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Twin Infinitives; Closed
Topic Started: Aug 3 2016, 11:01 PM (420 Views)
CrossbowPig
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The House of Sound was, for all intents and purposes, a temple. Having been closed down several years prior, it had only reopened just recently as one of the only music venues in Kingman. During its first run of business, the small, somewhat rundown building was host to a bar and dance club space, operating as most nightclubs do. However, an infestation of roaches in the walls coupled with property disputes and noise complaints, as well as several police investigations inquiring into drug distribution at the House, led to its end in 2003. For years the building withered away, subject to graffiti artists and squatters, until it was just a shadow of its former self. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, several musicians and nostalgic club-goers from Kingman and its neighboring towns came together, pooled their money, and bought the property, launching a successful remodeling operation and re-opening the House of Sound on the tenth anniversary of its closure in 2013 as a music-oriented venue.

Lili Williams was a few months into her Freshman year when she heard that one of the many bands she listened to would be performing at the House of Sound. Though Six Things to a Cycle was far from the top of the list of bands Lili wanted to see, she was more than excited to see them in town. Plus, it would be Lili's first real concert, and even Lili knew that to pass up such an opportunity would be foolish. After some time asking her mother for money to buy a ticket and convincing her that she would be fine walking into the middle of the city late at night, Lili finally managed to buy a ticket to the show.

The walk to the House was uneventful, save for a chance encounter with a raccoon on her street. As she rounded the corner and saw the light of the venue's sign hanging above its theater style doors, Lili's heart began to beat faster and faster. "This is it," Lili thought to herself as she fumbled with her ticket in her sweater pocket, "They're just behind those double doors. Who knows? Maybe, tonight, my life will really start." Climbing the stairs into the venue and presenting her ticket to the ticket-collector, Lili felt shivers of anticipation run up and down her spine. Every step she took on her way to the concert hall filled her with excitement.

Lili noticed several things about the concert hall as she stepped inside. For one, the space was bigger than she thought, and the size of the room only served to heighten her gleeful state. The floor was solid hardwood, and the walls, though painted to look dark and to avoid reflecting excess light, were clearly made of similar material. The stage itself was already set up for the band to walk on stage and start playing, their instruments on stands, waiting to be picked up and played. Projectors were set up in the back of the room, perched on the wall and pointed in the middle of the stage, just over where the heads of the band members would be. Another observation she made was the absence of chairs, even though her ticket told her that she was seated three rows from the front. "I don't mind standing, not at all," Lili thought, "If anything, I get to be closer to the band."

Only fifteen or so people had assembled in the room. A few were talking to each other, but most were either looking at the stage, their phones, or staring off into space. Lili walked up to the small barrier in-between the hall floor and the stage, placing herself right in the middle. For the time being, Lili spent her time gawking at the instruments on stage and eagerly waiting for the band to arrive. Lili saw nobody she knew in the assembled crowd, which didn't surprise her, but at the same time she wished she had somebody to share the concert with. It wasn't often that Lili wanted to be social, especially not with the music she listened to, but just this once she wished she had somebody to speak to.

Outside, the birds flew from tree to tree in the moonlight, frightened by the sound of cars driving through the streets.
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Zetsumodernista
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The Kingman night was warm and fuzzy and embracing and there were honks here and there and everything was kinda golden, bathed in the streetlights and all, and if Asuka stopped and closed her eyes and listened carefully and held her breath she could maybe barely, just barely, pretend she was in a real city.

Yeah. Big city. Small girl. See where your dreaming gets you when you use the night before your big paper's due to go to a fucking concert and I mean sure you can pull an all-nighter but seriously, Asuka, stop. Stop, turn around, walk home, and rethink your life.

Asuka had spent the past month lying in bed and rethinking her life and it had really been a profoundly dumb idea. If she hadn't been thinking so hard about how important it was for her to finish her project, the damn thing would've been done by now. So Asuka was gonna take a break from all that because ok look if she'd stayed home and tried to work, maybe-- she wasn't sure on this, buy maybe-- she'd actually dig up some willpower, and she'd look at the assignment, actually look at it for once, and then she'd keel over and that'll be that but hey maybe this avant-garde thing would give her the spark for her motivation to dance dance dance back into her life and they'll have a lovely tear-filled reunion party and everything will be all peachy and she'd write the damn paper and it'd be brilliant, it really would.

