Christmas at the Hakamichis - Chapter 1

Feb 9th, 2018
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  1. I woke up and stretched myself before wondering, just for a second, where I was, like I'd been doing these past few days. It had been almost a week by now, but I was still a bit confused upon waking up. After the hospital and Yamaku, waking up in yet another room felt strange. It was quite a nice room though, and spacious. Like everything was, at the Hakamichi mansion. Wait, not mansion; Residence. Shizune hated when people talked about it as a mansion. And yet... It definitely looked like one. With enough rooms for everyone who came in, and then some. Satou and Hakamichi, together in the same house for a week... I was a bit apprehensive about it, after learning about their family drama, and the feud between Shizune and Lilly; It seemed like it would go from one generation to the next.
  3. Even Kenji warned me against it. Told me not to go. Though his fears were about the dangers of going to a Yakuza stronghold, accompanied by the Sicilian mafia. Or Russian. He never quite made up his mind about which criminal organization Lilly was part of. Someone was definitely going to get killed in there, and I didn't want to get caught in the crossfire. Well, I didn't pay much heed to his warnings, though I WAS worried about getting caught in a crossfire, at least figuratively. If people didn't get along well, this would be a very long week. Sometimes it's even worse to be present for a conflict, when you're not actually taking part in it, for either side.
  5. But these fears proved wrong, at least thus far. Sure, Shizune and Lilly were not spending much time together, but they weren't pulling each other's hair either, which was about as good as one could hope for. Though I wonder how much of that cold war staying peaceful was due to Misha not being there to relay Shizune's divine fury to Lilly. Sure, I had started learning sign language, mostly out of boredom, maybe a bit of curiosity, and I was able to hold a one on one conversation with Shizune as long as she didn't use uncommon words... But I'm not nearly at Misha's level of listening to someone and signing at the same time, or reading signs while talking to someone else. Talking with Shizune was now easy enough for me, but translating back and forth for someone else proved more difficult, though I got a bit better during the week. If Shizune and Lilly having a hard time talking to each other was the reason no conflict happened, well I suppose that was for the best.
  7. I shrug these thoughts out of my mind and start getting dressed up. Clothes on, pills taken, walking to the kitchen, see what the plans were for the day; That had been my daily routine. It was quite nice, actually. Made me a bit sad it was about to end. Ah well. Three days left, still got time to enjoy it before going back to Yamaku! When I turn the corner and see Hideaki sitting at the table, I ponder turning around and going back to my room, but it's too late; He saw me too. I would have to go along with it and hope someone else would wake up soon. At least it's him and not his father, who'd probably just yell at me for no particular reason.
  9. Hisao: 'Hey! Up early today?'
  10. Hideaki: 'Not really.'
  12. I'm not sure what I expected. Trying to hold a conversation with him was a frustrating experience, to say the least. I try coming up with something else to say, that might get an actual answer out of him when thankfully, I'm saved by Akira joining us. Even after a week, it was still a shock to see her like that; I was so used to her business suit, that seeing her in casual clothes felt a bit strange... Though I could definitely get used to it. She was barefoot and wearing only a pair of grey shorts that hung loosely around her waist, and a shirt large enough to hold two Akira. Probably the clothes she slept in, now that I think of it.
  14. Akira: 'Hey there Shortie! Hisao!'
  16. I look in Hideaki's direction, but given how he barely reacted to Akira joining us, it doesn't look like he's gonna say anything.
  18. Hisao: 'Akira! Slept well?'
  19. Akira: 'Not too bad. Though I can't see myself getting used to these soft beds anytime soon. Back at my place, I pass out on the couch more often than not.'
  21. This seems weird to me, with Akira living with her boyfriend and all. After years together, it probably feels less special to sleep in the same bed, I suppose. Not something I can ask about anyway.
  23. Akira: 'Feels like a princess sleeping like that.'
  25. The way she says it, and the face she makes, tells me that she doesn't give 'princess' a very positive connotation. Can't say I'm surprised, I've never seen her as a very girly girl; Though I have to admit, seeing her like this, relaxed, is quite nice.
  27. Lilly and Shizune eventually wake up and join us at the table. Shizune, apparently too tired to bother signing, just points to the stairs leading to her father's chamber, and shakes her head a bit, making herself understood without speaking a word; Wondering where he is, or whether he's coming. Hideaki shakes his head as well, then, remembering there are other people around, explains that he left early, some urgent business. I have to say that I'm not too sad about this. He seems to take great pleasure in making sure my time at his place would be miserable. Perhaps he thinks Christmas is only for the family. But when Misha told Shizune she would not be able to come this year, Shizune had insisted that I come. She would NOT spend the whole week writing on her notepad. As my parents were really busy and did not care much about Christmas, I accepted; I enjoy the time spent with them - Lilly, Shizune, and Akira as well, though I didn't know much about her before coming here, we got along just fine! So, why not? If I can make myself useful as well, by translating for Shizune... This is just for the best. This might be why Jigoro is on my case like that; He might think that me translating for his daughter reflects poorly on him, who never bothered learning sign language. But now that I think of it, I'm not sure he'd be the kind of person to care about that. He'd be more likely to blame Shizune for not talking, than to have regrets about not learning to sign so he could talk to his own daughter.
