The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 4/16!)

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by Blank Mage » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:05 pm

Holy shit it lives. Hang on while I sit down to read this properly.
And we're back.
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"I wish I could convey to you just how socially inept I am, but I can't."
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"No, I really, truly haven't."

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by swampie2 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:11 pm

It's back!

I enjoy this fic a lot, but I hate it at the same time. I just want everyone to be happy why can't everyone be happy. :lol:
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by azumeow » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:03 am

Damn, am I glad to see this story come back.

Good to see ya, Pun. Nice work, of course.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Mon Jan 04, 2016 12:18 pm

Blank Mage wrote:Holy shit it lives. Hang on while I sit down to read this properly.
swampie2 wrote:It's back!

I enjoy this fic a lot, but I hate it at the same time. I just want everyone to be happy why can't everyone be happy. :lol:
azumeow wrote:Damn, am I glad to see this story come back.

Good to see ya, Pun. Nice work, of course.
Thank you, one and all! Happiness will increase at some point in this story for sure, but for which characters? Hmmm...

Working on 2-4 as we speak. I leave on Thursday for a week-plus vacation, so the goal is to get the chapter posted before I leave, then return to a more normal weekly (or so) posting schedule thereafter.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by Rhodri » Mon Jan 04, 2016 6:57 pm

We had some great new stories started last year. Few were completed, some have slipped back several pages and ever are fewer ongoing. I was wondering/hoping if one of those seemingly dead fics would be resurrected in time for KS' birthday. Thanks for not disappointing and welcome back.
"She also ties you up to a chair. You're gonna like that. Chairs are good. Chairs are your friend."

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Act 2, Chapter 4 - Dial "H" for Help

Post by Puncyclopedia » Wed Jan 06, 2016 3:50 pm

As promised, Act 2, Chapter 4!

I'll be gone for a week on vacation with no writing time, and then it's likely to take a bit longer after that until I get something up - Chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Act 2 are all important and likely to be lengthy, so just a heads up on that front.

Enjoy!

------------------------

I used to wonder why teachers assigned so much work, considering they’d have to take all the time to grade it. I understand now, of course; there are curricula to follow and grading things is an important measure of student progress.

Grading is still the worst part of the job by a large margin, though. Grading essay questions is the worst, so of course I put three of them on the quiz that I gave. Too many multiple choice questions felt too easy, but essays always feel subjective to me.

Nine quizzes lay graded and conquered before me, and nine remain.

I’m just about to grit my teeth and dig in to quiz number ten when my cell phone goes off. I glance over at it and see an unfamiliar number staring back at me. Under most circumstances, I wouldn’t answer it, but with nine quizzes looming in front of me. I push the phone to my ear, and wait to see what telemarketer has decided to call me on a school night.

“Hello, this is Hisao Nakai.”

“Wahahaha~!” comes from the speaker, bright and bubbly and oh-so-familiar. I facepalm in spite of myself, a moment later wondering just how in the name of all things sacred she got this number.

“It is, it is! Hicchan! Guess who~!”

“Misha,”I say, a wry smile crossing my face. “There’s no one else it could be.” Misha would be identifiable in virtually any situation, thanks to her...Mishaness. “How did you get this number, anyway?”

I can almost see the pout through the phone and distance between us. “Did you not want me to have it, Hicchan~? That’s sad! Really sad! Old comrades like us, all those years and great times together and you want to leave me out in the cold, without a way to contact you?”

“You have my e-mail,” I point out, weakly. Her words cut me to the bone, and I find myself imagining poor Misha shivering without warm clothes in a snowstorm somewhere.

“I do~!” Misha beams. “That’s how I got your phone number, after all! Your email signature includes a contact number!”

For the second time in as many minutes, I facepalm, though the situation is entirely and utterly my fault. She’s right - my professional e-mail, which I’d given to her, did contain such information.

“You win, Misha,” I say, trying to put on my best “defeated” voice. “What’s up?”


“Something has to be up, Hicchan,” she asks, and I steel myself against the coming assault. “We’re best friends, and we haven’t spoken in almost a year now! That’s no good!”

She was right, again. It really wasn’t good, at all. I didn’t have that many friends in the world, and Misha was one of the few. Even in the aftermath of the Shizune...unpleasantness, we had still remained close.

