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Rin - Understanding

Sep 9th, 2012
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  1. (I woke up this morning with this vague idea in my head, and so I wrote out a little story. I hope you enjoy it. Continues Rin's Good Ending from Katawa Shoujo. Comments can be posted in the thread if I posted a link, or sent to me at KSFFWriter@gmail.com )
  2.  
  3. Rin couldn't paint.
  4.  
  5. For three weeks after the end of the trimester, after the mess with her gallery opening and after our first night together, she couldn't paint.
  6.  
  7. At first it didn't seem to bother her. She went to her summer classes while I sat in my room and read. We spent time together as well, of course. With Emi gone, I was needed in that respect at least. We spoke, in that Rin manner of speaking that says both everything and nothing. She slept in my room twice, but we didn't do anything else. A sort of broken, spaced out routine appeared.
  8.  
  9. By the end of the first week, Rin's eyes had dark circles under them.
  10.  
  11. By the end of the second week, she would barely even speak anymore.
  12.  
  13. That Saturday night as we sat in her room, far past curfew, I was reading a book while she stared blankly at her blank canvas, and she spoke out of nowhere, as though there hadn't been three hours of silence preceding it.
  14.  
  15. "Lick me."
  16.  
  17. I think my expression amused her, because when I found I could look at her face again, there was something like a smile on it. It was good to see it, but the shock of her previous request hadn't been flooding my mind.
  18.  
  19. "Like you did before. But not the rest, just that. Is that okay?"
  20.  
  21. I couldn't really refuse, could I?
  22.  
  23. ---
  24.  
  25. I awoke early that next morning to an empty bed. I sat up slowly, my mind a groggy mess, and felt around for my medication. Of course it wasn't there.
  26.  
  27. My mind focused enough to see a naked woman, her pale and too-slender form specked with paint. Rin stood in front of a sketched painting that had grown half-filled during the night. How long had she been awake? The brush between her toes slid along the canvas, dragging the oil paint here, pushing it there. Effortlessly moving color and line together. I guess the previous night helped clear her mind. Or something like that.
  28.  
  29. I don't want to disturb her, so I just stand and get dressed in silence. There's no class today for either of us, so there isn't any reason to rush. After I finish dressing, Rin speaks to her painting, but really to me. "Can you dress me? Then stay here? But not talk."
  30.  
  31. ... I wish I could say I was used enough to her bluntness that it didn't annoy me.
  32.  
  33. Still, I help her dress in her uniform, no tie today, and then sit back down on her bed and open my book again. The first week I knew Rin, she told me that my being there was helpful. Painting her mural, she told me to 'Just be.' So, that's what I do now. Shades of feeling from long afternoons in the atelier pass over me, but then I remember her lips and her taste, the sounds she makes. This silence is different, but the same.
  34.  
  35. Hours pass. I switch to another book as I finish the first. I try not to look at her painting, or form opinions. Bad luck, after all. Around one in the afternoon, my stomach growls loudly enough for her to notice. Not that she turns around.
  36.  
  37. "Hisao. Can you buy lunch? I'm almost done." Her voice is tired, lazy. The words slip out as if she's not really even thinking them.
  38.  
  39. "Yeah, okay. I'll be back soon."
  40.  
  41. ---
  42.  
  43. Half an hour later I'm back, with our convenience store grade food. The cafeteria isn't high quality during the normal school session, and over vacation it is much worse. When I come in, Rin is napping on the bed. I set the food down on her nearly unused desk, and look at the apparently completed painting.
  44.  
  45. A mess of colors, swirling around themselves and through one another. An overall blue tone, the swirling lending an air of melancholy instead of the frenetic movement you might expect. Art criticism terms spring to mind, from the books I've read on it, but few of them seem to really fit. Vaguely humanoid shapes exist, most of their mouths open in what seems like some kind of abstracted shouting. The painting makes me feel stressed and unpleasant, so I turn away from it and wake Rin for her lunch.
  46.  
  47. We eat in relative silence, Rin's sudden creative phase seemingly sated for the moment. The curry bread and juice boxes are filling but not exactly good. Rin doesn't seem to mind the silence. My eyes keep moving back to the painting as we eat. The more I look, the more a single mass seems to appear from the swirling shapes. Something that everything is moving around, some huge impenetrable object. I can't place what it could be.
