Feb. 15, 2012 - To old readers who still come by, if you're wondering where most of the chapters went, please check the notes at the very end of this page for the current state of things.
Prologue: Through the Looking Glass
When nothing else is left, we can only try once more.
Standing on the curb of the airport's passenger pick-up area, she watched the driver load her things into the trunk. There was only one suitcase and a small carry-on bag, miscellaneous things she had lived off of during the past year.
She allowed her gaze to wander a little, eyes noting all the things that should be familiar but it only seemed to make their strangeness all the more glaring. Two years since she had last set foot in Japan. Somehow, it felt much longer, and yet altogether too soon.
Something drew her attention back to the driver then, and she stared at him blankly at first, taking in the strange look he was giving her.
Blinking, she found herself staring at the car door before turning back to the man who was holding it open for her. Her lips parting, she hesitated and shook her head slightly to ground herself. Finally, with a faint nod of gratitude, she climbed into the backseat of the car and sighed. Ishida was a name she had to get used to from now on.
Leaning back against the hard leather, she took a deep calming breath and let her eyes drift shut as the car pulled away from the curb. She wasn't sure how long she had been sitting there unmoving, but eventually a bump on the ride jolted her eyelids open to the backside of the front seat. They had arrived in the city, she knew.
Outside the window, trees and buildings blurred together like a fast-forwarded movie. Yet, she remembered the scenery in such detail that she had to wonder if anything had changed at all. It was as though someone had pushed a pause button two years ago and forgot to hit play again.
If only Japan had changed beyond recognition. Perhaps, then, she could have believed it was possible to start over.
Why had she not fought harder against coming back to a place that had ruined her life so thoroughly?
Instead, here she sat counting turns even as her chest tightened painfully at the sight of increasingly familiar structures.
Left. Right. Right again - breath hitching - there. There.
It glared at her with its looming brick walls, until the walls bled into an entrance, and the entrance became a swarm of people - all of them pressing and yelling, as disorienting as the flashes from cameras that kept snapping like they had a life of their own. Then they, too, turned into a set of gray eyes staring straight back at her identical ones, with blood streaking down a pale face - the colors so vivid it made her jerk backwards, blinking rapidly.
Eyes stinging and heart pounding, she dug her nails into her arm and wrenched her gaze away from the window. It was only a trick of light. There was nobody there. Just an empty school entrance mocking in its silence at this time of the year.
She looked down and tried to pull herself together, fixing her eyes on the piece of paper lying open on her lap like it was her lifeline.
Dear Miss Ishida Nao,
We are pleased to hear that you will be joining us at Eitoku Gakuen for our upcoming school year. Enclosed, you will find a booklet detailing the school's code of conduct and a list of things you will need for your classes. We would also like to remind you to fill out the following forms...
And in another time, another place - one way or another - her life would have to start over somehow.
Note: The actual story begins in chapter 1, approximately one year after the prologue's setting. However, this story is currently undergoing revision, and the prologue may actually end up being replaced by chapter 1 as it was originally added long after the story began anyway. I reckon it's probably rather boring for new readers.
Just to be clear, Pictures on the Wall is not in any way a continuation of Hana Yori Dango, nor is it the type of next-gen fic that's about the cast's future children. Instead, this fic is based off of the premise that the title, F4, has become something like a mantle after the original ones have graduated. The next generation of new F4, so to speak, with a new story.
What this means is, the main characters are all original and newly created. Characters from the original series, when mentioned, will mostly be done peripherally - either due to familial relations or just because they share the same universe and the rich will always mingle with the rich. So, yes, familiar names will pop up, but I just want to be clear from the start that they likely won't ever have huge roles (but maybe influencing ones, if that makes sense).
So, um, for those of you who didn't speed-hit the back button at the first mention of original characters and is actually considering on giving this fic a chance, I hope you will enjoy it. Comments are always welcome. Thank you. :)
General Things to Note
1. The typical Japanese education system is used for the story: Elementary (grades 1-6), Junior High (grades 7-9), and High School (grades 10-12). So a person entering high school would be in 10th grade, not 9th.
2. Naming conventions are in standard Japanese format, with family name first, then given name. In general, I've dropped most suffixes and only use them when necessary or when it conveys tones that adds to the story/characters.
Author's Massive Note of Doom:
First, thank you so much to all of you who have left reviews, PMs, emails, and drew fanart even after so many years. I love you all. *HUGS* Second, this fic is most definitely not abandoned. A lot of you know that I've always been highly uncomfortable with the beginning chapters of this fic (it was the first thing I had ever written after all). Unfortunately, that "uncomfortable" feeling was bad enough that I simply could no longer bring myself to add new chapters until I go back and do something about it.
That said, I'm currently working on a rewrite. The reason I took down all the (18) chapters instead of replacing them as I go is mainly because I don't want any new readers to get confused. The first 3-5 chapters will be different in some ways, with a few scenes moved around, and such a thing would affect a group of chapters rather than individually. Old readers, I will be inserting a couple of new scenes here or there as well, but the overall storyline remains pretty much the same. I do hope that you'll be willing to read these chapters again.
Another reason is because this site totally screwed up large chunks of stuff with some formatting changes they've made throughout the years, so paragraphs ended up lumped together, words went missing, breaks gone, etc. - which resulted in general confusion when reading. I didn't want to spend time fixing what I was revising anyway, so I've taken them down for the time-being and will be updating as I revise instead.
And finally, for those who are curious - the Yahoo group I used to have for this fic is no longer open. We had some great discussions there, but alas, Yahoo groups became a bit of a pain to manage, especially with spam and the way things are organized. I do, however, now keep a writing journal at Dreamwidth (the link is in my profile) where I always welcome anyone who wants to drop by and chat. As of now, that will probably be where I keep status updates and miscellaneous info (like the previous character guides and stuff). All fanart for the fic can also be found there too.
That's all. :) Questions or comments - I'm always happy to hear from you guys, you know that. And of course, I do hope that you'd still be willing to re-read my rewrites. :P Thanks for sticking with me!
Disclaimer: Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) belongs to Kamio Yoko-sensei. This fic merely borrows its universe to play with and does not claim any ownership whatsoever. Characters and plot not familiar in the original manga/anime are, of course, mine. This disclaimer covers the entire fic