KSFFProfile

Hanako-Act5-Part1: Small Steps

Sep 4th, 2012
2,392
Never
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  1. (A continuance from Hanako's good ending, in Katawa Shoujo. 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 1: Small Steps
  4.  
  5. The sunlight across the ceiling fades from brilliant orange to a dark blue as I stare upward, though I barely see it.
  6.  
  7. The days events move through me, each moment, each small smile, every flutter of her hair. I don't think I will ever forget today.
  8.  
  9. Noticing the color of the ceiling, I let out a small sigh, sitting up in bed and swallowing my evening pills. It feels unreal, to think of being in the park with Hanako, holding her as she cried and confessing just how much I care about her. The walk back, her tentative kiss... our first real kiss, all this remains with me.
  10.  
  11. But that's not true, is it? I let myself fall back onto my bed, looking up at the ceiling again. No, our first kiss was last night. A shudder moves through me as I think about it, my stomach churning again. I could have stopped it, but I didn't. I shake my head, trying to drive away this line of thought. Standing and donning my shoes, I leave my room. The halls are quiet this time of night, thankfully Kenji does not interrupt as I make my way out of the dormitories and towards the main campus.
  12.  
  13. The evening is quiet across Yamaku Academy, the greens of the gardens having blended to a monochrome dark blue, the slender moon high in the sky now. I walk slowly, just moving to do anything but stay still in bed.
  14.  
  15. The park, the kiss again. That long, mostly silent walk back up the hill. Her eyes looking to mine, and then always darting away. Her body just a little closer than she would normally walk, but still separate. Once, for a moment, her left hand finding my right, and seeing her honest smile return for a few dozen steps before another pair of students came around the corner.
  16.  
  17. I sigh heavily and stop, looking around as if for the first time, finding myself in the secluded gardens and fields, near the main building. I lean back, and look up at the stars, filtered through the diffuse light of the lanterns that light the campus.
  18.  
  19. Tomorrow will be another day. I shouldn't be out here this late anyway, in the middle of the week like this. With a heavy sigh, I turn around and begin the walk back to the dormitories.
  20.  
  21. ---
  22.  
  23. My alarm rings loudly in my ears, my lack of sleep requiring two misplaced slaps before finally stopping the alarm. I sit slowly, and automatically take my morning medicine.
  24.  
  25. A shower and small breakfast later, I leave the dormitory, pausing a moment as I walk toward campus. Should I wait for her? Is that what people who are dating do? ... Is dating what we are doing?
  26.  
  27. I shake my head, and continue walking. Coming in together would only raise questions anyway, even more so than yesterday.
  28.  
  29. I reach the classroom only a few minutes before the bell. I must be moving more slowly than I realized. No one seems to take much notice of me except-
  30.  
  31. "Hicchan~!"
  32.  
  33. I give an inadvertent sigh, closing my eyes just as Misha's bouncing form comes into view. Her voice is not stopped by this, though a telling moment passes before she says anything else.
  34.  
  35. "You missed afternoon classes yesterday~! Exams are only next week~, missing classes is unacceptable!"
  36.  
  37. That doesn't sound like it's Misha 'talking'. I open my eyes again, to see Misha standing with her hands on her hips, cheeks puffed out slightly in mock irritation. Shizune stands next to her, adjusting her glasses as she sees me look in her direction, but not needing to fake her mild irritation that I would ignore class in favor of anything else. I try to look apologetic, knowing she can't hear my tone. "Sorry, I had a few things I needed to do."
  38.  
  39. ... Maybe Shizune is better at reading people than I thought. After Misha relays my speech, Shizune waves off her further translations, and the two have a small conversation in sign, while I pull my textbook from my bag and watch the room fill. A tap on the shoulder brings me back to Misha.
  40.  
  41. "Wahahaha~! Shicchan says it's okay for today~!" Her voice is gratingly loud for her topic. "But no more cutting classes, Hicchan! Or~ You'll have to make it up to us~!"
  42.  
  43. I give a half-hearted nod, looking over the classroom again. I think even Misha picks up on my discomfort. She follows my eyes to the empty desk in the back of the room. Her voice is even a little quieter as she speaks, a rarity.
