The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 4/16!)

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Blank Mage
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Re: Act 2, Chapter 1 - Point of View

Post by Blank Mage » Sat Jul 04, 2015 2:31 pm

I only just remembered that I never actually commented on this! Whoops.

Well, not that there's much to say. Not much happens in this chapter. There's the letter, of course, but that's only a precursor to real drama, which I was already anticipating.
I want to think of her happily, even now. How can I, though? How can I remember her with a smile on my face when...
Image
No. That's not the path I want to go down. It'll waste an entire Sunday.
Image

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

Of course, it goes without saying that I'm a little disappointed in Hisao's lack of initiative here, but I think the overdue nature of his response would certainly go a long way towards helping him rationalize his apathy. I can think of a dozen projects that I dropped, simply because I was so behind that it was functionally the same thing.
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."
"I think you just did."
"No, I really, truly haven't."

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 6/30!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:02 pm

Thanks for reading, Blank. xD

"Initiative" and "Hisao" are generally not things that always go together, though you may appreciate his behavior in the next chapter a bit more.

Which will be posted rather shortly, as I'm done editing~
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 2 - Road Construction

Post by Puncyclopedia » Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:09 pm

Sometimes, I wonder why the world works in the ways that it does. It's truly mindboggling. If you'd told me seven years ago, for instance, that I would be waiting outside the apartment of my girlfriend's hated rival/cousin to walk with her to work, I would have called you insane, and probably tried to sic Shizune on you to boot.

Now, though? It's early o'clock on Monday morning, and I've just pushed the small button that sends a buzzing noise to Lilly Satou's apartment, letting her know that I'm here to walk with her to Yamaku.

A minute or so passes before she emerges from the door of the apartment building, dressed tastefully in a dark blue blazer and matching skirt that comes to an inch or two below her knees. Dress clothing suits her much better than it does me – I've heard that I'm being called “Mutoh, Jr.” behind my back, and not just because I teach science like he does, either.

“Good morning, Hisao,” she says. She waits for me to reply with a “hello” of my own before orienting herself and walking the (very) short distance over to me. I look at her in surprise as slender fingers take hold of the collar of my suit jacket. “Shall we be off, then?”

I nod – and only belatedly say “yes.” As we begin walking, I realize how much sense it makes – it means I won't accidentally wander away from her, or walk too fast. With her cane in her other hand, I briefly wonder how she can carry her things, until I see the backpack slung over her shoulders. A bit less formal than the rest of her attire, but it does the trick – and leaves both her hands free.

This does, however, put Lilly squarely in my personal space. I wonder if she can sense that as we walk. It doesn't seem to bother her in the least if she can. Not that it bothers me, exactly...it's just a little strange.

First world problems, Hisao, having a pretty teacher in your personal space.

“How was your weekend,” Lilly asks, startling me from my thoughts. I recognize it for what it is; an effort to make conversation. Otherwise, walking with me in utter silence would be fairly awkward.

“Okay, I guess. I got my work done. Otherwise, it was a little boring.” I can't tell her that my weekend consisted largely of grading papers, despairing at my breakup with Shizune, and spending a large part of Sunday at Yamaku talking to a student. I don't even really want to remember that was how it actually went, either.

“I could say the same thing,” she admits, a soft, out-of-place sigh falling from her mouth. “I don't exactly have much of a social life here.”

That surprises me, if only because it seemed like Lilly knew everyone and anyone in Yamaku back when we were in school together.

“Are you surprised,” she asks, after another moment of quiet. It's as if she can sense that my mouth was hanging open in shock, which is a bit unnerving.

“Well, yes,” I'm forced to admit. “You seemed fairly popular in school, so I'd assume you'd make friends easily.” It seems a reasonable assumption, so being wrong on it is disconcerting. Maybe I'm getting worse at reading people, which doesn't even seem possible.

“I have some friends here,” she admits, “but the vast majority of the teachers here, if you have noticed, are all ten years older than us, at least. We're the two youngest teachers at Yamaku by...quite a margin.”

I hadn't noticed. This might be largely because I haven't actually interacted with most of my fellow teachers yet, outside of brief hellos in the hallways or the faculty office. I should probably get on that, really.

“We are?” was the best I could do, and I cringed a bit as Lilly shook her head. I couldn't tell if she was surprised, disappointed, or a little bit of both.

