An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako; Complete)

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Hanako Fancopter
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:41 pm

Alright, I changed some of Lilly's dialogue there. Hopefully she comes off as clearly trying to nudge Hanako in a certain direction without being quite as direct and overbearing about it.

Thanks for the feedback, btw--I really appreciate the help.

---

Chapter 13: Connection

Hanako had thought Lilly understood that. She groaned under her breath as a knock came at her door. It was dark out now; no doubt Lilly had come to check on her again before going to sleep, unable to help herself. Well, Hanako didn’t feel like answering. Lilly would get the message after trying a couple more times. Sure enough, there came another knock.

“…Hacchan?”


Misha? Hanako got up and approached the door cautiously, as if unsure that it could really be her.

“…M-misha?” she asked tentatively.

“Yes, Hacchan. It’s me.”

Hanako opened the door just enough to show her face. Half of it, to be more accurate.

“Wh-what do you want?”

Misha didn’t seem to have any of her usual energy. In fact she looked exhausted. Her eyes were red and puffy. Had she been crying? The thought of Misha crying just felt wrong somehow… it was probably from fatigue.

“I…”

For once, it was Misha that seemed at a loss for words.

“W-would you like to come in?” Hanako asked, her previous feelings of anger and annoyance melting away.

Misha nodded and stepped inside, Hanako closing the door behind her. They stood and looked at each other for a moment, then looked away simultaneously.

“Umm…”

Unsure of what else to do, Hanako crossed to the bed and sat down on it, giving a pointed glance to indicate that Misha could join her. Misha accepted the offer, sitting down with her hands between her legs.

“I’m glad to see you, M-misha, but… why are you here?”

“I… I wanted to talk to you, Hacchan. I think… yeah. Just talk~.”

“A-alright… umm… are you o-okay?” Hanako asked.

“What? Yeah, I’m fine, Hacchan. I’m good~! Aha~!” she said, bouncing back to life a bit, but they both knew it was an automatic response, not a real one. “…I don’t know, Hacchan,” Misha amended her statement, shoulders slumping as she seemed to visibly deflate.

“What’s wrong?”

Misha looked up at her with sad eyes. It hurt Hanako a bit to see them. She guessed Misha didn’t really have to answer that.

“I-I don’t like it either… when they f-fight…” Hanako said, looking down at her hands in turn.

“It’s not just that, Hacchan. I was just thinking… I’ve been really terrible, especially to you.”

“Wh-what?”

“This is my fault, Hacchan. I just thought it would be so~ fun to sneak off and see you, then Shicchan followed me, and… and…”

“Misha…”

Inwardly, Hanako couldn’t help but feel some disbelief that Misha would really blame herself for something like this. She put a hand on Misha’s shoulder with a bit of hesitation, her grip gaining confidence when Misha didn’t shy away from it.

“Y-you can’t say that, Misha… you didn’t mean to do anything bad,” Hanako said.

“No~, Hacchan, no no… if I hadn’t done that, then~, then, you wouldn’t have had to help me like you did, and today, things wouldn’t…”

Hanako wasn’t sure what to say to this. She opened her mouth to speak but Misha suddenly looked up at her with an intense expression.

“You shouldn’t do something like that for me, Hacchan!” Misha said, slapping the bed beside her for emphasis. “You can’t just… get yourself in trouble, because I did something stupid! Okay?! It’s not right!”

Hanako was taken aback for a moment, then her own expression hardened a bit as well.

“I-I did it because I had to stop them fighting. You… no one m-made me do it,” she said.

She squeezed Misha’s shoulder, seeing the other girl visibly relax as she continued speaking.

“We c-can’t get mad at each other about it, okay? We can’t f-fight like they do…”

Misha sighed.

“You’re right, Hacchan~. I’m sorry I got loud…”

“It’s fine. R-remember what Shic-chan said… don’t a-apologize too much.”

This earned her a smile.

“Waha, yep, yep~!” Misha said, kicking her legs a bit. “Shicchan says apologies are overrated~! But~, sometimes, I wish she and Lilly could do it…”

“Do what?”

“Say they’re sorry and make up. They really are terrible to each other, Hacchan, and I’m just… I’m so tired of it…”

Misha put her head down into her hands, rubbing her temples and sniffling. Hanako could tell she was close to tears after all, trying to hold them in. Another thing she had plenty of experience with herself.

“M-me too… I hate it. Wh-why do they have to be so a-a-awful like th-that?”

“I don’t know, Hacchan~. I don’t know. I have to translate for Shicchan all day in class then we work all night because of the festival then we have to see Lilly and the other class reps and none of them really like Shicchan but Lilly is the worst so I have to talk to them for Shicchan and say mean things because Shicchan is being mean to them even if I don’t want to be mean to them and, and… it’s hard, H-hacchan…”

Misha buried her face deeper into her palms and sobbed a couple of times. Hanako felt a tear roll down her own cheek… she hadn’t even realized when she teared up too. Normally she would flee in shame if anyone saw her cry, but here, with Misha… she felt strangely calm about it. Maybe it was because her sadness was more for Misha than for herself. Hanako spent so much time alone that she took it for granted. When did Misha last have any time for herself?

Hanako rubbed Misha’s shoulder gently while the other girl shook with a few more silent sobs, slowly moving it down to pat her on the back. She wasn’t sure if this was really how you were supposed to comfort someone but it seemed to work fine…

“…I-is that why you came to see me, Misha?” Hanako asked. “I-in the library?”

“I guess so, Hacchan. I think I just wanted to get away from everything for a little bit. Sometimes I’m jealous of you, Hacchan~. Sometimes I wish I could just stay in the library and read with you…”

“I th-think I know what you mean…”

Misha sniffed one more time before looking back up.

“Aww, Hacchan~! Don’t cry too… you’ll make me start again!”

Misha reached up and gently wiped the tear from Hanako’s cheek, her fingertip brushing against its scarred surface. Hanako winced slightly at the contact but made no protest. She even managed a small smile as her eye met Misha’s.

“I’m okay, M-misha. I feel a lot better, a-actually…”

“That’s good, Hacchan, that’s good~! You know… I thought, maybe I could come and cheer you up, but~, I guess you had to cheer me up, huh? Wahaha~.”

“Mmhmm,” Hanako replied with a nod.

“If it’s okay… can I ask what happened, you know? What Lilly said?”

“O-oh, th-that, it was n-n-nothing…”

“Hacchan…”

Misha put a hand on Hanako’s knee and gave her a searching look.

“Okay, if you don’t want—”

“N-no! I can t-talk, about it… I can talk about it.”

Hanako put her hand over Misha’s to steady herself.

“It was st-stupid really… I was just reading my new book, then H-hicchan came up to me and, well… he…”

“Hicchan? Did he do something to you, Hacchan?”

“N-no, he just introduced h-himself… b-but, it startled me…”

“You already told us that, Hacchan. I don’t understand…”

“W-well, it’s pr-pretty embar-r-rassing… I k-kind of… just r-ran away from him…”

Misha’s eyes lit up with understanding.

“Oh? Like this~?”

She hopped up from the bed and clutched at her blouse.

“Ivegottogodosomething!” Misha exclaimed, then flung herself back onto the bed to represent running away.

“Wahahaha~! Is that all, Hacchan? Lilly made it sound so serious!” she said, flipping over on her back to face Hanako again.

“I-I know… it’s really s-silly, isn’t it?”

“I never forgot how you looked when you did that to us, Hacchan. I didn’t want to say it then, but… you were so cute~! Ahaha~!”

Hanako blushed at this remark.

“Th-thanks, Misha… I just get really, really a-anxious, I guess, and then with b-boys, well… it’s w-worse…”

“Is that right~? Well, it’s like I said. Boys are stupid~! I’ll tell you a secret about them, Hacchan.”

“Oh?”

Misha sat back up and leaned close to whisper in Hanako’s ear.

“They don’t know how to talk to us, either. So they’re really easy to tease~!”

“R-really?”

“Of course, Hacchan~! Boys get embarrassed talking to cute girls like us. You probably scared Hicchan as much as he scared you! Wahaha~!”

“I-I hope not…”

“Don’t worry about it, Hacchan. I’m just glad nothing really bad happened to you!”

“Mmhmm. I’m okay now… Misha, I…”

“Hm~?”

“I still want to help… l-like I said I would. I said I would do it, so I still h-have to. And… I want to help you, t-too.”

“Help me?”

“It’s like you said… you have to do all the c-council work all day with j-just Shizune… that’s not f-fair. I want to help do some of it.”

“Hm… okay, okay~! That’s really great, Hacchan. That’s soo~ nice of you! I’m sure Shicchan will really appreciate it!”

“O-okay. I’ll talk to Lilly… so she w-won’t follow me again.”

“It’s too bad to keep her away, but that’s probably a good idea, Hacchan. How about tomorrow?”

“S-sure!”

“Alright then~! It’s a date, Hacchan. Wahaha~!”

Misha rocked with laughter for a moment before coming to a stop and suddenly looking right into Hanako’s eye, her gaze unexpectedly intense once more. This wasn’t like before, though. There was something in Misha’s eyes that Hanako couldn’t quite place, a strange sort of focus. It was like when Shizune was staring at her earlier, but… not bad, or uncomfortable.

“Hana-chan…”

“…M-misha?”

“…I’m really happy you talked to me tonight.”

Misha leaned forward and embraced Hanako tightly. Hanako scooted closer to her and returned the hug, resting her chin on Misha’s shoulder. The drill on that side got all up in her face and tickled her nose, but she didn’t mind. The fruity scent of Misha’s hair product smelled just right for her, Hanako thought. She felt Misha nuzzle against her neck, prompting Hanako to squeeze her in return. When they parted Hanako couldn’t help but notice they were both a bit reluctant to do so. Misha’s arms had been comforting, her body warm and soft…

“Ah, Hacchan~! Is that…”

Hanako followed Misha’s eyes up along the wall. She had caught sight of the poster hanging there: a hand-drawn picture of Hanako as a little general leading her troops against Shizune in a game of RISK.

“Aha… wahahaha~! You kept it, Hacchan! Ahahaha~!”

Pushing off the bed, Misha walked up to the poster and wistfully ran a finger over it, as if remembering better times.

“Well, y-yeah… it’s cute…” Hanako said sheepishly.

“Sure it is. You’re on it, after all~!”

“Awww, Misha… maybe I’ll draw one of y-you sometime.”

“Wahaha~! That would be funny, Hacchan. You should do it~!”

Turning from the poster, Misha stepped over to the door.

“Well~! I’m going to bed now, Hacchan. Thanks again~! I feel a lot better!”

“Mmhmm. M-me too. Good night, Misha.”

“Nighty night~!”

Hanako kept staring at the door for a few moments after Misha left through it. When she heard Misha’s own door slam shut, she went ahead and did the same with hers, minus the volume. Hanako found that sleep came more easily than usual when she laid down.

