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Hanako-Act5-Part5:New Life

Sep 30th, 2012
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  1. (A continuance from Hanako's good ending, in Katawa Shoujo. The previous chapters are in my profile. Obviously spoilers if you haven't done her route. Please leave comments in the thread if I've posted this there or email them to KSFFWriter@gmail.com . Enjoy)
  2.  
  3. Act 5: Cues - Part 5: New Life
  4.  
  5. After what might have been the best night's sleep I've ever had, we part ways in the early morning. Back to my room, take my pills, shower and change for the day. It's only on my way out of the dorm that the morning takes a strange turn.
  6.  
  7. Shizune and Misha are standing between the boys' and girls' dorms, and Misha grins when she spots me leaving the building. Shizune adjusts her glasses, with an annoyingly familiar expression of mischief on her face. At least Hanako is nowhere to be seen, so that's one possible complication removed.
  8.  
  9. "Hicchan~! It's so good to see a diligent student leaving for class so early~!" Misha says this with no sarcasm, but I'm sure they are Shizune's words.
  10.  
  11. "Yes, of course. Classes are the most important thing with everyone so close to exams." Keep my voice even, nothing to be ashamed of. Hanako and I really didn't do anything more than sleeping last night, anyway.
  12.  
  13. Shizune nods at Misha's translation, and responds in sign. Misha's voice drops in volume a little, as she looks around to make sure no one is paying attention to us. "As student council members, it is our duty~ to remind all students that dormitory curfews are in place for a reason~! And while occasional lapses in judgment can be overlooked, it shouldn't be a regular thing!"
  14.  
  15. Misha gives me a wink and a giggle after that. "Some people are less forgiving than Shicchan."
  16.  
  17. I nod solemnly. Acting like this is serious is plainly the only way to deal with these two. Besides, it's good to have them back to teasing me. "As a diligent student who has only rarely missed classes, I am aware of the reasons behind the various rules at Yamaku Academy. I will endeavor to follow them more strictly, occasional lapses in judgement aside."
  18.  
  19. Misha's grin continues as she signs my response almost as fast as I speak it, only slightly stumbling over some of the longer words. Shizune smiles and nods curtly, and signs back to Misha. "Wahaha~! Shicchan says that's fine, Hicchan! Also don't~ worry~! We won't bother Hanako about this sort of thing. If~ you help with student council today~"
  20.  
  21. I laugh and tell them that I'll be by after a little studying in the afternoon. Misha and Shizune turn and begin walking toward the class building, and I fall into step with them. Misha keeps the chatting to just idle banter and laughter as we walk, and Shizune smiles at her friend's antics. It's good to see them in such a good mood.
  22.  
  23. Classes for the day plod on as normal. I spend the lunch period with Hanako, in the tea room. It's a quiet lunch of cafeteria fare, spent playing chess together. Hanako wins easily, as has been the case lately. I make a mental note to read up on chess strategy sometime soon.
  24.  
  25. The afternoon passes quickly, and the study group goes smoothly as well. We move from science to math and back, as attention spans wane. Hanako and Miki get along very well, to my continuing surprise. I end up leaving them to continue together, saying that I have some work with the student council. This elicits a giggle from Hanako, and an exasperated eye-roll from Miki.
  26.  
  27. They let me go after getting renewed promises that I'll be at the track at nine.
  28.  
  29. Student council is as businesslike as I remember it from the previous visits. That is to say, not at all. Misha and Shizune bicker over this and that, with Shizune always getting her way in the end. Misha is all smiles and pep regardless, as we plow through the pile of paperwork that they tell me always pops up around this time of year. How these two have any time to study is beyond me. They, or rather the school's funding, treat me to some delivery Chinese food midway through our work.
  30.  
  31. The work goes quickly, and we all finish up with our respective piles of paperwork around eight. Misha thanks me happily, and Shizune just smiles and nods. I guess having a third person here really helps out after all. We all walk back to the dorms together, Misha's laughter breaking the relative quiet of the Yamaku grounds. After parting ways at the usual place, I head back to my dormitory and change into the issued gym uniform that I never wear.
  32.  
  33. ----------------
  34.  