“I know, I know,” is about the best I can do. “I’m sorry. Things have just been hectic with getting my job and everything.”

“You’re employed too, Hicchan?” she asks. It’s almost embarrassing to hear the obvious joy in her voice. “Yay, yay~! Where are you working, Hicchan? I wonder!”

Misha is also a teacher. She’d beaten me to employment, too, getting a job with a smaller, deaf-only school a hundred miles or so away from Yamaku. I make a mental note to ask her how that’s going.

“Actually,” I admit, though part of me thinks she has to already know, “I’m at Yamaku. I have Mutou-sensei’s old job.”

I hear applause on the other end of the call. Well, Misha has never been what one might call “subtle.”

“That’s great, Hicchan! Really great! We’re both employed!”

Some things don’t change, and Misha’s general temperament is one of them. I’ve seen her in professional mode, though. It’s quite jarring at first, but you get used to it in time.

“We are, yes,” I agree, trying to focus the conversation on her, instead. “How’s teaching going?”

Misha pauses for a moment. It’s unusual for her. Sometimes I think that she has an answer ready in her mind for any question, which makes it odd when she has to take a moment to express herself.

“Well,” she finally says.”Really well! But! It’s lots of work, isn’t it, Hicchan? More than Student Council…”

I can see her frown now. It’s almost tragic.

“Lots of work,” I agree, in an effort to cheer her up. “But it’s all worth it, isn’t it? You’ve wanted to be a teacher for longer than I have.”

“You’re right, Hicchan! It’s great! It really is! I’m just tired all the time!”

“That feeling I know,” I have to admit. “I go to sleep pretty early these days.” It was true. I was in bed way earlier than I had been in university these days. Every so often, I mourned my social life before I remembered that there wasn’t really all that much to mourn anymore.

“But that’s no good, Hicchan~” she lectures. I imagine a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. She knows me as well as anyone except for my ex; that much is certain. “You need to go do things! Visit with people! See the world!”

“It’s hard to see the world when you have to teach every day, Misha.”

It’s a surprisingly….drab reply, but keeping up with Misha’s pace is harder these days now that I’m largely out of practice.

“You’re right, it is,” she replies, “but that just means we have to work harder, right? It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other! Too long~!”

I can’t disagree with that. At all. And yet, I know full well what comes along with seeing Misha. More importantly, I know who comes along with seeing Misha.

“I’m going to come to visit~!” Misha says, in the tone of voice that tells me I will be allowed no dissent. When she wants to, Misha can be just as forceful as her best friend, though her manner is much more carrot than stick.

I open my mouth to refute this, to say something about it, but Misha cuts me off neatly before I can come up with anything intelligent.

“Just me, Hicchan~!” she says. “So you don’t have any excuses!”

There’s extra-special nothing I can say to that. Besides, I do want to see her. It HAS been entirely too long.

“Alright, alright,” I concede. “You can come to visit.”

“Yaaaaaaayyy~! What should we do though, I wonder? We could get something to drink!”

“The Shanghai,” I ask her, “for old time’s sake?” I haven’t actually been to the Shanghai that much since coming back to Yamaku. Somehow, without Yuuko there, the place has lost a lot of its former charm.

“But Hicchan, we’re legal now,” she points out. “If we’re going to have drinks, we should have real drinks, I think! Like we used to!”

“Like we used to” brings up an array of interesting memories from my academic career, but now is not the time for reminiscing.

“We could do that,” I agree. “There’s a lot of places to drink in the city. When do you want to come?”

“Would two o’clock work, Hicchan?” she asks, and I shake my head in surprise. “My academy has Saturday off this week, so I can come early!”

Regrettably, I do not have Saturday off, so I have to deal with a half day of work first. Still, 2:00 would give me plenty of time to get into the city after classes.

“That works,” I say, to riotous applause on the other end of the line. I can hear her speaking, but it’s not to me; it’s to herself. She seems to be running down a list of possible places to go drink. Most of them I’ve never heard of; I wonder how Misha has, considering that last time she was here regularly, she was too young to drink.

Then again, she was at Yamaku longer than I was, and thus probably had the chance to venture into the city more times. That would make sense.

She finally rattles off a name that I can’t pronounce. I try to get her to say it again, but that doesn’t help. She finally has to spell it out for me, and by the time she’s finished, she’s well and truly wrapped up in a giggle fit.

