BONUS: DELETED SCENES, UNUSED CONCEPTS, AND FAILED THEMES.
I've never considered myself a particularly orderly person, yet, Life's Bittersweet Taste is the most complex, organized story I've ever written. It all started when I wanted to start a new story known as "YuAki: 30 Kisses." But somewhere along the early planning stages, I pulled MiJack into the picture, and 30 chapters quickly expanded into 50. From that point, I wrote out 50 basic ideas that I could write about. However, only 31 of the 50 original concepts were ever published. The remaining 19 were either never used, or scrapped during the writing process.
And even of the themes that did manage to be uploaded and published, many scenes and/or pieces of dialogue were cut before readers could ever even see them. But now since I've finally finished Life's Bittersweet Taste, I'm willing to share these deleted scenes, as well as the remaining 28 concepts/failed themes. Please note, however, that I wasn't able to recover everything on my computer, and I did re-write some of the lost content from memory. Enjoy.
Part 1: Deleted Scenes
Theme #12: Stadium
A/N: Italicized content is from the existing theme.
"-would it all be for nothing if I didn't get to spend the rest of my life you?" he said, cutting me off. I stopped and felt my eyes widen, putting my hands up to my lips in shock.
I kissed him, and wanting to prove that I was willing to marry him, I unbuttoned my shirt. A look or surprise crossed his face, but he followed my lead and took off his jacket. Even though the air was freezing cold in the stadium, his piercing warmth was enough to affirm everything; it was our first time making love, yet I knew it wasn't going to be our last.
"Come on," he said, lacing his fingers through my own and standing up after we were fully dressed again, "let's go home. Everyone's been worried about you."
Reason(s) for deleting: Because it would have been one of the worst, most stupid, unnecessary vague sex scenes ever. Furthermore, I felt like it was sending the wrong message, that Aki had to sexually proveher love to Yusei.
Theme #20: Attachment
A/N: Italicized content is from the existing theme.
She was crying now. Jack sat beside her and pulled her into his arms, stroking her hair. Crow got up and stood beside Yusei and Aki, whom had laced their fingers together in an almost supportive fashion. Although Akeno was not their own child, it hurt them to see the parents at loss in such pain.
After several hours of filling out paperwork and receiving recommendations from various nurses on therapists she and her husband should see, Mikage was discharged from the hospital. With extra condolences from Yusei, Aki, and Crow before splitting up for the night, Mikage and Jack decided to head home.
Jack placed his keys into the ignition of the car and turned them until the engine spluttered and came to life. His wife sat beside him, staring out the window toward the glow of the hospital, her heart heavy with grief. She and Jack hadn't really discussed it, but she supposed they would hold a funeral for Akeno in a few days; her sister, Ayumi, called and said it would be good for closure. The hospital had already sent the body to the local mortuary.
"Jack," she began suddenly, turning to him as they exited the parking lot, "I want another."
The blonde pursed his lips; somehow, he knew this would happen. Mikage had a void in her heart, and she wanted it filled.
"No, I mean I want to get pregnant again, now."
Jack looked at her, his violet eyes wide with horror. "I'm sorry, I can't... "
"I just need some time, that's all. Getting pregnant right away won't make everything suddenly better," he said. Mikage turned her head away, but said nothing. The rest of car ride home was silent.
Reason(s) for deleting: This was intended to be the original ending for Theme #20. However, I felt the scene gave the impression that there was a rift between Mikage and Jack's marriage, which I didn't want; I wanted to give the feeling that although they had lost their first child, they were going to get through it together. Which is why I scrapped this scene and replaced it with the short conversation between Yusei and Aki at the end, leaving Mikage and Jack's last interaction of the chapter to be their sentimental hug.
Theme #23: Drama
Jack stormed angrily down the hallway of the Public Security Maintenance Bureau. Godwin had managed to irk the former king yet again, and now he really needed to blow off some steam. His victim would, of course, would be his secretary, Mikage Sagiri. He screamed out her name and she scurried to meet him, bowing and asking him what he needed.
In truth, Jack knew he didn't actually need anything, but by default, he asked for tea. And within 20 minutes, Mikage had left and returned with a tray of piping hot tea.
Reason(s) for deleting: This scene, obviously, was never finished. It was supposed to contain the kiss Jack would talk later about in the chapter, but I realized the scene wasn't really getting anywhere, so I cut it entirely and then I was too lazy to try a different approach. Ffffft.
Theme #33: Family
A/N: Italicized content is from the existing theme.