Chapter 12 | Chapter 14
Last edited by Hanako Fancopter on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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sloth4
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by sloth4 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:02 am

I like this a lot. And it's interesting to hear about Hisao's actions, but not actually see him. It's good to see Hanako growing on her own as a person and embracing a more open attitude, even if she's still hesitant and skittish.

Hanako Fancopter
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:06 pm

sloth4 wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:02 am
I like this a lot. And it's interesting to hear about Hisao's actions, but not actually see him. It's good to see Hanako growing on her own as a person and embracing a more open attitude, even if she's still hesitant and skittish.
Glad to hear it! Those are both things I decided about this fic from the start, so it's good to see people picking up on them. So many of the stories on here feature Hisao as a main character, especially all the longer "route" type ones--but to me, he's honestly the most boring/least interesting character from the game. I wanted to make a story that wasn't about him. I also knew that I wanted to write Hanako as a bit less of a total doormat than she is in the game, while still having some issues to work out. While she is my favorite character, her moeblob factor can only take her so far if she's not allowed to reach out a little bit and try to be more than just that. One could say that if you write her as nothing but a skittish little thing that runs away or clams up at every opportunity, you're treating her too protectively, just like her route tried to teach people not to do.

Anyways, here's the next two in succession, they kind of go together.

---

Chapter 14: Mishap

Hanako played with her hair anxiously, sitting on a bench outside the girls’ dorms. Classes had ended a short while ago. Today had involved some group work; Hanako had secretly been hoping to work with Shizune and Misha, but they ended up with Hisao instead. As class representatives, they probably felt obligated to help the new guy. Hanako overheard him asking about her and Misha made up some quick excuse to dodge it… that was probably for the best after the library incident. He’d been looking at her again before lunch, clearly wondering what was wrong with her. Hanako had prayed that he wouldn’t come over and ask… something out there was listening, because thankfully he didn’t, going back to his book instead.

Lunch with Lilly had been a bit tense after Hanako brought up the subject of helping the Student Council again. It could’ve gone worse, all things considered. Lilly had just resigned herself to the idea and changed the subject instead of trying to argue the point. Hanako knew Lilly had a hard time getting mad at her. It would be all but forgotten by tomorrow.

The doors to the dorms burst open and the Student Council marched triumphantly through, all two of them.

“Wahaha~! There you are, Hacchan!”

Misha put down the sizeable jumble of plywood boards she was carrying so that she could speak with her hands for a moment.

“See, Shicchan, she’s early!… That’s right, you do owe me that parfait! Aha~! Shicchan says, a helper that’s early for once is a nice change!”

“W-well, I didn’t have anything else to d-do…”

“No clubs, Hacchan? That’s no good! Extra… extra cur-ric-cular activities are a vital part of a balanced high school diet! Every student should join a club. Going without one is like ignoring a key food group on the pyramid!”

“Umm… wh-which food group is it? I don’t really like v-vegetables anyways…”

Shizune and Misha both paused at this unexpected continuation of the metaphor.

“Wahaha~! That’s perfect, Hacchan! Student Council is just like eating your vegetables… it may not be very much fun, but it’ll make you grow up strong and healthy!… Hey, Shicchan, we probably shouldn’t tell her that if she doesn’t like vegetables! Why can’t Student Council be more like sweets?”

“It’s o-okay. You have to eat your v-vegetables before you get dessert, r-right?”

Shizune nodded in approval, clearing most of Hanako’s anxiety away. In truth she had been more worried about displeasing Shizune than Lilly, but if the president had any lingering problems with her, they weren’t apparent.

“Alright then~!” Misha said, clapping her hands together.

She bent down to pick up the plywood again but Hanako reached out a hand to stop her.

“L-let me…”

“Hm~?”

“You need your hands. T-to talk,” Hanako explained.

“Ah~! That’s so nice of you, Hacchan!”

The stack of boards was bulky and awkward to hold, but they were deceptively lightweight once she got her arms around them. Hanako trundled along behind Misha and Shizune, going to wherever they needed to go to do whatever they needed to do with these. Her offer to leave Misha’s hands free did not go wasted as she and Shizune signed away about something or other. As they started to leave the vicinity of the dorms, the Student Council pair caught sight of something that caused them to stop. Hanako shifted the boards to get a good look around them, spotting Hisao and Rin sitting by Rin’s wall mural with a bunch of paint cans spread out around them.

“Look, Hicchan’s doing his part after all! Wahaha~! We caught him in the art room with Rin earlier… he sure gets around, doesn’t he~? Ahaha~!”

“Y-you caught him?! D-doing wh-what?” Hanako asked.

Shizune’s eyes narrowed at this insinuation, as if she were trying to discern the truth of it by staring at Hisao and Rin hard enough.

“They were just eating lunch… well, they better have just been eating lunch. Engaging in lewd behavior in a public space would be a severe violation of Student Council policies, even more if it was on the desks! You hear that, Hicchan?”

The last bit was yelled with enough pointed volume to get the two painters’ attention. Hanako was pretty sure Shizune hadn’t said that part, given how her face flushed slightly at it. They were a bit far away for conversation but Hisao gave them a wave of acknowledgment. Rin made a motion with her foot that might have been a wave but it was hard to tell since she was still on her back. Hanako wanted to raise a hand to her scars, now somewhat regretting her decision to carry the plywood planks. Instead she jostled them around again so they mostly obscured her face. Fortunately, they moved on without any further interaction.

“That Hicchan! He sure moves fast… you probably scared him away with that Risk game, Shicchan! He only hung out with us because we’re cute? Shicchan, that’s not very nice!”

“M-maybe he is just trying to make friends, since h-he is new…” Hanako suggested.

“Oh? Maybe, Hacchan. Maybe~! But~! I swear, I only ever see him talking to girls. That’s very suspicious!”

“Wh-why is that?”

Misha looked up for a moment to consider this.

“Because, Hacchan. It just is~!”

That sounded about right. Hanako suspected the two of them were just disappointed they couldn’t recruit him like they wanted to, that he had already moved on to hanging out with other girls. She was glad he could spend time with someone… she would feel even worse about running away from him if he’d ended up all alone and without anything to do after classes. Maybe Rin would be better company for him than Hanako could’ve been.

Soon enough they stopped at a corner of the school grounds where things appeared to be set up. A few tools were laid out along with a healthy supply of nails and miscellaneous other materials. Putting the plywood down, Hanako could see that they were going to be building some stalls today. There was already one hammered together and set up nearby as if to set an example.

“Th-the Student Council builds these?” Hanako asked.

“Yep yep~! Aren’t we nice, doing allll~ that work for everyone? They could show some appreciation every once in a while, Shicchan says!”

“I-is it hard?”

“Not once you get the hang of it! It just takes a while. There’s not supposed to be any rain before Sunday, so it’s best to put them together out here. That way~, people can easily carry them wherever they need to go!”

“Y-you really thought about it…”

Shizune briefly closed her eyes and adjusted her glasses, taking pride in the compliment.

“Okay, Hacchan, here we go. Me and you will put the first one together while Shicchan shows you what to do. Then~, we just keep going! Ready?”

“Mmhmm!”

Misha was half right about the difficulty of the task. Hanako had never done any sort of manual labor before, always assuming that it would be too hard for her even if she had the chance. She found that she could do it, though. To be fair this didn’t involve a lot of heavy lifting or anything. It wasn’t particularly fun or comfortable but she thought back to the exchange about vegetables and desserts. If she wasn’t here Misha would have to be doing that much more of this work with barely any help… bearing some of that burden was exactly what Hanako had signed up for.

The part that gave her the most trouble was the hammering, which unfortunately was also the lion’s share of the work. It was loud and it jarred her arm, quickly causing a ring to start in her ears and an ache to build up in her bicep and shoulder. After a while she started to emit a small squeak of effort with every strike at her nail, which went on for all of a few seconds before Misha started to crack up.

“Aha~, Hacchan, are you sneezing over there?”

“N-n-no! I’m just, uhh…”

Taking the hammer in both hands to demonstrate, Hanako gave her nail a particularly hard smack. Well, she meant to, at least. The swing totally missed and nearly left a dent in the plywood instead.

“Yee-Eep!” she squeaked as the blow struck home.

Misha exploded in laughter at this display of brute power, doubling over and almost falling to the ground.

“Wahahahaha~!”

Shizune gave them a stern look but couldn’t do much more with her interpreter still in stitches.

“Aha, waha, you show that board, Hacchan! Tell it~, you’ve had enough of its crap!”

“Haha… m-maybe it’s been a naughty board? T-take this! Yee-Eep!”

“Pretend it’s—Shicchan! I’m not saying that!”

Hanako looked up at them quizzically.

“Wh-what?”

“Shicchan wanted me to say, pretend it’s the class rep’s face!”

“O-oh!” Hanako gasped.

Shizune just gave a wicked smile before going back to her own bit of work, pleased with her jab.

“Th-that’s mean…” Hanako said, losing a fair amount of her levity.

Shizune looked back up as Misha signed this.

“Is it? She probably says stuff like that about me all the time.”

“Sh-she does not!”

While this was technically true, Hanako didn’t feel totally honest saying it. Lilly’s insults were definitely there, they just tended to be more subtle than saying a hammer’s target was someone’s face. The fact that it was a bit true made her resent it all the more, though. Even when they were apart, Shizune and Lilly still had to fight, it seemed. Thinking about it made Hanako feel sick. Why couldn’t they just stop it already?

“Well, if you don’t want me to make mean jokes about her, you should get your friend to lighten up about me,” Misha relayed.

This did not improve Hanako’s response.

“D-d-don’t tell me that! You’re never light around Lilly. You can’t be so mean to her and just call it a… a j-j-joke!” she said, her voice rising and lips trembling. “It’s not a joke. It’s not f-f-funny!”

Misha frowned, at a loss for words. Shizune matched Hanako’s glare for a moment but looked away when the latter refused to do so.

“Forget it,” Misha translated. “Let’s just go back to work.”

It looked like Shizune still thought she was right but it was a fight she just didn’t want to have right now. Hanako felt her shoulders shaking a bit, not from anxiety for once. Her face was hot and her hands were clenched tightly, one into a fist and the other’s knuckles white around the hammer. How could Shizune just brush it aside like that? Couldn’t she see what she was doing? Hanako suddenly wanted to scream at her, to grab her shoulders and shake her and make her understand.

But she didn’t.

Instead, she just went back to hammering, as Shizune and Misha already had. There wasn’t much more conversation after that. It looked like their approach was to try and pretend nothing happened. Unfortunately, Hanako was fairly vulnerable to this, finding it hard to work herself up to action again once a moment had passed. Her anger, unquenched, remained simmering beneath the surface, flowing instead into her work with the hammer.

It was convenient to have something right here to hit as an outlet. Hanako focused on that, pounding the nails in with more speed and force than before. The slam of the metal was the only sound as she worked, her earlier squeaks no longer sounding. The mood in the air was awkward at best and Hanako made a point not to look at Misha or Shizune. Now she just wanted to get this over with and get away from this situation before her emotions overtook her again.