“Got it now, Hicchan,” she asks, amusedly. I sigh, and apparently, that’s enough confirmation for her. “It’s great we’ve gotten this worked out! But! I have to go! There are quizzes to grade!”

“Yes,” I say, flinching at the reminder of work yet to be done. “There are for me too. It was nice talking with you again. I’ll see you on Saturday.”

“You will,” she exclaims. “Byyyyyyye~!”

As I push the button to disconnect the call, only then do I realize what I’ve just agreed to.

My entire body goes limp in my chair. I am not ready for this. I was not built for such things. Granted, hanging out with Misha generally allows for no discontent or sadness - believe me, no one on planet Earth is better aware of this fact than I am, but it has been far too long and I am not prepared for a pink-haired, busty ball of energy to return to my life.

Shizune may not be coming, but she will be there all the same. I would love to pretend otherwise, but I am, at heart, a realist.

With a helpless sigh, I pick my pen back up, and dive back into the quizzes. If nothing else, they require just enough of my brainpower to prevent me from falling back into unpleasant thought patterns.

As it turns out, they also require enough of my brainpower to make it very difficult to sleep when I finally finish them.

--------

I am greeted by a surprise as I enter Room 3-3, exhausted from not enough sleep and far too much grading of quizzes. It is a small envelope with my name neatly written on the front. The penmanship is impeccable enough that it brings up unpleasant memories, but then I remember that there are two people who write that neatly.

They happen to be related, of course.

I open the envelope carefully, and pull out a once-folded piece of paper. There’s more writing on it, done in a careful, precise hand that I could never imitate if I tried. Considering that I can see, I’m utterly impressed with how Lilly can write so well on an unlined piece of paper, in a flowing-yet-easy-to-read script.

I read the words easily, and process the information. Dinner with Lilly at 6:00 pm in the city. There’s also a line about promising not to talk about work as a condition of accepting the invitation, which I’m more than fine with. After grading those quizzes, I need a few days off from work that I won’t be getting.

At the bottom of the note are a pair of checkboxes, labelled “yes” and “no.” I chuckle; it’s surprisingly childish, given how formal Lilly is, but she’s been full of surprises ever since she walked back into my life.

Or, would it be more proper to say that I walked back into hers, considering she was here first? Ah, semantics.

I look up at the clock to see about ten minutes until class starts, which should be more than enough time to return my answer to my mentor’s kind invitation. I fish around in my desk until I find a writing implement, and check the “yes” box. Neatly refolding the note, I stuff it back into the envelope and head out into the halls of Yamaku.

It will only be later (in the middle of class, in fact), that I will realize that I have scheduled two not-dates in the same day. Sure, they’re at different times, but I consider that small succor from the powers that are in exchange for giving me a potentially fatal heart condition that triggered for the first time when the-then woman of my dreams asked me out.

Misha for drinks at 2:00 pm.

Lilly for dinner at 6:00 pm.

Saturday may, in fact, find a way to kill me.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by swampie2 » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:32 pm

Misha still has pink hair? I'd have though she'd have grown out of that. :lol:

Very nice work!
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by Alpacalypse » Wed Jan 06, 2016 5:47 pm

Um, Misha, are you ok? Did you accidentally swallow half a ton of ecstasy somewhere along the line? Seriously, I don't recall her ever being quite that chipper...

Oh well, it was fun nonetheless. Excellent work!
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by Sharp-O » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:47 pm

Alpacalypse wrote:Um, Misha, are you ok? Did you accidentally swallow half a ton of ecstasy somewhere along the line? Seriously, I don't recall her ever being quite that chipper...
That'd be all the Prozac and Monster :lol: If Hisao's feeling fatigued, imagine how the legendarily lazy Misha would handle the work load?

Another good chapter, Pun. I'm imagining some Three's Company shenanigans occurring next time!

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jan 06, 2016 6:55 pm

Nice chapter!
I do dread the almost-double-date, though. I t has way too much potential to go horribly wrong, and most of those would probably involve my head meting the desk several times quite forcibly^^°
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by azumeow » Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:41 am

The Master of Romance is back in action!
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/6!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Fri Jan 15, 2016 4:11 pm

First and foremost, thank you for all of the comments! Pleased to have a following here after all those months. :)

Work on 2.5 has begun. Expect it probably by the end of the weekend. Generally, I'm going to be aiming for a chapter a week or so, which should be sustainable until this story is complete.

