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Hanako-Act5-Part6:Worry

Oct 20th, 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, and minor spoilers for other routes too, here and there. 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 6: Worry
  4.  
  5. Hanako and I cross the Yamaku campus arm in arm, and then board the bus together at the stop just outside the gates. We hold hands as we sit together for the duration of the ride, though neither of us talk. Hanako leans against me with her eyes closed, and I vacantly stare out the window. I think we're both a bit nervous about Lilly's return.
  6.  
  7. Not that I'm entirely certain why I'm so nervous. Despite everything that's happened, Lilly is Hanako's best friend. I haven't seen Lilly as close to any of her other friends as she is to Hanako either, so it's reasonable to assume that Hanako is Lilly's best friend. They won't split over something like Hanako getting a boyfriend.
  8.  
  9. I can't imagine that Lilly will be so disapproving of this change that she will hate me either. Things will probably be tense for a while, but Lilly did want Hanako to expand her horizons a bit, and that has been happening. I'd like to think that the previous week of dating me has been good for Hanako. It has been good for me.
  10.  
  11. The bus hits a bump, and Hanako mutters something in her sleep. I guess she must have passed out somewhere along the route. I slide my arm around her waist and hold her steady against me. I can't get over how natural it feels to hold her like this, like it was just fate that brought us together. That sounds stupid. Still, I can't imagine being like this with anyone but her.
  12.  
  13. My mind wanders back to our mutual confession, in the park. She mentioned then, in her tirade about how useless she was, that she had no plans for the future. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure what interests she has. She's mentioned that she knows about computers, and she likes karaoke. She likes reading, but I don't know that she writes anything. She enjoys chess and other games, but she's not at a level where she can compete in tournaments, and I imagine she would hate doing that anyway.
  14.  
  15. I look up, and notice we're close to our stop. I gently shake Hanako awake, and she blushes deeply when she realizes she was sleeping on me in public. She pulls away a little overly fast, and we walk next to one another but not exactly together as we go through the airport. Hanako is visibly nervous again, watching everyone's passing faces. She's more confident at Yamaku, but maybe that doesn't carry over to other places.
  16.  
  17. I catch a few people throwing her sidelong glances, but most everyone seems to be here for a reason, meeting relatives or friends, and not to ogle pretty girls. Or... stare at her scars, I guess. Sometimes I surprise myself with how much my time at Yamaku has blinded me to things like that.
  18.  
  19. Hanako and I take a seat near the large window that makes up most of the terminal wall. We can sit here in relative peace and isolation and look at the planes coming in, and Hanako seems more comfortable if she can face her scarred side toward me and hide from the world. Small steps, I suppose.
  20.  
  21. "I-is that one hers?"
  22.  
  23. "No, I think that's some foreign airline."
  24.  
  25. Lilly's flight has been delayed due to weather. I'm not certain any of the airport staff would know better than I how soon it would be coming in, so Hanako and I have no option but to wait here as time ticks by. Not that we had any other plans for the evening, or that I can think of much else I'd like to be doing than spending time with Hanako.
  26.  
  27. Every time a flight disembarks, I can see Hanako's eyes flit from person to person. She also tends to raise her hand to cover her scars whenever anyone comes close by, even though the quick movement only makes her more noticeable. It's a little depressing, to see her reverting so much so quickly, as soon as we leave Yamaku's grounds. I wonder if she will go to university, and how she will get along there.
  28.  
  29. Now that I think about it, what will happen if we go to different universities? I think Hanako and I could manage a long distance relationship for a while, and I doubt either of us will be leaving Japan. A few hours on a train to see one another every so often would be fine, if it had to be that way. But still, the idea of being so far from her so often is unpalatable now. I don't want to only know her as a voice on the phone, or a face on a computer screen.
  30.  
  31. Should I be pressing Hanako toward deciding on a career? The teachers at Yamaku seem to think it's important for us to think of our futures. Even the nurse mentioned it.
  32.  