Sweat began to accumulate on Hanako’s blouse, mostly on the left side. She stopped to wipe it off that side of her face, finding that she was pouring with the stuff. Gross… trying to ignore the unpleasant stickiness of it, she went back to hammering, throwing herself into it anew. The right side of her body pulsed painfully, crying out in protest against the summer heat. Hanako’s scalp felt cracked and dry under her long hair, causing her to pause and scratch at it several times.

“Grrah!”

Hanako punctuated each of her swings with a grunt now, half from effort, half from frustration. They were getting sloppy, less consistent, and despite herself she found her grip on the hammer loosening. She tried to bring it down again only for it to suddenly slip out of her grasp, flying from her sweaty palms. Hanako gave the offending board a smack of annoyance with her hand instead. It stung her fingers but she didn’t care. It barely hurt next to the throbbing burn on her right side.

“Um… Hacchan?”

Misha stood over her, cautiously placing a hand on her shoulder. Hanako looked away in shame.

“Maybe you should take a break…” she suggested.

“N-no! I’m f-fine…” Hanako insisted.

She wasn’t fine. Suddenly her head swam and spots danced across her vision. Noticing that something was wrong, Shizune had come over as well.

“Hacchan, I don’t think…”

Shizune knelt down next to Hanako, concern showing on her face. Hanako felt herself sway back and forth a bit, nausea building in her stomach before flowing up to her head in a wave. Shizune pulled her hair back and put a hand on her forehead, giving Misha a look of warning.

“N-no… don’t l-look… at me…”

Hanako raised a hand to cover her face, to hide the scars again. It almost got there before her vision blanked and she collapsed.

“Hanako! Ahh, Shicchan, she’s burning up! You’ll—okay, okay, I’ll get the nurse!”

Chapter 13 | Chapter 15
Last edited by Hanako Fancopter on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

Hanako Fancopter
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:09 pm

Chapter 15: Recovery

“Mmmpff…”

Hanako smacked her lips together a few times, her head still fuzzy and ringing. It was like she had died and gone to heaven: the heat and sun had been replaced by cool air conditioning and a bright white light directly above her. For one terrible moment her stomach lurched as she thought she had somehow ended up in a hospital again… then she saw that it was just the nurse’s office. Still not a place she liked to be but better than a hospital by miles. Hanako had already spent more time in a hospital room than most people would in their whole lives. She never wanted to go back there.

“Hacchan!”

“Oof…”

Hanako grunted in surprise as pink curls flew into her face and a pair of arms gripped her tightly.

“Ahh! We didn’t know what happened, we were so worried!” Misha said.

“Th-thanks…” Hanako said weakly, feeling a painful strain in her throat. “Misha… h-hot…”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sorry sorry~!”

“You’re awake? Thank goodness,” Lilly said.

Hanako took a better stock of her surroundings as Misha released her. She was laid up in the nurse’s office with Misha, Shizune and Lilly all standing watch at her bedside. It was still light outside, although the sun was finally beginning to set. Misha looked like she might have been crying again, though she seemed fine now. Lilly’s face wore an expression of obvious relief, her usual façade discarded for the moment. Shizune was harder to read. She gave a curt smile as Hanako’s eye made its way over to her, then reached over for something beside the bed.

A glass of water. Hanako could certainly use that. She reached one arm out to accept the gift, allowing Shizune to help her balance it as she drank deeply. Never before had she realized just how wonderful water really tasted… Hanako supposed you didn’t truly appreciate something until you began to lack it. She took steady gulps from the glass until the whole thing was gone, giving a satisfied sigh afterwards. Only then did she realize that her arm and shoulder were completely bare.

“Eek! M-m-my shirt!” she squealed, clutching at her torso defensively.

“Wahaha~! Don’t worry Hacchan, we weren’t looking… much!”

“Yes, erm, sorry about that, Ms. Ikezawa,” came a familiar male voice.

The school nurse pushed back a nearby curtain to join them, a bedsheet draped over one arm. He presented it to Misha and Shizune, who gingerly pulled it up over Hanako’s body. As the sheet went up she saw that they’d at least left her skirt on. Small mercy, she supposed.

“You can thank Miss Mikado. She was quite eager to get you out of your clothes.”

“Wh-what?”

“Ah, sorry, probably not my best-timed joke… what I mean to say is, removal of extraneous layers is part of the standard treatment for heat exhaustion. Misha gave me a hand getting you back here and situated.”

“H-heat exhaustion…”

Well, that sure made sense now that she thought about it.

“…H-how long have I… been… ?”

“Oh, just ten or fifteen minutes. Your temperature has already stabilized again. Some rest and some water, you’ll be fine. It’s a good thing it happened on school grounds, where we could get you back inside right away.”

Hanako sighed in relief, then began to blush a bit. With the initial shock wearing off, she was now becoming more acutely aware that she was the center of attention here.

“Umm… I’m s-sorry… for scaring everyone,” she mumbled.

“No need to apologize to me, Ms. Ikezawa. I don’t think anyone is angry at you. Frankly, I’m just happy to see you recovering so quickly.”

The other girls all gave a nod of agreement.

“Here, I’ll bring you another glass of water. Take your time with this one, don’t want to throw it all back up,” the nurse said, stepping away.

No one knew what to say or do next, so silence descended. Hanako didn’t mind—she was just happy to have everyone present without any fights or insults. If this was what it took to get Shizune and Lilly to do something else besides bitch and moan about each other, maybe things had worked out for the better. Even if it had meant that Shizune and Misha saw her torso mostly exposed… Hanako tried not to think about that. Since they weren’t boys anyways, it wasn’t a big deal, she told herself.

“Th-thanks for taking care of me, e-everyone…” Hanako said, summoning a little smile for them.

“Aww! Of course, Hacchan~! It’s our fault you ended up like this, after all!” Misha said.

“N-no, I shouldn’t have… I wasn’t th-thinking,” Hanako said.

“You’ve never done much physical exercise to begin with, so it’s easy to forget,” Lilly said.

Shizune looked pointedly at her, as if waiting for the shoe to drop.

“It’s no one’s fault. An honest mistake,” she added, as though somehow sensing Shizune’s gaze.

For some reason Shizune didn’t look pleased with this. She didn’t look angry or ready to fight like usual, but her brows remained furrowed, clearly concerned over something. Well, at least she wasn’t starting any arguments, Hanako thought.

“Hm~? You can’t do lots of exercise, Hacchan?” Misha asked.

“It’s not th-that… well, s-sort of. I can’t sweat anymore, where I-I’m, well… so… I get hot, r-really fast,” she explained.

“Oh, really? I never knew that! I’m sorry we made you go and hammer things out in the sun, Hacchan! I had no idea something like that could happen!” Misha exclaimed.

“Mmm… I th-thought it would be okay, but… I-I guess since I’m not used to doing stuff like that…”

And because she’d let her emotions get the best of her, letting them cloud her judgment, she thought. Maybe if she’d had her head on straight she would have realized what was happening and stopped while she was ahead. All of that anger had evaporated now. It seemed silly to have ever been so mad like that, now that she was laying here with her wits about her again. Ughh…

“Well, it’s something to be more mindful of in the future,” the nurse said, walking back in and placing some more water next to Hanako, along with her folded blouse. “It’s good to take something like this as a lesson, kind of a warning signal. You know, remember this time so that there isn’t a next time, that sort of thing. How are you feeling?”

“Umm… my h-head hurts a bit, and my a-arms are sore, but… I think I’m o-okay.”

“Good. You certainly look like you’re feeling better. I apologize for dragging you in here and everything, but it’s better to be safe than sorry with something like this. I couldn’t know right away if you might be suffering a heat stroke, which would’ve been much more severe. Fortunately, your body gave you up before it could go that far. I trust you’ll be more careful with any future… err, council work?”

“Y-yes. Th-thank you.”

“Alright then. Maybe stick around to finish that glass of water, then whenever you’re ready, you can get dressed and I’ll have one more look at you. You should have no lingering symptoms, but you’ve got my blessing to take it easy tonight and tomorrow. And no more strenuous activity for at least a week.”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“I’ll leave you ladies to it. Be gentle with her, she’s had a rough day,” the nurse said, winking at Hanako as he turned to walk back out.

“Wh-wha?!”

“Aha, sorry… another bad joke,” he said, scratching his head sheepishly. “I’ve got to stop doing that…” he muttered as he left.

“Well, Hanako. Would you like us to stay?” Lilly asked.

She looked around at the three of them, feeling happier that there were at least this many people who cared about her.

“Mmhmm. I-I’d like that.”

“…All of us?” Misha asked cautiously, translating for Shizune.

Hanako nodded her head at Shizune.

“Sh-shii-chan, I-I’m sorry I, uhh… that I-I…”

Shizune made a shushing gesture, then signed her response.

“Ah ah! Remember, Hacchan~. Shicchan says, you’ve apologized enough already for one day!”

Lilly giggled lightly to herself.

“Hm~? What’s funny, Lilly?”

“Oh, just hearing Hanako say ‘Shicchan,’ that’s all,” Lilly explained.

Hanako had barely realized she’d done it until Lilly pointed it out.

“W-well… it just s-sounds right, I guess.”

“Waha~! That’s right, it sure does, doesn’t it?” Misha said, beaming with apparent pride.

While the three of them talked, Shizune had taken out a small notepad and begun to write on it, drawing attention from both Hanako and Misha. Maybe she was taking notes on some council matter or another that had come to mind. That possibility was immediately dispelled as Shizune turned the pad around and offered it to Hanako, who creased her brow at it in confusion.

I actually want to apologize to you, it read.

She took it hesitantly, trying to process this. Shizune made an imitation of holding the pad and writing on it with her hands, then nodded at Hanako. This felt weird but if that was what she wanted… Misha didn’t seem to find it strange at all, just humming to herself as she looked on. Hanako remembered what Lilly had said: that Shizune could talk without an interpreter and had done it before. This must be what she meant.

Okay, Hanako wrote, not sure what to “say.” She figured she would go ahead and ask the obvious, to fill space if nothing else. Why are we using this? she jotted down, giving a pointed glance at Misha to punctuate the question as Shizune read it. Misha waved happily in return but remained silent.

I want to talk to you directly. So you know that I mean it.

Hanako supposed that made more sense. She didn’t know much about sign language but being in Yamaku, one picked up a few details. She knew it wasn’t a one-to-one match with spoken languages that could just be translated word-for-word into them. That meant Shizune could never be sure that Misha’s translations were totally accurate, plus Misha was always randomly adding in her own speech, sometimes it was hard to tell which was which. This was probably the only way Shizune could really “talk” to someone with the precision afforded by using the same language together.

This was awkward, though. Now what should she write? Shizune was looking at her expectantly.

What are you sorry for? Hanako asked her.

I didn’t consider your feelings or your condition today, even though you were trying to help the Student Council. That was ungrateful of me. I’m sorry for treating you that way. I hope you can forgive me and I will try to do better, Shizune wrote.