-----
swampie2 wrote:Misha still has pink hair? I'd have though she'd have grown out of that. :lol:

Very nice work!
The drills I can see her losing, but I imagine her as keeping the pink hair forever as long as she's not barred by her school from doing so. ;p
Alpacalypse wrote:Um, Misha, are you ok? Did you accidentally swallow half a ton of ecstasy somewhere along the line? Seriously, I don't recall her ever being quite that chipper...

Oh well, it was fun nonetheless. Excellent work!
Remind me to cover this in my "respond to comments" section after 2.5. Now's too soon to discuss it, but how I characterize Misha here (and probably in something else I'm working on -- oh, wait, nevermind that bit) is based on something that I either legitimately picked up on playing the game, or is totally in my head. Now's too soon, but it does get touched on in 2.5.
Sharp-O wrote: That'd be all the Prozac and Monster :lol: If Hisao's feeling fatigued, imagine how the legendarily lazy Misha would handle the work load?

Another good chapter, Pun. I'm imagining some Three's Company shenanigans occurring next time!
I hope (for her sake) that she's developed better habits by now. Who knows, though? XD

As for Three's Company, you'll have to wait and see. I DO write things like that, but usually in their own sort of fic. Most of the humor in THIS one is self-deprecating and/or provided by a wielder of puppets.
Mirage_GSM wrote:Nice chapter!
I do dread the almost-double-date, though. I t has way too much potential to go horribly wrong, and most of those would probably involve my head meting the desk several times quite forcibly^^°
You'll be pleasantly surprised, I think. Thank you as always!
azumeow wrote:The Master of Romance is back in action!
I laugh at this, if only because I know the hows and whys of this story, and it makes this even funnier than it should be. xD
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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Act 2, Chapter 5 - Drinks (Before Dinner)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Mon Jan 18, 2016 6:02 pm

As I step off the bus, I find myself looking around the city in wonder. For better or worse, I didn’t spend all that much time here during my time at Yamaku. Most of it was spent in the Shanghai or Student Council room.

I make a mental note to actually explore the place when I have time. Right now, I do not, because I was unfortunate enough to miss one bus, and this one has dropped me off a quarter-mile from my destination with seven or so minutes until I will be late and have to confront that most heart-wrenching of sights: a disappointed Misha.

It occurs to me that I’m not entirely certain what that sight will look like. Sure, it hasn’t been THAT long, just a year or so. That’s not enough time for Misha’s hair to grow out into the drills that Shizune (and I, to be completely fair on the subject) used to love so much.

Her hair could be...not pink, also. I don’t actually know what her natural hair color is, except that I’m fairly certain it’s not pink. I am used to pink, though. Seeing it as not pink would be the sort of thing that could lead to my brain breaking.

I make my way through the crowded streets more slowly than I’d like. My mind wanders to Lilly - how does she manage with crowds like this? She seems to have solutions to everything, but this seems as if it would be extremely difficult. It’s something I want to ask her, but I know I won’t.

Maybe it’s because, even today, I still find it difficult to talk about my own condition with people, but I try not to ask questions unless absolutely necessary. Even if she is my mentor.

I pull out my cell phone and push several buttons to bring up the directions that I hastily copied down this morning when I woke up. After reading a bit, I get the gist of things: one more left turn, and it should be there on the right.

My feet move faster as the minutes tick away. The five remaining become four and three far too quickly. I have two left as I round the corner, and look down the street hopefully. I breathe a sigh of relief as I spot the place. From the outside, it looks young and hip - two things that I am most certainly not. In terms of numbers, I may be young, but my soul feels a bit older every year, growing exponentially more so in comparison to my actual age.

With one minute to go, I open the door. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, and am deeply happy to not be met by loud, blaring music or a lot of people.

What I do see is a fairly nice looking bar area with a bunch of high-topped tables, and a handful of television sets playing various sporting events. It’s early enough so as not to be particularly crowded, with only a few die-hards seated at the bar itself, sipping away at beer or harder liquor.

What, or rather, who I don’t see is Misha. That’s slightly relieving, at least, as it means no disappointed Misha face. The disappointed Misha face is heartbreaking in ways that make me consider for split seconds the truth of Kenji’s crazy conspiracy theories.