  35. Miki is waiting for me at the track when I show up, dressed as usual for her runs. She hops down from the bleachers and waves to me as I approach. I return her wave. Miki looks good in the low light. Not because it hides flaws, but it just suits her. Still, I'm really not sure what I'm doing here. I feel uncomfortable, in another situation where I don't have control or knowledge. It's unpleasant.
  36.  
  37. The girl in front of me doesn't seem put off by my doubtlessly gloomy look. She shoots me a grin as I approach. "Hey. Why do you look like you're about to get in trouble?"
  38.  
  39. I force a laugh, and it sounds pretty bad even to my ears. "Hey, Miki. I just don't know what I'm doing when it comes to running. I guess it's more like the science thing than I thought. You'll have to help me start from the beginning."
  40.  
  41. Miki's grin widens, and she looks genuinely happy at the idea. "Ha! That's great. You know you're out of shape, so maybe you won't go nuts and hurt yourself. A lot of guys start out thinking they can push themselves as hard as they want, and that's not good. Today's the first day though, so I'm starting you on some light jogging and fast walks."
  42.  
  43. I raise an eyebrow. "Is that all? I'm not going to die from a little running."
  44.  
  45. Miki pokes me hard in the shoulder. "You might. Hanako said something about your heart. I'm not going to run you until it stops beating or something. Tomorrow I'm dragging you to the nurse, too. I need to know what you can and can't do."
  46.  
  47. Wow, she's taking this seriously. She was upset earlier, about not knowing anything useful. Maybe this is something good for her. A chance where she's in command, where she knows more than her partner. She certainly looks confident, anyway. "Okay, first thing is stretching. Here, let me show you."
  48.  
  49. We go through a number of stretching positions, alternating between legs and arms and back. I wouldn't have thought running would require so much stretching, it's not like it requires flexibility. I try not to watch too closely while Miki stretches. Still... maybe I should get Hanako to come join us some time. I find myself imagining her in gym clothes, stretching like Miki-
  50.  
  51. A loud snap of her fingers draws my attention away from my daydreaming, and back to a grinning Miki. "Wake up. No going off dreaming right now, we've got work to do."
  52.  
  53. After a half stammered apology, Miki and I begin jogging down the track. Miki keeps me at a brisk pace, but something I feel I can hold for a while. It's very different than running with Emi. Emi took off immediately at full speed, and I only saw her in the brief moments when she blew by me. Miki stays with me, commenting on my faulty running style, telling me how to fix my gait and not to land on my heels.
  54.  
  55. I only manage four laps of the track before I have to quit. My heart is pounding and my lungs can barely pull enough air to keep me upright. Miki grabs my arm when she see me stop, and pulls me into a walk, for a cool down lap. The cooling night time air blows across the track, and it's not long before I feel less exhausted. I almost feel good, in a strange way. Just forcing myself, or possibly being forced by my girlfriend and classmate, to come out here and do something has made me feel more accomplished.
  56.  
  57. We continue walking past the lap marker, Miki staring up at the stars as we go. "Hey, Hisao. There's a three day weekend coming up. What are you doing for the vacation?"
  58.  
  59. Oh, right. This weekend includes Saturday and Monday off. "Ah... I haven't thought about it. Lilly is coming back tomorrow, so maybe she has some ideas."
  60.  
  61. Miki grins at me. "Not going home to see your parents? A lot of people do that, or take their lady friends."
  62.  
  63. I manage a nervous laugh. "I don't think dragging Hanako to my parents' house would be good for her. Besides, they're probably both busy with work anyway. I don't see them much less now than when I lived at home."
  64.  
  65. "Oh, those kinds of parents. Yeah, mine are like that too. Too nervous to go visit Hanako's?"
  66.  
  67. I can't help but grimace a bit at that suggestion. "I don't think that would work."
  68.  
  69. Miki turns to me with a grin, but that disappears when she sees my soured expression. A moment later realization dawns on her face. "Oh, shit. They're dead or something, aren't they?"
  70.  
  71. I find myself instinctively looking around the track, half expecting Hanako to be standing right behind us or something. Nope, looks clear. I give Miki a small nod. "... Yeah. Look, she really doesn't like talking about that though, so just pretend you don't know, alright?"
