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Hanako-Act5-Part2: Past and Present

Sep 14th, 2012
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  1. (A continuance from Hanako's good ending, in Katawa Shoujo. Part one is here: http://pastebin.com/kccmSdV3 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 2: Past and Present
  4.  
  5. The next day of classes goes the same way. Hanako and I arrive separately, but leave together. Misha and Shizune notice, of course, but true to their words they don't mention it to Hanako. They don't even bother me to help them with their student council work. It's nice of them, but I can't help but feel a little sad. I don't want friends to avoid me just because I am dating someone now.
  6.  
  7. Friday's classes go the same way. Hanako and I stick to idle chat in the afternoon walks, though even after only two days she smiles more, and walks a little closer to me. I think the reality that no one minds us dating has set in, and she's not afraid that someone is going to call undue attention to it. The idle discussion continues.
  8.  
  9. Her studies are going well. She's doing fine in English and her computer electives class, and moderately well in her other subjects. I talk briefly about Mutou and his pressuring me into a scientific career. Something Hanako evidently approves of, in her meek, understated way. We're both nervous about exams coming up soon, but we still have one more full week and a three day weekend to prepare. Lilly will be back from Scotland before that weekend as well, and Hanako hesitantly talks about how she wants to spend more time with Lilly.
  10.  
  11. Of course that's fine, Hanako. There's no reason to worry.
  12.  
  13. We sit together at what has come to be our regular spot, that secluded picnic table. A few minutes of silence have passed, with Hanako affectionately leaning against my shoulder. The waning sunlight dyes the gardens a pleasant orange. I'm almost loathe to break the silence, but I have to ask at some point. I speak quietly, not wanting to startle her. "Hanako."
  14.  
  15. She doesn't seem bothered, and turns her head a little, still leaning against my shoulder, looking up at me. Damn, she's adorable like this. I can't help but lean down and kiss her, thinking better of going for her lips at the last second and settling for kissing her on the nose. This still elicits a bright blush from the girl. "I wanted to ask... would you like to have dinner together tomorrow? I don't know of many places in town, probably just at the Shanghai."
  16.  
  17. She reflexively moves one hand up to cover the right half of her face, the other half still pink. "T-together? Like a date?"
  18.  
  19. "Well, not like one. Just a date." I feel uncomfortable, for some reason. "It's alright if you don't want t-"
  20.  
  21. "I do!" Hanako speaks quickly, and with certainty. She then immediately looks around to see if anyone else saw her small outburst. "I d-do want to. I... I would like to do that. Wh-what time?"
  22.  
  23. I hesitate, thinking a moment. "How about seven? That way it's not too dark when we leave for town. We need a break from studying anyway."
  24.  
  25. Her smile falters for a second, but returns quickly. "S-seven is fine. Seven tomorrow... can you come to my room to get me?"
  26.  
  27. I nod and give her a smile, as well as a kiss on the forehead. "It's a date then. Just the two of us."
  28.  
  29. We share a few more minutes together, silently cuddling on the bench, before we return to the dorms again. Hanako smiles the entire walk back, making me feel like I made the correct choice. A date at the Shanghai isn't exactly exciting, but it's a start. I hesitated too long in making this relationship a reality to begin with, and the more I think back on the few months we've known one another, the more I realize how much Hanako has been trying. Now that we are together, I want her to know that I mean it. I want her to feel like this is real.
  30.  
  31. I notice her looking around nervously as we approach the dorms. There are a few students walking here and there, but nothing to be nervous about. We reach the point where we need to part ways, and I give her hand the customary affectionate squeeze. However, she doesn't let go, and instead turns towards me, and looks up to me, before pressing her lips to mine.
  32.  
  33. The kiss lasts only a second, before she quickly pulls away and walks briskly towards the girls' dormitory. But I know it was more than just a small kiss. Doing that here, at Yamaku, in front of our classmates... She was admitting to it publically, for the first time.
  34.  
  35. I walk back to my room with a spring in my step.
  36.  
  37. ----------------
  38.  
