Guess what? I've started writing again! This fic is based on a free, anime-style dating sim that goes by the name of Katawa Shoujo. It takes place in the same universe, and is very loosely based on said game. Other players might recognize a couple of things. I guess I should state this fanfiction features disabled persons and their daily troubles, so if you are in any way offended by this, I'd kindly suggest you don't bother reading it. Not in the sense that I'm making fun of any disabilities- Quite the opposite, actually. And just in case you're wondering because you've been informed Katawa Shoujo features hentai scenes; In full compliance with the rules of PokeCharms, this fic, naturally, does not. Don't worry. One last thing; I am constantly looking to improve on my own writing, and because I know this website has a large amount of skilled writers, constructive criticism is more then appreciated! Enjoy~ ~~~ Chapter 1; Bienvenue en France Daisuke MacLeod closed the door behind him as he entered the small hallway, after which he attempted to remove the wet strands of brown hair from over his eyes. He looked up at the faded brown stairs he was now facing; James was already halfway up the steps, but had stopped to look back over his shoulder. ‘Want some help with those bags of yours?’ James offered him, turning around and walking a few steps down again, his hand stretched out demonstratively. The truth was, Daisuke wouldn’t mind some help with getting his various bags of clothing, medicine and other items up the stairs- A trial he wasn’t exactly looking forward to- But on the other hand, he didn’t want to look weak in front of the boy he’d just met and was going to live with for a considerable amount of time. James piqued an eyebrow as it took him more then a couple of seconds to answer- Maybe he was worried he was having another one of his ‘space-outs’, like the one he’d already had in the car on the journey here. After he had snapped back into reality, he had explained his condition to James, who hadn’t seemed too surprised, given the school he would soon be attending. He gave a smile, jerking his head slightly to get some more hair out of his line of sight. ‘Yeah, that’d be great.’ James reached down from the stairs to gain hold of the bag Daisuke handed him, and there was a short moment where they were at eye level and their faces only a few inches apart. He couldn’t help but notice how pretty James’ grey-green eyes were, not vibrantly coloured like some people’s were, but deep and with a strange glint of understanding and hidden wisdom, despite his joking and talkative personality. He lifted himself up and headed up the stairs once more. Daisuke followed suit, letting out a barely audible sigh at the loss of that short moment of unexpected intimacy. James lifted the heavy bag over his shoulder like it was nothing, the muscles in his shoulders flexing visibly against the fabric of his nylon coat. Once they had reached the first floor, James entered the key, twisted it and tried to open the door. It didn’t even budge, despite the amount of force put against it. The problem, however, was not the door itself, as it turned out; James put his hand down hard on the brass handle above the lock, and after a second of pressurizing there was a sudden, mechanical noise as the door gave way. ‘Yeah, it does that sometimes.’ James said, smiling apologetically. ‘Sometimes it sticks. So, welcome to our humble abode- And your new home!’ He added, plopping the bag down on the floor. Daisuke found himself looking at a large oak table with a sofa one one side of it against the far wall and a variety of wooden chairs around the other side. To the left was a kitchen, not overly big but with all the necessary components like a sink and various forms of cutlery, and even a dishwasher. He could hear laughter and various other noises coming from the doorway separating the kitchen and dining room from what must be the living room. James took off his coat and hung it from the coat rack situated behind the door, and beckoned for Daisuke to hand him his as well. He quickly removed his own coat after putting the bags he was carrying himself down, folded it in half and gave it to James. He had to admit that it felt kind of strange to just enter someone’s home without stepping into a pair of uwakabi. Earlier when James had picked him up from the train station in his pickup, he’d had to resist giving a small bow and an energetic greeting, instead resorting to the Western customs of shaking hands asking the other about his state of health, then stating his name and how it was nice to meet him. It was natural enough for him because he’d visited Western countries, or met Western socialites, on numerous occasions. But he still spent most of his time in his fatherland, with its respective formal and informal customs, so it would take getting used to regardless. ‘C’mon, let’s get you introduced to the rest. Sounds like they’re having another game night.’ James said, heading for the doorway. Daisuke went after him, even though he didn’t feel he would need much of an introduction. James had already told him nearly everything about the other members of the clique on the way here. The door opened, and five faces turned to face them. The girl sitting cross-legged on the floor with her back against the sofa, smiling wholeheartedly at him, had to be Rie Yamauchi, a fellow student of Japanese origins. Her name loosely translated to ‘valued blessing, within the mountains’. James had found this extraordinarily funny, because according to James, that was exactly what she was to the rest. She was a tactful and motherly figure, always polite and kind, helpful and caring- But ‘with a wicked side to her’, as James had said sullenly, giving a knowing wink to Daisuke. A bit too much information. She was also famous for her Bento Mondays. The two guys taking up most of the space on the couch, who looked just about James’ age- Eighteen, a year older then Daisuke was- Were Andrew Allen, nicknamed ‘Double A’ by his buddies, and Chase Carter, known as ‘Double C’ to the same people. The two were inseparable, having grown up together. They were incredibly like-minded, almost like twins born from different parents. Amongst the many things they shared was a passion for video games and sitcoms, and they studied Media at university level. Andrew was the Caucasian one with frizzy blonde curls, whilst Chase was distinctly Latin-American of complexion with short, dark brown hair. Two girls, seated in chairs next to the occupied couch, smiled up at him as well- Although somewhat more judgingly, but not unfriendly. Two Fashion students who went by the names of Sascha Fortier and Paige Turner- The latter of which the name was a mistake made by the respective parents who decided to leave it the way it was, ‘to spread good mood wherever she went’. According to James, the occasional catfight broke out between the two because of their entirely different outlooks on life, but they ‘needed each other too much to really end their friendship.’ How had he even remembered all this? He was suddenly met with a chorus of greetings, and they stood up in turn to shake his hand- All but Rei, who instead bowed and gave a wink afterwards. Both Andrew and Chase gave Daisuke a firm handshake, and Andrew remarked; ‘Are you really Japanese? You don’t look like it!’ Chase poked him in the side. ‘Dude, do you have any idea how rude that sounds?’ He retorted, agitated. Andrew’s eyes grew wide and his mouth formed a perfect ‘O’ as he realized what he’d just said. Daisuke allowed himself the pleasure of pretending to have his eyes storm up, but just before Andrew was going to administer his most sincere apologies and probably affirm that he was, in fact, not a racist, Rei let out a giggle, breaking the magic. Daisuke couldn’t help but laugh along with her. ‘I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I’m sorry, it was a beautiful opportunity.’ He said, in an effort to calm a dumbstruck Andrew. Besides, he knew what he had said was true; With a British father who apparently had the dominant genes in his strands, Daisuke looked far from Asian and much more Eurasian. His skin was only marginally coloured, his hair was a light brown and his eyes a blueish grey. The only thing reminiscent of his Asian heritage were some of his facial structures. They all had a good laugh about it, even the still somewhat shocked Andrew. James patted him on the back.’You’ll fit right in.’ The last handshake, courtesy of Paige, was accompanied by another remark, this one nowhere as faux-offensive; ‘MacLeod isn’t a Japanese name, is it?’ She asked. Daisuke nodded. ‘My Dad’s British, but his family’s originally Scottish.’ He answered. ‘You guys are soaked to the skin!’ Rei said, eyeing the two boys. ‘I’ll go get some towels.’ She continued, disappearing through another doorway momentarily before returning with two clean and dry white towels. Daisuke thanked her and dried off his hair and face, leaving his hair a spikey mess. ‘When’s dinner, Rei?’ James asked, patting his belly as a clear indication of hunger. ‘Soon enough, but there’s still some dishes left put in. Maybe Daisuke-chan would like to help out?’ Rei asked. Daisuke considered for a short moment; He still had some unpacking to do, but then again, that could wait until tonight. He’d already had a more warm welcome then he’d imagined he would get, but it was important to make a good impression on his new flatmates. ‘Sure, why not?’ He said, and followed Rei through the doorway back to the kitchen, closing the door behind him. ‘Let’s see how much of a helper you really are, great helper.’ She joked, referring to meaning of his name. ‘In the meantime, I’ll try to figure out why you’re a valued blessing within the mountains.’ He deflected. She giggled. ‘Y’know, sometimes I think it was fate that brought me here. How else would someone live up to their name like this?’ Daisuke shrugged as Rei handed him the first couple of plates. ‘Do you believe in fate?’ The question caught him off guard. It’s not the kind of question you’d expect to hear mere minutes after first meeting someone. He contemplated for a moment; He’d never really given it a lot of thought. He shrugged again. ‘Not really, no. Sometimes things seem so miraculous that you think it can’t be a coincidence, but I’m more of a man of science, I guess.’ From the corner of his eye he saw Rei nodding approvingly. Had it been a test, and one he’d just passed at that? Rei didn’t seem like a very judgemental person, nor a very spiritual one. It was a confusing prospect, so he decided to change the subject. ‘You’re the only other one here who goes to the Smithson, right?’ Daisuke asked, referring to the school he would soon be attending. Rei nodded. ‘We might even end up in the same class, because we’re in the same year. Regardless, I’ll be sure to give you a tour of the place on Monday, just to make sure you’ll know where to find everything!’ She said, flashing another friendly smile. ‘What are you studying?’ He continued. She pursed her lips. ‘Arts! Although I’m not quite sure what direction I want t- Daisuke!’ He knew that sudden skip in dialogue all too well. He’d zoned out again. ‘I’m sorry! I, uhm...’ He wasn’t sure what to say, but he needed to reassure Rei, who was looking rather worried. ‘It’s sort of what I do. Why I’m going to be attending Smithson.’ She visibly relaxed, although she was still a bit wide-eyed. ‘I figured it wasn’t going to be something physical, because you look fine. Could you... Tell me what it is?’ She asked, carefully. Daisuke nodded. ‘I thought it’d be best if I told everyone at dinner. I mean, they know I’m attending the ‘special’ school, so they’re bound to curious what’s wrong with me.’ He said, feigning a smile Rei patted him on the shoulder. ‘None of us are like that here. You’re lucky you ended up with us!’ She said. ‘Well, the campus was full. Apparently Europe and its surrounding regions have a lot of disabled kids with rich parents.’ Rei noticed the disdain in his voice. ‘Don’t worry about it too much, Dai- Can I call you Dai?- No one likes having to come to this school at first. But trust me, in time, you’ll enjoy it. The teachers are nice, as are the people, and it’s a beautiful area as well.’ She was obviously trying her hardest to comfort him. Daisuke smiled back. ‘You’re probably right. It’s most likely prettier around here without the rain.’ Half an hour later, they were all seated around the large oak dinner table. Daisuke had been sat down on the couch, between Sascha and Paige, which was apparently some kind of honour. Even though there were some daily conversations, he remained the centre of attention. ‘So what do you think of France, Dai?’ Chase asked. The others had been quick to adopt Rei’s nickname for him, which he didn’t really mind if it was easier for them. ‘It’s very pretty. I stayed in a hotel in Paris last night, and I only arrived here yesterday on a flight straight from Japan, so I had quite the jet lag, but so far I like what I’ve seen.’ He answered truthfully. ‘We should take you to Serre-Poncon sometime. It’s a big lake, and one of the most beautiful places I know of!’ Paige said, and the others agreed. ‘How did you learn to speak English so well?’ This question came from James. ‘My father never bothered to learn Japanese because he wasn’t home very often, and even when he was, he was always surrounded by English-speaking people. On top of that, both him and my mother thought it was very important for me to master it.’ ‘You don’t even have an accent!’ Sascha noted, which Daisuke found slightly ironic as she had a distinct French tinge to her English. He smiled. ‘Well, with a British father and a Japanese mother, I guess the accents cancel each other out?’ He mused. It earned him some chuckles. Enjoying his lasagna, which was filled with all sorts of vegetables and ground meat with a generous layer of cheese on top, he answered a couple more questions of a wide variety. He learned some stuff about his new friends as well. It surprised him how open they were to him and eachother. Traditionally, most of the things you heard about West-Europeans weren’t exactly positive. He guessed it was life’s reminder not to judge people by what you thought you knew about them. Him and Rei shared a look, and Daisuke gave a quick nod. Now was as good a time as any to answer the question he was sure the remaining four who did not yet know were itching to ask, but were afraid to offend him. He wiped the corner of his mouth and leaned back in his chair. ‘So, I guess you’re all wondering why I’m attending Smithson.’ He started, trying to sound as casual as he could. One would think that, because he had lived with this issue his whole life, he’d be used to informing others about it. But there was always that uneasy feeling, that small reminder of the internal conflict between admittance and will to appear better than you truly are that rested in every person. The conversations died down and all but Rei and James looked a tad nervous, but also curious. Daisuke brought up a smile. ‘It’s nothing too serious, compared to some others. It’s a form of epilepsy, called ‘petit mal’, which basically means every now and then I...’ He grasped for the right conventional terms. ‘... Sort of zone out from reality. It lasts for three to five minutes, unless someone ends it for me.’ He brought his hands down to his lap. ‘So, yeah. If you ever see it happen to me, which you probably will eventually, just call out to me. That’s usually enough to snap me out of it.’ He grinned. ‘Don’t try to prod me or anything, though. I get some nasty reflexes and I might slap you back. Or elbow you in the stomach. It’s happened.’ He meant it humorously, but it didn’t quite have the effect on his flatmates he’d hoped for; They took it as serious advice, guessing from their faces. Daisuke supposed it was for the better, because he hadn’t been lying. It might also have had to do with advice given to them by Rei, who supposedly had issues of her own- Although he had yet to figure out what they could be, for she seemed both physically and mentally fit- And accompanying needs. As if reading his thoughts, Rei spoke up. ‘As for me, my affliction is brain-related as well.’ She said, looking earnest and open as opposed the spiteful tone he had half-expected, mostly because he was used to sounding a bit spiteful himself. ‘It’s a condition called congenital analgesia.’ Daisuke’s mind had a bit of trouble interpreting the Latin-sounding, but probably English word like many other medical terms were. ‘Due to a genetic mutation, I’m unable to feel pain.’ Daisuke frowned. ‘That sounds dangerous.’ He said it without giving it too much though, and immediately after, hoped he hadn’t been rude. Rei didn’t seem to mind, and merely nodded. ‘It can be. But I’ve learned to be really careful, and I can still lead a relatively normal life.’ She picked up her fork. ‘Now that that’s out of the way, shall we enjoy the rest of our dinner?’ The rest of the night was spent playing video games, watching television, sightseeing the other rooms and talking some more, up to the point where it was time to head for bed. As he stepped into the room, which he had learned he would be sharing with James, Daisuke realized he had yet to unpack his belongings. James found him there, standing near the door with an intensely pensive gaze directed at the large bags he had brought in a bit earlier, as if he was trying to unpack them with sheer mental force. Daisuke heard him inhale to address him, but no actual words formed in his mouth. It suddenly struck him that James was probably under the impression he was zoning out again. He spun around quickly, now facing his puzzled-looking new roommate. Daisuke smiled sheepishly. ‘Don’t worry, I was just wondering if I should start unpacking now or tomorrow.’ James looked relieved, and checked his watch. ‘Well, it’s already tomorrow.’ He winked. ‘You look like you need to rest. You can always just dig up some clothes in the morning, and you won’t be needing your school uniform for another day.’ He nodded to himself. James was right, and regardless, he didn’t think he could bring up the energy to do all the unpacking right now even if he’d wanted to. Thankfully, the pyjama’s that he still resorted to was at the top of the stack, immediately within his grasp when he opened the zipper. James, much more shamelessly, stripped down to his boxers and jumped- Literally, jumped- right into his bed.Daisuke decided that if James didn’t mind doing this even in front of someone he’d only just met, he would neither. After all, he was going to spend a couple of years with him. It was best to build up an easy-going relationship from the start. Dressed in the single cotton layer separating the cool air from his skin, which still managed to hold to a pleasant amount of warmth, he got into his own bed, taking another look at the room around him. The walls were originally covered in ancient-looking yellow wallpaper, but most of them had been placated with a wide variety of celebrity posters, courtesy to James. Some of them he knew by name, others he recognized (some more vaguely than others) but several eluded him completely. James rolled over, facing Daisuke. ‘So how common are your...’ He was, understandably, hesitant to say ‘attacks’- Even though that was technically the proper term. ‘You can call them attacks.’ Daisuke said. ‘And, on a lucky day, once or twice. Usually more.’ His roommate pondered this. ‘Isn’t it dangerous when you go outside? You might have one in the middle of a road.’ He nodded. ‘That’s why I rarely ever leave the house without someone at my side who can safeguard me. Regardless, it tends to happen when I’m sitting or standing still most of the time.’ ‘Any idea what you want to do tomorrow- Or later today, I guess?’ James asked. ‘It’s a Sunday, so the shops won’t be open. Maybe a little tour of the area?’ Daisuke nodded. ‘Sure, that’d be great.’ ~~~ Moments later, he was sleeping. As were most others, on this quiet Saturday night, in this rustic French alpine town. But not everyone. A couple of feet to Daisuke’s right, James watched the moon and stars, clearly visible from the bedroom window, although part of the view was spoiled by a blackened chimneytop. The lack of light pollution made it possible to notice stars that inhabitants of bigger cities had never seen before. He tilted his head to the left, taking in the details of the now peacefully sleeping Daisuke. His first impression of the boy had been a good one; He seemed like a friendly person. Of course he would still be a bit uncomfortable for some time in a new environment like this; Everything would take some getting used to. But he’d get there soon enough. A mile away, a girl attempted one of the most precarious rituals of her day; Properly setting her alarm clock. It involved pushing a variety of buttons in a certain order, some more then once. She knew exactly what to push and how many times, but her violently vibrating hand made the whole ordeal much harder then it should’ve been. Further to the East, a young male’s hand slid across the keys of a large piano, resulting in a soft tune that did not quite make it out of the room, in order to avoid waking up his parents. It was an unusual feat, so early in the morning- Or late in the night, as some would prefer to say- Made even stranger by the fact that the boy was not looking at the keys, or at a notebook. His eyes drifted somewhere over the piano, unfocused. He relied on his tactile sense to play, made possible by small indents put on every other key. On the other end of town, another girl simply stared up at the ceiling, clutching a plush turtle. No one could tell why she wasn’t sleeping, or what went on in her mind. Many had tried, and each of them had failed. Her caretakers took comfort in the fact that she would fall asleep eventually. She always did. So many fates, all of them different, and none of them intertwined- Not yet. But each one was bound into each other in more then one way, as the future would prove. This is where our story begins to unfold.