Yeah, nobody's buying it, but the economy's in the tank and this is the only hope vendor in town, kid.

Asuka opened her eyes.

Heh. Some city.

Trudged her way over to the door, went in, cuz hope's sold out everywhere but here and you gotta, man you gotta hope it's not sold out here too.

Asuka flipped her hood up. It's not like she was noticeable anyways, but it made her feel more comfortable. When you're this pathetic, best no be seen. Yeah, Asuka needs help and all that. She just really doesn't need anyone to tell her.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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CrossbowPig
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When, after fifteen minutes, nobody else entered the room, Lili decided to continue ogling the instruments on stage, inspecting each and every one with a studious gaze. If she had to kill time by waiting, she might as well get the starstruck part out of the way first. In total, there were nine instruments set up on stage for the band's seven members. Two guitars, a bass guitar, a drum kit, a violin, a trumpet and a trombone, a xylophone and a piano were all visible from where Lili was standing, but she knew from past research that the band was probably hiding more on stage in nooks and crannies.

Six Things to a Cycle was based around the theory of obscurity, that assigning a personality to a musician or artist makes the work about them and not for the sake of art itself. Because of this, none of the band's seven members had come forward with their identities, choosing instead to wear masks on stage. Of course, this stance developed a personality itself, and fans of the band linked each member to the mask they wore most frequently on stage. For the members that chose to persue solo careers on the side, they continued with the persona they assumed on stage, using the same kind of mask. Of all the band's members, she was most excited to see Oni Mask, the band's lead guitarist, take the stage. She had always admired Oni Mask both as a solo musician and as a member of Six Things, and Lili had always wished she could learn the secret of their bowed guitar, how it got the tone that separated it from any sound she had ever heard. Tonight, she would see Oni Mask, on stage, right in front of her eyes. There her brilliant crimson guitar was, all seven strings reflecting glinting light off into the room, begging to be played. Lili could hardly wait any longer.

Just then, Lili heard footsteps behind her. This was the first new arrival to the room in several minutes, so Lili turned around to see who it was instantly. As foolish as it was, for a few moments she believed that maybe, just maybe, it was Oni Mask, choosing to strut onto stage from the audience door rather than with the rest of her band members. Hell, maybe it was the entire band making a statement by entering through the same entrance as the audience, a middle finger to the pedestal that fans place artists on, a reminder that both the artist and the audience are, at their core, just people.

Instead, a girl a little bit under Lili's height walked into the room, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood flipped up over her head. Even through her endless fantasizing and theorizing on the efforts of the band to defy the common narrative of the music industry, Lili knew that they would never choose to walk in without their traditional disguises, not for any old show in the middle of nowhere. The girl's posture was bent over, a slight slouch, almost like she wasn't excited to be here. Through the few glimpses she got underneath the girl's hood, Lili was able to tell that the girl was around her age, was also Asian, and wore glasses. If it weren't for the flashes of blue hair dye that Lili caught under the girl's hood, she could see the possibility of a stranger being unable to tell the two apart.

"She must be into this kind of thing too," Lili thought, "She showed up alone, and most people my age aren't usually into avant-garde stuff, especially not music." Lili was never one to approach others, tending to take more of a passive role in social situations, waiting for others to come to her. Lili wasn't sure what she was able to read off of the other girl's face, but whatever it was, it wasn't going to say "Hello" any time soon. Lili remembered the feeling she had felt just moments earlier, a longing for company, a desire to share her first real concert with someone else, and focused it on the girl who had just entered the room. "Everyone else here is older than her and I, and/or has some kind of beverage in their hand," Lili observed, "I'd better keep her company."

So Lili made the first step towards the hooded girl, walking from her spot against the barrier that she had held so passionately. The closer she got, the smaller the girl seemed, both in her actual height and how she carried herself, and the more interested Lili got. Coincidentally, each passing step drew even further of a blank in Lili's mind over how to begin her conversation with the girl she had never met. Thankfully, this realization came before Lili walked into the more empty part of the floor, and Lili was able to switch her course so that it appeared more natural and less up front. Breathing a mental sigh of relief, she took mental inventory of how she looked.

Lili was wearing a Six Things to a Cycle T-Shirt, featuring the band's trademark Buddhist wheel of reincarnation wheel logo in the center of her chest, and black jeans, an outfit that counted as fancy for her. She had smoothed any stray ends down, wetting down her usually incessant bedhead, but apart from that had let her bobbed hair take its usual shape. Lili hoped that her appearance wasn't, for better or for worse, intimidating.