  44.  
  45. "Hanako's still not--?"
  46.  
  47. At that moment, Mutou walks in, cutting off all further communication. If I could, I would thank him.
  48.  
  49. ---
  50.  
  51. Class seems to drag on for days. Mutou's lecture on relativity drones though everyone's ears, and I can't help but continue to glance back toward Hanako's desk. I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. She doesn't react well to change, and this... this was a large change.
  52.  
  53. Shortly before the lunch bell, I catch Shizune catching me looking back toward Hanako's desk. Something about her eyes seems more penetrating than normal. I find myself turning around to face forward almost guiltily. She couldn't know anyway.
  54.  
  55. As the bell rings, I gather my things quickly, trying to avoid Misha's glances. I catch a glimpse of her face as I hurry away from class and feel a bit guilty. I will have to apologize later.
  56.  
  57. I move through the hallways at a more typical pace once free of the student council's questioning. A few minutes later, the bustle of the hallways is muffled behind the door of the library, my relieved sigh sounding overly loud in the near-silent room. I take a few steps, knowing already where she would be, before seeing that familiar head of dark hair through the wooden shelving.
  58.  
  59. I take a moment's pause, knowing that she avoided class for a reason. Still, my legs continue moving, and I come around the bookshelf, taking in the sight of the girl seated in the secluded back of the library, where we first spoke. Her uniform unpressed, legs hidden behind dark hose, and her hair still low on her face as she seems to shrink from the world. She's holding a novel, nothing too deep for midday leisure reading, but she seems to be very much absorbed in the text. I hesitate another moment, unsure if I want to disturb her. But... I need to make sure what happened yesterday was real.
  60.  
  61. I take a book nearly at random from a nearby shelf, and walk the remaining few steps. Hanako looks up at me as my shadow falls across her, and I raise my book slightly, as a wave. "Hi..."
  62.  
  63. Of course I can't think to say anything more. Hanako smiles slightly, but immediately blushes and looks away, hiding herself behind her book. I can't help but smile a little lopsidedly as well at her expression. A short glance to see that no one is nearby, and I find myself leaning foward and pressing my lips to Hanako's forehead, before sitting down on another beanbag, next to the one she occupies.
  64.  
  65. Even with that book held like that, I can see you are blushing, Hanako.
  66.  
  67. "... Are you okay?" My voice comes out both a little more worried and a little louder than I expected.
  68.  
  69. She nods slightly, lowering her book after a moment, her expression one of guarded happiness. "I.. I'm fine. Yesterday, people noticed... and I didn't want to..."
  70.  
  71. I reach out, and lay my hand gently on her shoulder. Hanako jumps slightly, her blush deepening, but nods anyway. I smile at her. "Misha wondered where you were. But we didn't have much time to talk anyway."
  72.  
  73. Hanako nods, the slight smile returning to her lips after a moment, and I pull my hand away, settling into the seat and flipping through my book. The rest of the lunch period passes in relative silence. It's strange, now. These silences used to feel slightly awkward, a tangible distance between us. Hard to break. This one feels comfortable, pleasant. Every so often I see her eyes look toward me, and once our gazes meet for a fraction of a second, before blush colors her cheeks again and she looks back to her book.
  74.  
  75. It's always two steps forward, one step back. I can't expect everything to change in one day, can I? Questions stew in my mind. What has changed? How do I talk to her now? Things should be different, shouldn't they? Should they? What does 'girlfriend' even mean to Hanako? Can we kiss? Do I have to warn her first? Will she shut down again and hide in her room if I touch her?
  76.  
  77. Thankfully, the ringing of the bell signalling the end of the lunch break drowns out my sigh at the thought of that evening. I stand a little slowly, feeling stiff and lethargic after so little sleep. "Are you coming to class?"
  78.  
  79. Hanako hesitates a moment, and then marks her place in her book and stands as well, nodding slightly. She picks up her bag and follows me as we walk to class.
  80.  
  81. ---
  82.  
  83. If anyone notices us coming through the door together, no one mentions it. Misha starts giggling, but quiets herself after a sharp poke from Shizune's pen. Hanako doesn't seem too panicked either. My attention is quickly pulled away by the teacher as class begins in earnest.