  72.  
  73. She laughs, a desperate, nervous laugh that sounds very unnatural from her. "Yeah, I won't. Damn, I'm glad I made that joke in private instead of at the study thing."
  74.  
  75. "Hey, don't worry about it. It's not like she tells everyone. Anyway, thanks for doing this for me. I know Hanako is grateful too."
  76.  
  77. Miki seems to appreciate the change in subject, her grin returning quickly. "Yeah, I have to keep my tutor alive or I'll never pass. It's totally selfish interest."
  78.  
  79. I laugh, and we finish our cool down lap in silence. As we do some more stretching, something occurs to me. "Oh, right. No studying after school tomorrow. Hanako and I are going to go greet Lilly at the airport."
  80.  
  81. Miki laughs. "It's fine, it's fine. I can't spend all my time thinking anyway. Hanako and I got a lot done today. We'll finish up Thursday or something."
  82.  
  83. We part shortly after, as curfew is rapidly approaching. My legs are a bit sore and heavy after the jogging, but it still feels good to do something like this. I head back to my own room, Hanako and I can't sleep together every night. I take my evening pills, and go to bed feeling more tired than I have in quite a while.
  84.  
  85. ----------------
  86.  
  87. ...
  88.  
  89. I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep. I stare up at the blue-black ceiling above me, my thoughts an unfocused blur. My legs feel awake and they're dragging the rest of me with them. Maybe running this late wasn't the best of ideas. Miki does it though, and surely she sleeps at night.
  90.  
  91. What a stupid line of thought. I sigh, still staring up at the ceiling.
  92.  
  93. Lilly comes back tomorrow. I hope things won't change too much. They have to change though, don't they? When Lilly left, Hanako and I were friends. Just friends, even if both of us had some other feelings for one another. It's been... two weeks, I guess. So much has changed in so little time. Hanako and I... showed our scars to each other. We had sex, awkward and miserable sex. We reconciled, confessed. We're dating now, together and happy. But how much of that did Lilly want?
  94.  
  95. She admitted to trying to make us closer. She didn't exactly disagree with my calling it manipulation either, though it was hard to read her emotions through the telephone. Is this what she wanted, though? Does what she wanted really even matter?
  96.  
  97. I wonder about our lunchtime tea. It had become such a tradition already, and before all this happened, I had found myself wanting Lilly back just so that the three of us could resume our tea and lunch together. However, what now? Will the atmosphere be different and strained now that Hanako and I are together? Does Lilly want to see-- well, hear, us kissing? Will she be upset if I tell Hanako I love her?
  98.  
  99. I do love Hanako. After the past few days, I'm very certain she loves me as well. But as much as I know that, I know that Hanako values Lilly's opinion. She will want to know Lilly approves of our relationship. In a very strange way, meeting Lilly again will almost be like meeting Hanako's parents. The closest thing she has, anyway.
  100.  
  101. What an awkward situation. I consider calling Lilly to discuss things before she arrives, but she's probably rushing around trying to get to the airport already, if not on the plane by now. Besides, this feels like something that should be done in person.
  102.  
  103. I look to the clock. It's eleven thirty, and I have class tomorrow.
  104.  
  105. I tell my brain that it has done enough thinking tonight, and try to roll over and force myself to sleep.
  106.  
  107. An hour or so later, it finally works.
  108.  
  109. ----------------
  110.  
  111. Another morning, another handful of pills, another mediocre breakfast. I walk out from the dormitories early this morning, and I'm not bothered by any student council members. My legs are a little sore from yesterday, but not enough to be a problem. It feels nice, in a silly sort of way. The exhaustion from working hard at something feels good.
  112.  
  113. Miki meets me at the auxiliary building, looking impatient. I'm on time, but I guess she doesn't like waking up early any more than I do. She nearly drags me to the Nurse's office, but we have to wait outside while he finishes up with someone else anyway. Miki and I joke back and forth in the hallway, quickly dispelling her sour mood. It really is fun to talk to her.
  114.  
  115. Emi Ibarazaki comes out of the nurse's office after a few minutes. When she sees Miki and I leaning against the wall together, she gives me a look that is somewhere between disappointment and anger. I can't tell if she's mad that I'm here with a different track star, or because I'm here with a girl other than Hanako. Either way, Emi doesn't bother to explain as she jogs out of the building. I guess she's in a rush.