She seemed to have that thought out ahead of time, considering the steady pace of the pen. Hanako wondered if she’d been considering it this whole time…

I forgive you. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry. You couldn’t know about my vulnerability to heat either
, Hanako wrote.

I could, though. I have access to information on every student’s condition. As the Student Council president, it’s my responsibility to remember them and take them into account.

That was a lot for Shizune to put onto herself, Hanako thought.

I forgive you either way. I will try to do better too.

She paused, tapping the pen to her chin as she considered, then went ahead and added another line before sending it back.

I thought you said not to apologize.

Shizune’s eye glinted at reading this, seeming to appreciate the challenge.

I said not to apologize too much. You apologize for a lot of little things. How many times have you seen me apologize?

Hanako thought about it, and… never. This was the first time. Shizune had a point there. She motioned for the pad and wrote a bit more, adjusting her glasses with a proud grin as she gave it back.

You should save your apologies for when you really need to make one.

And they were back to Shizune telling her what to do, Hanako thought. Only Shizune could manage to turn an apology into a boast. It was a point well taken, though. She gave Shizune a smile, wondering how to close the conversation.

“Hmm. Are you writing something?” Lilly piped up, not failing to notice the sound of pen scratching on paper.

Shizune looked at her carefully as Misha relayed the question.

“I’m apologizing to Hacchan for today, Lilly!” Misha translated cheerfully.

“…Oh.”

Now it was Lilly’s turn to consider Shizune carefully, tilting her head slightly to the side.

“…Thank you, Shizune. I appreciate that and I’m sure that Hanako does as well.”

Turning back to the pad, Hanako offered her last line.

Thanks for talking to me, Shizune.

Thank you for accepting it. And… please don’t tell Lilly what I said, that got you so angry. I regret saying that now.


Hanako nodded that she understood, receiving a matching nod from Shizune to confirm that they were on the same page. So there was another reason to use the pad, she thought… although Hanako trusted that it wasn’t only a way to hide the conversation from Lilly. If it was then Lilly probably would’ve said something about it, but Hanako noticed that she hadn’t commented on this method of communication. Combined with her previous remarks, she probably knew Shizune to do this at times. They were still cousins, after all, even if they fought all the time.

They sat together for a little while longer while Hanako finished the second glass of water. Misha contributed some small talk but she was talking to herself as much as anyone else, the girls mostly content in silence. Hanako was happy that they could be together like this without suffering the usually omnipresent tension between the two class representatives, who seemed to have reached an unspoken truce as Hanako’s well-being become the object of focus for the day. Eventually she felt ready to drag herself up and back to her room.

“Umm, Misha, Shizune, I-I… I’d like to get dr-dressed…”

“Okay, Hacchan! Shicchan says, we should probably get going for the night anyways! Feel better~!”

Misha leaned down and gave her another hug, which took Hanako a bit off guard considering how exposed she felt without her shirt. She gave Misha a pat on her side through the bedsheet, though she didn’t dare bring her arms out to return the hug fully. If she was honest about it, it sounded like Misha had been the one to take her shirt off anyways… normally the thought of someone seeing that would be more of an issue for Hanako, but with Misha it felt okay. Shizune waved to say goodbye, then they were gone.

She was left alone with Lilly, who waited patiently while she buttoned her blouse back up, and then as the nurse gave her another quick once-over. Once that was done, they made for the dorms together. Hanako felt completely wiped out. At least she wasn’t going to have any trouble sleeping tonight, she thought. Maybe she’d skip out on morning classes tomorrow, sleeping in sounded nice…

“…D-does she do that much? W-with the notepad?” Hanako asked as they walked.

“My, my, no… it’s quite an honor to receive the notepad treatment. In fact, I never have.”

“Y-you haven’t? B-but wouldn’t it be…”

“Be what? A little awkward for me?”

Hanako pouted at Lilly’s little joke, pinching her shoulder to convey the expression. It was actually kind of sad when Hanako thought about it, though. They were family but Lilly was the one person that Shizune could never speak to directly in the way that she had with Hanako tonight. Not without some kind of braille typewriter, at least. Yamaku probably had those, actually… still, the combination of those two disabilities in the family was a thing of melancholy, Hanako thought. It was like the sort of contrived situation that might form the premise of a novel.

“Well, here we are,” Lilly said, arriving at Hanako’s door.

“Yep. L-lilly… thanks. F-for not saying anything to Shizune. Anything m-mean, I m-mean. Even though you were k-kinda right…”

Lilly perked her brow curiously.

“Right about… you working with them?” Lilly clarified.

“Uh-huh. You didn’t w-want me to, then something b-bad did happen…”

“Hmm.”

Lilly seemed to consider for a moment.

“You know, Hanako, after they took you to the infirmary, the first thing Shizune and Misha did was to come and find me. They knew that I would want to know.”

“Th-they did? I guess that makes sense…”

“It was… it would have been a very inappropriate time for us to begin fighting, even had we been in the mood for it. I don’t think we were, though. We were all just worried about you.”

“Mmm…”

“I suppose… it showed me that they do care, after all. They could have dropped you off and then just left, avoided me, avoided the whole thing. But they didn’t. They took good care of you.”

“Y-you were worried they didn’t care about m-me?” Hanako asked.

“Well, Misha not so much, but it’s Shizune who wears the pants, as they say. I was worried that she just wanted to use you as convenient labor, yes, and maybe… honestly, I thought she might be trying to use you as a way to get one over on me. She sees everything so competitively, it’s hard to figure her out sometimes.”

“B-but you were wrong,” Hanako said.

“Yes, Hanako. I think I was wrong.”

Lilly gave Hanako a brief embrace and a light kiss on the top of her forehead.

“Get some rest, okay?”

Hanako nodded.

“I-I will. Goodnight, Lilly.”

Chapter 14 | Chapter 16
Last edited by Hanako Fancopter on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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WorldlyWiseman
Posts: 362
Joined: Wed Mar 14, 2012 7:19 pm

Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by WorldlyWiseman » Sat Jul 14, 2018 7:54 pm

That was very deftly handled, and you're giving Shizune way more humanity than a lot of fics bother with. I'm a fan. A Hanako Fancopter fancopter, hovering over this thread.
Hanako's favorite joke is The Aristocrats, but she never tells it because Lilly finds it really offensive. Instead, she practices her delivery in front of a mirror when she's alone. It's the only time she never stammers.

Hanako Fancopter
Posts: 281
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:37 pm

Thanks! Hope I can keep it up. I think I'm in the home stretch for act 2 now.... this is turning out to be significantly longer than act 1, I'm fine with that, though.

---

Chapter 16: Intermission

Hanako made her way down the hall, carefully placing each step as she watched the tiles pass by underneath. Lilly hadn’t been in the tea room or the dorms, meaning she was probably out doing something with her classmates. Peeking into her own class had left Hanako confronted with Hisao, Misha and Shizune, the latter of which seemed a bit miffed that she had decided to skip the whole morning class. Not a situation she wanted to be in, so she had beat a hasty retreat. Hanako hoped she hadn’t already undone the progress she felt like she made with Shizune yesterday, although sometimes she thought Shizune just got onto everyone equally anyways. Maybe it wasn’t worth worrying about…

Her attempts to reassure herself came to an abrupt end as something slammed forcefully into her chest.

“Uwaaahh!!”

“Yowch! Oh, I’m really sorry!”

Hanako groaned, propping herself up and trying to get her bearings back as she looked up from the floor. The first thing she saw was a hand reaching down to help her up, framed by plastic running blades.

“Are you okay?” Emi asked as Hanako took her hand.

“Umm… y-yeah, I’m fine…”

“Ohmigosh, I am so sorry! That’s the second time this week! Please don’t tell Shizune, okay? She’ll confiscate my legs as evidence or something!”

“C-can she d-do that?!”

“I dunno. But I don’t wanna find out! Look, let me make it up to you. I, uhh…”

Emi indicated a few plastic containers spread out on the floor after their collision. Luckily, their contents remained intact.

“I made lunch for two, but Rin already ate and now she’s out doing her mural. You wanna be my lunch buddy?”

“S-sure!” Hanako said with a nod, happy to have found something to do besides eating alone in her room.

“Alright, follow me. We’ve gotta keep a close eye out for the prez… I’m gonna show you something secret, but you’ve gotta promise not to tell anyone, okay? Not even Lilly!… Well, maybe Lilly, she probably won’t go blabbing to Shizune… And actually Misha already knows, so…”

“Uhh…”

“Right, right! Anyways! We can hear Misha coming a mile away, so we should be fine.”

“I-Is this… what kind of s-secret?”

Emi froze and her eyes widened, her mind probably going straight to the worst possible implications of that question.

“N-no, it’s nothing bad! Just a secret spot, you know. Like Rin showed us!”

“W-we’re going out into the woods again?”

“Nah, it’s right here in the school! Well, not necessarily in it… you’ll see!”

Hanako put her hands together at her collarbone and smiled. A secret spot did sound like fun… she always liked to think of her corner in the library as one.

“Okay!”

“Great! It’s just over here… oops! Shit, here she comes!”

Sure enough, a series of “Wahaha~!”’s could be heard coming steadily closer from around a nearby corner. Hanako realized that they had doubled back towards her classroom in the course of wherever they were going, setting them on this inevitable collision course, as that’s where the Student Council had been just a few minutes ago.

“Just act normal!” Emi said, dropping her voice like they were on a covert mission.

Emi pulled Hanako towards one of the walls, leaning back against it and starting to whistle off-key, looking quite awkward as she waited there holding all the food containers. Hanako took a couple off her hands then looked straight down as Shizune and Misha came into sight, trying to suppress a giggle at how silly things had suddenly gotten. Emi was a terrible secret agent, she thought. It sort of made sense—if she were a manga character, Hanako would pin Emi more as the boisterous fighter type than a treacherous trickster.

“Well, well, look who it is! What are you and Emi-chan doing today, huh Hacchan?” Misha asked, striding up to them with a huge smile and hands on her hips. Shizune matched her steps, examining Hanako and Emi with a hand held to the frame of her glasses, as if trying to get the perfect angle on them.

“Emi-ch—I thought I said we weren’t starting that!” Emi protested, her disinterested façade collapsing immediately.

“Sure, Emi-chan, sure~! Shicchan says, you shouldn’t use Hana-chan as a running partner. But she’s glad you’ve stopped running in the halls, yes, she is~!”

“Ehehe, yeah, uhh… I’ve learned my lesson, for sure…” Emi said sheepishly.

Hanako’s shoulders were shaking a bit as she continued to stare down, her hands covering her mouth.

“What’s wrong, Hacchan? Emi-chan isn’t trying to make you go running, is she, hm~?” Misha asked, her smile dropping.

She put a finger to Hanako’s chin and gently lifted it up, her smile coming back when she saw that Hanako was not shaking from anxiety, but because she was trying to hold in laughter.

“Hee hee, ha…” Hanako squeaked out.