  84.  
  85. Until I feel Misha poking my side with a small scrap of paper. I take it, knowing that this is about as subtle as she gets. Pink ink.
  86.  
  87. "Shicchan says she looks happy"
  88.  
  89. I can't help but look back to Shizune, being met with a look... somewhere between a glare and a smile.
  90.  
  91. I pass the note back bearing a response "I think she is fine."
  92.  
  93. Returning to the lecture doesn't last long. "You're cute together Hicchan!"
  94.  
  95. I cover the note with my textbook for a moment, thinking about it as I half listen to the lecture. After another poke from Misha's finger, I write down a response and pass it back. "Don't tease her about it."
  96.  
  97. Misha pouts slightly as she reads the note, and doesn't pass anything else. The lecture continues on.
  98.  
  99. At the final bell, Mutou finally puts down the chalk, and settles into his chair as the students begin filing out of the classroom. I turn toward Hanako's desk, only to be met with the sight of full, rounded fabric and meticulously curled pink hair. Looking up from her chest, I see Misha on the verge of laughter.
  100.  
  101. Thankfully, Shizune's signing calms her by needing translation. Past Shizune's shoulder, I see Hanako slip out of the back exit from the classroom, throwing one last glance toward Misha and Shizune as she does so. As sad as I feel to see her go, at least this makes things less awkward.
  102.  
  103. "Shicchan is glad you didn't miss class again~! Especially after you ran away after lunch!" Misha tries to put on a pouting face after this sentence, but only succeeds in looking vaguely ridiculous. Shizune however is wearing a guarded but not unhappy expression.
  104.  
  105. I nod, packing away my book and papers as I speak. "I can't imagine why I would leave quickly."
  106.  
  107. Misha now looks genuinely miffed, and Shizune looks a little put off as Misha almost automatically signs my response. I feel a little bad for saying that, but I wanted to speak with Hanako after class. "Don't be rude, Hicchan~. I think it's cute~! She's always so lonely..."
  108.  
  109. Shizune's signing is slower than normal, and her motions slightly halting. It seems she's uncertain of what she's saying, though Misha's translation is still bubbly and cheerful. "Is everything okay, Hicchan~?"
  110.  
  111. I nod vaguely, standing as I do so. "It's fine. Just... listen, don't be too loud about it in class. You know how Hanako is."
  112.  
  113. Misha puts her hands on her hips and smiles happily after translating, while Shizune just nods slightly in my direction. "Okay~! You can count on us, Hicchan!"
  114.  
  115. ---
  116.  
  117. Finally getting out of the student council's attention, I make my way out of the classroom, nearly freezing as I spot Hanako standing next to the doorway. Did she hear me?
  118.  
  119. Hanako just looks at me, and smiles slightly. I smile back, and we both turn and begin walking toward the stairs. Hanako walks closely by my side, as we move through the quickly emptying hallways. It's no different from any other time we've walked beside one another, except... It IS different. She's just a little closer, her cheeks a little more pink. I can't help looking at every passing person's face, to see if they notice it.
  120.  
  121. I think they just notice me looking.
  122.  
  123. Hanako grips her skirt with her hand, and releases it again, fidgeting slightly as we leave the main building. Still so hesitant? I move my hand slowly, and take hers. The girl starts slightly, but then blushes and we hold hands as we walk toward the dormitories.
  124.  
  125. Are we drawing stares? I can't tell if I should be nervous. Hanako looks nervous, but that's to be expected.
  126.  
  127. I don't care if people look.
  128.  
  129. Hanako and I walk slowly, taking our time in the sunny gardens between the class building and the dormitories. Her hand feels small and delicate in mine, and her small smile as we walk together seems overly beautiful for such a minor gesture. The slightly secluded feeling of the gardens seems to bring her confidence back, if only slightly. She slows her walking noticeably as we approach the path toward the dormitories, and I take the lead slightly, turning us onto the long pathway that leads around the circumference of the gardens again.
  130.  
  131. The girl visibly relaxes as we step from the path, and continue down the longer one. We continue to walk in silence, however.