"Hey," Lili said, after walking over to beside the girl, completely unsure of whatever words would come out of her mouth next, "Is this your first show too? You look nervous." Lili betrayed a small nervous laugh, as a way to make herself look more unassuming. She just hoped that she wasn't making a huge mistake.
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Zetsumodernista
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escaping the real world to face reality
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There was a girl coming Asuka's way. Fuck. So much for not getting noticed. Asuka wasn't sure if she knew this girl, wasn't even sure if the girl was approaching her or just wandering her way randomly, but no worries. No need to panic. Asuka raised her hands, gave a pathetic excuse of a half-wave, then immediately adjusted her glasses. It'd be nice if the girl didn't notice, didn't interpret anything meaningful from the little twitch her wrist made as it made its way towards her face, but if this girl was dead set on meeting her she might as well say hi and be nice and stuff. She wouldn't be able to brush her off and ignore her all night, not without making the whole affair stressful and tense, and Asuka did. Not. Need. More. Stress. Or. Tension.

The girl stopped a few paces away. Well then.

Asuka took a deep breath, looked at the girl more closely. Bowl cut. Glasses. Asian. Asuka knew all the other Asian kids at Cochise by face, if not by name-- misplaced tribalism, Asuka knew, but she couldn't help it, couldn't stop her eyes roving around for other members of her tribe. Yeah, she's seen this girl. Didn't know much about her, though. Um. Freshman. Band geek. Apparently a pretty big fan of this group, seeing as she had their T-shirt even though they were both literally and symbolically obscure.

Asuka sighed. Ok. Fine. She could talk to this girl. Someone with weird, obscure taste in music couldn't be half bad to talk to, right? Right. Barring the now non-existent possibility of going the night without talking, this was going to be about as good as it gets when it comes to conversation. Someone in the know, and in the know for something that was actually kind of interesting, though if Asuka was being honest with herself, it probably wasn't quite interesting enough to make her actually better at not sucking at everything, at getting out of bed, at actually getting shit done, at actually giving a shit about the things she used to give a shit about.

Don't think about that now, Asuka. You can berate yourself later. For now, it'll just ruin whatever chance this evening has of actually cheering you up.

The girl started talking, all shy and awkward and uncertain. That was good. Asuka didn't like confidence, didn't like people who were so sure and assured about things. Bastards haven't realized that the only thing they know is that they know nothing, and all that.

Asuka shrugged. "Yes to the first, no to the second. Just a little tired. You're from Cochise, right? I think I've seen you around there. You into this stuff?"

She paused.

Yeah. This wasn't so bad. Banal question, followed by banal answer, leading back into banal question. And, with luck, it'll actually go somewhere interesting. Please please please go somewhere interesting. Asuka was dying to find something interesting.

"Not too familiar with them myself, to be honest. Avant-garde music's one of those things that I always wanted to be into, but never actually got around to. I'm just here to check things out, recharge a little. Y'know, get away from life for a little bit."

There. Door's open now.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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CrossbowPig
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"Yes to the first, no to the second,", the girl replied, shrugging, "Just a little tired. You're from Cochise, right? I think I've seen you around there. You into this stuff?" The fact that Blue Hair had seen her around the school didn't so much surprise her. Lili herself was loosely aware of the people in school who looked like her, the few other Asians at Cochise, even though she hadn't seen the girl in front of her in particular before.

"I go to Cochise too, yeah. There isn't much of an audience for this stuff over there, but I love this sort of thing," Lili said, smiling. Whenever Lili got a chance to talk about the things she loved, she found it hard to stop. She would try her best she could to not scare away Blue Hair, but she didn't know how far that could go. "I've never been to a concert like this," Lili admitted, "but I've listened to all their music, and tons of music like it, too." As she spoke, she could see the girl loosen up a little. In her mind, Lili imagined that she was making a good first impression, that going over to talk to Blue Hair wasn't a big mistake, and that everything tonight would go smoothly.

"Not too familiar with them myself, to be honest," Blue Hair replied, "Avant-garde music's one of those things that I always wanted to be into, but never actually got around to. I'm just here to check things out, recharge a little. Y'know, get away from life for a little bit." Aha! So Blue Hair was a beginner, someone new that she could impress with all her knowledge. Lili felt the spark from the start of the night before she walked into the room return in full force. If Lili was honest with herself, she hadn't imagined getting this far in the first place with her. She assumed she'd be turned away, made to walk back to the barrier alone. Instead, the best case scenario was playing out before her very eyes.