“Yes,” she insists. “Most of them are married. Many have children. Other than teaching, I really don't have much in common with them. It makes friendships beyond a superficial level somewhat difficult.”

I'm about to ask about her university friends when I remember that they're in Scotland.

“I went to university in Scotland,” she continues, and I'm pleased that, for once, I'm ahead of the topic of discussion. It's a rare occurrence, so I should enjoy it while I can. “All of my friends are there. We speak on the phone every so often, but...”

It's not the same. I know that feeling. I still have some friends from university as well. We chat over email every so often, but they're strewn about Japan now, and it's not like I have the time to go see them.

“I get it,” I say, the scenery shifting from the homes and businesses of town to the open space and rolling hills of the road leading to Yamaku Academy. We've been walking about ten minutes, but it doesn't even feel like half of that. “I'm in the same boat, honestly.”

Lilly brightens at that. It's enough to be noticeable, a slight pep in her step and a small smile on her face. “I'm glad to hear that, Hisao,” she says, and then immediately panics. “Well, no, not exactly, but you know what I mean, right?”

It's terrible of me, but I enjoy seeing Lilly flustered. She's almost too composed, normally, which is intimidating in a way that I never really learned to deal with. Shizune wore her heart on her sleeve, as did Misha. Considering how much time I spent with those two over the years, I suppose it's little wonder I never learned how to deal with Lilly better at the reunions.

I wonder how she'd react if I told her so?

“I do,” I agree, nodding in spite of myself. “It's okay. It's kind of nice to see you a bit flustered, you know.”

She stops walking at that. I stop, too, so as not to end up potentially being choked by my own collar. Lilly turns to face me – unnecessary given her condition, but this, seemingly, is something she thinks is important. She's taller than I am right now, too, in her shoes, making her even more intimidating than she can be on her own.

“Why is that, Hisao,” she asks. There's something hurt in her voice. I can tell that immediately. I can't exactly take back what I said, either. There's only one thing for me to do – tell the truth and hope that she doesn't hate me for it.

“I didn't mean anything bad by it,” I say, knowing that if she doesn't like what I have to say, those words won't actually soften it must. “You just always seem so composed. So well put together. And I'm...well, not. I never have been, really, not even before everything happened and I ended up at Yamaku.”

All these years later, and I still can barely make myself talk about it in direct terms.

Lilly's lips start moving, but she's not speaking aloud. For all the world, it looks like she's practicing what she wants to say before she says it. My tall, blonde, well-dressed heaves a deep, slow sigh before she lets herself say anything.

“That...is not the first time I've heard similar sentiments.” It's an effort for her to admit it, too, and she's clearly unhappy at having to do so. This entire conversation is the most strained I've ever seen Lilly, but it's a familiar sort of strained to me – the internal battle of saying too little versus potentially saying too much.

“Lilly, I,” I start, in an effort to defuse the situation, but she waves a hand at me.

“No, Hisao,” she says, firmly. It's a little terrifying, actually. “Just...let me speak. This is hard for me, but I think this is something I have to say.”

She stands up straight, with perfect posture. Her entire person is radiating a sort of determination that's rather familiar to me, and makes me wonder if it runs in the family.

“I'm not as composed as you think I am – or anyone else thinks I am. That is my fault, not yours. Some people hide things better than others. I am - and always have been – quite good at hiding things.”

By her standards, it's practically an outburst. I understand almost instantly why it's happening, too. There's no one else for her to tell. She has no friends here. She's alone, just like I am. She's my mentor. I'm her mentee. Beyond that, though, we're friends and have shared experiences together.

I'm the only person she can tell.

“I'm good enough at hiding it,” Lilly says, quietly, “that I started attracting people that weren't good at hiding it. My flock, as some took to calling it. I could help everyone except myself. There was no one to confide in, except my sister, and her hours were best described as inhumane.”

I remember only then that her parents were in Scotland for a huge chunk of Lilly's life. Lilly and...Akira, I think? - lived together alone. I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for her.

“It is amazing how convincing a smile can be,” she whispers, shaking her head even as the corners of her mouth turn up in a smile. It's heartbreaking to see, and it breaks something inside of me. I can't be silent now. Not anymore. I have to say something. Anything.