I make a move towards one of the high-top tables, and sit in the seat facing away from the door. I know how this likely means I’ll be greeted, and am, in fact, encouraging it. It’s been a few years since I’ve gotten to play Misha’s favorite guessing game.

Even that expectation, though, is let down. A moment or two later I hear the words “Hello Hicchan!” and turn my head to face the only person it can possibly be.

She is standing there, and it is all I can do to not gasp. Her hair (thankfully) is still pink, but now hangs down to her shoulders, combed straight. She’s wearing a smart looking blouse and a sensible skirt. Professional Misha is a sight to behold. A pleasant, pleasant sight.

“Wow,” I say, because it’s about all that I can manage to get out. “I almost don’t recognize you, Misha.”

She laughs - a familiar, wonderful sound - even as she slides into the seat across from me. “That’s because I dress like a teacher now,” she says, a serious look on her face that’s total whiplash from her usual boisterous laughter. “I can be serious sometimes too, Hicchan. But~! It’s not as much fun, you know?”

I nod. There’s also the fact that she teaches younger children, so being boisterous works in her favor sometimes. “Definitely not as much fun,” I agree. “I’m pretty much serious Hisao all the time.”

“But that’s how you always were, Hicchan,” she points out, practically waving down a waitress halfway across the bar. “Always so serious,” By the time the waitress arrives, Misha orders a rum and coke. For lack of any better ideas, I order one as well.

“I wasn’t that serious, was I,” I ask, trying to remember. Really, I hadn’t perceived myself as particularly serious until after Yamaku, once I had a goal in mind. Yamaku, really, was about figuring out that goal and how to live with a condition that I’d once thought would dominate and destroy my life.

Misha nods her head firmly, and I sigh. “You were, Hicchan,” she says. “It’s okay, though! Being serious is okay as long as you know how to have fun, too!”

It sounds like a slightly modified piece of Shizune advice, which, all things considered, is pretty understandable. Misha’s face tightens in concentration, as if weighing whether or not it’s worth to say what’s on her mind. It’s kind of adorable.

The end result is anything but.

“Did you ever get Shicchan’s letter?” she asks, and my entire body tenses. I knew, deep down, that there had to be some ulterior motive for this entire trip. As it turns out, it was the ulterior motive I’d expected all along, meaning that I’m fully prepared to handle it.

“I did, Misha,” I say, pausing only to order a second rum and coke. The waitress looks at me strangely, and in response, I finish my first drink, shotgunning it in front of her, then repeat my request. Given where this conversation might go? I’ll probably need it.

Misha looks vaguely impressed at how fast I downed the drink, and I take that moment to move on. “I can’t reply to it. What does she want me to say? Everything wrapped up fairly neatly when we last spoke. What else needs to be said?”

Misha’s cheeks puff in something resembling disappointment. She shakes her head, but there is sympathy in her eyes. No one on Earth knows Shizune as well as Misha - not me, and not even Shizune herself.

“You’re important to her, Hi--Hisao,” she says, and I know things are serious if she’s dropped the ‘Hicchan’ for this conversation. “She wants you to forgive her, and she wants you in her life - before you say anything, I know you’ve forgiven her. But…”

“...she won’t be convinced that I’ve forgiven her until I’m back in her life. Right?”

It’s scary how well I’ve come to understand Shizune over the years. Misha can do nothing but nod her head helplessly.

“You’re right, Hicchan,” she says, suddenly finding the remaining few drops of her rum and coke exceedingly interesting. I didn’t even notice, but she drank it almost as fast as I did. “I know it’s not fair, but I had to try.”

“I understand,” is about all I can get out. My second drink arrives, and I down half of it in a few quick swallows. “She’s your best friend. The most important person in your life. You’d do anything for her, right?”

Misha nods her head, almost automatically. “Even when it’s unreasonable,” she agrees. “We know that best, don’t we?”

We do, Misha. We most certainly do. I don’t say it, though. I just nod my head, shifting a little uncomfortably in my seat. “Can we talk about something else, please,” I ask. “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you again. I’d rather us not focus on depressing things. Unless this is the only reason you came?”

