up.”

                                          “Ohmigosh, are you really-”

                                          “Shut up, Sam. And no, I don’t. I’m just not used to people being up in my personal space.”

                                          “Sorry if I got too close,” Lys apologized, having the grace to look abashed, “I also did say that I really do get into a role sometimes, and I admit that I was having fun. Didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”

                                          “...S’okay, you just caught me by surprise.”

                                          “Well, you said you wanted to work on something for a bit. I’ll run off and take care of my errands, so just send me a message when you’re ready to meet up again. And thanks again, Haley. Whenever you’re ready to cash in that favor let me know and I’ll do what I can.”


                                          Edit 17 June: Added spoiler tags to collapse thread
                                           
                                            Last edited: Jun 17, 2016

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