  39. Saturday's classes start the same way as the rest of the week. Despite being only half a day, however, time seems to slow down more and more the longer I have to sit here.
  40.  
  41. It's not that I'm looking forward to my date with any sort of expectations outside of just spending some time with Hanako, but the fact that I have something to look forward to at all is making concentration impossible. It's lucky that I already know the material fairly well, and that this is only a review session. I glance back to Hanako, and see that she is only paying token attention to the lesson as well. Her head is turned, staring at the window despite having to look past several students to do so.
  42.  
  43. I turn around and return to my notes, idly writing down what Mutou says despite knowing it already. It doesn't last long. I look around again. Misha seems to be intent on chewing the end of her pen off. Shizune is writing down the equations and notes from the board, and then shoots me an annoyed look when she sees me watching. Miki is sitting in her front row desk, blatantly ignoring the lecture and just doodling idly on her notebook.
  44.  
  45. It strikes me at the strangest times, the repeated realization that the disabilities of my classmates make no difference. Even now, looking around, they are all just normal high school students, doing what normal students do. I say 'they', but I really should say 'we', shouldn't I?
  46.  
  47. The ringing of the school bells ends this line of thought, and everyone seems to snap out of their dreary tedium and start filtering out of the room. A tap on my shoulder makes me turn, and I'm surprised to see Hanako there. "H-hisao, I'm going to go... study. S-seven, right?"
  48.  
  49. I nod, smiling at her. "See you then."
  50.  
  51. Hanako gives me a nervous smile, and quickly leaves the room, leaving me with a giggling Misha and a stern-looking Shizune. As soon as I turn to look at Misha, she bursts into laughter.
  52.  
  53. "Wahaha~! Hicchan, what happens at seven?" Misha seems to have her energy back despite her misery during classtime. Her hands fly around, signing as she speaks loudly in the mostly empty room.
  54.  
  55. "Hanako and I are going somewhere together. Could you keep it down?" This was probably futile. The room is empty now aside from us, so I guess it's not that important.
  56.  
  57. Misha at least tries to rein it in a bit, speaking in that lilting tone of hers but at a more controlled volume, as Shizune signed to her. "Shicchan says that Hanako smiles a lot more since you and her started dating."
  58.  
  59. I can't help smiling in reaction to it, which seems to make Shizune happy for some reason. "She does, doesn't she? I think she's happy. I am."
  60.  
  61. Shizune gives a curt nod, but Misha grins widely at me with her hands on her hips. ""That's good, Hicchan~! Shicchan was worried that you were depressed! I thought she might be mad at you at first. Did you know Shicchan thought you were cute when you first came to school?"
  62.  
  63. A slight blush appears on Shizune's cheeks as Misha automatically signs her speech, and she quickly grabs Misha's hands, giving her a pointed look. I can't help smirking at that reaction. I stand up, and take my bag from my desk. "She doesn't need to be worried about me. I'll be fine. I've got to go study English. See you two on Monday."
  64.  
  65. I leave the classroom quickly, casting a glance back at Misha's confused look and Shizune's angry and embarrassed signing.
  66.  
  67. ...
  68.  
  69. The walk back to the dorm seems a lot longer than I remember it. I guess everything moves faster when you have a cute girl on your arm. It's surprising how quickly I've gotten used to her being with me all the time. The lack of Hanako next to me, her hand intertwined with mine, her small smile and the movement of her hair in the wind... it's all very strange. I'll see her tonight, I guess.
  70.  
  71. When I get back to my room, I find that studying before a date is extremely difficult. I keep looking to the clock every few minutes to make sure I'm not late, and I can't focus on anything. I don't know why I'm so nervous. I've known Hanako for months now, and we've been together for a few days already. Certainly after what happened in the park, and the... preceding evening, nothing I do wrong on a date could make that much difference. Still, it will be the first real date, so I guess it is important no matter what.
  72.  
  73. ----------------
  74.  
