Even Broken Hearts Can Tessellate.
The library has this unusual smell. Like the air is stale or something. Another reason to believe it was devised by sadists, and not by anyone with a human heart. From across the table, I can see Lelouch is struggling to answer this week’s Chemistry worksheet, so I tap my pencil on the top of his paper, sliding my own answer sheet over for him to correct his answers. He smiles, and returns my sheet after correcting his own.
It’s probably a good thing I’m in the library this afternoon. The conversation I had with Suzu last night sent a lot of things that I’d thought were safe spiralling out of control, and I’m not in the mood for a lunchtime of possible awkwardness.
After the walk up the hill, Suzu nearly collapsed onto me. I hadn’t been sure when we would talk about what happened between her and Taro, but I certainly hadn’t expected it to be after coffee with my brother; It had clearly been preying on her mind all day until it nearly broke her. That being said, she didn’t really talk
about it once she’d brought it up, she just kept repeating that sleeping with Taro had been a mistake, and a big one at that.
With Suzu’s condition, outbursts of emotion like that can be kind of dangerous. She didn’t really want to delve into how she was feeling, so we sat outside the dormitories and she kind of just… cried quietly, whilst I held her hand and stroked her head a little. When she showed up to class this morning, she seemed a little bit better. Maybe. I hope she was able to let a little bit out last night, because I really don’t know what else she can do, or really, what’s wrong to begin with.
The potential awkwardness of lunch today isn’t the only reason I’m in the library instead of the cafeteria; more like fortunate timing. Every Tuesday, during lunch break, Lelouch and I study together. I think it was our Chemistry teacher’s idea, but Lou was the one to ask me to help him go over the syllabus regularly. I don’t mind doing it; it feels nice to help him out with this, and the extra studying helps me stay ahead of the curriculum.
“Hwyo d-do you fi…” Lelouch takes a deep breath and tries again, “Hyow do you figure owt this one?” He taps the paper in front of him with his pencil, highlighting a question about Boyle’s Law. I smile at him, and he mock frowns in response. I can’t help but giggle at that.
“It’s a law about the relationship between the pressure and volume of gas.” He’s giving me his full attention, so I sketch a crude diagram on my own paper as I explain. “Basically, it says that at a constant temperature, the pressure and the volume of any given amount gas is inversely proportional.” To illustrate that, I write the words volume and pressure and draw two arrows between them. It’s not a very effective diagram, but Lelouch seems to understand anyway, and writes an answer on his worksheet.
From the beanbag behind Lelouch, Hisao looks up and smiles at me. I return it, and Lelouch settle back into the rhythm of his work.
When the morning classes ended, Hisao was keen to follow through on his words from yesterday, about wanting to join me for lunch. He didn’t seem put off that I would be heading to the library, and ended up joining me and Lelouch, much to the dismay of Taro, who will now be having lunch with Suzu and Lezard… Oh, if I could be a fly on that wall…
I’m not sure why Hisao chose hanging out here with us over hanging out with Taro, especially since the two seem to have become quite friendly since we hung out at the Shanghai last week. That said, Hisao and Lou seem to get on just as well, and he’s definitely nerdy enough to enjoy studying. He’s currently got some Physics book in hands, something about ‘Phenomenology’, whatever that is.
A few more minutes of silence pass whilst Lelouch works through the sheet. He bites on the end of his pen every time he gets stumped, but he doesn’t ask me for any help again, so it seems at least a bit of my tutoring is getting through to him.
“You know you can sit with us if you want,” I say to Hisao, which has the side effect of getting Lou’s attention too. He smiles at Hisao, and pulls the chair beside him out. But Hisao chuckles and shakes his head.
“I’m fine being an observer. Besides, I’m really
comfortable.” He responds in the hushed tone necessary for library communication. I’m sure somewhere behind me Hanako and Yuuko are appreciating the quiet.
“Molly ish a goid tu-tutor Hishaio, trusht mei.” It’s sweet of Lelouch to say that. It’s only been, uh, I think three weeks, but it’s really starting to feel like I’m helping.
“I don’t doubt it.” Hisao replies. “I was struggling to keep up with her in Yamada’s class yesterday.”
I’m blushing again. At least this time it feels justified; doesn’t everyone blush when they’re complimented?
“Yeah, well she is a little bit nerdy.” The hushed voice takes me by surprise, and I turn around to face the source of it. Rika, twirling her white braid and smirking playfully at me approaches and places her hand on my shoulder. “Hey Hisao, good to see you again!” Her cheery tone quickly rises from her initial whisper, and she’s grinning like an idiot. “Hey Lou.” It’s sweet how her voice softens when she says his name. Hey, I’m the only one she didn’t say hi to!