  33. "I-it says 'disembarking'." Hanako's voice shakes me out of my momentary rumination. The light for Lilly's flight number has changed, so I guess our time sitting here is over.
  34.  
  35. "Come on, they'll be here soon."
  36.  
  37. We stand, and Hanako takes a moment to smooth her clothing, as though Lilly will notice. I take her hand again, and she smiles at me. I give her a quick kiss, and smile at her blushing as we part. She almost looks calmer despite having been kissed in public. Maybe I'm helping her more than I thought.
  38.  
  39. A few moments pass, and then we hear a familiar deep but feminine voice from the line of people leaving the flight. "Heey! Hanako, Hisao!"
  40.  
  41. The suited blond woman leads her sister away from the line and huddled crowd, and over toward us. Lilly is smiling politely, but is visibly exhausted, in contrast to her almost upbeat sister. Hanako lets go of my hand and rushes toward Lilly, wrapping her in a joyous hug. It's adorable. "Lilly!"
  42.  
  43. Lilly jumps slightly at the sudden contact, but then smiles warmly and hugs Hanako in return, giving her a quiet greeting. Not wanting to stare at the scene, I turn to Akira. She speaks first. "Yo."
  44.  
  45. "Hey. You're pretty late."
  46.  
  47. Akira's expression sours a bit. "Yeah, it was raining again. Our father-" Akira's voice sounds strangely venomous at the word "- suggested we stay another few days to see if the weather improved. But neither of us wanted to be there."
  48.  
  49. What an unpleasant tone in her voice. "Uh... well, it's good to see you back. Welcome back to you too, Lilly."
  50.  
  51. Hanako parts from Lilly when I speak, and takes a step over to stand next to me. Lilly pauses a moment, just the slightest drop in her carefully maintained polite smile. "... Hello, Hisao. It is nice to be back in Japan."
  52.  
  53. A beat passes, and then I clear my throat, and take Hanako's hand. "Should we uh... go pick up your luggage?"
  54.  
  55. Lilly's smile becomes a little less forced, she seems grateful for something to distract us. The four of us head over to baggage claim, and Akira and I spend a few minutes looking for the luggage. Hanako stays back with Lilly, away from the crowd. I don't expect either of them would be that comfortable or useful looking for luggage anyway.
  56.  
  57. While they chat, I feel an elbow nudging my side. When I look over, I see a slightly uncomfortable look on Akira's face. She keeps her voice low, presumably so that Lilly can't hear. "Hey. I hear you're with Hanako now."
  58.  
  59. No, no, stop blushing. I'm a man, dammit. I keep my voice as even as I can. "Uh... yeah. Yeah, as of last week."
  60.  
  61. We were holding hands in the terminal. It's not like I was hiding it or anything either. "Listen, Hanako is very important to my sister. You seem like a good guy, mostly, but Lilly's worried. So just be careful, alright?"
  62.  
  63. Akira points out hers and Lilly's luggage, and we gather the cases from the rotating belt. I speak again as we do so. "She's uh... she's not mad at me, is she?"
  64.  
  65. Akira shakes her head, but doesn't reply, and we walk back toward the girls. I decide to take the chivalrous choice and carry Lilly's suitcase for her. She doesn't object, if she notices at all. We walk in a somewhat comfortable silence together, through the airport, toward the longterm parking area.
  66.  
  67. I notice something again as Lilly walks arm in arm with Hanako. She looks exhausted. "Hey, Lilly, are you alright? You seem tired."
  68.  
  69. Lilly's polite smile, showing no real emotion, remains on her face. "My my, so concerned. It is only a bit of jet lag, it is early morning in Inverness."
  70.  
  71. Akira counts with her fingers for a moment. "It's ten AM over there."
  72.  
  73. ... Ha. Lilly's rather cute when she makes a pouting face like that. "... Regardless."
  74.  
  75. We reach Akira's car a moment later. Akira speaks as she opens the back to store the luggage. "You'll get over it in no time."
  76.  
  77. Lilly's expression brightens slightly, as she seems to remember something. "Oh, yes. Hanako, there is a holiday soon, isn't there?"