Setsuko Izayoi let out a squeal of pure delight before hugging her daughter, Aki, and her husband, Yusei, tightly. Aki blushed a deep crimson, embarrassed by her mother's antics, while Yusei remained completely nonchalant, as if he expected this sort of reaction. To Yusei, it would seem to be commonplace for a mother to gush over her the news of her graduation to grandmother. Though, he couldn't be positive since he never really knew his own mother. Still, he had always been under the impression that Setsuko had wanted to have more children, but after Aki had developed disastrous psychic powers at the young age of five, she and Hideo probably had bigger things to worry about. However, with the birth of his and Aki's first baby, Setsuko would have a second chance at playing a significant role in a child's life.
"Oh my goodness, I can't believe you're having a baby!" exclaimed Setsuko happily after pulling away from the couple, beaming at them with a dazed grin on her soft face. Aki averted her gaze from her mother, still looking slightly flustered.
"Mama... There's no need to make a big fuss," she said quietly, her eyes still glued to the floor. Setsuko's joyous expression didn't falter, even upon hearing her daughter's low, dark voice.
"Oh, but sweetheart... I'm going to grandmother! You hear that Hideo? We're going to be grandparents!" said Setsuko, glancing quickly at her husband before back at the pregnant couple. "Do you know what the gender is?"
Yusei chuckled and putting his arm around his wife, replied,"a boy." Setsuko squealed again.
"A son! Oh Hideo, they're having a son!"
Reason(s) for deleting: Well, this scene wasn't really as much deleted as it was slightly modified... As you can see, Theme #33 was originally going to depict Yusei and Aki as an already-married couple, pregnant with their first child, and Setsuko was going to be gushing over that. But for whatever reason (I can't really remember now), I changed it so that Yusei and Aki were only engaged, and went with the story from there.
Theme #39: Blood
Never in her life did she think that Jack Atlas would ever faint. And from donating blood, of all things; yet, it happened as soon as the required pint of blood was filled. For a moment, her heart had skipped a beat, seeing the color drain out of his face and his eyes roll in the back of head; but the doctor explained that it was okay, that he probably just didn't have enough iron in his system. The nurse then brought him a bottle of water as he started to come around, and a little sticker that read "First Time Donor." Jack scowled when she put it on.
Thus we were shoved off so they could bring in more donors, and I was deemed designated driver; after all, Jack certainly couldn't drive after fainting only moments before.
"Aren't you going to donate?" he grumbled, rubbing his temples; clearly, he was getting a headache. I pursed my lips slightly, casting my gaze toward the ground, almost feeling ashamed.
"I don't weigh enough; you have to have a certain height and weight to donate, and I've never been able to meet the requirements," I explained, hoping he wouldn't pick up the melancholic tone in my voice. I had always wanted to donate blood since the bloodmobile started coming to my high school every few months or so. However, I was always turned away for the same reason; I was too light, and it would have been potentially dangerous for me to donate.
He grumbled something to himself and turned away. "I'm not a first time donor," he mumbled, surly. My eyes widened slightly.
"Oh... The nurse probably just mistook you for one because you fainted."
Reason(s) for deleting: Also unfinished. I don't know whether you noticed or not, but this is obviously not from the published version of Theme #39. Actually, Theme #39 was originally supposed to be about Jack fainting after donating blood and Mikage having to deal with injured pride afterwards, however, I ended up disliking the idea as soon as I started writing it. Thus it was scrapped it, and I came up with a different concept for the theme; Mikage would be put in the hospital after being shot, which is what ended up being written and published.
Theme #48: Story
A/N: Italicized content is from the existing theme.
"It was like this barrier was broken," he explained in a matter-of-fact voice. "Suddenly, the idea of being a couple didn't seem awkward, or risky. We didn't have fear of the opinion of others, we didn't mind the stares when we walked down the street together. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Just each other. And before I knew it, I was asking her for her hand."
"How did you propose?"
"Well, it wasn't exactly your normal proposal," began Aki. Carley remembered the young woman smirking at her fiancé, and he rolling his eyes, although there was a distinct smile upon his lips. "I found out shortly after he proposed that he had actually been considering asking me to marry him for several months by then, but wasn't sure how to go about it. Then his idiot friend Crow dared him to duel me, and if he lost, he'd have to propose right then and there."
"I lost on purpose," added Yusei.
Reason(s) For deleting: While cute, it felt unnecessary, so I cut it.
Theme #50: Change of Heart
A/N: Italicized content is from the existing theme.
"And I'd like to keep it that way," said Yusei.