"If it's an escape you want," Lili said, smiling, not noticing her own forwardness, "You've come to the right place for sure! There's no other music that sounds like this...not that I've heard, anyways. If you want, we can go up to the barrier and I can tell you about the band a bit?"

The room was starting to fill up with more people as showtime neared. If Lili wanted to go to the barrier with Blue Hair, she'd have to do it soon, or else she'd lose her spot for certain. She only hoped that Blue Hair would be as willing as she was to see the band perform. If things came down to it, Lili would push and shove to get to the front, to get a chance to see the band in person. Would Blue Hair do the same?

Lili realized then that she hadn't introduced herself. She had thrown herself in with an icebreaker, kept on talking about the band, and completely ignored the fact that the two didn't even know each other's names. Mentally, she imagined slapping herself in the face for her own easy mistake.

"Oh, I forgot!" She said, rubbing her right temple with her left hand in surprise, "I haven't even really introduced myself yet. I got so ahead of myself, with the band, and saying hi, and stuff, and, yeah, I forgot to say my name, ha ha. My name is Lili, I'm a freshman. What should I call you?"

Outside, it began to drizzle.
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Zetsumodernista
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Now she was talkative. Well. At least Asuka wouldn't have to contribute to the conversation too much. And besides, this was going interesting places, right? She wanted to find out some more, get a little more info than what was online, so she was getting that now. And she'd wanted to talk about personal stuff, vent a little with a stranger, and hey, she hadn't responded, but it's not like Asuka expected better anyways. Strangers don't tell strangers about their feelings. Strangers don't inquire into strangers' feelings, even if Asuka had left the door open on that. But this was okay. This was exciting. There was stuff to get interested in, there was stuff to care about and stuff to do and shit maybe this will make her come alive and get interested in stuff and care about stuff and do stuff and

It was raining outside.

It was raining outside, and around her it was all cheap darkness and mumbling strangers and the droning white noise that permeated through everything and made everything numb.

Oh. So that's how this goes. Big surprise.

Well this sucks. But she nodded her head, shuffled her feet forward, because you don't let strangers know you're not okay. And, like, who knows, maybe something will come in the next couple of minutes to drown out the white noise. She could hope. It was silly, but she believed it. Kinda. Not really.

She believed it enough, apparently.

Asuka really didn't have the energy to wade into the crowd, but she could dig deep. And then she'd dig a little deeper, and a little deeper, and then she'd either give out and sit down or pass out or whatever, or she'd hit a big reserve, and then everything would be just perfect. Asuka was fine either way. Really. Either way it was a way out, and if she had to fucking break down for that to happen, so be it.

The girl was talking some more. It was just a little hard to register what she was saying.

"Name's Asuka, I'm a sophomore."

Um. Fuck. What's she supposed to say next again?

No. No need to say anything. Just sit back and let Lili ramble a little and maybe get a little hyped. Asuka could wait a little before saying the dumb things she kinda wanted to say. She was good at waiting. Used to it. Did it all the time, in fact, to the point that she never stopped waiting. So she was done with waiting. But she could afford to wait a little more.

Come to think of it, she should really talk this shit over with her mom or a counselor or something instead of some kid she vaguely recognized from school. That'd force her to wait just a little more.

Meh.

You're an idiot, Asuka.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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CrossbowPig
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"Name's Asuka, I'm a sophomore," she responded. The two were not far apart in age after all, it seemed. Asuka hadn't said anything beyond that, leaving Lili to keep on talking. Lili was, of course, fine with that. She was ranting on about a band she liked to a girl who looked like she wanted to listen, which was all she had wanted. Deep down, at least in theory, she was content, fine with what was unfolding around her. She'd have a good time with Asuka. Maybe the two would even become friends.

But something she said earlier started to bother Lili, more than it reasonably should. Like the thickening rain outside, words began to fall inside her mind.

"Y'know, get away from life for a little bit."