  78.  
  79. Hanako nods, her arm still linked with Lilly's. "Y-yes. Miki r-reminded me of that d-during class today."
  80.  
  81. Lilly's eyebrows furrow a moment while she thinks. "... Miki?"
  82.  
  83. "Miki Miura." Both Hanako and I say the name at once, and Hanako giggles afterwards, while Akira smirks.
  84.  
  85. "Oh, if I am not mistaken, she is the girl from the track team, correct?"
  86.  
  87. Hanako nods, not that Lilly can see that, and then speaks, a little more comfortable here without all the people around. "Y-yes, Hisao h-has been tutoring her l-lately. Sh-she's... f-fun to be around."
  88.  
  89. Lilly smiles and speaks quietly with Hanako while Akira and I try to get the luggage packed away. The trunk of Akira's car is rather small, and one of the suitcases ends up needing to be stored in the back seats of the car. Akira scratches the back of her neck. "Huh. I guess I can only take two of you guys back."
  90.  
  91. I guess the polite, gentlemanly thing to do would be to let the girls take the car while I take the bus. Sometimes being a man is irritating. "That's alright, I don't mind taking the bus back to Yamaku. I'll see you all later."
  92.  
  93. Hanako releases Lilly's arm and steps over to me, giving me a warm hug for a moment, before pulling back slightly. "A-are you sure? Y-you'll be okay?"
  94.  
  95. I can't help but raise an eyebrow at her concern over something so trivial. But instead of being annoyed, I just lean in and kiss her forehead affectionately. "It's just a bus ride, Hanako. I'll be fine."
  96.  
  97. Lilly's expression is unreadable as Hanako smiles at me and returns to Lilly's side. I guess she could hear the kiss. Akira is just grinning at me, maybe she found it cute. Hanako speaks again after she takes Lilly's arm again. "I'll c-call you t-tonight, i-is that okay?"
  98.  
  99. "Of course. I'll see you back at school."
  100.  
  101. Akira, Lilly, and Hanako give me their quick goodbyes, and board Akira's car with Lilly taking the front passenger seat. Hanako waves to me as Akira drives away. I wish I could convince myself that they'll be fine. This strangely protective feeling for Hanako won't go away. It's different from how I felt before we started dating, that sense of her being some kind of delicate doll that I was afraid of breaking. Now, I just... worry about losing her.
  102.  
  103. Well, nothing to do about it now. I start the hike back to the bus stop. It's not too far of a walk, but the oppressive summer heat in the city is starting to wear on me a little. By the time I arrive at the bus stop, I'm sweating heavily and a little out of breath. How is this so hard when running next to Miki for more distance was... well, not easy, but more fun? I wonder if she's expecting me tonight.
  104.  
  105. The bus arrives, and I board alone. I wasn't expecting to pay the fare twice today, but it's a trivial concern anyway. Though now that I think about it, maybe I should ask my parents for more allowance. It takes money to go on dates and buy things for girlfriends. I have some left over from the time I've been single, but still, more is better, if I can get it.
  106.  
  107. ...
  108.  
  109. There's never anything to do on a bus but stare out the window and think. The greeting and reunion went well enough. Maybe Hanako and I both had been overly worried about nothing. Lilly didn't seem angry at me, and Akira said only that she was worried. Worried about Hanako, I can assume. She expressed on the phone that Hanako and I may be feeding into one another's problems, possibly harmfully. I think I am going to have to corner her at some point to find out what exactly she meant by that.
  110.  
  111. As far as I can tell, she was worried that we were only floating through Yamaku instead of focusing on the rest of our lives. I feel like I'm moving out of that now, with a plan for my future and everything. How had Hanako phrased it? Her life was 'on hold' during middle school. I think up until a few days ago, I felt the same way about mine. I don't know that Hanako is planning for her future, other than being with me.
  112.  
  113. A little shiver moves through me at that thought. What does it mean, what we promised to one another? We said we would stay together forever, or something to that effect. Does that mean living together after Yamaku? Marriage? Can we be there for one another if we end up in opposite ends of Japan at different schools?