"Yusei, he's almost 50," continued Aki, her voice sharp with an edge of sarcasm, "you could take him down easily." The raven-haired male raised his brow at her questionable remark about her kin. Aki had always had the tendency for her comments to become a little caustic, but Yusei had never heard her speak about her father in that manner, at least, not since they had made up two years back.
"That is," he began with a quick pause, "a horrible thing to say about your dad." Aki shrugged.
"He said horrible things to me when I was a child," said Aki casually, although there was a clear indication in her voice that there was still bitterness in the relationship, "I feel liberated enough to talk about him." Yusei hesitated; although she was justifying herself, who was he to argue? Hideo never was exactly the father of the year.
"What do you suppose Mikage and Jack are doing?" he asked suddenly, changing the subject of their conversation to avoid contention.
Reason(s) for deleting: It was simply off-topic.
Part 2: Unused Concepts
Theme #__: Shoes
Aki gritted her teeth, feeling her blood start to boil.
"You know Jack, my shoes could be considered dangerous weapons," she growled, glaring at the older man. "It would really hurt if I threw one at you."
Reason(s) for not using: While it was humorous, it was stupid.
Theme #__: Cupcakes
"Then tell me, Aki," asked Mikage with a bemused look upon her face, "Why did you invite me over here?"
"The answer is simple, Dear Mikage," began Aki as she pulled flour out of the cupboard, "I suck at baking. You don't. You're going to help me bake cupcakes for the guys."
"How does this benefit me?"
"You get the possibility of a potential boyfriend, if Jack likes cupcakes."
Reason(s) for not using: Ditto.
Theme #__: Journal
"Rua! That journal contains Aki's private thoughts!" hissed Ruka in a hushed tone as her brother shuffled through the pages.
"Aw, but come on Ruka! You've always wanted to know whether Aki has feelings for Yusei or not, here's our chance to find out!" he protested.
Reason(s) for not using: It was way too cliché. I mean really, haven't you already read this same exact thing a thousand times?
Theme #__: Water
Yusei's head bobbed up to the surface, spluttering water as he did. He stared up at Aki for a moment in disbelief that she had actually pushed him into the swimming pool on a winter's night. "W-wha-what did you do that for?"
"I don't if you've noticed, Yusei, but I'm kind of a bitch," she replied nonchalantly.
Reason(s) for not using: Because Aki stopped being a bitchy dominatrix in the canon. Damn writers.
Theme #__: Shopping
He felt her hand brush lightly against his, and able to take a hint, he took it. Mikage smiled; although Jack's constant complaining on their little shopping trip was exhausting, this moment alone made it all worthwhile.
Reason(s) for not using: Theme #11 Date essentially replaced this one.
Theme #__: Attention
"You need to start taking more responsibility, Aki. You're no longer just acting for yourself; you're carrying our child," explained Yusei before he stopped and glared at his wife, whose eyes were wandering elsewhere. "Aki, did you even hear a word I said?"
"Not a damn thing," she replied.
Reason(s) for not using: First, because I didn't want to. Second, because the main point I wanted to get across was incorporated into Theme #17 Future.
Theme #__: OCD
"It just doesn't look right," mused Mikage staring at the recently-hung family portrait on the wall, "Like it's a little bit slanted to the left..."
"Oh my God," muttered Jack, rolling his eyes, "I swear, you're the most OCD person I've ever been with."
"Not my fault you married me."
Reason(s) for not using: Writer's block on this one always prevented me from writing it out; I do like the concept, though.
Theme #__: Tears
"Stop it," said Yusei, his hand reaching out to touch her dampened cheek, "I hate to see you cry."
Reason(s) for not using: TOO CHEESY.
Theme #__: Stands
Her heart was pounding, threatening to punch out of her chest, and she wasn't even the one dueling. She knew, however, that when Jack dueled, there was much more at stake than just pride; if he lost, he lost his title, his fame, his glory... everything that made him King in the eyes of Neo Domino.
None of that mattered to Mikage, of course; he would always be the King to her. Jack, on the other hand, found his own self-worth in the title. And if it was important to him, then it was important to her too. But all she could ever do was watch him from the stands alongside all his adoring fans, silently cheering for him... hoping that he could only do his best.
Reason(s) for not using: I was never motivated enough to write it.
Theme #__: Tune
Everywhere she went that day, she was singing. Well, she wasn't pouring out a heartsong or anything of that sort, but she definitely had been humming a catchy little tune.
And it drove Jeager crazy. No, she wasn't a terrible singer; it was just that it bothered him to not know what had her in such a cheerful mood. A raise? A promotion? A new job?
Or perhaps it wasn't career-related. Perhaps it was something more mundane, something outside of work...