  75. Around six I finally give up my futile attempts at studying, and get up to stretch a little. After a quick, thankfully uninterrupted shower, I'm back in my room and considering what to wear. I don't really have that many options... I really should buy more casual clothing. I obviously can't wear a school uniform. I put on a nice dress shirt and one of my better sweatervests over it. Maybe a second date idea would be going clothes shopping with Hanako. Is shopping a date? I let my thoughts idly wander as I finish getting dressed.
  76.  
  77. ... Which leaves me ready for my date, in my room alone, at 6:30. If it takes me five minutes to get to Hanako's room from here, I'd be surprised. Is it bad to show up early? Certainly better than being late. I sit down on my bed and stare at my clock. Surely I can wait a little while. It wouldn't do to show up early and surprise Hanako half-naked.
  78.  
  79. *thump*
  80.  
  81. Okay! Okay, let's... not go down that road. I look at the clock again.
  82.  
  83. 6:32.
  84.  
  85. Well then. I pull a book at random from the small pile I keep in my room, and flip to where the bookmark was left. A silent room can be incredibly oppressive when you're doing nothing but waiting for time to pass. I try not to look at the clock, just focusing on my reading. It doesn't help, of course. The book was dry enough for me to quit reading when I had nothing but time on my hands, and now I've got something to look forward to. The words swim idly, not letting me focus on the sentences. I force myself to wait as long as I can, trying repeatedly to get into the text, before finally looking back to the clock.
  86.  
  87. 6:37.
  88.  
  89. ... Alright. I'm just going to be early. I can't sit here doing nothing right now.
  90.  
  91. The sun is low in the sky as I step out into the warm greenery of Yamaku. The weather is calm and warm, but not hot. Beautiful, really. I take my time, walking leisurely toward the girls' dormitory. Is it more suspicious to walk slowly, or less so? I don't think there are any rules at Yamaku about men going to visit women before curfew. I'll have to ask Shizune about that.
  92.  
  93. What? No. I push that idiot idea right out of my mind. There's no way that would ever go well.
  94.  
  95. I find myself in the girl's dorm, and in Hanako's hallway, before I realize how far I've gone. I check my watch. 6:48. Twelve minutes isn't too early, right? I softly rap my knuckles on Hanako's door. "Hanako? It's me."
  96.  
  97. A few seconds pass, and the door opens a crack, Hanako's eye visible, until she smiles and opens the door wider. Hanako is dressed in what I'm quickly starting to believe is an indication that her casual wardrobe is more limited than mine. Her pink blouse, with small denim jacket. The same as she's worn every time we've left school grounds for more than a short trip. She blushes slightly as she sees me looking at her. "I-is this okay? I don't really..."
  98.  
  99. I smile, and step into her room, closing the door behind me. No point letting her hallmates see too much anyway. I lean in and kiss Hanako's forehead again. "You look very nice. Sorry about being early, I'm... I guess I'm a little nervous."
  100.  
  101. This earns a smile from Hanako, followed surprisingly by a hug. I follow my instinct and just wrap my arms gently around the girl, holding her close for a moment, until she pulls back. She's still wearing a smile. "I'm... nervous too. Thank you, Hisao."
  102.  
  103. Sometimes it doesn't take much to understand what she means. I take her hand gently in mine. "Well, we're both ready early. Want to go?"
  104.  
  105. She nods, and we leave the dorms.
  106.  
  107. ----------------
  108.  
  109. The walk down the hill toward town is pleasant. Better than usual, even. The road is nearly empty of other students, since class has been out for hours, and Hanako walks happily beside me. We hold hands as we have been every day, but it's a little different. I can tell she's nervous, and I am as well. We can hardly be blamed, two inexperienced teenagers blindly feeling our way through a relationship. The sunlight is warm and comforting, and the walkway is familiar. The environment helps to calm us slightly, and I can't help but feeling proud that I picked the Shanghai instead of something more risky.
  110.  
  111. We walk on in silence, just holding hands. I feel like I should say something, but what about? The weather? That's a clichéd bad thing to talk about on dates. I've already complimented her looks, and going on about that will only make things awkward. I know from experience that Hanako doesn't really enjoy being asked questions about herself, so there's no point in that either.