Escapism was fine with Lili. She herself often searched for moments of transcendence within the music she listened to, surreal landscapes and bizarre worlds hidden inside the grooves of an old record waiting to be explored. Something about Asuka struck Lili as odd, however. Lili didn't know what Asuka was trying to get away from, and had no reason to. She saw stress in Asuka's facial features, anxiety that was familiar to Lili, yet separate in a way she had not yet encountered. Lili's face began to soften up against her will, her enthusiastic expression drooping into something more akin to concern. "Maybe she's not just here for the sake of art," Lili thought, "No, there's something else bothering her."

Lili thought of something she could talk about to break the ice a little further with Asuka, taking stock of her Freshman year so far. It was the middle of November, and so far Lili's grades were floating in the C range, though her grades in the sciences threatened to drop into the realm of failure. Would that be fitting to talk about, she wondered? One thing all high school students had in common was their battle with grades and schoolwork, no matter what grade they were in. That'd be easy enough to start to talk about, right? No, Asuka looked like the kind of girl who kept her grades tidy and neat. Venturing into the subject of school would make the conversation into something all too serious, not at all fitting for the night of a concert. Lili began to toy with the idea of making something up, some kind of false social scenario, but quickly threw it away. This was a space for reality, not for falseness and phonies and-

And there it was.

"I hate how other people won't even touch stuff like this," Lili said, "They'll just take one glance at all this stuff and dismiss it. The majority of people just annoy me, y'know? They surround themselves with stuff that's just too easy to understand, so fake and meaningless. It's like they're all coated in plastic. Don't popular people, mainstream people, plastic people, don't they just annoy you too?" Lili paused to let Asuka get a jab in. She felt like she was steering the conversation in the right direction. This was a topic that Lili could talk about without an issue.

Lili had confidence that Asuka was not made of plastic. Not in the slightest.
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Zetsumodernista
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So that's what happens when you get your hopes too far up.

All of a sudden Asuka wanted nothing more than to sit down against the wall, put her head in her lap, and drift off to sleep like that. What a shame, what a fucking shame. The conversation was gonna be interesting and the concert was gonna be inspiring and she was gonna get shit done and then Lili drops one line and poof, oh look, there goes her entire pyramid of hope crumbling down because really you gotta be a dumbass to keep grasping at straws like this. Great job, Lili, great job.

There's a lot to say here, like the fact that categorically dismissing mainstream music made you just as blind as the so-called sheeple, that assuming that everyone was as shallow as they appeared made you the shallow one, that you don't get anywhere by being mean. Yeah, Asuka could feel a whole rant here. Fucking judger. Let people like what they like.

Yeah. Like you're not judging the fuck out of her right now. Of course Asuka never would've made her rant. It would've made her a hypocrite. Yeah. That was why. Sure, she was too shy to rant even if she hadn't caught that, but this, this was definitely the main reason.

Asuka's tongue was totally frozen.

"Um...yes, and no."

Cop-out answer. Bet that makes her think you're plastic. But it wasn't like Asuka could pull a perfectly eloquent response off the top of her head. And it wasn't a cop-out answer after all, because it was true, because everything was shades of grey and if you ever answered in absolutes you were delusional. Hell, Asuka should answer every question with yes and no. That would get her some friends. But she had an answer now, and maybe she hadn't worked out all the wording and all the stuff she wanted to say and even all the ideas that were faintly buzzing around inside her head, but she needed to say it right now, or she never would. The other girl would start talking again and the conversation would move on and the words and ideas would die out and all this would've been wasted.

Asuka chanced a glance at Lili. She was no good at reading faces, that she knew, but if she had to guess, Lili was feeling...hopeful? Yeah, that was it. And truth be told, Asuka wasn't about to rain on her hope parade, exactly. Crushing put-downs just weren't her style. They weren't a style at all, really. All those assholes who kick verbal shit around because they were blunt, they were brutally honest and the fact that they didn't sugar-coat was a sign of respect because it meant they weren't bullshitting you, whatever floated their boat. Fuck those guys. Asuka wasn't gonna join them. Though she had to admit it made for more interesting conversation than what she was doing now.

Okay.

"So. What I mean is that, like, people who seem fake do annoy me? They do, kinda. But it's not really fair for me to be annoyed at them, because I don't see much. Like, everyone seems shallow, but that's because I can only see the surface or something. Like, to me it looks like they automatically dismiss it, instantly dismiss it, whatever. But they actually put some thought into it that I didn't see. And maybe they're not going baring their hearts to me and explaining exactly how they feel and what they think, and I wish they would, but at the same time, they're not exactly being...phony? Plastic? Yeah."