Rika pulls the chair out from beside me and sits down at the table. I guess Hisao’s worried about being left out, since he gets up and joins us in the seat Lelouch offered him, setting his book gently down on the table. Rika notices the title, and starts giggling.
“Looks like you’re a bit nerdy as well, eh, Hisao?” She points to his book and immediately he goes a little red. Rika looks me in the eye and winks. What
“I didn’t claim otherwise!” Hisao retorts. He does that thing again, where he rubs the back of his head awkwardly.
Lelouch taps the table in front of me, getting my attention and the attention of everyone at the table. He looks around at everyone, and seems visibly embarrassed, like he feels bad to be asking for my help. I try to give him a reassuring smile, but it’s not much use, so I press on.
“What’s up?” I ask, and he slides his paper across to me before tapping an answer near the bottom of the sheet. He’s progressed quite a bit since he last asked for my help. He doesn’t need my help anyway, since he’s got the answer right. Which makes him smile, and I notice Rika and Hisao smiling too.
“So, Hisao,” Rika asks in a soft voice, “Have you settled in yet?” I return to the worksheet in front of me, but keep my attention on Hisao. I’m curious to hear his answer, to hear what he says when it isn’t just us.
“I think so, for the most part at least.” Rika doesn’t say anything, just waits for Hisao to go on. “I still have to… come to terms with a few things.” He gives a quiet dry laugh. “And I guess it still feels like I’ve been sent away to nowhere.” Before we can get too depressed (or offended) by that observation, he adds, “But I’ve met some nice people, so I’m feeling good, I think.”
Lou taps his pencil on the corner of Hisao’s book, the book Hisao hasn’t really been managing to read since we keep talking to him. “Evewewyhere ish swomewyhere Hishao. Eyven heyre.” I don’t really understand what that means, even after carefully dissecting Lou’s words over again in my head. From the looks of things, Hisao doesn’t either, but he smiles anyway.
“What does that even mean?” I ask. I’m trying to keep my voice quiet, but the urge to giggle at his peculiar remark makes it come across a bit louder than intended. Rika nudges me in the shoulder.
“It means you’ve got to make yourself belong, right Lou?” Rika says. I’m now more lost than before, but after a moment or two of contemplation, Lou nods his head in agreement. Hisao looks at me, seeming equally confused, but I guess he’s not in the mood to press it. Whatever. I guess Rika and Lou really get each other.
I return to the last few questions of my worksheet, as does Lelouch, whilst Rika and Hisao chat idly about some things I’ve already heard, like where Hisao is from, and about his peculiar hallmate. From the way he’s talking about him, it’s kind of hard to think that they’re not at least kind-of friends though. I think he sounds interesting, if a bit eccentric.
The last minutes of the lunch break pass in a similar manner. Rika has some catching up to do, with regards to getting to know Hisao I suppose, since she missed his impromptu introduction at the Shanghai last week. She seems particularly interested to hear that he’s started running with Emi Ibarazaki, but she doesn’t reveal why. Even though there’s no bell in the library, we hear the distant chime from the hallway, signifying the end of the lunch-break, but before we can head off, Rika addresses us all excitedly.
“Wait, wait, I almost forgot!” By this point, she’s not even trying to whisper, but I doubt Yuuko is going to scold her, we’re leaving anyway. “Do you guys have any plans tonight?”
The three of us look to each other, and everyone shrugs and shakes their head to confirm that we don’t. Rika seems pretty giddy, it’s a little contagious, and I find myself getting excited about whatever she’s going to ask.
“No? Great! There’s a new film on in town, they’re screening a new film!”
“Really?” I ask, equally excited now. Even Lelouch looks surprised and is visibly excited. Hisao looks understandably confused.
“Uh, what’s the film about?” He asks, not really understanding our excitement. That’s understandable though.
“I have no idea!” Rika replies excitedly as we pass through the double doors of the library and into the hallway. The disparity between the emptiness of the library to the crowded hallways causes us all to stop for a moment, before we slip into the current of people heading towards class. Hisao looks even more confused than before, so I think it’s time to explain.
“The theatre in town is really nice, but it’s been showing the same three films since I arrived here. Since it’s family owned, they can’t really afford to get the latest stuff in, so it’s always showing older black and white films. Since there’s something new on, we could all go down and watch it!” I explain, Rika and Lou nodding along with me.
We’ve reached the staircase by the time I’ve explained both the theatre and our own weirdness to Hisao. He doesn’t seem put off by my explanation. In fact, he’s chuckling a little bit as well now.