“You can confide in me, Lilly.” I'm astonished at just how convincing those words sound in my ears as I say them. No matter how true most of what I say is, I never like how it sounds. This? This sounds like gospel by comparison.

“Can I, Hisao,” she asks. “Can I, truly?” The look on her face can't be interpreted as anything other than skeptical. I'm going to have to convince her. That's okay, though. I'd probably have to convince myself, too, if I were in her shoes.

“Yes, you can,” I say, firmly. “Just because I have my own litany of problems doesn't mean that I can't listen to yours. Burdens are lighter when we share them.”

Where the Hell did that last little bit of sunshine come from? It was corny enough that I almost laughed at myself, no matter how true it was. Of course, I was somewhat of a hypocrite in that regard, but then, wasn't this what we'd promised one another? That we'd confide our darkest secrets in one another when we were ready?

“You're already confiding in me anyway,” I point out. “I don't know what happened between you and Hanako, but what you've told me today seems equally serious, and equally something that you wouldn't tell to just anyone.”

Lilly's shoulders slump forward as a wry smile curves her mouth. “I suppose you're right,” and I'm rewarded for being correct with a cute little pout and a sigh of acceptance. Just as quickly, though, she turns things right back around again, leaving my head spinning.

“That doesn't mean that you can't confide in me as well, Hisao,” she insists. “I know as much as anyone how difficult it is to be the one everyone confides in and not having anyone to confide in.”

It's a very...Shizune bit of aikido. Still, I can't do much about it. I'd be the biggest hypocrite on Earth if I tried to fight it now.

“Alright, alright,” I say, pretending to heave a dramatic sigh. “I understand. It's a two way street. I'm the one who advocated for this, anyway, so I can't really complain.”

The smile goes from wry to almost playful. “I'm glad you understand,” Lilly says. “It'll be a while before I'm ready to talk about Hanako, but there are a lot of other topics that I will accept your kind offer about. Hopefully you will not end up regretting your kindness, Hisao.”

I won't. I don't think there's anything she could tell me that would make me regret it. We're virtually alone here, two young teachers with no other friends, walking to school (and, at this rate, going to end up late if we don't pick up the pace) and confiding in one another.

It's nice to be wanted.

“Would you like me to tell you something that only a handful of people know,” I ask. In the grand scheme of things, the embarrassing thing I'm about to tell her doesn't really much matter anymore. If I want to be able to tell her about what happened with her cousin, though, I need to be able to trust her enough to say things like this, and this remains one of my more closely guarded secrets, even today.

“If I say yes,” she replies, sheepishly, “you won't think I'm a gossip, will you?”

“Of course not. I offered, right? Anyway...you know that I had a heart attack, and that's how the doctors found out I had arrhythmia, right?”

All these years later, and it's still a cold, cruel word that I don't want to be alone with. Thankfully, right now, I'm not alone.

Lilly nods, and I continue.

“Well, I...had just been confessed to when it happened, by a girl at my old school.”

My mentor's face contorts in strange and interesting ways. She's trying not to laugh. She won't permit herself to laugh, but she is struggling. In retrospect, it is funny, in a morbid sort of way.

“At least nothing happened when my cousin confessed to you,” she offers, a few moments later. I'm forced to shake my head.

“Actually, I confessed to her,” I point out. Again, Lilly seems surprised, and again, I don't blame her. It's easy to imagine Shizune as the aggressor in all things, including relationships, even if she could be remarkably traditional in certain ways. “Haven't been confessed to since, so if it ever happens again, here's hoping the medications hold out.”

“I'm sure they will, Hisao,” Lilly says. It's only then that I realize her hand hasn't left my collar this entire time. We've been scant feet apart this entire discussion. She looks almost shy for a moment, and then asks the last question I expected.

“May I feel your face, Hisao,” she asks. Perhaps realizing the request needs some explanation, she follows up immediately. “I would like to know what my current closest friend looks like, for lack of better phrasing.”

I nod dumbly for several seconds before realizing that I have to say “okay.”

The hand in my collar disengages finally as long, slender, elegant fingers make their way up the side of my neck. Her fingertips brush over my cheek, and then move sideways, over the contours of my nose and mouth. It is a strange feeling to be touched so intimately out of necessity, and when her fingers linger on my lips, it's all I can do to try not to blush.

Her hand finally settles in my hair, stroking through it briefly before her hand returns to my collar.