  48.  
  49. "What is this one about?"
  50.  
  51. My voice seems to shake Rin out of her comfortable silence, and she looks at me blankly.
  52.  
  53. I speak again, not really sure what to make of her silence. "I mean, I know you don't like talking about art. But I'm curious. This painting makes me feel... bad. I don't know the words for it."
  54.  
  55. She turns her head to look at the painting again, and I can see her muscles tense as she does so. "I don't know. Either. The words for it."
  56.  
  57. Something about her tone is a little off-putting. "Do you want me to stop asking about it?"
  58.  
  59. "Yes." The answer comes without hesitation.
  60.  
  61. So, I stop. But Rin stands again and points her toe at the easel. "Can you move this? Over there? And get that other one."
  62.  
  63. I lift the still-drying painting gingerly, and set it in the corner, mostly behind her wardrobe. Seems like she wants it hidden. I lift the blank canvas she indicated and replace it on the easel, adjusting it until she's satisfied. Rin stands restlessly, shifting her weight from foot to foot as I move the canvases. Something is bothering her, but I know better than to ask. Once the easel is ready, she turns to me with a bored expression that seems somehow oddly forced.
  64.  
  65. "Can you go? Away. Just for today." Her tone is blank as usual, but I can see she's nervous. I understand her enough... that's not right, I don't understand her. I guess it is more that I can read her well enough to know that she's afraid I'll be angry. A few weeks ago her request would have bothered me more than it does now.
  66.  
  67. I pick up my books, leaving the remaining food on the floor where we were eating. She needs to paint, so I can't be here. That's fine for now. "Yeah. When should I come back?"
  68.  
  69. "Later."
  70.  
  71. And with that, she turns to the canvas, brush already between her toes.
  72.  
  73. ---
  74.  
  75. With nothing to do, I drop my books off at my dormitory and find myself wandering the campus. My feet just move as they will, pulling me toward the empty class building. On a Sunday toward the end of the summer vacation, the building is unsurprisingly deserted. No teachers, no students. I walk the silent hallways alone, at an idle pace. The door to my classroom is unlocked, and I find myself sitting at my desk for no reason.
  76.  
  77. The silence is more than a little overbearing. Only a few minutes pass before I have to stand up and leave the room. For some reason I instinctively turn and walk the few dozen steps to the art room. It's unlocked as well, how lazy. Thankfully, Nomiya isn't here. I don't want to see him.
  78.  
  79. The room is bathed in the late afternoon sun that comes pouring in through the long windows. The orange tinted sunlight strikes the natural wooden furniture of the room, and creates a home-like atmosphere of soft comfort.
  80.  
  81. It still makes me uncomfortable to be in here.
  82.  
  83. A pile of paintings in the corner catches my attention. It looks like the gallery is done with Rin's exhibit, and now the works have been returned to the school. For lack of other things to do, I sort the pile, and sit the paintings up against the wall instead, taking a seat on the floor a few feet away.
  84.  
  85. I don't know what I expected. They're the same incomprehensible mess that Rin's work always is. Some of the pieces give me the same stressed feeling that the new painting does. Still, I sit there and stare at them, as the sun warms my body. Time melts into a slow morass. The silence of the room, aside from the quiet ticking of the wall clock. The warm sunlight making me lazy and slow, both physically and mentally. As I sit there, nearly snoozing from the atmosphere, something happens.
  86.  
  87. The warm light, the slow passage of time, the scent of paper and drying paints... they all blend together. The colors on the canvases seem to swim, to move without moving. My mind feels hazy and dim, caught in that moment between wakefulness and sleep. Something encroaches slowly into my consciousness, looking at the art in front of me. My eyes focus slowly on a largely red painting, a blue figure in the foreground, and a white figure in the back. Loneliness swims in the almost synesthetic mood I find myself in. A crushing, bitter loneliness.
  88.  
  89. I think of Rin, and my mind wants to place her as the figure in the distance. But something else tells me that's wrong. Who is it then? Thoughts echo sluggishly through my sleep-addled mind. Maybe she's the blue figure. Or the Easter Island statue that seems to be crying blood. Or maybe she is the mountain in the distance. Maybe I am.