“I haven’t been to the movies in a long time,” his smile falters noticeably, but he tries to recover his earlier mood. “I think it sounds nice, and I haven’t got any plans tonight anyway.”
Rika claps her hands excitedly as we step onto the staircase. “Well it’s settled then. Should we invite the others, or do you want it to just be us?” She asks with a wink.
That’s a good question. It’d be weird not to invite them, but I’m also a little worried that Suzu and Taro’s problems might start to bleed over into the group as a whole. Is that a selfish worry? I hope not, but even if it is, I think it’s a valid one. Lelouch has reached the top of the stairs before the rest of us, and is patiently waiting for us to reach him. I’m a little surprised to see both Rika and Hisao look physically drained. Well, I’m not surprised to see Rika like that, since her heart condition makes her tire easily. But, Hisao doesn’t look as tired as she does, so maybe I’m imagining things. Regardless, I’m still the last to summit, as it were.
Everyone is looking at me to answer Rika. I don’t know why that responsibility falls on me, but the longer I take to respond, the more likely they are to think that something’s up. So, I just get it over with.
“Yeah, we’ll ask them in class.” Hisao and Rika give me what I think are honest smiles, but Lou seems to have noticed my struggle answering. I get the feeling Taro and he have been talking as well, so it’s not especially surprising for him to look dubious.
“Where should we meet, and, uh, when?” Hisao asks, looking at his watch. Maybe he’ll set an alarm or something, can his watch do that? Wait, can mine
Rika doesn’t respond since she’s noticed a friend from her class and is waving them over. So, I take over the planning. Rika’s a bit too scatter brained to form concrete plans anyway.
“Let’s meet up at 7, at the main gate? We can all head down together from there, it isn’t a long walk.”
Everyone seems okay with that plan, excited even. We wave a temporary goodbye to Rika, as she and her classmate venture off down the hallway, whilst Hisao, Lelouch and I head into our classroom.
I rouse Suzu, who beat me back to class today, and let her know the plans for tonight. Maybe it’ll cheer her up, who knows. Lou makes his way to his seat at the back of the class, and so he fills Taro in. I was hoping Hisao would talk to Lezard, but he seems to have been captured by Misha and Shizune.
I guess that leaves it to me. What a crappy way to end an otherwise nice lunch.
The afternoon classes passed lazily, and before long I’m changing out of my school uniform into a hoodie and a skirt for tonight’s plans. It’s a bit colder outside now, but I don’t have to worry about my legs feeling the chill, and so with Rika and Suzu beside me, we make our way to the front gates of Yamaku, bathed in the gold of the setting sun.
There’s something magical about Yamaku in its evening splendour, from the low chirping of the birds, to the smell of cut-grass that seems to permeate the lawns and flower beds, it feels so far removed from anywhere I’ve ever known. It used to feel so timeless, like nothing was ever changing, and I was all right with that. I know now that things were never entirely static, I’d just fooled myself into believing that. Even before things really started spiralling, we all had our problems. It’s strange how the arrival of Hisao has finally made me realise that we’ll be leaving Yamaku soon, that our time here is running out. I don’t know if it’s entirely fair to say I’m feeling that way because
of Hisao, but there’s certainly correlation, if not causation.
The subject of my musing is standing before the gates, talking with Taro about something I can’t make out from here. Lelouch and Lezard are there too, and Lezard gives Lou a friendly punch on the shoulder as we approach, causing them both to laugh; they must have been joking about something. It’s nice to see everyone together again, even if after last night’s talk with Suzu, I’m starting to fear for the longevity of our group of friends.
Taro steps forward from the wall and bows deeply, which has the added affect of dropping his slung arm forward like a cat-flap.
“Ladies. Would you do us the honour of joining us fine gentleman for a trip into town?”
We all giggle at that, especially Suzu, who gives him a gentle push as he straightens up from his display. He immediately starts smiling, and the two head off through the open gates before us all. I really don’t understand her. Or him, for that matter. Whilst everyone is still chuckling, we head on after Taro and Suzu, with Lezard, Rika, and Lelouch slipping ahead of Hisao and me.
This is the second time we’ve ended up walking down the hill together, but unlike last time, Hisao seems more confident in himself. Despite that, he looks like there’s something bothering him. Maybe a memory from earlier that made him frown.
“Hey, Molly, can I ask you something?” We’ve already started to fall behind the rest of the group; I don’t know if he’s walking slow for me or for some other reason, but I appreciate it anyway.