“Thank you, Hisao,” she says, and the smile that she gives me, an earnest smile, is more rewarding than I can imagine. Suddenly, though, the smile inverts. It doesn’t take me long to figure out what she’s worried about.

“We have been here quite a while. How long is it until we have to be at school?”

A quick reach into my pocket for my cell phone confirms my worst fears. “Fifteen minutes,” I groan. “If we walk fast, we'll be able to make it.”

“Can we walk fast,” she asks, “considering your--”

“Yes,” I say, cutting her off as delicately as I can manage. “I'm in much better condition than I was at Yamaku. Brisk walking is more normal for me now. I'll be fine, and we'll get there on time.”

As it turns out, we eventually arrive a minute or so late, but in the grand scheme of things, I will accept any reprimand Yamaku decides to give me. Some things, after all, are more important than timeliness.
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 7/4!)

Post by Sharp-O » Sun Jul 05, 2015 3:42 am

What a fantastic little piece of character interaction! It felt really genuine and I enjoyed it. Might be a mionor nitpick on my part but I did wonder why Lilly held onto Hisao's collar? Seems on odd place to hold if you're looking for guidance. Like if she was holding his tie, it'd look just as silly, right?

Excellent work, Pun. :)

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 7/4!)

Post by Alpacalypse » Sun Jul 05, 2015 4:23 am

I don't really know what to say about this chapter, other than that it was really rather good. :D

Also, as we are quite clearly going down a Lilly route at this point, perhaps actually confiding in and being honest with each-other might mean that we don't have the stupid ending this time around.

Finally, Sharp:
Sharp-O wrote:I did wonder why Lilly held onto Hisao's collar
Holding on to the collar means that Hisao is going to be less likely to speed up unannounced - he actually mentions not wanting to be choked at one point. Also, your arms tend to turn after your body does, so holding onto Hisao's collar would mean that Lilly has a better idea of when to turn.
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
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I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
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I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.


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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 7/4!)

Post by swampie2 » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:31 am

Great story and writing.

But I just wanna knoooow what happened :lol:
One Shots - My stories thread.

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 7/4!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Sun Jul 05, 2015 9:31 pm

Hoooray feedback!

@Sharp-O: Thank you very much for the kind words. Alpaca hit most of the reasons for the collar - there's one other one that will likely become more apparent in time, too, but that time's not quiiiite now.

@Alpaca: I think it's safe to call this a Lilly route at this point, yes. The Lilly of this story is a somewhat more open and vulnerable (even if she doesn't particularly enjoy either right now) person than the canon. Ideally, though, I'm not taking her too far away from the core of what she is. With Lilly, it's a game of degrees that I'm trying to be convincing on. Also thanks for covering the collar so I don't have to. xDD

@swampie: You'll find out what happened by the end of Act 2. I promise. ;)
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 7/4!)

Post by Blank Mage » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:39 am

Nicely written as always.

I've mentioned before that while I don't like Lilly, I'm okay with this Lilly, and this latest chapter perfectly illustrates why. I'd hate to feel self-important for no reason, but I can't help but wonder how much of this chapter was created as a direct result of, or at least from information gathering during, our epic Lilly debate. It certainly seems as though you've addressed every point I'd brought up, and in the process created a version of Lilly that I just can't find fault with. Her bad habits have had realistic consequences, her perfect exterior has isolated her from her peers, and she's now humble enough to admit these things about herself. This chapter alone garnered more sympathy from me than the entire vanilla Lilly Route.

Yeah, I can accept a Lilly End in this vein.
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."
"I think you just did."
"No, I really, truly haven't."

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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 7/4!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Wed Jul 08, 2015 2:43 pm

Blank Mage wrote:Nicely written as always.

I've mentioned before that while I don't like Lilly, I'm okay with this Lilly, and this latest chapter perfectly illustrates why. I'd hate to feel self-important for no reason, but I can't help but wonder how much of this chapter was created as a direct result of, or at least from information gathering during, our epic Lilly debate. It certainly seems as though you've addressed every point I'd brought up, and in the process created a version of Lilly that I just can't find fault with. Her bad habits have had realistic consequences, her perfect exterior has isolated her from her peers, and she's now humble enough to admit these things about herself. This chapter alone garnered more sympathy from me than the entire vanilla Lilly Route.