"Good morning," Jeager heard Mikage cheerfully to her superior, Jack Atlas as the elvish man walked briskly by the room they presided in. It wasn't her greeting that caught his attention; she greeted him in this manner everyday. It was Jack's response that shocked him:
"Morning to you too," he replied casually before he bent down and kissed her. Jeager stumbled over his feet at this, spluttering incoherent words as he did.
Reason(s) for not using: Actually, I regret not using this one. It would've been much better than something like Theme #21 Crazy, which remains today as my least favorite theme. But I never seemed to get around to writing it.
Theme #__: Smile
A smile was a rare thing to find on ther faces; but it was the one thing they shared more with each other than anything else.
Reason(s) for not using: Because Aki started smiling. ;_;
Theme #__: Dance
"Yusei... I don't know how to dance... I never learned, " she confessed finally, shuffling her feet uncomfortably. Yusei smiled, and taking her hands into his, brought her closer to him.
"Don't worry, I'll teach you," he whispered, his hand traveling down to meet her waist.
Reason(s) for not using: I've used the dance concept several other times in other stories of mine, so I decided to forgo it.
Theme #__: Hellfire
"Jack Atlas," Aki declared loudly, slowly and angrily rising to her feet, "I now have every intention of making your life hell."
Jack rolled his eyes.
"God have mercy on me," he replied sarcastically.
Reason(s) for not using: I couldn't come up with anything for Aki to be angry about, haha.
Theme #__: Photographs
"Good lord, how many photos do they need?" asked Aki, lifting the skirt of her wedding dress to walk faster, and therefore further away from the horde of paparazzi that had invaded her and Yusei's wedding.
"As many as it takes to fill up the camera's memory card," replied Yusei with a chuckle.
Reason(s) for not using: Sort of replaced by Theme #48 Story.
Theme #__: Kiss
"If you love me, then kiss me, dammit," murmured Aki.
Theme #__: Love
Yusei stared at Aki incredulously as she sauntered out of the room, and then looked at Jack, who put his hands up defensively.
"Don't look at me; you're the one who fell in love with her," he said coolly.
Reason(s) for not using: This was intended to be Theme #50 from the beginning. However, at the last minute, I switched course and went with "Change of Heart," which I had previously intended on scrapping.
Part 3: Failed Themes
Theme # __: Responsibility
She was panicking.
It was several hours past midnight, and he still hadn't returned home. She had called him dozens of times, yet he had not returned any of her calls. She had contacted Yusei, Crow, Ushio, Aki, and even Carley to see if any of them knew where he was. The answer from all was, of course, no.
Her first thought was perhaps that he was having an affair; but as the hours passed by, her fears worsened. What if he had been kidnapped? Worse, what if he had been murdered? She had expressed these fears to Ushio during their conversation, but he insisted that she didn't need to fret - Jack was a grown man, and he could take perfectly good care of himself. That, however, was said several hours ago, before the night began to stretch into the early hours of morning.
Within minutes, Mikage found herself in the bathroom again. She bent over the white toilet bowl, sick; she wasn't sure whether it was because she was terribly worried, or if was for... other reasons. After finishing, she stood up, wiping her mouth as she glanced over at the sink. Several empty boxes of pregnancy tests littered the counter.
The woman inhaled deeply and began rubbing her temples. She was starting to get a headache, but she had already taken a set of painkillers less than an hour ago, and anymore would risk addiction. Mikage then went out to the kitchen and had a glass of water, hoping that maybe she was just dehydrated, and that a bit of water would cure her of her pounding head. No sooner had she finished her glass, she could hear the door swing open.
"Jack," she breathed, enthralled. She rushed to the living room, and sure enough, there he was, drenched from the rain. His face sported fantastically colored black eye, and a rather large gash running down his cheek. His arm looked a little limp, and was perhaps broken. His blonde hair was dirty with a mix of mud and blood.
"Wha-what happened?" she asked, her eyes wide. Jack smirked slightly.
"I had a brush up with a street gang; they outnumbered me drastically, but they were still no match for Jack Atlas," he explained in brief, "Security should have picked them up by now." Mikage fell silent. She bit her lip and felt herself starting to shake, blinking back tears. Jack's eyes widened.
"Hey..." he began, stepping up toward her. "It's fine, really, I was only a little roughed up."
"You're such an idiot."
Surprise crossed the younger man's face. He had never heard his wife speak to him with such a dark tone; yes, he knew she tended to get worried about him and she would reprimand him when he did something rash but...
"What's wrong?" he asked, almost idiotically.