I’m not the best hurt puppy in the world, but I can do a reasonable impression of one when I want to. It’s effective enough on Misha that she actually takes me off guard by leaping from her seat and flinging both of her arms around my neck.

“Of course not, Hicchan~!” she says, as if offended by the mere idea. “I wanted to see you! So much!”

It’s the sort of thing that a red-blooded man can’t hear without his heart skipping a beat. In my case, that’s a dangerous thing, but thankfully I’ve been blessed with enough opportunities since Yamaku to learn this particular, more positive beat-skipping situation.

The fact that Misha’s breasts are pressing against my chest is also impossible to ignore, especially considering this hug is going on. And on. And on.

Only when I finally wonder if she’ll ever let go does she finally actually disengage, returning to her seat with a very, very serious look on her face.

“You’re not mad at me, are you,” she asks, before appending “for bringing her up?” to the end of the question. I shake my head. I’m not mad at her. Not at all, really. I knew that the question of Shizune would come up. It had to come up. She was the person that had brought the two of us together to begin with.

“No, Misha,” I say. “I’m not mad at you. I don’t think I’ve ever really been mad at you. I’m not mad at her, either. I just…”

I have moved on. Sort of. So has she. I know she has.

And yet, this. I can almost hear her voice in my head, criticizing me. Asking me why I’m not willing to see her if I’ve forgiven her. It’s a question that is perfectly logical to her, and yet would make no sense to 95% of the population.

Most of that 95% of the world would understand my decision on this matter. Whether or not they agreed with it? That would be another story entirely, but most of them would understand me.

“I wish she’d respect my decision,” I finally say. “She doesn’t have to like it, just respect it.”

Misha looks at me sadly. “We both know that won’t happen, Hicchan.”

With that, she orders another rum and coke. I can’t say that I blame her.

* * *

With the topic of Shizune tabled for the foreseeable future, things have much improved. Two drinks is enough for me, given what I have planned later, and Misha stops at three - which is enough to make a happy, bubbly, bouncy sort of person more of all of the above.

“Soooo,” she practically purrs, “how’s Yamaku? It must be so exciting!”

“That’s one word for it,” I reply, with a grin. “Honestly? It’s kind of strange, because it’s like teaching a class of, well, us. I could see us in my class really easily. I have a lot of characters, too, but that seems to be the case no matter where you teach.”

Misha grins widely and nods her head. From what she’s told me, younger children can be even bigger characters, because they haven’t learned what things not to say.

“And in sign, too,” she says. “I’m really impressed! Especially since you know how hard it is!”

“It’s gotten easier over the years, honestly,” I admit. “It’s like second nature now. I never thought I’d get that good when you were trying to teach it to me on the rooftop.”

“You remember that,” Misha asks, seemingly surprised. “That was so long ago!”

It was. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago. Misha is impossible to forget, though, and not just for the pink hair. I reproach myself for staying away from her for this long; I don’t have that many good friends in the world, and she just might be the best.

“Of course I do. I also credit that teaching experience of yours with where you are today. I accept thank-yous in the form of free drinks.”

It’s rare that I actually manage to catch Misha off-guard, but I’ve finally succeeded. She shakes her head even as she laughs.

“What about all my hard work and studying,” she asks, her bottom lip quivering and I put on my best “nope, not going to work’ face.

“Important,”I admit, “but not as important as your first student.”

“I guess that’s right, Hicchan~” she says, finally brightening up as she thinks of a comeback. “If I can teach you, that means I can teach anyone, right? Right?”

I glance at my phone - and promptly panic. It’s way later than I thought - and I have about thirty minutes until I’m supposed to meet Lilly at the bus station.

Misha picks up on my panic immediately. “What’s wrong, Hicchan,” she asks, trying to fight the amused smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Nothing major,” I say, hastily stuffing my phone back into my pocket, “I just have to meet Lilly for dinner in a half--”

Only then do I realize what I’ve said, and who I’ve said it to. The word “hour” dies on my lips, and I suddenly wish that crawling under the high-topped table was an option.

“Lilly,” Misha asks, her brow furrowing in thought. “Satou-san, Lilly? Why might you be meeting her for dinner?”

The smile on Misha’s face only grows deeper - which is actually a good thing, considering what I’m most worried about right now is this particular piece of information finding its way to Misha’s best friend.