Yeah, I can accept a Lilly End in this vein.
This Lilly has been in the works basically since I started outlining the fic. When I sat down to ask myself how a Shizune Ending Hisao and Lilly would get along, I came to the conclusion of "not very" because canon Lilly hides enough that it would drive a Hisao used to Shizune's bluntness utterly insane.

As I'm sure you can tell, the "whys" for Hisao and Lilly are tied to the incidents in their past that I've been building to for, oh, basically ever. They will, ideally, explain why this Lilly is this Lilly and not the one from canon Katawa. I didn't want the entire fic to be about that, though, so revelations happen soon and then we get two acts of dealing with ramifications and a few other things you might be able to guess.

Our discussions have been good at making sure that I keep elements of the ORIGINAL Lilly in this, though. I love even canon Lilly with her faults, so making sure those faults come through when they need to is really important.
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 3 - An Unwanted Legacy

Post by Puncyclopedia » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:17 pm

Yes, it's been almost six months. It's a long story. Suffice it to say I'm back and planning to update on a more sane schedule. I'll update the first page later today. For now, the long overdue Act II, Chapter III!

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The last bell for the day rings as I sit down in my chair, exhausted. Some days of teaching are easier than others. This one is on the harder end of the spectrum, and that’s before I have to talk to two of my better students in class about the simple fact that they’re missing more classes than they’re attending.

If it was a simple matter of truancy, I could refer that to the administration. But Shinichirou and Kaede aren’t skipping class to go hang out at the Shanghai.

No, they’re engaging in the time-honored tradition of skipping class to go hang out at the Shanghai on official Student Council business.

Sure, that only happened once to the best of my knowledge, but the fact is that Student Council seems to be just as much of a full-time job now as it was when I went to Yamaku. I know who I can thank for that. I wonder if she’d be pleased about it.

Both of them are good students, but their grades are slipping. There’s no way they COULDN’T be slipping, given how little class they’ve been to. I haven’t had to stage an intervention as of yet as a teacher. To their credits, they both seemed to know what I wanted to talk to them about when I asked them to come by after school. They have two more minutes until they’re late.

Unsurprisingly, they both arrive at the room at the same time, Shinichirou leading the way, and Kaede rolling her way in behind. I find it odd that she uses an old-style chair instead of a newer electric one, but I’m sure she has her reasons.

“Sorry, teach,” Shinichirou says, looking a bit limp and exhausted. “We know why we’re here. Attendance is basically mandatory for school, and we’re not doing so well.”

Kaede nods as well, and they both look apologetic. There’s that, at least.

“I was figuring that the Student Council would have reverted back to its usual state after my year in it,” I said, shaking my head, unable to keep a wry smile off my face. “Instead, it seems like you guys do even more than I had to do.”

“It’s...pretty bad,” Kaede admits. “We heard rumors about how much the Council did. Until we became part of it, we had no idea. There’s like, twenty or thirty of us, and still too much work.”

Wait a minute, twenty or thirty? Back in my day…

Oh, God. I just thought the words “back in my day.” Someone put me out of my misery, please.

“Are the others missing class too,” I ask, in a desperate effort to keep the conversation on track and forget that I am an aging man in a merciless world.

“Yes,” Shinichirou replies, without missing a beat. “Kaede would be missing less, but she’s kind enough to stay and help when the work is piled to the ceiling. Most of the other class reps don’t. The Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer have similarly poor attendance records, if not worse.”

My own shoulders slump. Theoretically, I should have the power to say “you two have to come to class more than twice a week,” but somehow, I feel cowed by the awesome power of Yamaku’s Student Council. What do they do? And if they do so much, just what does the administration do?

“Things should get better soon, though,” Kaede chimes in, somewhat cheerfully. “The big festival is Sunday. After that, there’s no festivals again for a few months, so we should be able to return to our regularly scheduled learning.”

That’s...a few days away. I don’t want to be a pushover. At the same time, I remember how difficult putting festivals together was. From what I’ve heard, they’ve only gotten more elaborate and more ambitious since I graduated from Yamaku.

“If you promise me that, I can accept it,” I say. “Your grades are slipping, but still better than most of the class. How you two are doing it, I have no idea, honestly.”

“We study together,” Shinichirou chimed in. “At lunch, or before going to bed after working on stalls and budgets and who only knows what else. Not as much as we should, but we try.”