“Aha~, Hacchan, what is it? What’s so funny~? You better not be making fun of me! Oh, that’s from Shicchan. You can make fun of Misha if you want, though. Wahaha~!… Wait, I’m Misha…”

“I-i-it’s, n-nothing… aha, ha…”

Even Emi cracked up a bit at Hanako’s tiny laughs combined with Misha’s antics. Shizune wasn’t as amused, unable to hear the sounds, but at least seemed satisfied that Emi was behaving herself.

“If you say so, Hacchan. If you say so~! Shicchan says, because you are keeping a good eye on Miss Ibarazaki, she can forgive you for missing classes this morning! But you better not skip out on the festival. Attendance is mandatory for all students… or it’s the capital penalty for you~! Wahaha~!”

“Oh, th-thanks! I g-guess…”

Shizune adjusted her glasses and turned to walk away, her sheer presence seeming to tow Misha along in turn. Emi waited a moment before moving, then took Hanako’s hand and began to guide her carefully back down the hall, moving slowly and keeping a watchful eye on the retreating backs of the two council members. It looked for a moment like they were in the clear; just as Emi started to relax, though, Misha’s head suddenly whirled back around.

“Enjoy your lunch date, Hacchan~!” Misha called back, giving her a wink. Then she and Shizune rounded another corner and disappeared from view, though Misha’s laughter still found its way back to them.

“Uh-oh… d-do you think she knows?” Hanako asked Emi.

“Nah, we’re good. I mean, she probably knows, but we had a deal. She won’t tell Shizune.”

Hanako was intrigued by this mention of a “deal,” making a mental note to ask Misha about it if she got a chance.

“Up here.”

They entered a stairwell and began climbing up. This seemed normal enough until Hanako realized how many flights had passed. They hadn’t stopped at the top floor…

“Umm… w-we’re going on the…”

“Yep! The roof!” Emi finished for her, pushing the door open to let them out onto it.

“A-are we supposed to be up h-here?”

“Of course not! That’s why I said we have to look out for Shizune. All in the clear now, though! Me and Rin like to eat up here most days. She says she likes feeling closer to the clouds. I think she also likes it ‘cause it’s away from the crowds down in the cafeteria.”

So this was like their tea room. Hanako could certainly sympathize with that.

“Mmm…”

Emi bounded over to one of the benches and began to arrange their food, Hanako taking a seat on the other end of it.

“Err… is it s-safe, up here, though?” Hanako asked.

Emi smacked the rooftop under them with one of her blades.

“Hasn’t given out on me yet! It’s plenty safe, so long as you stay away from one bit over there, where the fence is busted. That part is probably why students aren’t supposed to come up here unsupervised.”

Hanako spotted the offending segment of fence, agreeing with Emi’s assessment. It would probably be a big scandal for the school if a student were to fall through there somehow. The two of them ate in silence for a few minutes, tucking away most of the food Emi had prepared.

“So, where’s Lilly?” Emi asked.

“N-not sure… I was actually l-looking for her. You haven’t s-seen her, have you?”

“Hmm, nope. If she’s anywhere on the grounds, though, we can probably spot her from up here. Check it out!”

Emi walked up to the fence surrounding the roof’s edge, motioning for Hanako to join her. She did so, a bit hesitantly… when she raised her face to look out through the fence, she gasped.

“Haha, scared of heights?” Emi asked.

“I-I guess… I’ve just never b-been up here…”

“Well, what do you think?”

While Hanako’s gasp had been a little bit fear, mostly it was awe at the view. From up here she could imagine herself as the queen of Yamaku, with the building serving as her mighty castle, and all the students bustling below as her loyal subjects. If only, she thought, allowing a wry smile to show a little bit. It was still an incredible new light to see the campus in—Hanako had lived here for years now but she felt like she was seeing this place for the first time again. If they kept going around the roof, they could probably see every square inch of the grounds from up here.

“Oh, look! There’s Hicchan!” Emi said, pointing down to a spot near the girls’ dorms.

Hanako giggled lightly.

“Hii-chan? M-misha is rubbing off on everyone.”

“Oh yeah, that one just fits for some reason. I think it’s because he gets all flustered if you say it to his face. It’s actually kinda cute. Speaking of cute, looks like Rin’s roped him into helping… again.”

Hisao was indeed hanging out near Rin’s mural again, helping her paint in much the same way that Hanako had seen them yesterday.

“I tried to get him started running, but he just wasn’t into it. Gave up after only a couple laps, didn’t seem to have the energy. Guess Rin’s more his speed,” Emi said.

“H-how fast is she?” Hanako asked.

Emi raised her eyebrows.

“That’s the sort of thing she’d ask, you know. She’s fast… just in her own way.”

“Wh-what about me?”

“Uhhh.”

Emi legitimately wasn’t sure how to answer that one. Hanako gave her an awkward smile to relieve her of the obligation.

“I-it’s okay, I was just j-joking. I’m not v-very fast… I can hardly j-jog, even.”

“Whew! You had me with that poker face Hana, the big eye and everything, haha. You can’t run at all, though?”

“N-no, well, maybe, b-but… I tried once, and it was r-really hard. I’m not very, erm… I’m not very fl-flexible.”

“You’re not? Oh, uhh…”

Emi’s eyes flicked to the right side of Hanako’s body. Even after all the grafts, her scar tissue had still lost a lot of the elasticity that the original skin had. The stress of something like running would irritate it pretty badly, possibly even causing it to crack or tear painfully if she wasn’t careful. The nurse had given Hanako a bunch of exercises to do to help with this, but, well… she hadn’t exactly taken that regimen to heart. She raised a hand to the right side of her face and looked away bashfully, realizing that she hadn’t exactly thought this “joke” all the way through.

“Well, you can always get better with stretching!” Emi said. “You should come down to the track with me sometime and I’ll show you how!”

“R-really?”

Hanako looked back over, Emi meeting her with a cheery smile and eyes momentarily closed.

“Th-thanks, Emi… maybe I will.”

As the topic ended their gazes fell back to the natural point of interest, the mural that Rin and Hisao were working on.

“…D-do you think Hicchan, uhh, th-that he… likes Rin?” Hanako asked.

“Heck, I dunno. This is the second day in a row he’s been hanging out with her, huh? If he does go for it… well, I have no idea how it would go, to be honest. Sometimes I think Rin isn’t, well, isn’t even into that sort of stuff.”

“Wh-what sort of stuff?”

“You know. Boys.”

Emi gave Hanako a mischievous smile, striking in how naughty she suddenly looked.

“What about you, Hana?” Emi asked, giving her a light poke in the rib. “You got the eyes for Hicchan, huh, huh?”

“A-ah! N-n-no!”

“Aha! Gotcha! Hana and Hii-chan, sit-ting in a tree, kay eye ess ess…”

Hanako gave her a full-force pout, balling her fists at her sides, narrowing her eye, and puffing out her lower lip. Emi broke off from her taunt, replacing it with hearty laughter. Now it was her turn to be struck by how scary Hanako could probably look, if she really wanted to.

“N-no, Emi, I-I… I…”

“…I?”

“I… I l-like someone else…” Hanako admitted, looking away in embarrassment.

“Someone else? Who is it? I don’t think I’ve ever really seen you talking to any guys…”

“It’s a secret…” Hanako said meekly. “I-I’ll never tell!”

“Tell what? I wanna know!” a new voice piped up, its owner inserting herself rather forcefully between Emi and Hanako. “’Sup, gaylords? Oh, hey Hanako. Haven’t seen you up here before. Welcome to the roof club!”

“Eep!” Hanako exclaimed, jumping back from the sudden intrusion.

“Careful, Miki!” Emi said.

“Or what? You gonna nip at my ankles?” Miki retorted, resting her stump on Emi’s head to emphasize their height difference.

“I’ll take one of these off and beat you with it, if I have to!” Emi threatened, tapping a leg-blade for emphasis.

Hanako backed slowly away, not sure if they were seriously about to fight, but then they both broke into a laugh. They seemed awfully comfortable, not just with each other but also with their conditions, she thought.

“Miki, this is Hanako. I don’t know if you two have spoken before,” Emi said.

“W-we haven’t… n-nice to meet you…” Hanako said, taking a tentative step back towards the pair. She knew of Miki, and Miki probably knew of her; it was a small school. It was true that she couldn’t remember ever actually talking to Miki before now, though.

“Pleasure’s mine,” Miki said.

“Now be gentle with her, Miki, I already rammed into her once today. Sorry about that again, by the way!”

“You did, huh? Don’t worry Hana, she’s not singling you out or anything. Gettin’ nailed by Emi is basically a rite of passage in the track team—in more ways than one,” Miki said, giving Hanako a wink.

“Hey!” Emi said, pouting at her.

“C’mon Emi, I bet she’s not so fragile. Hmm…” Miki considered, looking Hanako over again. “Bet she could take you in a scrap, Emi.”

“Could not! Neither could you!” Emi countered, sticking her tongue out defiantly.

“Yeah, well? Only one way to find out! How about it, Hana? Deathmatch on the roof?”

“I-it would be like a scene from a b-battle anime…” Hanako said.

“Ha… ahaha! It sure is, isn’t it?” Miki agreed.

“But who’s the villain?” Emi asked.

“M-me!” Hanako volunteered, both of the other girls looking at her in surprise.

“Oh yeah, do your pose, Hana!” Emi encouraged.

“M-my pose?”

“Yeah, you know! This one!” Emi said, placing a hand over the right side of her face and widening her remaining visible eye to try and match one of Hanako’s skittish expressions.

“Hey, I could swear I’ve seen some show where they pose like that to do their special attack,” Miki added.

“Isn’t that like, all of them?” Emi said.

“A-ah! O-okay, umm…”

Hanako closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then raised a hand to cover the right side of her face and tried to put on a fierce expression. Judging by the other girls’ responses, it was about as threatening as she expected, which was to say not at all.

“Tr-transform!… uhh… o-one-eyed… library g-guardian!” she said, making up her “supervillain name” off the top of her head.

“She of the bean-bag throne, huh?” Miki said.

“Ha! That’s cute, Hana. You should use that sometime, go up to somebody when they’re in the library and tell them they’ve angered the guardian or whatever. You know, like Misha and her stupid eye-covering thing,” Emi proposed.

“Mmm, m-maybe I’ll do it to her next time…”

“Next time what?” Emi asked.

“Next time they have a library date. Duh,” Miki said, giving Hanako a knowing look. She was momentarily petrified. How did Miki know about those? “Suzu’s in the lit club, y’know. That damn laugh woke her up the other day. Dunno how you got Mikado into books, but if she’s gonna be in the library now, it really will need a guardian to protect it from her voice.”

“Ha, yeah… she d-doesn’t have much of an inside v-voice…” Hanako said.

After Miki’s explanation, now Emi was giving her a similar kind of look. Those naughty eyes again… Hanako gulped, dreading what might come out of Emi’s mouth next if this line of conversation continued. She needed to distract her somehow.

“L-l-let’s have a b-battle!” she blurted out, pointing at Emi.