  112.  
  113. "Um..." A timid voice catches my attention, and I look to Hanako.
  114.  
  115. "Lilly is coming back... on Wednesday." Hanako seems to be as lost for topics as I am. She seems happy at the idea of seeing Lilly again, at least.
  116.  
  117. I guess I didn't really realize how long she had been gone. "Wednesday... do you want to go to the airport together to meet her?"
  118.  
  119. Hanako looks down and away, strangely worried about this possibility. Though she doens't say it. "Th-that... that would be fine."
  120.  
  121. ... Well I can't just let that go, can I? "Is something wrong?"
  122.  
  123. She shakes her head quickly, and the waves of her hair distract me for a moment. "No, it's fine. I just... she knows we're together, and... everything."
  124.  
  125. Oh, well that's-- oh. OH. 'And everything', is it? I can't repress a somewhat worried sigh. "Ah."
  126.  
  127. And that's the best I can say?
  128.  
  129. Hanako looks away again. We walk in a silence that is no longer comfortable. Dammit. I speak again after a moment. "Well... that's fine. She knows us both, and she'll see that we're happy together. We... you are... happy, right?"
  130.  
  131. Hanako nods almost frantically. "Yes! Please don't worry about that."
  132.  
  133. I can't help laughing at her reaction, and I slide my arm around her waist. This elicits another cute blush from her, but she doesn't pull away. "Then everything will be fine."
  134.  
  135. Hanako nods, and we walk in silence until we get to the Shanghai. I open the door for her, being a gentleman, and she smiles as she enters. The Shanghai is almost crowded, which is not only a rarity but something I was hoping would not be the case. Hanako doesn't seem to bothered, however, so maybe I'm just being paranoid. Only a moment passes before a very plainly harried Yuuko greets us. "Welcome to the Shanghai! There is only one table available, I'm sorry!"
  136.  
  137. I smile and wave my hand dismissively. "Don't worry, Yuuko. We'll be fine there."
  138.  
  139. Yuuko doesn't seem all that relieved, and certainly doesn't stop worrying, but leads us to a small corner booth. Really, I couldn't have picked a better spot to house a timid girl like Hanako than this secluded seating that nearly cuts us off entirely from the rest of the room. We sit across from one another, and I can feel my cheeks being hot enough at this situation to know that Hanako isn't the only one blushing. Yuuko comes by a moment later to take our orders.
  140.  
  141. "Coffee, and... I guess a turkey sandwich. Hanako?"
  142.  
  143. "B-black tea, and... a s-salad." I can already see Hanako retreating a bit. She's probably put off by the crowd, but more just the situation. Well... things will get better over time.
  144.  
  145. Yuuko nods, and leaves quickly, obviously overworked. Come to think of it... damn, I didn't check that I had money for this before I left my room. There's no polite way to check now... I should be fine. Hopefully. Hanako looks at the table, rubbing her arm nervously. Oh, that again. One of her tells that she wants to say something. "Hanako..."
  146.  
  147. She jumps slightly, startled by my voice. I smile at her to try to calm her. "Hanako, it's okay. What did you want to say?"
  148.  
  149. Hanako smiles, but it's obviously forced. "I w-wanted to ask... about that letter."
  150.  
  151. Oh, this. Well... I did mention it just a few days ago, didn't I? I try to keep my tone light, I know it's taking a lot of effort for her to manage to ask at all. "Hm? What about it?"
  152.  
  153. She fidgets slightly, trying to work herself up to speaking again. "What did she say? You aren't... She doesn't want to..."
  154.  
  155. I shake my head, smiling slightly in relief. So she was worried about this. "Hanako, you never have to worry about that. She doesn't want to see me again, and even if she did..."
  156.  
  157. I take Hanako's hand from the table, and hold it in mine. "I would never do anything like that to you. I already have a beautiful girlfriend, one I won't give up for anything."
  158.  