Kaede nods her head, to confirm the story.

“Why IS the Student Council so busy,” I ask, unable to resist the question that is, for me, the elephant in the room.

Shinichirou and Kaede share...interesting looks for a few moments, as if asking one another if it’s okay to answer that question. Finally, they both nod at the same time.

“You don’t know,” Kaede asks. “Your year, if the rumors are true, is what started it, right? A three person student council, with a mighty blue-haired president who ruled with an iron fist, her bubbly, pink-haired sidekick, and their…”

Kaede pauses, an almost wicked gleam in her eyes before she continues.

“...whipped male friend who carried the heavy things around and was smitten with both of them.”

“That’s how the story goes,” I ask. I’m proud of myself for getting that out with a dry mouth and tomato-red cheeks.

“In the rumors,” Shinichirou says, nodding, “yes, that’s how it went. If you’d like to change those rumors, you can tell us - but it probably won’t stop everyone else. Urban legend is urban legend for a reason, you know.”

I do. Very well. I thought I’d kept mostly out of the rumor mill. In retrospect, though, everyone knew Shizune. Everyone knew how...difficult she could be, at times. For me to hang around someone like that so much, of course people would make assumptions, either that I was sweet on her, or I was after Misha and Shizune was the penalty for spending time with Misha.

“I’d rather not, thanks,” I reply, shooting Kaede the most withering look I can imagine. She only smiles in response, as if warning me that she is far, far better at this game than I am, and can play it until I realize my folly. “But, yes, the three of us took on way, WAY more work than three people should have. We managed to convince two students to lead the Council the next year. That’s as much of the story as I know.”

Shinichirou and Kaede share thoughtful looks, as if debating which one of them is going to explain the story. The Student Council President finally wins out.

“Those two girls managed to recruit five more people to help them, after you left. It took a few years, but before long, fifteen to twenty people in Student Council was normal. More and more students had ideas, and the administration was very willing to let the Student Council run social events and a whole lot more. You know those manga where the Student Council is absurdly powerful?”

I nod my head. If one listened to Kenji, Yamaku Academy had one of them back in our day. I could only imagine what he thought of things now.

“We’re kind of like that, except there’s no cute little monsters to gather or swords to wield,” Kaede chimes in. “I’ve got friends in schools all over the place, and none of them have a Council that does anywhere near as much as we do. For the most part it’s fine, because we have a lot of people, but the festivals still get busy. We have past festivals to live up to, after all.”

It made a disturbing amount of sense, all told. Somehow, I felt that the Student Council had more work to do than I did, and I was buried in work most of the time.

“Just promise me that after the festival you’ll come to class every so often,” I ask. “I don’t think that’s an unreasonable request for a teacher to make.”

Both of the students nod their heads in unison.

“We’re looking forward to it, actually,” Kaede says. “Especially Shinichiro here. I think he’s having buyer’s remorse on this whole “Student Council President” thing.”

Shinichiro is taken aback by this release of information, and turns to look at his compatriot. Kaede, for her part, simply shrugs, as if to say “I know you wanted to say it, but you never would have, so I did it for you.” She waves to me lazily, then turns around, wheeling her way towards the door.

I don’t have the heart to stop her. Besides, I have a somewhat upset-looking Student Council President to console right now.

“Don’t worry,” I offer, trying my best to be both professional and considerate at the same time. “Nothing that’s said in this room will leave it. If you don’t want to talk, that’s fine too.”

There’s a depressingly large part of me that hopes he won’t take me up on my offer to talk. I have papers to grade at home. I shake my head even as I think it, though. What kind of teacher am I, anyway?

“Did you ever think about quitting the Student Council, Nakai-sensei?” comes out of his mouth, unprompted. I reply before I even think about it too hard.

“All the time,” I say, chuckling at my own vehemence. “Mostly when I was staying up until 11:00 PM to finish hammering together stalls while wondering why I agreed to join the Student Council in the first place.”

By the time the thought is half out of my mouth, I know what the follow-up question is. What it has to be. I want to stop it from happening, but there is nothing I can do. Shinichirou is an innocent. He doesn’t know why I don’t want to answer this question.

“Why did you stay?”

Crap. There it is. There is no escape.