  90.  
  91. A cloud passes over the sun, and the darkening of the room wakes me from my reverie. I look back to the painting, but what I saw is gone. It's back to just being paint on a canvas. I try for a few moments to slide back into... whatever it was that made me see it differently, but it's no use. The moment has passed.
  92.  
  93. ---
  94.  
  95. I don't go to see Rin that night. She wanted to be alone, and she knows where my room is if she needs me.
  96.  
  97. I take my evening pills, mentally chastising myself for forgetting my morning dosages that day.
  98.  
  99. The next morning, I don't forget. But I still need to get to Rin's room to get her to class.
  100.  
  101. The girl's dormitory is silent as usual for summer vacation. I knock softly on Rin's door, thinking she's likely asleep. There's no answer.
  102.  
  103. I open the door to find Rin a complete mess, dressed in her uniform but asleep on the floor. I sigh quietly, and close the door behind me. I look at her painting. It's finished, or she wouldn't be asleep. Nearly the entire canvas is blacked, the rest is clouds of dismal greys and an undercurrent of blue. Two humanoid figures, both in white, stand on each side of the canvas. They seem to be facing away from one another, though without detail on their features it's hard to say.
  104.  
  105. The image makes me feel uncomfortable again. I wonder if Rin has been painting things for that reason.
  106.  
  107. I look down at her, and feel a pang of guilt about having to wake her. She always seemed to think I enjoyed watching girls sleep, but that's not it. I just... rarely see her so peaceful. Still, she needs to go to class. I kneel beside her and shake her shoulder slightly to wake her.
  108.  
  109. Rin's eyes open slowly, and she looks at me blankly for a moment. "... Hisao."
  110.  
  111. "Yeah. It's me. It's time to get up for class."
  112.  
  113. Rin turns her face away from me, her voice obstinate. "No. Not today."
  114.  
  115. "Yes, today. It's Monday, come on." I try to pull Rin up from laying on the floor, but she just goes limp, making everything more difficult.
  116.  
  117. How like her.
  118.  
  119. Rin is light, but I don't want to drag an armless girl limply through the hallways, do I? So instead I just lift her into her bed, and then sit down on the one chair she has in her room. Silence falls over us for a few minutes. When Rin speaks, she speaks into her pillow, not having moved from where I unceremoniously left her. "Can you move it? Over to the other one. And get that small one."
  120.  
  121. I feel like I've been ordered around too much lately. I guess I've slipped into Emi's role a bit, becoming some kind of helper instead of... what was I supposed to be? Some kind of boyfriend? I move the canvases as ordered, and Rin sits up after a moment more. She stares at me with a blank expression. "You can stay if you want."
  122.  
  123. I don't respond, and Rin stands up, moving the easel toward her bed, before looking down and picking up a brush, along with a few tubes of oil paint and a palette, laying them on her rumpled sheets.
  124.  
  125. ... Fine. I didn't have class and I can't make Rin go.
  126.  
  127. I move from the chair, and on an impulse, climb into Rin's bed, sitting behind her, with my legs to either side of her. Rin leans back against me for a minute, looking at the canvas in silence. It feels nice to feel her relaxing against me, even if it's only for a short while. She leans forward again after a moment, taking a tube of paint, expressing some color, and beginning work.
  128.  
  129. I have no book with me, or anything else to pass the time. So I watch Rin paint. It's oddly nostalgic, if nostalgia is something you can have for doing this same thing two months... three months ago, I guess. I sit with Rin, and I watch the sketch lines grow across the canvas. I watch the canvas fill as the daylight grows brighter. Pulling here, pushing there. Color, lines, motion. Everything blurs together as we sit in silence for hours. My legs fall asleep, and then become masses of pins and needles as the blood flows to them again. But we don't talk.
  130.  
  131. The room becomes hazy and hot, a memory of the day before. The afternoon sun shines from the window, over the mostly complete image that seems to have slowly crept up on me. Rin still works wordlessly. A blue humanoid figure, not mournfully blue but brightly so, exists in the center of the canvas, obviously in motion. The left side of the canvas is blacked, tinges of a deep red flowing like tentacles, wrapping around the central figure. The right side of the canvas is brighter, almost greenish, like a pleasant field. Yet the far right edge has hints of the same darkness as the left.