“Huh? Uhh, okay,” Emi said, taken slightly aback at the sudden challenge. “But… how? I can’t actually fight you… how about an arm wrestle?” Emi offered. “Winner has to eat lunch up here with the loser, with me and Rin both next time. Sound fair?”

“O-okay!”

Wait. Winner had to eat lunch with… so if Emi won, she’d have to… before Hanako had time to think about it too much, the challenge was already underway. Emi walked back to a bench, kneeling down and placing her arm in the requisite position; Miki shoved Hanako lightly after her with a small clap on the back, punctuating the gesture with “Go get ‘er!”

No sooner had she assumed the position than Hanako felt Emi’s arm bearing down on her own, nearly pinning her right away. She recovered from the surprise before her hand could actually touch the wood, though. It was tough, but as she put more and more strength into her opposition, Hanako found herself pushing Emi back towards the middle. Emi’s concentration intensified and she grunted with effort, even leaning forward a bit as she put her all into the fight… only to find that the pendulum had now swung back past the midway point. Realizing the futility of her efforts, she gave up and let Hanako pin her.

“Damn! You’re strong, Hana!”

“R-really? I don’t know…”

“Ha! Don’t let her fool ya. Truth is, she’s just too little to keep up with the big girls,” Miki said.

“Yeah, yeah, go on and make another joke about beating me one-handed,” Emi said, rolling her eyes.

“Heh, I can beat you no-handed. I’ll prove it! Alright, Hana, my turn!” Miki said.

“Wh-wha?!”

Battling Miki hadn’t been part of the deal but she wouldn’t be denied. Shoving Emi aside with a frightening lack of effort, she put her bandaged arm down and offered the stump for Hanako to grip.

“I’ll take you on with a handicap! How ‘bout that?” she said, grinning at her own pun.

“Uhh… o-okay!”

“Here I come!”

Hanako found herself pushed down a bit by the stump, once again taken off-guard, and once again recovering somewhat before losing too much ground. Miki was a lot stronger than Emi but having a hand gave Hanako leverage which her opponent lacked, allowing her to put up a good fight… or so she thought. Suddenly Hanako realized that, unlike Emi had been, Miki’s face was still completely relaxed. Amused, even.

Hanako’s eyes widened in awe as Miki’s bicep bulged out of her arm, the muscles rippling as a sudden surge of strength easily pinned Hanako’s hand.

“Ahh! Y-you got me!” she said.

“Ha! Don’t take it too hard… I work out. A bit.”

No kidding, Hanako thought. As they got up, she caught her eyes wandering over Miki’s toned body before looking away with a slight blush.

“I guess justice prevails after all?” Emi asked.

“How d’you know I’m a good guy? Maybe I’m just the bigger bad!” Miki countered.

“…You’re right, you’re totally the bigger bad.”

“Ha… Miki, it was n-nice to meet you, but we should pr-probably get going…” Hanako said.

“Oh, yes, yes! Crap, we’ve been goofing off up here way too long. We’re gonna be late!” Emi said.

Miki shrugged.

“Suit yourselves, I’m not goin’ anywhere. We’ve got math coming next, no way I’m stickin’ around for that. Math is boring as hell.”

“Y-you’re staying up here?” Hanako asked.

“Why d’you think I came up here?” she asked, growing a devilish grin as she fished for something in her pocket.

“Miki, wait, you’re not—”

Emi cut her statement short as Miki produced a small paper cylinder. It looked like a cigarette, but Hanako wasn’t sure… it wasn’t quite the right shape or color.

“Seriously?!” Emi exclaimed.

Miki shrugged again.

“Hana’s not gonna tell, right? Then she’d have to tell prez we were all up on the roof, too. Shizu would probably throw the book at all of us. Say, you like to skip sometimes, right Ikezawa? Wanna share?”

“Ah, I really sh-shouldn’t… is that… a c-cigarette?”

“Close enough. Few puffs of this, you’ll start seein’ stuff in those clouds like Rin does. You should try it sometime,” Miki said, lighting the joint and taking a deep drag.

“No th-thanks…”

“You’re hopeless, Miki.”

Emi sighed… then held out a hand, taking the joint from Miki.

“E-Emi!”

“Atta girl!”

“If I just hit it once this time, it’ll be fine, right?… ackk! Gahh, ahaghh!”

Emi nearly spit the thing out, white smoke coming out of her in small puffs as she fought a brief coughing fit.

“Ugh! I dunno why I hang out with you, Miki! This stuff’s horrible!”

“That ain’t what you said last time.”

“Well, I should have. You’re a terrible influence, you know that? C’mon, Hana! Let’s leave this delinquent to her devices!”

“Say hi to Misha for me!” Miki called as they walked back to the door.

“Oh, E-emi… remember, no r-running!”

“Ah! Sorry, sorry!… Thanks for hanging out with me today, Hana. And defending me from that hooligan Miura!”

“Th-thanks for asking me… Miki is f-funny. I hope she doesn’t get in tr-trouble for that c-cigarette, though…”

“Eh, she’d weasel out of it somehow. If they haven’t expelled her by now, I don’t think they’re going to. Now don’t forget, you have to eat with me and Rin sometime soon! Those were our terms!”

“R-right!… What about S-Saturday?”

“Sounds good! You can invite Misha too, if you want. She’s in on the secret spot. See ya!”

“B-bye bye!”

Hanako made a mental note to slip a physical note under Misha’s door sometime today.

Chapter 15 | Chapter 17
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:20 pm

Okay... Everything was all fine... Until you brought in Miki...
I know there's not much to go on in the VN, but I really had a hard time buying that character even before she broke out the joints. (How do you work out an arm without a hand, and why would you?
Emi smoking joints tops the whole ridiculousness, and you even insinuated she does this regularly. At that point I was half expecting Hanako to wake up from a dream at the end of the chapter ^^°
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by sloth4 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:48 pm

I agree with Mirage's point. The whole part with Miki felt jarring and out of place. I don't know that it's an issue or OOC necessarily, but something's off about it. Maybe the flow? Not sure.

Little too 'in your face' maybe? A lot of my scenes are like that on the first draft and I have writer's blindness to them (my Editing Gang usually yells at me to fix them before I see the issue). Maybe give it a once over and see if you'd change anything.

The rest of the chapter was great though.

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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:47 pm

Okay... Everything was all fine... Until you brought in Miki...
I know there's not much to go on in the VN, but I really had a hard time buying that character even before she broke out the joints. (How do you work out an arm without a hand, and why would you?
Emi smoking joints tops the whole ridiculousness, and you even insinuated she does this regularly. At that point I was half expecting Hanako to wake up from a dream at the end of the chapter ^^°
Lel I went hard on the memes there. I figured some people wouldn't appreciate it, folks on this forum seem to have a more serious mindset about that. I can probably sympathize if you find the presence of weed in a KS story jarring. I'm not sure how to work out a handless arm, but I'm sure that one can, and probably would if they were looking to stay in shape overall (here I may be biased a bit due to having just read Summer's Clover, in which a point is made of Miki's physical strength). Emi taking a hit was a callback to an Act 1 chapter where Rin mentions that "Miki gave her a funny smelling cigarette once" (my Act 1... not the game's) and that she regretted it. I have Emi pegged as someone who is tempted to experiment even if the vice ultimately isn't to her fancy.

Maybe I'll go back and tone it down some with Miki, in hindsight maybe I was trying too hard to differentiate her from Emi. Probably a similar issue to the one where I went a bit too hard with Lilly's lines on first pass of a particular scene, although Lilly also has much more of a "canon" personality. I dunno if I can bring myself to take out the memes though, you might just have to live with them. Horrible stale internet jokes are my own personal vice.
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Jul 17, 2018 1:23 am

Alright, I made some edits to that part of the last chapter, in hopes to help it flow a little better. The gist of the scene remains the same though. I could probably take that sequence out entirely and lose nothing of value, but I'm keeping it in just cause I think it's funny, even if no one else does ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Don't worry, no gang weeder Miki in this one! Got that out of my system for now.

---

Chapter 17: Communion

Hanako flipped idly through the light novel she’d checked out earlier today. After her encounter with Emi and Miki, she’d decided to try out a battle-type series again. Unfortunately, this had mostly just helped her to remember why she never really read these to start with. The over-wrought descriptions of the fighting techniques quickly got repetitive and there wasn’t nearly enough character interaction to make up for it, in Hanako’s opinion. The main character’s interactions with his love interest were surprisingly well-done when the author bothered with them—which was a shame, because he rarely did.

After trying to slog through another endless fight scene, she was just about ready to toss it aside when a knock came at the door.

“H-hello?” Hanako asked, crossing to the door and opening it slightly.

“Hello, Hanako. How are you?”

“Hi Lilly!” Hanako replied, happy to be drawn away from the light novel. “I’m good… j-just reading. You?”

A face framed by short red hair popped up over Lilly’s shoulder.

“Hey. Did you draw that?” Rin asked.

“R-Rin? Uhh… h-hi…” Hanako said, caught slightly off-guard.

She looked down at the light novel, its cover featuring a colorful manga-style illustration.

“N-no, it’s just something from the l-library…”

“Not that thing,” Rin clarified. She brought one of her arm-stubs up and rested it on Lilly’s other shoulder, standing on tip-toes to point inside the room with it. “That.”

“Huh?”

Following her aim, Hanako saw that she was pointing at the RISK poster Misha had drawn her.

“A-ah!” she exclaimed, blushing a bit at having been caught with such a child-like thing hanging in her room. “N-no, Misha drew it… for m-me…”

“Oh. That’s too bad. It’s pretty good.”

“…i-it is?”

“Well, for someone with hair.”

“What does that mean, Rin?” Lilly asked.

“Too much hair, I mean. If you tried to draw with that much, it falls everywhere and gets all up in your ink. Messes up your lighting, too,” she explained.

Surprisingly coherent, Hanako thought. But still, if they got started asking Rin questions, they’d be standing here all night. Seeming to realize this, Lilly gently nudged Rin away from the door.

“Well, let’s not trouble Hanako about her room, shall we?”

“Wh-what are you guys doing?” Hanako asked.

“I was coming back from the store with Hisao and we ran into Rin on the way home. She hasn’t eaten and neither have I, so I thought I might make a late dinner for us. Have you eaten yet?” Lilly offered.

“Oh, n-no… I was just going to sn-snack…”

“That’s what I was afraid of. You know it’s not healthy to skip meals.”

“I-I know… that’s why you’re ar-around, Lilly.”

Lilly furrowed her brow, considering how to take this statement.

“Her c-cooking is really good, Rin. You’re in for a treat,” Hanako added to assuage her.

Hanako went ahead and stepped out of her room, taking Lilly’s sleeve to show that she was ready to go. Taking her cue, Lilly began to tap down the hall, leading them towards the small kitchenette and common area at its end.

“Do you think cooking is like art?” Rin asked.

Hanako wasn’t sure which of them was going to take Rin’s bait, or if they would just sort of ignore it, but Lilly went ahead and bit.

“I think cooking could be considered an art form, yes. World-class chefs train for years to perfect their skills, learning to create unique dishes whose flavor is all their own.”