  29. Lilly goes to grab a few things on different shelves and cupboards, and as she so often does, she amazes me by how quickly she adapts to a place she hasn't been all that often; I can barely remember where everything is, yet Lilly, despite her blindness, just walks from a place to the next, grabbing tea-pots, spoons, plates, oranges, like she's been living here her entire life. I suppose you have to learn fast, in her situation, unless you want to constantly ask people for help, which she probably would be too proud to do.
  31. Watching her going at it, she really doesn't need help. Someone could watch her from afar, and not even realize she's blind, the way she's moving. Still, I feel a little bad about her doing everything, so I'm about to offer my help, but Akira is there first, taking some stuff out of her hands and working on a breakfast.
  33. Shizune seems to be doing her best to pretend she doesn't even see them; As the hostess, and a tireless worker, I'm sure she would have been the first up to do her share of the work, if not all of it... But having to interact with Lilly might have turned her of it. It's not as bad as that though. People seem cheerful enough, and we enjoy some peace and quiet, sitting at the table, while we're waiting
  34. to eat.
  36. The food is almost ready, when we hear footsteps on the outside, and then the door slams open;
  38. Jigoro: 'Everyone up?'
  40. So much for peace and quiet.
  41. He walks to the kitchen, assessing the situation before opening his mouth again.
  43. Jigoro: 'You let them feed you like that?'
  45. I don't even need to ask who he's talking to.
  47. Jigoro: 'You have no shame boy? A man should be able to take care of himself. Are you even a man yet, how old are you again, fifteen?'
  49. I'm pondering what to reply to that, something about me actually being eighteen, or something about him yelling at me just the day before about "using his stuff" to make breakfast... or whether I should reply at all, and risk getting him riled up even more. Thankfully, Akira saves me - again. I definitely need to keep her around, to save me from having to hold conversations with awkward people... And angry, potentially crazy people.
  51. Akira: 'Food served! Dig in!'
  53. Part of me just can't wait to see if Jigoro will just sit there and eat with us, the food prepared by Lilly and Akira, after chastising me for doing the same... But he grabs leftovers from yesterday, eats them over the counter, before leaving again. I'm glad for that; At least the "insults&humiliation" session wasn't too painful today. Lilly rests her hand on my shoulder a moment while going to her place around the table, compassionate.
  55. We eat in silence for a while, too tired to talk, too hungry to give up on the food if only for an instant; As fun as they've been, these days have been tiring; All that running around to see this and that place of interests, decorating the house for Christmas, fishing... We even tried our luck at hunting, but I don't think anyone expected to actually get something; Akira, being the oldest, was holding our only rifle, and she didn't really seem that enthusiastic about even using it. As far as we were concerned, our hunting trip was indiscernible from a casual walk in the woods.
  57. We're done eating fairly quickly, due to our pace, and we look at one another, wondering who will talk first; Lilly does, probably sensing that no one was willing to start.
  59. Lilly: 'What should we be doing today?'
  61. Akira is just about to open her mouth, but Shizune turns toward me and starts signing. It's funny, though a bit sad, that Shizune makes a point of always looking at the person she's "talking" to when signing, but when it's Lilly, she always looks at her translator, and not her; Someone who doesn't know any better might think she's just doing it because Lilly is blind, but I know full well she just doesn't care that much about showing any kind of respect to Lilly. They weren't at each other's throats this week and I'm thankful for that, but they still don't care much for one another, that much is clear. This week didn't change that, I doubt anything ever will.
  63. I try my best to decipher and translate Shizune's words for everyone... Yikes. I wish I was two or three months further in my sign language lesson. If early on during the week I was missing more than a few words, now I'm doing much better... when I have the time. But Shizune, stubborn as always, doesn't seem to want to slow down at all, much like you don't slow down when talking to someone who's not fluent in your language, you only try to use more common words. But even with Shizune trying that as well, I'm struggling, and I need to wait for her to be done with whatever she has to say, before translating to the group. When I get most of it right, I make up the rest a bit, trying my best to say it like Shizune intended, instead of constantly asking her to repeat herself. It's not expertly done, but that's about as best as I can do. And as Shizune hates using the notepad, that's about as best as any of us here, can do. Makes me wish Misha was here. Not to translate between me and Shizune, I'm fine with talking to her in signs. If anything, I like talking to her directly much better than with an interpreter. But when it comes to translating back and forth... Ah well.