“Sure, ask away.” I highly doubt he’s going to ask me something I’m not comfortable answering. Still, he takes a deep breath, which isn’t a great sign.
“I was going to ask you last week in the Shanghai, but it didn’t seem like the right time.” Okay, I’ll admit, I’m beginning to get a bit concerned. “I was going to ask, where are you from?”
I was wondering when he would ask that.
It’s pretty obvious that I’m not fully Japanese. If anything, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for him to ask. That being said, it’s not exactly a simple story.
I’m really curious about Hisao too. I want to know more about him. I want to know why he frowned when he mentioned his old friends. I want to know why he’s here at Yamaku, what his family is like, who he really is.
If I want to know those things, I’ve got to be honest too. Even if it hurts. Especially
if it hurts.
“Yeah,” I begin. We’ve slowed down considerably by this point, and the group in front of us are well ahead. That’s, that’s good. That makes things easier, I think. “I was born in Japan, but I’m only half Japanese,” he looks at me patiently. I mean, I guess maybe that was obvious. “My father is Japanese, but, but my mother, she
He clearly flinches when I say ‘was’
, but there’s no helping it. I knew it would hurt to bring up again, it always does. But he’s, he’s smiling again. That really patient look from the fireworks. Maybe lowering my walls has lowered his too; it’s a pretty thought. He looks really tired.
“So, your mother… she’s not, uh,” He stutters out.
“No. She’s not.” I reply with finality.
I didn’t realise we’d stopped, but I guess we have, not that the others have noticed. Hisao’s still looking at me, waiting patiently. I don’t know if he’s waiting for me to say something else, there isn’t really anything else to say. ‘She was’, says all I want to say. I think he’s searching for the right words. A part of me wants to cry, but I’m fighting that urge. I’m not the same little girl who cried all the time eight years ago.
“I’m sorry.” He finally whispers, but neither of us start walking again. There’s something in the air between us, it’s not necessarily uncomfortable, but, something’s missing. I think he feels it too. There’s something that needs to be said, like the fireworks are going off again behind our eyes.
I don’t want to keep leaving things unsaid though.
“I was in the hospital recently.” He finally says. The golden light of the evening seems to slow everything down around us, like we’re stood in front of headlights colliding. “I used to go to the movies with my friends, but when I was in the hospital, they stopped visiting.” He sighs, I don’t know how to console him. I was in the hospital too, a long time ago, but I was so young, and Amir was always there. Hisao must have felt so alone, like he’d be left behind. Unless…
“Do you have any siblings?” I ask, and we start walking again, the chill of the evening enough incentive for us to catch up with the others. I think my question takes him off guard, but it really feels like one of his walls has come down.
“No. I’m an only child. Do you?”
For a minute I’m confused that he’s asking, but I quickly remember that he wasn’t present for yesterday’s lunch, and so he missed it when I received a text from Amir. “Yeah, I have an older brother, Amir. He visited last night.” The others have noticed the distance between us, and have slowed down in order for us to catch up.
He looks like he might say something else, but I carry on my train of thought.
“I was in the hospital too, a long time ago. But Amir was always there. I didn’t really need anyone else, and I was pretty young, so the staff kept me entertained.”
Hisao bites his lip in a thoughtful way, like he wants to ask me something but doesn’t quite know how. Even if his last question sent us into a bit of an intense conversation, I want him to keep asking me things. I want to know him more, and if knowing me more gets us there than I’m happy for us to keep swapping. He works up the nerve, and swallows.
“Is that, why you’re here?” He asks timidly. I guess that’s the safe way of asking me if was born without my legs or not.
“Yeah. I was in the hospital after an accident. I woke up like this” I gesture up and down my body,” more or less.”
Despite the atmosphere that we’ve somehow found ourselves in, Hisao chuckles. Rather confusingly considering the subject matter we’re discussing. He notices my confused look, and his smile already eases me, somehow.
“You woke up years older, great at chemistry, and enrolled at Yamaku?” It takes me a moment to understand the joke he’s making, but I can’t help by grin stupidly when I do.
“Okay, last time I tell you anything,” I respond, my tone light enough for him to be sure I’m joking.
He laughs, but he looks a little more serious again. Before we’ve fully caught up with the group, he gets a little bit closer and whispers to me, with a thoughtful look on his face.
“Thank you, Molly.”
It feels really warm here, really
warm, despite the chill in the air.
“Thank you, Hisao.” I can feel the crimson in my cheeks again, so after a moment or two of awkward silence, I cough and look away, and he does the same.
We hurry to catch up with the others, don’t want the movie to start without us, now do we?
Maybe that would be nice…