“So your food will be to me like my mural is to you?”

“I suppose that’s a fair comparison. Though I would be flattered if you considered my cooking on the level of an artist’s work… there’s also simply cooking for sustenance.”

“I paint for sustenance,” Rin said.

Lilly considered this. She didn’t quite agree with the comparison but wasn’t sure how to refute it either. Trying to contradict Rin rarely worked out the way one hoped it to.

“I look forward to seeing your sustenance, Lilly,” Rin said, thankfully relieving her of the need to come up with a counterpoint.

“Thank you, Rin. I hope you enjoy it.”

“S-so… you went to the store with H-Hisao, Lilly?” Hanako asked as they entered the kitchen area.

“Oh, I thought I would go alone. He happened to be going as well—we met on the road.”

“Then you picked me up next. Now we’ve got Hanako. You’re assembling quite the collection,” Rin observed.

Lilly and Hanako laughed a bit. Situating herself at the kitchen counter, Lilly began to arrange the small collection of vegetables she’d brought from her grocery haul. Recognizing the set-up for a vegetable stir fry, Hanako took her place at the cutting board automatically, chopping the ingredients up as Lilly handed them to her. Carrots, cabbage, snow peas, and bean sprout… just how Hanako liked it. Lilly had chosen the ingredients before even coming to her room, she thought.

“S-sorry I didn’t go with you…” Hanako said.

“It’s alright. I’m just glad that, ah… everything’s okay.”

“There was a chance that it wouldn’t be?” Rin asked, suddenly keen at the exact moment Hanako wished she wouldn’t be. It wasn’t the first time she’d stood Lilly up on their weekend shopping runs. At least this time it was an honest mistake though.

“I-I just got caught up reading…” Hanako explained.

“Yes, that’s what Hisao told me, that you were in the library. There’s a packet of pork in the refrigerator—would you get that next, please?”

“I-it’s good that someone could go with you,” Hanako said.

“Quite. I think it was good for him, as well. Hisao didn’t seem to be doing too well on the walk back…”

“H-he didn’t?”

“He seemed… unusually tired. That’s all. At least, he said that was all, that he was fine. Honestly… I don’t know that I believe him.”

“E-Emi told me she tried to get him to run, b-but… he didn’t have much energy th-then, either.”

Lilly frowned.

“That isn’t good. He needs to take care of himself… both physically and emotionally. I’m a bit worried about him, to tell the truth. It’s clear that the adjustment is not going well.”

“I don’t think I’ve seen him smile once yet. That isn’t a good way for a person to be,” Rin agreed, nodding sagely.

“He seems to like you, R-Rin,” Hanako said, stepping back so Lilly could collect the ingredients and begin mixing them together in the pan.

“…He does?”

“Mmhmm. H-he’s been helping you paint, right?”

“Oh. Does that count? I’m helping you cook… I guess I like you, though. So it counts.”

First of all, Hanako didn’t see how Rin was really helping them, but that still wasn’t her first question.

“R-R-Rin! I, ah… uhh…”

Hanako stepped back and covered her scars, turning her face so she could only just see Rin out of the corner of her eye. Tilting her head from her place at the stove, Lilly laughed at them.

“I don’t think that was a confession, Hanako. Rin, what she means is, perhaps Hisao is interested in you. As a… romantic option.”

“After I told him I thought he had a problem in his pants?”

A rare look of horror passed over Rin’s face as she made a connection.

“He better not be hoping to prove me wrong in person!” she said.

Lilly struggled to suppress a laugh, while Hanako continued to blush in embarrassment at the subject matter.

“Y-you told him that?!” Hanako asked.

Rin shrugged.

“I like to guess people’s problems. I’m pretty good at it, too. Like you, hmm…”

Rin closed her eyes and leaned back against the counter, falling into deep thought for a moment.

“You never go outside, and you can’t do a lot of exercise… plus, you’re missing some of your skin from heavy burns. I’m going to guess xeroderma pigmentosum!” she declared, looking unusually intense as she waited for Hanako’s answer.

“Wh-wha?! What is that?”

“It’s a genetic disorder that decreases the body’s ability to repair DNA damage caused by ultraviolet light. Those who have it can suffer severe sunburns from just a few minutes in direct sunlight.”

“…H-how do you know th-that?”

“I go to the library sometimes, too. If I’m going to collect disabilities, I’ve got to read up on them. So, you have it?”

“N-n-no!”

“…Aww, really? I felt sure about that one…”

“Please don’t ask Hanako about her condition, Rin. Here, let’s eat,” Lilly interjected, feeling along the counter to find the three plates she had set out and heaping servings of the stir fry onto them. There was a small dining table in the common area nearby. The three girls took their seats and began to eat. Hanako liked trying to cook for herself but the first bite reminded her that she still wasn’t at Lilly’s level. It always amazed her how much better Lilly’s cooking tasted, even with something as simple as a stir fry. It made Hanako think that maybe cooking was subtle enough to be called an art after all.

“How was your day, Hanako?” Lilly asked.

“G-good… what about you?” she replied, exchanging the usual pleasantries.

Lilly didn’t give the expected “It was good as well,” instead pausing and frowning.

“L-Lilly?”

The blonde girl sighed, putting her chopsticks down for a moment.

“It’s just something that’s been on my mind today. Shizune got onto me yesterday about that budget request. It shouldn’t have been an issue, but… things got a bit heated.”

“Oh dear,” Hanako said, using one of Lilly’s phrases. It felt appropriate here.

“I suppose it would be hard to do budget math in this weather. It has been really hot,” Rin said.

If only she knew, Hanako thought. Lilly looked grateful for the levity this “observation” provided, perking back up a bit.

“It wouldn’t bother me except that Hisao got caught up in the middle of it. He tried to take my side, but it wasn’t really fair for him to be involved at all. I hope Shizune isn’t too harsh on him because of it…”

“Lilly…”

Hanako put down her chopsticks as well, looking halfway between sadness and disappointment.

“I th-thought you and Shicchan were… that you were o-okay, now.”

Lilly laughed, a tinge of bitterness hiding behind the act.

“If only it were that easy, Hanako. We may have been able to put aside our differences where you were concerned, but I assure you, where I’m concerned, Shizune still feels like she has to win her war.”

“A-are you sure you aren’t, maybe… antag-g-gonizing her, a bit?”

Lilly’s eyes narrowed, seeming to interpret this as a challenge.

“It’s she who antagonizes me, nearly every chance she gets. I’ve tried to be patient, but she simply refuses to change.”

“M-maybe… I think, I th-think… maybe you should t-talk to her about it. If it’s… c-catching other people in it, like H-Hisao…”

“I don’t think that would go very well, Hanako, do you?”

Hanako looked away and covered her scars, hearing the edge in Lilly’s voice. That was a rhetorical question.

“M-maybe not…” she conceded.

“Listen, Hanako. I don’t want you to worry about me and Shizune, okay? I can handle her myself. You needn’t trouble yourself with it.”

An awkward silence fell, the issue still heavy in both girls’ minds but neither one wanting to discuss it any further. Hanako glanced over at Rin, searching for a change of subject. Rin didn’t look like she’d taken even a single bite of her food, instead pushing it around on her plate using her stubs, a look of intense concentration of her face.

“…R-Rin, uhh… what are you doing?” Hanako asked.

“I’m arranging,” she non-answered.

“Is it not to your liking, Rin?” Lilly asked, picking up on the situation. “I apologize if so…”

“No, it’s very good.”

“B-but you haven’t eaten any…” Hanako pointed out.

“Of course not. You don’t eat art. At least, I don’t.”

Lilly looked ready to put a palm to her face. Hanako smiled in amusement at Rin’s strange mindset.

“It’s okay, Rin. You, erm… need to eat the cooking to appreciate the art of it. The work is in the flavor,” Lilly explained.

“Oh. I guess that makes sense.”

“D-do you want me to, umm… h-help you?” Hanako asked tentatively.

Rin looked at her plate, then to the set of chopsticks sitting beside it, then to Hanako, then back to her food. While she might be able to eat this with her feet, she’d probably have to sit on the table to do it. Chairs made things considerably more complicated.

“Yes, please,” she finally decided.

“O-okay…”

“That’s very generous of you, Hanako,” Lilly said with a smile.

“Well, yeah, sh-she, uhh… w-with the…”

Hanako’s arms flapped limply, trying and failing to make some kind of gesture that Lilly wouldn’t have been able to see anyways. Rin gave her a reassuring grin.

“It’s okay. You can say it. I’m easy to talk to,” she reassured Hanako.

“Hmm?”

Rin raised her stubs and waved them back and forth a bit before holding them in a brief t-pose.

“I’ve got no arms. See? If I can say it, anyone can. That’s how it works… I think.”

“Oh… well…”

Unsure of what else to say but grateful that Rin had tackled that issue herself, Hanako got up and walked to Rin’s side, taking the chopsticks between her fingers. She was still a little hesitant about this… she didn’t want Rin to feel as though Hanako was treating her like a baby. Rin didn’t seem to share that concern, happily lunging her head forward onto the sticks as soon as Hanako grabbed a pile of food for her. Rin was actually pretty cute, Hanako thought, watching her mouth open like a chick waiting for a worm between each bite. It would be nice if she could learn to be as relaxed about everything as Rin was…

Soon all the food had disappeared from their plates and it was time to clean up. Lilly assured Rin that she didn’t need to help with that, tapping her way back into the kitchen to begin washing the dishes. Rin thanked them for the food and made her way back down the hall to her room, while Hanako followed Lilly into the kitchen to help with the dishes. Before long it was time for them to part ways as well.

“Good night, Hanako. See you at lunch tomorrow?”

“Umm, a-actually, I… I’m eating w-with Emi tomorrow. She asked me again…”

“Is that so… why haven’t you told me about this?”

“W-well, I err… j-just did?”

Lilly furrowed her brow, her expression difficult to read.

“Y-you can come, too… if you w-want. It’s a s-secret spot, though. So you h-have to pinky swear not to t-tell.”

Lilly paused to consider.

“…I think I can come along. But, Hanako…”

“Yes?”

“I would appreciate it if you would let me know about such things in the future.”

“Wh-why?”

“I simply like to have my schedule in order.”

“O-okay, Lilly… good night.”

Upon entering her room again, Hanako was pleased to find a slip of paper waiting for her under the door, the same one she’d passed to Misha’s room yesterday. The flipside of it had pink words written in a curly script. It was funny how Misha still used a pink pen even for something as simple as these notes.

Sure, Hacchan, that sounds like fun. I can get away from Shicchan for at least that long!


Hanako frowned at the idea of Misha having to dodge her friend like that. If they were going to keep hanging out more with Emi and Rin, Shizune would probably find out about the roof, sooner or later… oh well. That was a problem for another day.

Chapter 16 | Chapter 18
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jul 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Uh oh... Hisao seems to be one a one-way trip to the Deep End...