  65. Hisao: 'Huh... She wants to buy gifts for Christmas. To trade gifts.'
  67. Well, that's something. I wasn't even sure what kind of Christmas tradition they had here. Good thing I brought some money.
  69. Hisao: 'She says... secrets. In a hat. I missed the other word.'
  71. I sign to Shizune to get her to repeat what she just signed. Damn it, I feel terrible. Everyone is looking at me expectantly to hear Shizune's words just flow through me like I'm Misha, but I'm doing a poor job of it. She does it again, a bit slower this time, and I get it.
  73. Hisao: 'Santa! She wants us to pick names off a hat. A secret Santa gift exchange.'
  75. I can't say I'm too unhappy about this. While I did bring money with me, having to make four or five gifts would've been hard. This way I can get just one bigger gift, and avoid ruining myself. The group seems to be ok with this, though money is probably less an issue for them.
  77. Lilly: 'Shall we begin?'
  79. Shizune thrusts a pen and a sheet of paper on the table, as if her distaste of writing to communicate also made her hate writing for any other reason; Hideaki grabs it and start writing all our names, while Shizune goes to her room, and comes back with a few random things, dropping them on the table as well. It takes me a moment to think about what these are for... Oh. Right. Lilly.
  81. Hisao: 'Lilly? We'll wrap some toys and stuff in the paper, so you know who you got, that's ok with you?'
  83. She nods, and I take these items to put them in her hands, taking my time to make sure she doesn't drop them. Our fingers connect, but such contacts don't feel strange to me anymore, now used to walk with Lilly holding my arm.
  85. Hisao: 'So, the stone is you. Hopefully, no one gets his own, or we'll have to redraw. The coin is me. The star is Akira. The toy soldier is Hideaki. The diamond is Shizune, and the... Err.'
  87. Wait, that's not right...
  88. ...Oh.
  89. ...Oh damn. No.
  91. Hisao: 'Huh, Shizune? Six? Is your father in it too?'
  93. I'm so startled by that idea that I don't even think of signing it. But Shizune, smart and good at reading people, knows what I'm asking anyway; She does a simple, decisive nod. I suppose that can't be helped.
  95. Hisao: '...And the bear is Jigoro.'
  97. Lilly recites them, to make sure shes, got them all memorized, while I'm having a silent prayer about not drawing Jigoro. We wrap all the tokens in the papers with the names and shuffle them in a bag. Lilly picks first, then I go second, getting Shizune's name. Akira makes a big show like she's a magician about to pull a bunny out of the bag, then opens... Akira. She throws it on the table to show everyone.
  99. Hisao: 'Alright, let's try this again.'
  101. We wrap them, and shuffle them again in the bag. Lilly goes first again, then Akira. Hideaki picks one, then I pick... Hideaki. I have no idea what I could get him. I barely know what to tell him when we're stuck in the same room for more than a minute. Ah well. It's not Jigoro at least... He probably would've sneered at anything I could get him, and find a thousand ways to call it the worst of all gifts. Shizune goes fifth, and smile. Only one left in the bag.
  103. Hisao: 'So huh... Do we wait for him? We can't start thinking ideas before we know if the draft is valid.'
  105. Akira, looking half bored with the process, picks the last one off the bag and press it between her hands.
  107. Akira: 'All good, it's not him.'
  109. Make sense, I suppose. The bear was bigger than the other 5 items, would've been obvious if it was that last one.
  111. Hisao: 'Any shopping mall around here?'
  113. I sign it for Shizune, and she thinks for a while then sign back something for me to translate;
  115. Hisao: 'Ah... There are only a few small stores nearby, we're gonna need to drive.'
  117. Everyone turns toward Akira; Jigoro not being here, she's the only one with a car. Jigoro probably would've told us to run anyway; It's only ten miles.
  119. Akira: 'I suppose I'm the chauffeur of the day... My car's not big enough for the five of us though, and the van is gone. Gonna have to split into two groups.'
  121. Hideaki is the first to move to Akira, and after my approximate translation, Shizune walks forward too; I can't stop myself from thinking that she just doesn't want to risk having to go on the second run with Lilly. Sometimes I think she's going a bit far about their feud; It's not like they'd be together a long time... Given they might have to buy each other gifts. Akira would probably just guide Lilly to a few stores and let her ask advice to the employees... Or maybe she'll just help her buy it. But either way, Shizune wouldn't be with her. Ah well. They've been together for almost a week without too much drama, I suppose this much can't be helped. So I guess I will be the one to go on the second run with Lilly!
  123. I watch the car leave, waving at them before they're out of sight, then come back, to sit at the table with Lilly.
  124. Now, what could we do today...
  127. -----
  130. End of the first chapter. ( Chapter 2 : )
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