“She’s my mentor teacher at Yamaku,” I say, quickly. Almost too quickly, really. “We’re meeting to go over my progress so far, and -- I really don’t like that look on your face, Misha...:”

“It’s okay, Hicchan~!” she says, her face lit up with amusement. “I understand! Really! I won’t tell Shicchan either!”

She leans across the table, almost conspiratorially close - and it inadvertently (I think) gives me an surprisingly impressive (given how sensible her blouse looks at first glance) view of her cleavage.

“So where are you two going on your date? Somewhere romantic?”

It occurs to me that I have no idea where we’re going. I look down at myself and am somewhat thankful that I decided to wear something reasonably nice, just in case.

“She’s picking,” I admit, “so I don’t know.”

“Oooh, how gentlemanly, letting the lady pick!” Misha is having entirely too much fun with this, and yet it’s hard for me to deny it to her. Misha having fun is one of those things that makes me smile, even if she’s probably making fun of me a little bit.

“It’s not a date,” I manage, trying to impress this concept into her mind. “What says that a guy and a girl can’t go out for dinner as friends?”

“Nothing, Hicchan! Nothing at all! But! Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a date? I don’t think you’d mind that at all!”

“Don’t be silly,” I retort, smirking at her, and recalling a conversation from time long past. “The one I like is you.”

I expect another quick retort, but none comes. The smile I get in return is equal parts longing and sad, and it catches me off guard.

“You know I would return those feelings if I could, right?” It is a remarkably serious question, and I realize that I have stepped upon ground that likely should not have been walked on. My shoulders slump, and I nod, slowly at first, but then more vigorously.

“I do, Misha. Thank you. That means more than I can say.”

The comment seems to brighten her spirits a little bit, and she looks up, flagging down the waitress again. This time, it’s to settle our bill. I’m impressed - I figure she’s doing it because she knows I’m on a time limit that I almost entirely forgot. She reaches for her wallet, and I shake my head.

“I’ve got this, Misha. Think of it as an apology for it being so long since seeing each other.”

For a moment, I think she’ll fight it, but she finally nods and smiles. “If you insist, Hicchan. Lilly will be so pleased with your gentlemanliness!”

When the bill arrives, I dig into my pocket, pulling out several bills to cover our fairly modest tab. I consider a joking comment about Misha being a cheap date, but given the last few moments, I decide against it almost immediately.

“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” I ask, rising to my feet. Misha follows suit, and we leave the bar together. Hesitating a bit outside the entrance, I wonder exactly how we’re going to say goodbye to one another.

Fortunately, Misha decides to take the initiative.

“Good luck with your date, Hicchan~!”

Misha and I hug, remaining in each other’s embrace for a little too long, as if enjoying something familiar that we both wonder if we’ll ever be able to properly experience again. Her lips brush against my cheek, and I feel my face warming. It’s chaste for sure, and yet it’s been so long since I’ve felt proper physical affection that it threatens to reduce me to a tomato.

“Good luck with your classes, Misha,” I manage to say, after a moment of two of being tongue-tied. “I’ll see you soon, okay? Next time, I’ll come visit you.”

She smiles and nods happily. Moments later, we’re both walking in opposite directions - Misha towards the train station, a slight wobble in her step, and me towards the bus station to go meet my mentor. Thankfully, I didn’t drink anywhere near enough to make me wobble, which is good, considering my day is nowhere near over.

Misha’s teasing comment rings in my ears as I walk. I know she meant it as a joke, but I can’t help but wondering. What makes an outing between a guy and a girl a date, anyway?

Between that, the rather...awkward exchange with Misha about our feelings, and the general disquiet that having to think about my former significant other tends to create? I’ve got about a ten minute walk to get myself in better spirits.

I’m not optimistic, but I’ll do my best,
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi

Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.

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swampie2
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Re: Act 2, Chapter 5 - Drinks (Before Dinner)

Post by swampie2 » Mon Jan 18, 2016 8:59 pm

Once again, I can't stop thinking about what Hisao did to Shizune.

Great chapter!
One Shots - My stories thread.

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Sharp-O
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/18!)

Post by Sharp-O » Tue Jan 19, 2016 5:27 pm

It seems Misha was more involved than I previously thought but apart from the serious moments, an incredibly fun encounter! I can't wait to how Hisao's (not)date goes!

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