God, that came out terribly. No way was that comprehensible. Please let that not be comprehensible. Please let Asuka rinse her mouth, clear her brain, and make a second non-shitty run at this talking thing.

Still, this was progress, right? She was talking, and maybe she was fucking it up, but she was actually saying things that she wanted to say. That was good. Fucking right it was. Optimism. Silver linings. She was really fucking good at this game.
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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CrossbowPig
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Maybe Lili judged wrongly.

She looked at Asuka and assumed that she was of a certain type, a certain belonging of people who felt like Lili felt, who saw things how Lili saw them. But Lili had gone about it wrong, because Asuka was defending who Lili called the plastic people, and honestly it was kind of inspiring to see her open up a little about how she felt. Asuka was more well-spoken than she had earlier let on. She wasn't plastic, but she wasn't un-plastic, either. She didn't fit Lili's preconception of a narrative about those in the know and out of it. Asuka was a new kind of variable.

"I get that it's not fair," Lili said, admitting some fault, "to judge without the whole story. I can only really speak from my own personal experience here, but I've just always been judged just as unfairly, if not way more. I've just always been the weird one for what I like, and I guess, sorta deep down, I kinda resent the more mainstream for that. Maybe plastic wasn't the right word for it." Lili folded her hands down at her waist, intertwining her fingers into each other. She wanted to try and steer the conversation right again, but she knew that was exactly what she was thinking when she made her comment about the plastic people.

"School hasn't been good so far," Lili let out, almost without thinking, "Like, at all. I don't have many friends, and everything just feels so roundabout all the time. I guess that's just...sort of where I'm coming from, here. I guess I'm also here to get away from life a bit, probably more than just a little bit." Lili folded her arms across her chest and gazed down at her shoes. Her laces had come loose, bunching up in the air just slightly above the tops of her shoes, but she wasn't going to reach down and pull them back together just yet.

Behind her, several stagehands went on stage and began to test the instruments, tuning and checking the noise levels on each one. The sound man at his booth in the back of the room listened in on headphones as they checked the microphones, adjusting the faders and knobs on his mixing console as he needed to. The concert was just several minutes away from starting, only slightly off schedule. Lili took a glance over her shoulder, and a twinge of excitement came back to her. She remembered why she was here in the first place, to see the band, but was that really the only reason why she was here?

"Maybe we can talk about this a bit more up front," Lili suggested, looking up from her untied shoelaces, "It looks like it'll be starting soon."
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Zetsumodernista
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We're really talking now.

Asuka pulled her hood down, adjusted her glasses. Palms open. Lean forward, like therapists were supposed to. Cuz that's what this little talk was about, right? It was about being therapists for each other. Hopefully she was doing this right.

So this girl was capable of some self-awareness. Not like Asuka had assumed she wasn't. She wasn't a hypocrite, remember? And yeah, it was hard as hell not to resent people sometimes, hard as hell to remember that they have feelings and they're complex and shit when they don't do anything to let you relate to them.

Yeah. Says the girl who literally never talks or shares secrets or opens up to anyone. And here she was, assuming that no one else ever thought about this shit, assuming that she was so fucking special for thinking that everyone's special. That's the thing, though. It didn't have to be like this if people would talk about the flaws and vulnerabilities and all that shit that made them special. But nobody sees a thing, and nobody sees that anyone else is looking. That's why everything was a fucking tragedy.

So this, well, this was a dream come true. Melodramatic, probably untrue, but she'd take what she could get.

"I feel ya. It's like, what even is the point, you know? No one to talk to, and, like, why the fuck am I studying this hard, you know? When I don't give a shit about money, I mean. Like, learning for learning's sake is cool and all, but other than that I don't want any of the stuff I'm working for. And, like, I care about the people around me on a conceptual basis but I don't care about any of the shit I do with them because we don't do shit worth doing together. So I might as well get away from all that".

Damn, she'd almost forgotten about the concert. She really cared more about talking with this girl, would've skipped the whole thing to talk to her if she could, money be damned. But Lili actually seemed invested in this concert, and they wouldn't get anywhere if she wanted to get back to the concert the whole time. So Asuka shrugged her shoulders when Lili said to move to the front.