  132.  
  133. I close my eyes a moment and try to stop thinking. When I open them again, Rin is adding thin orange trails along the blue figure's body. It's not representative of anything in reality. The silence and the warm room, let alone the warm girl, lull me into a groggy state.
  134.  
  135. Science, math, art critique... they all seem meaningless when you're half awake. My mind stops thinking in this way, and I just start to feel emotion instead. No logic, no laws or rules. I see the canvas again, and I feel the sensation of running out of breath. Or just of running. Motion, that tightness in your chest as you feel yourself pushing every limit you can find. A dreamlike state of running away from something you can never gain distance from. My head swims and my heart seems to beat faster in sympathy for the painting.
  136.  
  137. Something is missing, though the painting is effective already. I can't think about things that are missing, I'm tired of running. Rin pauses, and adds another stroke to the figure's back. The painting is done, I know it before she says it.
  138.  
  139. "It's Emi."
  140.  
  141. I say it like that. A statement, not a question. Did I know it was Emi? I look at it now and it can't be anything else.
  142.  
  143. Rin stiffens strangely at the sound of my voice. I feel like I have to clarify, even though the statement is meaningless.
  144.  
  145. "Emi at her Emiest."
  146.  
  147. The stupid phrase comes back to me from months before. Rin turns her head slowly, mechanically, in that way unique to her. She's looking at me from the corner of her eye with a strangely penetrating look. "You...?"
  148.  
  149. The hazy slowness in my mind persists, and I look at the painting instead of Rin. Or maybe I'm looking at Rin anyway. "You miss her... or... She's running away. And you want to help her."
  150.  
  151. My statements are spoken without doubt, even though I can't think well enough to say why I can see this. Rin's eyes are open in what could be shock, a rare emotion from her. My mind moves lazily over my memories of Emi. Is she running away? I don't know her that well, but I remember talking to her a few times where something under her cheerfulness became visible. I feel like this painting is more intimate with Emi than I feel like I should be. But the painting makes me feel like Rin, like I've known her for years.
  152.  
  153. Some stupid sentence drifts lazily through my mind, and I speak it without really thinking, still half asleep despite my musings. "I understand how you feel."
  154.  
  155. The sudden movement of the girl in my lap shakes me out of my hazy fog just in time to feel her lips press to mine. Instinctively, I reach my arms around her and hold her close. A moment passes before she breaks the kiss, and just buries her face against my neck, strangely out of character sobbing shaking through her small body. But she's not wailing, she's not crying out of fear or sadness. I can tell just by holding her that she's crying from relief.
  156.  
  157. I don't say anything else, what is there to say? The fog of the afternoon and the feeling of that painting hover on the edges of my mind. Is that how Rin feels? Is it just how I have to feel to understand what she means? It doesn't matter, I look back to the painting now and I can still see it. I can still feel what I felt before, even though I can think more clearly. I hold Rin, and she slowly stops sobbing, just resting calm against my shoulder again.
  158.  
  159. "I love you."
  160.  
  161. The words come unbidden from my mouth. Have I said them before? I don't think so, not to her. And if I did, I never meant it like I do now.
  162.  
  163. Rin hesitates a moment, and turns her head just a little so she can speak clearly, if just a little hesitantly. "I love you."
  164.  
  165. The pause after those words seems unusually heavy.
  166.  
  167. Her voice is quiet when she speaks again. "It doesn't taste weird. Anymore."
  168.  
  169. I don't respond immediately, and in a moment or two, it's too late. Rin sleeps, dressed in paint-smeared clothing on a Monday afternoon, her body warm from the sun and her cheeks wet from her crying. She sleeps, and her body is relaxes in a way I've never seen it do before. I move her carefully, until we're both laying on the small part of the bed that isn't covered in brushes and paints. Rin's legs almost latch around my waist when I try to move, and only let go when I stop.
  170.  
  171. We just sleep next to one another that afternoon, but it is more intimate than any other act we could have done.
  172.  
  173. I look at her face, and I smile. Everything in the world is alright.
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