  114.  
  115. Lilly did mention my lack of plans for my future, the last time we spoke. At least now I have some sort of answer for her. Maybe I should ask Hanako about her plans for her life. Not that I feel she needs a career of her own. I'm not one of those guys that thinks women shouldn't have those, but if what she wants is to be a housewife or something, I wouldn't complain.
  116.  
  117. I should ask her what she wants from life.
  118.  
  119. My phone vibrates in my pocket, and I reflexively take it out to check the message. It's from Hanako, just text. "Can you come to Lilly's room for tea tomorrow at 7?"
  120.  
  121. I reply that I can be there. It wasn't really a question anyway, and I never have much of anything planned.
  122.  
  123. ---------------
  124.  
  125. It's nearly eight before I get off of the bus and back to Yamaku. According to Hanako's messages, they're back in their rooms and Akira left for her boyfriend's. I don't want to intrude, and so I find myself walking back through the men's dormitory, and back in my room again at 8:15.
  126.  
  127. With very little to do.
  128.  
  129. My English notes are still open on my desktop, but I don't want to return to that at all. I sit down at the desk and stare blankly at the wall. It's in moments like these that I realize how much Hanako has become the central point in my life lately. We've barely spent any time apart in the past week, and what time we've been apart I've mostly spent thinking about her. Now that she's otherwise occupied, I feel like I've been left directionless and lonely.
  130.  
  131. It's a little discomforting to be so attached to someone. Maybe this is how Hanako felt when Lilly left for Scotland. I feel uncomfortable, was I just someone she could hold on to while her real friend was away?
  132.  
  133. I shake that thought out of my mind. Of course that's not the case, that's crazy. She's been so happy these past few days, and we've slept together twice now. ...Three times, if you count that one night.
  134.  
  135. I spend a few minutes ruminating on all that's changed in the past week or so. I've been spending time with Hanako since I arrived at Yamaku, that's not new. But recently she's been... everywhere. I'm not complaining, I love being close to her. But I do wonder if we might be around one another just a bit too much.
  136.  
  137. Still, Hanako has already opened up to a couple new people. Miki and Naomi at least, and possibly even Shizune and Misha in a stilted sort of way. She's even considering joining the journalism club. I wonder what Lilly thinks of that. I wonder what they're talking about.
  138.  
  139. Maybe Lilly was too tired and has just gone to bed. I can't really imagine Hanako just gushing happily about all the time we've spent together. She's happy with me, or at least it seems that way, but will Lilly be able to see that? Or hear it, whatever phrase works for this. How much do Hanako and Lilly speak about this sort of thing? I think back to all the times Lilly has stopped just short of saying something about Hanako. Maybe she has known more than she has let on this entire time.
  140.  
  141. Enough. Standing up from my desk chair, I stretch a little and change into my gym clothes. Miki had been waiting a while last time I showed up for a run, so maybe she's there early this time too. If not, well, running helped clear my head a little yesterday. Maybe jogging a bit longer will help tonight. There's just too much going on to sit here thinking all night.
  142.  
  143. I end up at the track again, fifteen minutes early. Miki is already there, running along the track at a pretty fast pace. I walk casually toward the track, unnoticed, and begin my stretches as she showed me last night. On her next lap, she notices me and slows down, stopping when she gets to where I am. "Hey, Hisao! I didn't expect to see you tonight."
  144.  
  145. Miki is already sweaty, plainly she's been out here for a while now. The moisture turns her uniform partially transparent, showing me that she's not just tanned, her skin tone is darker naturally. Either that, or she's fond of tanning in much less clothing than she should wear. ... I decide not to go down that line of thought at all.
  146.  
  147. "You didn't expect me? Why's that?"
  148.  
  149. Miki shows that now-familiar grin of hers. "The second day sucks is why. Doing stuff like this is always terrible the second time. That's why a lot of people don't keep doing it."
  150.  