  159. That... might have been overdoing it. Hanako looks shocked, and blushes deeply, staying silent. Still, the hints of a smile on her embarrassed face are enough to show that I didn't completely mess up. I hold her hand a few more moments, until Yuuko arrives with our food and drinks. Yuuko smiles a little uncharacteristically when she sees us holding hands, though that does prompt Hanako to pull her hand away. Yuuko sets down the dishes and bows again, before departing to deal with other guests. Hanako and I begin on our meals, thankful for the momentary diversion from what could have become an unpleasant conversation.
  160.  
  161. The sandwich is good, as always. It only occurs to me when I'm trying to order, but this place seems to have no menus whatsoever. Hanako's salad is... well, a salad. But it looks fresh and well put together, at least. We eat in silence for a few minutes. Hanako puts down her fork, the best parts of her salad already finished anyway. "D-did you write back to her?"
  162.  
  163. It takes me a moment to connect what she's talking about. I shake my head, setting down my cup. "Mm, no. I don't have much to say, when it comes down to it. It was good to get the letter, it reminded me that... well, that my old life wasn't gone, and that I still had this life to live. I guess that's also when I started thinking more about university, and studying. Still, I can't just write back and thank her for pointing out that life goes on. I'm not sure what I'd say, anyway."
  164.  
  165. Hanako nods, going through what I said. I guess we don't usually speak all this frankly, but the food and... to an extent, the fact that we're dating, makes it seem like something we should be able to say. When Hanako speaks, she sounds strangely certain, in her own uncertain way. "I think... you should write back. Just to say thank you, and... goodbye."
  166.  
  167. That was oddly phrased. I nod to her, and force a smile. "Alright. I'll do it before exams. I promise."
  168.  
  169. Hanako returns my smile, and sips at her tea, reminding me of my cooling coffee as well. A few minutes pass in a relatively comfortable silence. I notice Hanako fidgeting again, but before I can say anything, she places her tea on my side of the table, and slides herself along the curved booth seating to lean against me. I smile, and slide my arm around her waist again, squeezing her gently. It's strange, we've only been dating... less than a week now, and yet this feels right. It feels like the most natural thing in the world, to hold Hanako to me as we sit together.
  170.  
  171. I think back to my old school, and to Iwanako. Could I imagine me in this situation with her? ... Yes, of course I can imagine it. But I don't think it would be anywhere near as nice. One look down to Hanako's blushing smile, and I know that there really never could be anyone to equal her. Hanako seems content to stare down into her tea, using her free arm to sip every now and again. I take a moment to look around the Shanghai, at all the gathered patrons. I've never seen it this busy before. There are a few students that I recognize from around campus, but no one that I know that well... wait.
  172.  
  173. I try to stifle any reaction, and Hanako doesn't stir, so I assume I'm successful. The glimpse of pink drills disappeared behind the edge of the booth on the other side of the room, before I was certain I saw them. On the other side of that booth, someone with a slender figure and obvious Yamaku uniform is trying to look like she isn't looking at me. I'd like to assume this is coincidental, but they DID hear Hanako say what time it would be.
  174.  
  175. Hanako doesn't move as she speaks quietly. "Y-you saw them too?"
  176.  
  177. I guess my reaction was less muted than I thought. "You did?"
  178.  
  179. She smiles up at me, blushing. "I d-didn't want to tell you. I thought you might... talk to them."
  180.  
  181. "It's annoying that they came here to spy on us. But it's not a problem. I think us leaving class holding hands every day means basically everyone knows by now anyway." I try to keep my voice calm and quiet.
  182.  
  183. Hanako nods. "I don't mind... too much. Shizune can be nice when she wants to be."
  184.  
  185. Strangely, it seems that being held like this is making Hanako less nervous, instead of more so. I shift just a little, and give her an affectionate squeeze. "I'm still going to talk to them about it later. But I'll do it outside of class."
  186.  
  187. Hanako smiles, and nods again. I pick up the bill that Yuuko left while we were eating, and pull out the required cost, laying the money on the table and thanking heaven that I had enough on me. I really should be more careful about this sort of thing. I turn to Hanako. "Are you ready to go? It's getting a little late."
  188.  