"Fine by me."
dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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CrossbowPig
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"Exactly," Lili said, nodding her head at Asuka's response, "I've never really had anything close to a heart-to-heart with anybody from school, and it's been, like, years since I felt really attached to what I'm supposed to study." Lili and Asuka made their way to the front of the room, getting closer and closer to the stage. The lights in the room began to fade slowly, turning more bluish in color. The noise of the other voices in the room rose with excitement, then gently began to lower. Lili's heartbeat got louder and softer with the room. For the first time that wasn't when she was flying a kite, she felt truly in sync with her surroundings. Eventually, the pair made it to the barrier to the left center of the room.

"Oh my god, look!" Lili blurted out, happiness spreading across her face, "From here, we have a perfect view of, like, the whole stage!" She turned back to Asuka, still smiling. "These guys, here, they don't give two fucks about what society expects from musicians and music as a whole. They're really following their passion, their dreams, and I think that's really admirable even if you don't end up liking the music." Asuka had pulled her hood down earlier, making her look a bit less anxious and also slightly more natural. Lili hoped that she wasn't making another wrong move here by fawning too much, but she couldn't handle her excitement very much.

By now, the house lights had gone down completely. Only the stage lights lit up the room, and even they were rather dim. What little light there was glinted off of the instruments on stage, illuminating each and every detail. Outside, the rain came down in buckets without any signs of stopping. The crowd of fans in the room had gotten quieter, anticipating the band to walk on stage at any moment. Lili continued to speak, but in a light whisper, ready to drop what she was saying and pay attention to the stage at any moment.

"Did you have any plans after the concert?" She asked, "We could walk somewhere else and keep talking, seeing as we won't really have a chance to do that during the concert." Lili leaned up against the barrier, her body pointed towards the stage, her head looking at Asuka, and her mind in fifty places at once. Earlier in the night, she was excited on a purely theoretical level, speculating about how this concert experience might be the event that divides her life into "Before" and "After". Now, she knew that she'd definitely be walking away from the House of Sound with something special, whether it was the concert experience, her new friend, or both.

"I feel like these guys really get what we're going through," Lili added, "On some unspoken level. You'll see what I mean, I hope."
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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Lili got it. She really did. And that was that.

Asuka had often fantasized about having a real conversation with someone. Philosophy, feelings, books, anything but goddamn fucking small talk. Real fucking special snowflake, right? And here she was. She'd fucking did it. She'd found someone who got it, who bought into her bullshit, and when all was said and done she really didn't know what else to say. People should act like the special snowflakes they are. If they don't you dissociate and everything becomes meaningless and you retreat into your head. That was it. Move along. End of fucking story.

And when Asuka had finally found someone to let loose the little rant she'd been bottling up for who-knows-how-long, well, it was supposed to unleash some twilight zone shit, right? But she didn't get that. Because she'd caught a snowflake, but she didn't know anything about it. So change that.

Lili was fangirling over the band. Six Things to a Cycle. So they didn't give a fuck about opinion, huh? True artists and all that. Asuka wanted to talk about something, just shoot the shit over whatever. She wanted to put everything on pause and find a corner and be all like, "What's your life story?" On some unspoken level, right. Asuka was perfectly capable of putting her thoughts and feelings into words. Solidarity was good, though. It showed she was right.

Asuka knew she was right.

Hey. Shoot the shit later. There was an offer on that, wasn't there?

As for the shit she still needed to do for school...well.

She was headed from one fragile hope to the next. She was tip-toeing. No disturbing the balance.


dear god dear god tinkle tinkle hoy

G056: Asuka Takahara: The one who can out-pretentious them all.
- Memories: 1
- Pregame: 1
- V6: 1-2
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[Minor GMing of Asuka approved]

At last, the house lights completely went out. Cheers erupted from the audience momentarily, as every head in the room turned toward the stage. An eerie blue luminescent glow was all that they could see by, coming from a light directly above the microphone in the front center of the stage. Lili held her breath, as the rest of the audience did, waiting for their masked entertainers to take the helm. It was as if the entire room was tied together mentally, a hive-mind united by their love of what they were about to see and hear.

And then suddenly, from stage left, footsteps. The sound of air knocked about by heads snapping to attention was just barely audible enough to hear through the thick silence, but it was enough to get Lili pumped up again. Asuka looked over as well, though more out of curiosity than out of anticipation. Through the dark walked a single figure, face obscured by both the darkness and a white ceramic mask, into the blue light in the center of the stage. Surprisingly enough, even as the crowd around her began to cheer again, Lili felt more scared by the man on stage than anything. His presence sent icy daggers into her room-temperature warmed body, the sensation of cold on hot causing a strange panic to enfold Lili. As the crowd quieted, the man took the microphone in his hand, and breathed into it.