  151. I try not to stare as she joins in my stretching, seemingly just giving herself something to do to keep moving before we start my run. "Huh. I didn't know that. But I'm not doing this for me, I'm doing it for Hanako. If I told her I skipped a run, she'd look heartbroken, and I couldn't take that."
  152.  
  153. Miki's grin only brightens. "Ha! That's cute, Hisao. You've got it bad."
  154.  
  155. I try to keep my embarrassment out of my voice. "... Yeah, I guess I do. Not like it's a bad thing to love her."
  156.  
  157. The girl just laughs and continues her stretching. "Nah, and she's just as much into you. She wouldn't shut up about you yesterday after you left for student council."
  158.  
  159. I can't help but feel curious. What does Hanako act like when I'm not around? What does she think about, what does she say about me? "What did she say?"
  160.  
  161. Miki just wags a finger at me and grins again. "Nope, not telling. It's girl talk. I don't get along with many girls, and I'm not about to betray one of the ones I do."
  162.  
  163. I can't really argue that, and we're done stretching anyway. We take off jogging again, Miki setting the pace. It's a little faster than yesterday, but not much.
  164.  
  165. ... Oh god, my legs. Only one lap down and they feel like rubber. I can see Miki grinning at my expression, though I can't bring myself to care. My breath comes hard and ragged, my heart is pounding in my chest. The second time really does suck.
  166.  
  167. I start to slow down, panting heavily, but I feel Miki grab my hand and physically drag me back into the jog. I wrest my hand away from hers after a moment and force myself to keep going anyway, the second lap turning into the third underneath my aching feet. Am I still running?
  168.  
  169. Am I going to let this girl beat me? Am I going to let my heart beat me?
  170.  
  171. Even with thinking that, I can't help but slow the pace a bit, and Miki doesn't protest this time, slowing with me. Still, I keep moving, I keep telling my screaming legs and my burning lungs and my pounding heart to keep going even if they won't listen. Finally, I see the white lap marker pass under my shoes and I'm done with the four laps.
  172.  
  173. I almost collapse forward, onto my hands and knees, panting heavily. My chest feels tight and there's a familiar, terrible pressure behind my sternum. Miki stops next to me, leaning over me with a worried expression, but I close my eyes and focus on the sound of my heartbeat.
  174.  
  175. *Thump**Thump**Thump*...
  176.  
  177. It's fast. Too fast. But it's... steady. Steady enough that I don't think it's going to stop. After a few moments resting like this, I feel it start to slow. The rictus grin that I don't remember spreading across my lips fades into something less manic, and I struggle to my feet, aided by Miki's proffered hand.
  178.  
  179. She grins at me again as we start our cooldown lap. My feet feel like lead, but I can still put one in front of the other. I'm fine, I did it. The second day sucked, but I made it through. Maybe I'm not as bad at this as I thought.
  180.  
  181. Miki and I walk in silence for a while, letting me catch my breath. The cool night air and the girl next to me help revitalize me, and after a few minutes I start feeling really good. That same feeling as yesterday, redoubled. I did it, I ran like crazy and I may have nearly died, but I did it.
  182.  
  183. Of course, Miki couldn't let me keep that feeling of accomplishment, completely wrecking it by opening her mouth. "You know, Emi thinks we're screwing."
  184.  
  185. I cough violently, and I think my heart skips more from this offhanded statement than from any amount of running I did today. Miki just laughs at my reaction. I shake my head and try to think before speaking, but I don't get enough time before my mouth just asks "What?!"
  186.  
  187. Another laugh from Miki, though this one is a little strained. "Yeah. She cornered me after track practice today. I told her we're just studying and running, but she can't believe that you like running with me more than with her."
  188.  
  189. "Well that's all it is! Why does she even think we're doing... that?"
  190.  
  191. Mik shrugs, an annoyed expression on her face. I guess they really don't get along well. "Because she saw us at the Nurse's office, and out here last Sunday studying. ...and she thinks I'm that kind of girl. Seriously, that's it. It's stupid as hell."
  192.  