"What's wrong? What's wrong?!" she exclaimed, the fury becoming evident in her voice. "I've literally worried myself sick about you; you always run off and get involved in crime like you're some sort of immortal vigilante of law! It's dangerous work!"
"Hey, you used to be involved with the law too!" he protested, his anger growing as well.
"Yes, but I was an the Chief of Special Investigations, I only ever attended crime scenes!" she defended, "Even so, I resigned after we got married because I wanted you to be my first priority! I wasn't willing to risk an accident when I had you to live for; I thought we understood that!"
"I do understand that! But I'm here and I'm alive, so I don't see the problem with--"
"Because I'm terrified that our child will have to grow up without a father!"
Jack froze and Mikage broke down crying. The D-Wheeler remained silent for a moment, watching his wife weep helplessly. Soon, guilt started to grip his heart, like a terrible poison, killing him slowly and painfully. Jack sucked in his breath, feeling himself grow dizzy. He wandered over to the sofa to recollect himself.
"So... you're pregnant?" he asked quietly after a moment. She nodded, bringing her hands up to her face to dry her tears. Jack shut his eyes, "Are you sure?" Again, Mikage nodded.
"I've taken three different tests today; all came out positive."
Jack pursed his lips; it felt too early. That hadn't even reached their first anniversary, and already, she was with child. He had always been under the impression that they would spend a few years together as a married couple before actually starting a family. Although, he supposed he should have expected this; they weren't exactly "careful" when it came to intimacy.
The bloodied duelist suddenly cleared his throat. "Come here," he said as gently as he could. His wife obeyed, and Jack carefully brough her onto his lap, wrapping his arm around her waist.
"I'm sorry," he said in a hushed tone, kissing her neck. Mikage felt her muscles relax, melting in his grasp.
"I know... " she said, her voice trailing off, "I just worry about you... when you run off like that, I just... I love you, I don't know what I would do if something happened to you."
"I love you too," replied Jack, his hand moving to feel her abdomen, "And I promise I won't try to worry you like this anymore... for you and the baby."
Reason(s) for scrapping: I hated it. Mikage and Jack both seemed really OOC, and the writing itself just felt really choppy.
Theme #__: Surprise
"Sorry... I'm just a little bit excited."
It was a few minutes before midnight, and Yusei's wife had been tossing and turning all night, acting like an antsy child. He understood, of course, that she had a reason to be. For, they were pregnant with their first child. But there was more to the equation than that; he had come up with the brilliant idea of sealing the gender results from her ultrasound in an envelope, to open on Christmas day, tomorrow.
"A little bit?"
"Okay, a lot," laughed Aki, scooting over toward her husband to nuzzle up to him, "but aren't you excited too?"
Excited? Of course he was excited; it was just a little hard to show at 11:58 p.m.
Reason(s) for scrapping: Unfinished. It was intended for Christmas... but I had writer's block, and Christmas came and went. So I scrapped it.
Theme #__: Bad Dreams
He never signed up for this; no one told him this would ever happen. Of course, he had expected that during the first year or so of his daughter's life, he would need to force himself to get up during the middle of the night to attend to her needs as an infant. But, he had hoped that as she grew older, her tendency to wake up him and his wife during the middle of the night would diminish.
But instead, it evolved. Now, she would personally visit him at two or three in the morning instead of crying to have him come to her. Why she chose to wake him rather than his wife? He didn't know.
"Dad?" Nasako inquired quietly, poking her father's sleeping form. Jack grumbled and turned over.
"Dad!?" she asked again, this time louder. Again, Jack ignored her.
"Daddy!" she persisted, practically screaming
"Okay, what?!" exclaimed Jack, throwing the sheets off of him as he sat up and glared at the little girl. The blonde man could feel Mikage stir next to him as Nasako sniffled and teared up. Immediately, Jack felt guilty for having snapped at his daughter. True, it was late, but she was only five years-old; she wasn't quite old enough to grasp that her mommy and daddy had jobs they needed to attend to in the morning.
"I-I had a bad dream... " Nasako stuttered, her tiny hands rising to her face to wipe her eyes dry. Jack sighed.
"Come here, sweetheart," he replied, picking her up and setting her on his lap. The motion disturbed Mikage enough to wake her also, and she sat up beside her husband.
"What's the matter?" she asked tiredly, leaning up against Jack.
Reason(s) for scrapping: Unfinished. Plainly, I didn't like how it was turning out.
So... That's it. That's all I've got. Um, wow, so now that's it's actually over... I can worry about procrastinating on my other stories! Yay!
Hey, they may be faulty products, but it's still worth reviewing, right? Over 5000 words a failure deserves a review, in my opinion. (Please review.)