  189. She nods, and we stand together. I hold her hand as we leave the restaurant, giving a less than subtle wave to Shizune as we pass, which results in a somewhat shamed blush from Shizune and a loud peal of laughter from Misha. Hanako is smiling as we step out into the dark and cool night. I slide my arm around her again, and we set off towards Yamaku.
  190.  
  191. ----------------
  192.  
  193. The walk back is pleasant but largely silent, and Hanako nearly clings to me the entire way. The look on her face is happy and almost wistful, and I don't dare break the mood by asking what brought this on. I also really don't mind this either. The grounds are dark and nearly empty as we approach the dorms. I check my watch, and find that we're only half an hour short of curfew. I guess that does explain things a little.
  194.  
  195. I stop at the spot where we part every afternoon, and smile down at Hanako. "We're here. See you tomorrow?"
  196.  
  197. Hanako doesn't meet my gaze, looking at the ground and squeezing my arm. "I... d-do you want..."
  198.  
  199. ... Uh oh. This... isn't a good place for this to go.
  200.  
  201. "I d-don't want you to go."
  202.  
  203. I've heard that before. Ahh... time to backpedal. "It's almost curfew, come on. The longer we stand here, the more likely the guard will spot us."
  204.  
  205. Not that the night nurses and guard between the dorms aren't known to turn a blind eye to various people. When Hanako speaks, it's very quiet, almost desperate. "... please..."
  206.  
  207. I had thought Emi Ibarazaki's pouting and puppy dog eyes were the easiest way to get me to do anything she wanted. There is nothing, nothing in all the universe that I could deny Hanako when asked in that kind of tone. "... Alright. My room, or yours?"
  208.  
  209. Hanako blushes brightly, and takes a step towards the men's dormitory. Well then.
  210.  
  211. We walk slowly toward the dorm, thankfully unspotted by any staff, and Hanako separates herself from me as we walk through the halls. No one sees us anyway. I open the door quickly, and follow Hanako inside, glad to be free of Kenji's interruption for tonight. I lock the door behind me, and turn to see Hanako looking around my room with curiosity. I guess... it is the first time she's been in here.
  212.  
  213. Her eyes flit over the books in the corner, the... unfortunately unmade bed, my scattered notes on the desktop, and my closet, left hanging open. I would have cleaned, if I knew she was going to be in here. I see her eyes stop, and follow her gaze to the wide selection of plastic bottles on my nightstand.
  214.  
  215.  
  216. "Yeah. Those are for my heart." I still don't like talking about this, but I felt I had to break the silence somehow.
  217.  
  218. Hanako starts, as though she had forgotten I was in the room. She blushes a little, caught staring when she shouldn't have been. "So many..."
  219.  
  220. I nod, uncomfortable but left with no way out. I take a step over and close my closet, before starting to sort the papers on my desk. Just to have something to do instead of thinking about that. "Yeah, I wish I didn't have to take them. I really hate waking up to that every morning."
  221.  
  222. "Please take them. Don't... stop."
  223.  
  224. I turn around to see a very worried-looking girl, standing in the middle of my room. I smile and step up to her, hugging her close. She immediately tenses, and then slowly relaxes, and returns my hug. "Hanako, I'm not going to stop. You don't have to worry about me, I'm fine. I've been taking them since I came to Yamaku. I don't like it, but the alternative is spending less time with you, isn't it?"
  225.  
  226. I can swear I can feel her blushing even though her face is pressed to my chest. We stay like that for a while, just holding one another close. She seems to calm down as I hold her. I think the strangeness of everything that has happened in the past week caught up all at once. A few silent minutes pass, and she pulls away slightly, blushing and smiling. "C-can... can I read the letter?"
  227.  
  228. She's still on that? It feels a little invasive, that she wants to read it. But overall, it's not a big deal, is it? Besides, we're dating. It shouldn't bother me to let her see things like that. I move to flatten the bedcovers, and then dig the letter out from the desk drawer, handing it to her. "Here. I've already told you what she said really."
  229.  
  230. "I didn't... think you were lying. I just wanted to read it." Hanako seems just shy of dropping the matter entirely, but I shake my head.