  193. The atmosphere has gotten too strained. I don't like seeing Miki look angry like that. "Want to prove her right?"
  194.  
  195. I don't even see it coming. A fist connects with my shoulder, hard. Harder than my lame joke really deserved. Pain shoots down my arm from the impact. Ow. Damn this girl is strong. I reflexively grip my shoulder as I stumble sideways, but Miki's grin proves that she wasn't even trying to hurt me. She just keeps walking at the same pace, her hand returning to the back of her head, with her bandaged wrist. I catch up after a moment of rubbing my shoulder. "Don't even joke, Hisao. Can you imagine Hanako if that happened?"
  196.  
  197. I can, and I do my best not to. "Yeah yeah, it was just a joke. You know I wouldn't do that to her."
  198.  
  199. "Good, 'cause she's my friend now and I'd have to kick your ass. Don't be surprised if Emi ends up asking you or Hanako about it though. Just warning you."
  200.  
  201. We walk in silence for a few more minutes. We pass the lap marker, but our walk continues anyway. Miki looks troubled, and I doubt I look much better. I get so focused on Hanako that I stop seeing that other people have problems too. Other people have ideas and maybe stupid guesses like Emi's. Yamaku is strange, sure, and the people here are friendlier than most high schools. But it's still high school.
  202.  
  203. Miki's voice breaks the silence halfway through our second cooldown lap. She sounds distant, and a little vulnerable. It's weird, coming from her. "Is this helping?"
  204.  
  205. I keep my voice neutral. "Is what helping?"
  206.  
  207. She frowns a bit. "This. This running thing. Am I doing it right?"
  208.  
  209. Miki looks to me with a weird expression. I don't know how to answer that. It's only my second day after all. I try to keep my tone casual and even. "... Yeah, I guess. I mean I wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't for you and Hanako pushing me into it. You're better at it than Emi anyway, she just sped off as soon as we started. You at least told me how to do it and then dragged my slow ass around when I nearly quit today."
  210.  
  211. A bright grin crosses her lips immediately. Making Miki smile isn't really as rewarding as making Hanako do it, but it's still nice to see. "Cool. Thanks, Hisao."
  212.  
  213. I can't let it stay at that though, my scientific curiosity presses me into asking. "Why?"
  214.  
  215. Miki's smile turns into a smirk. "Studying with you and Hanako made me start thinking about graduation. I don't really want to leave Yamaku. Maybe I could work here, you know? Physical therapy or something."
  216.  
  217. "High school forever, huh?"
  218.  
  219. Miki shrugs, but she's still smiling. "Yeah, something like that. Think I'd be good at it?"
  220.  
  221. I shrug and keep my tone light and joking. My arm doesn't need more tenderizing. "Yeah, if you can stand boys drooling over you all the time."
  222.  
  223. She just laughs again and lets the topic drop. The lingering smile on her face stays through the rest of our smalltalk, and through our stretches before we part for the evening. I think she liked my answer.
  224.  
  225. We part at the normal place between men and women's dorms, and I trudge down the sidewalk, each step draining more energy than the last. Talking to Miki kept me distracted from my exhausted body, but with her gone, it's all catching up. I vaguely recall that Hanako was supposed to call me tonight, but it's getting late now. I'll talk to her tomorrow.
  226.  
  227. When I get back to my dorm, I fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed.
  228.  
  229. ----------------
  230.  
  231. Peaceful oblivion lasts for about ten minutes before my phone rings. I sit up with effort, and paw around on my bedside table for my phone, answering it after a moment. "H'sao speaking."
  232.  
  233. "H-hisao?"
  234.  
  235. Hanako sounds uncertain, I probably don't even sound like myself. I try to put more life into my voice this time. "Hey, Hanako. Sorry, I was sleeping."
  236.  
  237. There's a muted giggle through the phone, but I hear a little apology in her voice when she speaks. "I w-wanted to call you, since I said I w-would tonight."
  238.  
  239. "It's fine. How was it seeing Lilly again?"
  240.  