  116.  
  117. The visit with the nurse is relatively quick. Miki and I explain that we'll be running together, and Miki prods the nurse for more and more information about my condition and limits. With me sitting there saying it's fine, patient confidentiality is no longer a concern. I still hate hearing about my condition, but if Miki is going to be helping me with this, she needs to know about it. Besides, it feels like I should be able to treat my condition as just a part of my life, instead of a death sentence.
  118.  
  119. Miki is surprisingly adept at picking meaning and purpose from each symptom, and interested in each little tidbit of information she can wring from the nurse. Before we leave, I think she has more of a handle on what I can do than I do. We walk to class together, by chance meeting Hanako on the way, and arriving at class at the same time. No snickering this time, except from Misha, who is quickly quieted by Shizune.
  120.  
  121. That doesn't change the intensely boring classes, however. Most of the classes are just review now, everyone working toward exams. I end up doodling in my notebook through science, and ignoring most of my math class as well. I can't focus with everything on my mind lately.
  122.  
  123. Lunch is a quiet affair, with Hanako and I in the tea room alone one last time before Lilly returns. Hanako is nervous about today as well, I can tell without even asking. We make small talk, about Miki and classes. I can't help noticing how much more often Hanako smiles now. When we're alone in the tea room, she seems so comfortable and happy. I want to see more of this side of her.
  124.  
  125. Lunch passes quickly, and we're back in class again. I don't think anyone is listening to the teacher this period at all. I really should pay attention, Japanese History isn't something I know innately. But I just can't bring myself to care today.
  126.  
  127. We have a brief group work review, which leads Shizune and Misha to immediately corral me as their third. I glance to Hanako, and find with a surprise that she and Miki are working with that blond girl that sits next to her.. Naomi... Inoue? I think. Something like that. Hanako smiles at me when she sees me looking, but then goes back to talking with the two girls she's working with. Is Hanako trying too hard to be sociable, or is she just finally realizing that she can do so without worrying?
  128.  
  129. Well... I know she can do anything she puts her mind to. I'm glad she's expanding her circle of friends, even if they're just casual acquaintances like Miki. I turn back to Misha and Shizune, and we work through the assigned review material quickly. Having these two on my case during group work helps me focus, and the rest of the class time passes without notable incident. They are back to their normal teasing and laughing with me, which makes me happy as well.
  130.  
  131. I can't help wondering if it's okay for Hanako and I to have so few people in common that we call friends. Lilly, Miki maybe. But if Hanako starts meeting new people, will the time we spend together have to include them? Not that I'm against spending time with the rest of my classmates, but I don't want to suddenly have no time alone with Hanako.
  132.  
  133. Misha pokes me, bringing me back to attention after we've finished the work. Her voice is at a controlled volume, the quiet room muting her somewhat. "Hicchan~ You seem distracted today."
  134.  
  135. She tries to convey her feelings with a pouting expression, but they never look anything but comical on her. Shizune, however, looks at me with her normal penetrating gaze. I guess I have to give an actual response. "Uh, yeah. Lilly's coming back today, Hanako and I are going to go meet her at the airport."
  136.  
  137. Shizune's reaction is a predictable annoyed expression. Misha just grins, however. "Lilly's back? Wahaha~ That's great! I bet you two missed her~!"
  138.  
  139. I find myself smiling at her cheery reaction. It's hard to stay sour around this girl. "Yeah, I think we both did. She'll be back to class next week, I think. Just in time for exams."
  140.  
  141. Misha's expression falls at the mention of the upcoming exams, but Shizune just adjusts her glasses and signs to her. They go back and forth for a few moments while my attention wanders. Everyone is still working on the assignment, and Hanako's weird little group of girls seem to be working hard as well. It's interesting, seeing her with people other than Lilly. I can't help but wonder if she acts differently around different groups. Misha prods me with her finger and I turn back to them. "Shicchan says to say hi to Lilly for us~! Also to tell her she has reports due on class exam preparedness by Monday~!"
  142.  