  231.  
  232. "Go ahead. I don't want to hide anything from you."
  233.  
  234. Hanako sits on the bed next to me, and I watch as her eyes scan over the text. She seems to be reading very intently, those dark eyes absorbing everything. I still feel uncomfortable, having a part of my past being scrutinized like this. I don't have any reason to hide it, but I feel strange that she even cares enough to ask. While she's doing that, I pop my evening pills from their packaging, and dry swallow them. I can see Hanako's eyes trace my movements before she goes back to reading. It's unnerving to sit next to someone who is silently reading something, but I force myself to endure, just watching her face as she reads the boring pleasantries that Iwanako started with.
  235.  
  236. She seems to be drinking in every bit of silly trivia about my old school that she can. I barely even remember what Iwanako said about those things.
  237.  
  238. When the tone of the letter abruptly changes, her expression does too. I assume it's about the time she gets to the mention of 'the incident', as Iwanako phrases it, that her hands start shaking. I place my hand on her shoulder, and she jumps slightly, but then seems to calm. Her eyes move more slowly, taking her time and going over each word.
  239.  
  240. I remember what she's reading. The paragraphs about how I'd given up, how I acted like my life was over and never spoke anymore. It wasn't a good time for me, and remembering it isn't fun.
  241.  
  242. The letter isn't too long, and before much time passes, she lowers it to her lap. She looks up at me, and her eyes glisten. I... don't like seeing tears in Hanako's eyes. I hug her, and she leans eagerly into it, the letter falling to the floor, forgotten.
  243.  
  244. Some time passes, hazy and indeterminate with a girl leaning against me. She speaks into my chest, very quietly. "I didn't know..."
  245.  
  246. I kiss the top of Hanako's head, her silky, fine hair soft against my lips. "I don't think I did either. Until she told me."
  247.  
  248. Hanako pulls her head from my chest enough to look at my clock. "I-it's... past curfew."
  249.  
  250. I nod. "You can stay here tonight, I don't mind. I'll let you have the bed--"
  251.  
  252. Hanako cuts me off hastily, but thankfully not too loudly. "No! No, I... I w-want to..."
  253.  
  254. I start to speak, but Hanako shakes her head quickly. She's trying to say it herself. "N-not that. I want... I just want to sleep, w-with you."
  255.  
  256. "... Okay, Hanako. I think I'd like that too." I can't lie, the appeal of sleeping next to her again is undeniable. I don't want a repeat of last time, not at all. But Hanako is a beautiful girl, and I find the idea of holding her all night to be very comforting. Hanako stands, her hands shaking a bit.
  257.  
  258. She pulls her arms from her jacket, and sets it on the table. Oh... I guess she can't really sleep like that. That's... fine. I pick up the letter, and move to set it in the drawer again, to give her some measure of privacy while she undresses. It's not until I hear the bedcovers moving that I finish putting it away, and close the drawer. Hanako is blushing, but smiling at me from under the blankets that are pulled up to her neck. Her clothing is neatly folded beside the bed, though she apparently kept her underwear and bra on.
  259.  
  260. I can't help but feel both relieved and disappointed in this.
  261.  
  262. I try to steady my head and heart as I undress as well, Hanako averting her eyes as I do so. I leave my underwear on as well, turn off the light, and slide under the covers beside her, a bit at a loss as to what to do next. Finally, I decide to stop overthinking everything, and just turn towards Hanako, sliding my arms around her waist. She smiles at me in the darkness, obviously embarrassed but happy to be here as well. I hug her closely.
  263.  
  264. Hanako blushes, obvious even in the dim light from the campus outside the window. Her voice is quiet, but clear in the silent room. "Th-thank you, Hisao. F-for our first date."
  265.  
  266. I start to reply, but Hanako just moves that small distance forward, and presses her lips to mine. The kiss lasts only a few moments, but time seems to slow as we hold one another. Finally we part, and she snuggles up against me, the dark and silence of the room giving her confidence.
  267.  
  268. A few moments later, we succumb to sleep.
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