  132.  
  133. ...
  134.  
  135. Everything changes, and nothing does. She still can't talk freely, of course. I guess it was a little naive to think she would be able to get over her worries so quickly. Still, as well walk farther from the main thoroughfare between the school and the dorms, she seems to relax. Copses of trees and small fences add a sense of seclusion to the gardens, and we're nearly alone as we walk along the concrete pathway.
  136.  
  137. As we pass a small picnic table, Hanako's pace slows again, and I stop at the table. We sit together on the bench, and I lean back just a bit against the table's edge. The weather is calm and clear, if maybe a little too hot. The sunlight is bright on her uniform, making the white almost glow.
  138.  
  139. We sit together in silence for a few long minutes, just enjoying the peace and quiet of the gardens, and the closeness with one another. Hanako wears a small, shy smile, accompanied by a slight blush on her cheeks. As always, her smile is a treasure. Our hands rest together, no reason to break our hand holding, I guess.
  140.  
  141. A few more moments, and she tentatively breaks the silence. "D-do... Do Misha and Shizune know?"
  142.  
  143. I try to keep my voice low, as hers is. "They know we're... dating. Together."
  144.  
  145. Hanako blushes brightly at my stating the term. "D-dating..." She smiles a little, seemingly to herself. "I h-have a boyfriend."
  146.  
  147. I can't help smiling at her small revelation. It's a little strange for me too, honestly. "I have my first girlfriend."
  148.  
  149. She blushes again, and we sit together in silence for a few more moments.
  150.  
  151. Her voice is quiet when she speaks again. "Wh-what..."
  152.  
  153. I wait for her to come up with the words.
  154.  
  155. "What d-does it mean? To be... together? We already..."
  156.  
  157. She trails off, her smile faltering. This again. I should have expected it would come up of course. I regret that it happened, but you can't really undo the past. I could try, though. "We can start fresh. Just from yesterday, in the park. Would that be okay?"
  158.  
  159. Hanako hesitates, looking away from me a little bit. I begin to feel like I may have upset her. After a few more moments, she turns back to me, and speaks quietly. "It... Th-that would be good."
  160.  
  161. I lean forward, and kiss her forehead. "Okay."
  162.  
  163. Hanako hesitates a moment, and then leans against me, just staring idly out into the foliage on the other side of the small garden clearing. She's still smiling a little, blushing slightly. I love her.
  164.  
  165. But what does she think? Even after that time in the park, we are still separated. I don't understand her, I can't see past her and know everything about her. Don't couples know how the other thinks? How they're feeling? Do they? I guess there wouldn't be as many television shows about love if couples always knew what was happening with each other.
  166.  
  167. Coming back to my senses, I notice that the sunlight is waning orange again. I speak quietly, hoping not to startle her. "It's getting a little late. We should... probably go study."
  168.  
  169. Hanako blushes brightly but nods. I stand, and offer her my hand. Together, we walk back toward the dormitories. We part ways just outside, saying goodbye with a squeeze of her hand.
  170.  
  171. ---
  172.  
  173. My studies for the exams went as well as can be expected, and after swallowing my evening pills, I find myself laying on my back in my bed, staring blankly at the ceiling again.
  174.  
  175. What now? She seems to be doing well with the idea of being together. But I could tell something was bothering her, and it's bothering me, too. What do couples do? Can we do those things? Where do people go on dates here, anyway? The only place I know in town that is even remotely suitable is the Shanghai, but Hanako has never seemed fully comfortable there. She likes games, but we can't go back to the pool hall together; we're too young to walk in unescorted without drawing glances.
  176.  
  177. ...
  178.  
  179. I'll have to think about it. This is harder than I thought.
  180.  
  181. I guess I always had the idea of 'getting a girlfriend' as an ending. A goal. But there's a lot more after getting one than before, isn't there? Is it the curse of manhood to be the driving force behind a woman's happiness?
  182.  
  183. I stop myself before I find myself thinking too much like Kenji.
  184.  
  185. My eyelids feel heavy. I'll think about this tomorrow.
  186.  
  187. ---
RAW Paste Data