I could dodge the question, but that’s not very Hisaolike. If Shinichirou really IS doubting why he’s doing this, I owe him the honest truth, no matter how unflattering it might be.

“I stayed because of the two of them,” I reply. “Shizune and Misha. The rest of the Student Council. My best friends.”

“So,” he says, brightening up a bit, “the rumors were true, then?”

My mouth hangs open for two very long seconds, before he shakes his head.

“Sorry for that. I’m not serious. Kaede might be, but I’m not. I understand wanting to help out one’s friends. Everyone told me that I’d make a great President, so I decided to run. And now I’m too busy to do...well, almost anything else.”

The look on his face is almost embarrassed, as if he realizes just how in over his head he is. I can empathize with that expression; it looks very similar to the one I had on my face for most of my early time with Shizune and Misha and student council activities.

“If there’s that many of you,” I ask, “would it be possible for someone else to take on the role of President?” It seems the obvious question. Shizune would be very disappointed in me, but I’ve come to realize very quickly that it’s difficult to help other people when you’re in dire need of help yourself.

Shinichirou frowns, but nods his head. “I’m sure it is, and that there are no shortage of candidates to do so. It just...feels like failing. I don’t like failing.”

“No one does,” finds its way out of my mouth before I know it. “This is just one thing, though. What do you want to do when you get out of here?”

As expected, he has an answer at the ready.

“I want be an engineer,” he says. “Probably aerospace, but I haven’t decided on that yet.”

“And you need good grades to do that,” I say. “Which means focusing on your studies and coming to class is important. I’m more than willing to stay after to help you catch up, if that’s necessary. I’m not saying Student Council isn’t important, believe me. I know two people who’d kill me if I ever said that. but…”

I leave the statement open-ended. I think he gets the point, though.

“I’ll take you up on the extra help,” my student says, sighing again. “As for Student Council...I’ll think about it. The festival is at the end of the week, so I think I’ll wait until the giant pile of built up work is conquered and then seriously think about what I have to do.”

“That sounds like a good idea,” I agree. “The giant piles of built up work weren’t very much fun when it was three of us. I can’t imagine it’s gotten much better now that you do practically everything.”

Shinichirou’s grimace confirms that for me without saying a thing.

“I’ve got to get going, though,” he says. “Back to the festival salt mines. You understand, don’t you?”

“More than I’d like to admit,” is the only thing I can say. “Just remember to let me know if you need help, okay?”

He nods his head, and moments later is headed for the door, the weight of the hopes and dreams of Yamaku’s student body wedged between slender shoulders.

Once he’s out of the classroom, I hurry to gather my things together. I have a mentor to escort back to her apartment, and a head full of memories both pleasant and... less so.
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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Alpacalypse
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Location: Britbongistan

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

Post by Alpacalypse » Sun Jan 03, 2016 12:53 pm

Ooooo, it's alive again. And it has retained its snarky, self-aware semi-gallows humour. Wunderbar!
Good to have you back, Pun! :)
I am the harbinger of your destruction... By herbivorous, mountain dwelling quadrupeds... fear me
---
I also write now, apparently. Since everyone else does it, I'm putting it here
---
I have also discovered that I'm a decent proofreader. Anybody with SPaG problems is free to PM me their work for a thorough analysis and/or evisceration. Depends on how I'm feeling.

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Mirage_GSM
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

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

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:12 pm

It took me quite a while to completely place this story...
An extended hiatus will do that ^^°
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Puncyclopedia
Posts: 102
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Re: The Benefit of Hindsight (updated 1/3!)

Post by Puncyclopedia » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:35 pm

Alpacalypse wrote:Ooooo, it's alive again. And it has retained its snarky, self-aware semi-gallows humour. Wunderbar!
Good to have you back, Pun! :)
That much will never go away, it's the only way I know how to write Hisao. ;p
Mirage_GSM wrote:It took me quite a while to completely place this story...
An extended hiatus will do that ^^°
Apologies on the hiatus. To make a long story short, business school happened - I thought I'd be able to maintain my usual schedule through semester one, but that was very, very much not the case. With that semester over, my internship for the summer secured, and a better schedule (and more down time) going forward, though, I should be able to continue this.

One of my New Year's resolutions was to take care of unfinished business in my life. Between that, and how much I missed writing this (and the kindness of the denizens of this here forums), it was an easy call.
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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