  143. The order to tell Lilly 'hi' is at least a step in the right direction, I guess. "I'll tell her, if there's a good time. What are you two doing for the three day weekend?"
  144.  
  145. Misha's grin comes back immediately. "Shopping~! Shicchan wants to go to the city and buy all kinds of things. We're going to eat at fancy places and have all the best stuff!"
  146.  
  147. I can't help but raise an eyebrow. "You two have money to do all that?"
  148.  
  149. Shizune frowns and adjusts her glasses as if considering a response, before Misha just blurts something out instead, signing as she speaks. "Shicchan's dad has lots of money~! She says it's not a problem if we use some of i--"
  150.  
  151. Shizune grabs Misha's hands in hers and gives her a pointed 'shut up' look, before they go back to speaking in sign again. It seems that despite the appearance she gives of being an honest and businesslike woman, Shizune is just as much a girl as any other. Thankfully before Misha can deliver whatever speech Shizune is cooking up, the bell rings to end the class day, and everyone breaks up their groups. It doesn't look like most of the class managed to finish, but the teacher makes no motion to gather the work anyway.
  152.  
  153. I look to Hanako, but she seems to be busy talking to Naomi. I give her a wave, and she smiles at me, but keeps talking. ... I guess that's fine, for now. I leave the classroom alone for once, and head back to my room. The grounds are busy at the end of class. It's nice to see everyone going about their business as I walk the grounds once more. I vaguely recall this being almost scary when I first arrived, giving me a feeling of alienation at how lost I was compared to everyone else. I guess people really do change quickly when they have to.
  154.  
  155. Back in my room, I crack open my English text, and spend the next two hours studying. It goes slowly, the subject being incredibly dry and uninteresting to me. Still, with all my time spent tutoring Miki recently, I haven't had time to really get into the studying I needed to do. I find myself hoping again that Lilly isn't so bothered by Hanako and I dating, and the other things that have happened, that she rejects my impending request for help with this language. She speaks it fluently, I know that much.
  156.  
  157. A knock at my door interrupts my studying, and by the timid and quiet sound, I assume it's Hanako. A moment later, I'm proven correct. She's dressed in her blouse and black jeans again, and I find myself amused by her lack of options for clothing outside of her school uniform. I let her into the room with a smile and a gesture, closing the door behind her. "Hey, Hanako. You looked like you were having fun in class, so I went ahead and left without bothering you."
  158.  
  159. Hanako smiles and hugs me briefly. "I-it was fun. Naomi seems nice, she i-invited me to help out with the journalism club. I'm thinking about it, it s-sounds like it could be interesting."
  160.  
  161. Noticing that I'm still in my school uniform, I separate myself from Hanako and open my closet, rifling through my shirts and pants. "Do you mind if I change clothes before we go?"
  162.  
  163. I look back to see her reaction, and she shakes her head, still smiling. "N-no, go ahead. Lilly won't be arriving for a-another hour at least."
  164.  
  165. I pull some appropriate clothing from my limited wardrobe and change quickly, though I can feel Hanako's eyes watching me as I do so. I guess I should be bothered, or offended or something. Honestly though, it's nice that she feels like she can see me without clothes on. We're close enough already, somehow, that it feels like it shouldn't matter to me. I guess it doesn't really.
  166.  
  167. I'm dressed before long, of course, and I turn around and smile at Hanako, before pulling her into a brief kiss. Her face looks slightly flushed afterwords, and I can't help but smile. "I hope Lilly is not too bothered by this."
  168.  
  169. Hanako nods just enough to be seen. "Sh-she should be okay. She knew that I l-liked you, for a l-long time..."
  170.  
  171. I give Hanako another brief hug, and then offer out my arm for her to take. "Ready to go? I don't mind being early, we can get some food and chat a while."
  172.  
  173. Hanako smiles, and takes my arm. We walk from my room together, and she doesn't release my arm even as we cross campus. She's smiling bashfully, a little embarrassed by her own bravado, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world, having this pretty girl to walk with. Suddenly, I know that we can deal with any changes in our future. Lilly, Hanako having new friends, time together, time apart, university... all of that is trivial compared to what Hanako and I share.
  174.  
  175. For the first time since my accident, everything feels right.
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