"Good evening," He said, and the crowd erupted in response. Lili opened her mouth to speak, but no words found their way out of her mouth. "Good evening, Kinsmen of Kingman," He began again, after the crowd had seemingly quieted down, "Tonig-"

He was cut off again by more cheers and applause as the other members of Six Things walked on stage behind them, taking their places at their instruments on stage. Though Lili couldn't see his face, she could tell that White-Mask was surprised at the positive reception from such a small town. Lili was right there with him - he hadn't expected so many people to show up to this concert. She took one last sweep behind her, looking over the room. It was filled to the brim with excited music aficionados and common people alike: Lili even recognized a few faces of people from around town. Suddenly, she felt like the space was no longer hers alone. All at once, reality came crashing down. Six Things to a Cycle weren't just her band after all.

"Fuck it," White-Mask laughed, "We'll just start." Yet again, the room exploded with thunderous applause and cheering. Asuka, still focused on the people on stage themselves, could see White-Mask's hands just barely trembling.

The projector in the back of the room flicked on, a backdrop of a sepia-colored field now on the wall behind the band. The woman with the Oni-Mask began to pluck her guitar strings as the drummer behind the kit began to lightly brush the suspended cymbal to his side with mallets. The bass player started to pick his open E-string, but it didn't hide the fact that, for whatever reason, Oni-Mask's guitar was not making a sound, though she kept playing on. As the sound of a violin playing a high A Flat filled the room, Oni-Mask's guitar finally became audible, a glimmering eerie arpeggio droning on, becoming one with the room until it was indistinguishable from the room's background noise. She pressed down on a looper pedal, and stopped, letting the sound ring out further.

The band members looked at each other, then at White-Mask, who nodded at the drummer, still on the suspended cymbal. It was time to begin.

Out of seemingly nowhere, the drummer brought his mallet down like a hammer on the cymbal, and the gates of hell opened up, letting all the wayward souls of Limbo forth into a world not yet ready to welcome them.

The next two hours were a blur of emotion, music, and blaring noise, as the House of Sound paid host to Six Things to a Cycle. A music critic would go on to note that, technically speaking, the band played their most flawless concert of their whole tour. The band seemed their most energetic in years, playing a discography spanning set list that included two songs that had not been played since their first tour, and three songs that had yet to debut. Of particular intrigue, the critic wrote, was the reinvigorated energy with which Oni-Mask played her guitar, especially on the new songs. She would look, consistently, to the left side of the stage, as if one particular fan was giving her all that energy by themselves.

Lili's inhibitions melted away by the end of the first song, as she realized that even if she didn't have the band all to herself, the room around them liked them as much as she did. Amidst the droning guitars and weeping strings, the booming drums and haunting synths, the most consistent element of sound in the room was the audience's applause after each song. After the third song, she could not stop smiling, every element of the music falling perfectly into place for her eager ears. Though the experience would not be as life changing as she had assumed, it would ultimately prove to be a rock from which she would build the rest of her High School experience. Asuka, though interested in the music as well, spent most of the time simply observing and nodding. To her, it was pleasant, and she could appreciate it on an artistic level, but she was more interested in talking to Lili.

When the final note was played, and the final projection, of the word "Battery," faded from the screen, and the house lights went up, Lili felt as if she had been to heaven and back. As the audience cheered one last time, the band on stage frozen in tableau at their final poses in the song, Lili cheered along. She couldn't help from putting an arm around Asuka as she did so.




The two sat outside on a bench in a bus shelter just a block down from the venue. The rain had let up during the concert, but the two decided to take refuge just in case it picked up again. It was hard to tell this late at night, as the sky looked all the same shade of black. Lili still couldn't stop from shaking, feeling as if she was still inside at the concert.

"I," Lili began, then stopped. She didn't really know what to say. Words were the language of the worldly and materialistic. They had lost their meaning long ago. Music was the true language of the cosmos.

"That was," She breathed, "I mean, what did you think?"
~~~~~ "We were wrecks before we crashed into each other."

NOW: V7

SOON: V7

DEAD: V6

MAYBE: V?
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