  241. Her voice takes on a much happier tone. "I-it's great t-to have her back! I missed her s-so much, Hisao, I d-didn't know how much u-until I saw her again. I l-love her so much."
  242.  
  243. I lay back on my bed and stare at the dark ceiling. "Is she going to steal you away now?"
  244.  
  245. I can almost hear her blushing through the pfhone. "I-it's not like that! It's a d-different k-kind of l-l-lov--"
  246.  
  247. "I know, Hanako, I'm just teasing. Calm down."
  248.  
  249. A moment passes, not that Hanako sounds any calmer when she speaks again. She's speaking very quietly, almost whispering into the phone. "S-she's not m-mad at you. I m-made her promise me she w-wasn't. She w-was upset about- um... th-that one thing w-we did. But I t-told her how h-happy you make me and h-how we've been t-together and e-everything."
  250.  
  251. Hanako is stuttering pretty badly, she must be almost forcing herself to talk about this sort of thing. I reconsider any teasing or joking right now. "Sounds like we won't have too much to worry about during tea tomorrow."
  252.  
  253. "I w-wanted to tell her e-everything first, so that d-drinking tea c-could be fun. I r-really miss d-doing that t-together."
  254.  
  255. That makes sense, I guess. I'm impressed Hanako was able to talk about all this to Lilly, and maybe even in Akira's car. I don't know that she's ever had too much trouble with talking about sensitive things around Lilly, but Lilly didn't know much about her accident, or her family, or even the orphanage. I'm sure her relationship with me is easier to discuss than those things, but it's still good to hear she was at least comfortable enough to say it.
  256.  
  257. Now I've been thinking too much and I've been quiet just too long. "That's good, Hanako. I'm glad you can talk to her about that kind of thing."
  258.  
  259. She giggles again. Even over the phone the sound makes me smile. Her voice is calmer as well, on to more common topics. "Did you r-run with Miki?"
  260.  
  261. I decide not to mention my heart... flutter? I think that's the term. It wasn't really a flutter anyway, just... my heart racing and hurting. It doesn't seem appropriate to bring down the conversation right now. "Yeah, but it wasn't much fun. Miki says the second time is the hardest, so maybe things will be better tomorrow."
  262.  
  263. "Y-you can do it, Hisao. Did you take your pills before you went to bed?"
  264.  
  265. I barely manage to suppress an exasperated sigh. One, because I don't like being babied and constantly reminded about my medication as though I would fall apart if I was five minutes late. Two, because she's right to worry: I entirely forgot to take my pills after getting back from the run. It was late and I was tired. "... I'll take them now. I was tired after the run."
  266.  
  267. Sitting up, I work to pop the pills and caplets out of the foil packets, and tilt the two bottles to release the pills I need for the night dosage. Hanako doesn't say anything, just listening to the sound of me doing my daily chores. A few moments of gross tasting medicine later, I'm done. "There, Hanako. You don't have to worry."
  268.  
  269. A moment passes before she speaks, and her voice is quiet and worried. "A-are you angry with me?"
  270.  
  271. I take a moment to make sure I don't sound like I am when I speak. I've never been good at hiding my emotions from people, and I know Hanako is terrible at that as well. It's good, in a way. It keeps us both honest, if we can't lie to one another about that kind of thing. It's still a little difficult when I don't want to start an argument or criticize her. She's only looking out for me, she just wants to keep me alive as long as possible. I can't fault her for that. I'd like to be alive as long as possible too. So, a small lie. I'm not angry, really, just a little annoyed at being treated like a kid.
  272.  
  273. "No, Hanako. I'm not angry, I'm just... tired. It has been a long day."
  274.  
  275. There's a couple seconds of silence on the line. Just enough time for me to worry that I did something wrong. "O-okay, Hisao. ... I l-love you."
  276.  
  277. "I love you too, Hanako. See you in class tomorrow?"
  278.  
  279. She sounds just a little happier at the prospect. "S-see you then. Goodnight."
  280.  
  281. "Goodnight."
  282.  
  283. I end the call and click the phone closed.
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