Better chapter again - a few very nice Rin lines.
It's fun reading about so many of the characters, and you're doing well with the characterization (for most), but with Hanakos circle of friends growing this large, she's starting to become one of the most sociable people in Yamaku...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:57 pm

What can I say, I'm a huge sucker for Hanako ^.^ I'm just glad you like the characterizations (other than memer Miki <.>). I did try to make sure that all of these social situations in Act 2 are ones that pretty much happen to Hanako, as opposed to being instigated by her, with the exception of the Student Council work she committed herself to. I like to think the Misha pairing would make her more sociable, though. Part of its appeal to me is that I see Misha as someone who wouldn't try to insulate Hanako like Hisao or Lilly might, but instead just naturally expects her to keep up like anyone else.

Anyways, penultimate chapter for Act 2. Last one is coming up next!

---

Chapter 18: Divulgence

Hanako looked around anxiously as she made her way down the hall, wary of being caught near Shizune. Shizune couldn’t know she was going up to the roof even if she saw her enter the stairwell, but for some reason, she just couldn’t keep the worry of her aside. Hanako couldn’t rely on Emi’s trick of listening for Misha today, and without Misha… Shizune suddenly became like an assassin, silent and deadly, she thought, capable of sneaking up on anyone. One minute you thought you were safe, the next you were being fined or hauled in for questioning, all without even being able to communicate with your scowling captor. Yikes!

The tap of a finger on her right shoulder rescued Hanako from her own imagination—she jumped in surprise, feeling sure that Shizune had caught her, but a loud voice quickly relieved her fears.

“Guess who~!”

Looking to her right, Hanako found that no one was there. A gentle poke in the rib told her that Misha was actually on her left, probably having done the reach-around trick.

“Ah! Misha… y-you got me!” Hanako said, her mood already brightening at Misha’s presence.

“Yup, yup~! Shicchan taught me that one. Wahaha~!”

“Wh-where is she? Are we… s-safe?”

“Waha~, don’t worry, Hacchan. She’s in the Student Council room! Everything’s fine, fine~!”

“What did you tell her?”

“That I got invited to eat with you guys, of course~! She is too busy with paperwork to wander off for lunch like I am doing. I told her I would bug you all lots and lots about the festival, so she said it’s okay!”

“B-but you didn’t tell her where we’re eating…” Hanako inferred.

“She didn’t ask~!”

That was pretty lucky, Hanako thought. Misha was a terrible liar. If Shizune had asked, they’d probably have been caught, even with the sign language for Misha to hide behind.

“Say, Hacchan, are you okay? You look like you’re limping a bit! I hope it’s not from—”

“O-o-oh, n-no! N-nothing like that!” Hanako protested. “L-look,” she continued, matching Misha’s stride for a moment. “I can w-walk just fine!”

“Okay~! That’s good, but~! Why were you doing it all funny just now?”

“I-I was, uhh… it’s a l-little, umm…”

“Were you thinking about what it’s like for Emi to walk, maybe?” Misha guessed.

“Ah! N-no! It’s just a g-game, that I play…”

Misha scratched her head at this.

“A walking game?”

“S-sure. You try to step on only t-tiles of one color, like this,” Hanako explained, resuming her pattern of only stepping on the dark tiles.

“Ahaha~! That’s silly, Hacchan! Let me try!”

Misha mirrored Hanako by only stepping on the light tiles so that they covered both colors.

“Mmhmm. Just like that,” Hanako said, smiling at her.

“What a funny game~! How did you come up with it, Hacchan?”

“Hmm. I-I don’t really know… how did you c-come up with your guessing game?”

“My guessing game?”

“Y-yeah, you know…”

Hanako took an unexpected step backwards, quickly getting behind Misha and covering her eyes.

“G-guess who~!” she said, doing her best to imitate Misha’s voice.

“Ah, wahaha~! That’s not bad, Hana-chan. Now you got me!”

Misha tried to take another step forward, only to find that Hanako’s hands remained firm in their grip over her face.

“Ack! Hacchan!”

“Y-you didn’t guess yet, M-misha!”

“Oh! Okay then…”

Misha suddenly leaned back into Hanako, reaching up and pressing her fingers to the hands over her eyes.

“Hmm… whoever you are, you have long, pretty fingers, and nice soft skin… and really~ silky hair!” Misha said, taking hold of a purple lock that had fallen over her shoulder.

“M-Misha!” Hanako exclaimed, giving up her hold and stepping back with a blush.

“Aha! It’s Hacchan—I knew it~!” Misha said, taking her hands again and giving them a brief squeeze. Hanako managed a smile through her embarrassment.

“C-come on Misha, we’ll be l-late…”

“Sure, sure~!”

***

Hanako figured their little exchange must have gotten Misha in the mood to play the guessing game some more, because the first thing she did when they found the roof empty was to press herself up against the wall next to the door, clearly preparing to launch an ambush. It only took a couple minutes of waiting for Rin and Emi to arrive. Rin was the first to emerge from the stairwell; Misha shot into action as soon as Rin had walked past, holding her hands over Rin’s eyes.

Hanako had worried that this might scare her but Rin just seemed to accept it as something that happened sometimes, standing still without any reactions apparent.

“Guess who~!”

“Shizune,” Rin said flatly. “Does this mean we’re in trouble?”

“What?!” Misha sputtered, releasing Rin in shock and circling around to her front. “Why would you say that? I don’t sound like Shicchan!” Misha declared, aiming an accusatory finger at Rin.

“I guess we get to live,” Rin said, looking around to confirm Shizune’s absence.

“Actually, Misha, you kind of do sound like her. You’re practically her voice, after all,” Emi said, stepping out after Rin. “You’re lucky you didn’t try that crap on me! I probably would’ve kicked you just out of surprise.”

“I guess that’s true, Emi, I guess it is~! But~! You shouldn’t warn me not to make you guess… now I’m gonna have to get you with it one day!” Misha said.

Emi gave her a death glare.

“Well, that’s what Shicchan would do, at least! Wahaha~! Let’s eat!”

Misha defused any further challenges from Emi by getting straight to the food, rushing over to the nearest bench and digging in. It didn’t surprise Hanako that she was the most eager to eat out of everyone here. Misha really took pleasure in the simple things—food was no exception. Based on how she looked right now, Hanako thought food might be the biggest simple pleasure for Misha, in fact.

“S-so… why are there b-benches and stuff, if we’re not s-supposed to come up here?” Hanako asked, noting the other benches and tables scattered around the roof.

“I’d guess people used to be allowed to use the roof back before that part of the fence broke. I think the staff still gives permission for people to use it on special occasions, like for the festival tomorrow. Is that right, Misha?” Emi asked.

“Mmmhmmpff!” Misha nodded emphatically, a bit of food falling out of her lips as she struggled to chew it down and speak. “But Shicchan won’t get permission this year. She said, she doesn’t want to be bothered trying to supervise people, because then she can’t enjoy the festival herself!”

“I thought she likes to supervise people,” Rin said.

“Not always, Rin. Not always. Besides~, she said people just use it as a place to come and make out for the fireworks! And that’s shameful!”

“I don’t see what difference it makes. People will just go somewhere else to do it. Her being a prude isn’t gonna stop them,” Emi said.

“Emi! Does that mean you’re going to make out with someone for the festival? Lewd acts in the midst of a public school event are absolutely not allowed, miss Ibarazaki! Absolutely not~!” Misha scolded her, doing a pretty good job of acting as Shizune’s voice.

“What? I didn’t say that!”

“I-It’s okay, Emi. Just r-remember to use the track shed. She never ch-checks there,” Hanako said.

Emi’s eyes grew huge as she slowly turned her head to face Hanako.

“What do you know about the track shed?” she asked, her tone deadly serious.

“N-nothing! I-I mean! Lilly t-told me!” Hanako said, shrinking away defensively.

“Ugh. Of course she did! What did she tell you?”

“J-just that the tr-track team use it, to… well, t-to, to… h-hook up,” Hanako said, her face bright red.

“Well, as long as she doesn’t go around telling everybody else. That busybody… speaking of her, I guess you didn’t invite her after all?”

“I-I did, and she even said she would c-come, but then this morning… sh-she changed her mind,” Hanako said.

“Huh? That’s too bad,” Emi said.

“Her cooking was very pretty,” Rin said, nodding in agreement.

“Sh-she said that she doesn’t really w-want to come up on the roof… because Sh-Shizune might get really mad if she f-found out.”

Emi frowned, but nodded that she understood.

“That makes sense. Shizune might let the lot of us off with a slap on the wrist, but Lilly… probably not.”

“You told her about the secret spot?” Misha asked, looking a bit disappointed.

“W-well, actually no… but she f-found out anyways,” Hanako said.

“That fast? Wow, what is that, Hacchan? It’s like a super power~!”

“She always finds st-stuff out like that…”

“How does she do it?” Rin asked.

“She just says ‘Ara, ara’ and gives people her best little princess smile, and they open up to her about everything! That’s what Shicchan thinks, at least,” Misha speculated.

“That sounds right. I mean, Miki likes to come up here too. The whole track team pretty much knows. If she could find out about the track shed, she could find out about the roof.”

“How many secret spots does the track team have, hm~? Is Shicchan going to have to investigate you?” Misha wondered.

“Hey! You promised not to tell!” Emi said.

“Haha, that’s right, I did~! I guess you are safe for now… but only if you let me say Emi-chan!”

“That wasn’t part of the deal. Don’t make me kick you!”

“No kicking, Emi-chan~. Physical violence is strictly forbidden in all circumstances! As the Student Council vice president, it would be my duty to punish you very severely, yes it would~!”

“Grrrr! You—”

Emi pouted at Misha, temporarily defeated.

“H-hey, Misha, I was w-wondering… what’s the d-deal you made?” Hanako asked.

Emi and Misha both went silent, neither one looking at Hanako. She felt like she had accidentally stumbled into somewhere that she wasn’t supposed to be. Rin, however, was willing to look right at her.

“I could tell you, but I can’t,” Rin explained.

“Wh-why not?”

“Because it’s something I’m not supposed to tell people. According to Emi.”

“Rin!” Emi chastised her. “You’re not supposed to tell people that you’re not supposed to tell people!”

“You didn’t explain that part,” Rin said. “These rules don’t make any sense.”

“Well, sometimes you don’t make any sense, Rin,” Emi said.

While they argued about it, Hanako looked up at Misha, her expression difficult to read for once. Her omnipresent smile was gone and Hanako almost thought she looked sad in the way that she had when she came to Hanako’s room, but… it wasn’t quite like that, either. She looked, regretful maybe? It was genuinely hard to read, which surprised Hanako. She had never really thought of Misha as someone that would show conflicting emotions like this.

“It’s okay,” Misha said, causing Emi and Rin to stop and look up at her. “It’s okay… if Hacchan knows.”

“Okay, Misha,” Emi said.

Even Rin seemed to know not to interject, letting Misha explain things instead.

“It was a little while ago, Hacchan. You see, I… uhm, I’m not sure how to say this…”

Hanako put a hand on Misha’s knee and gave her a reassuring smile. Misha took the hand appreciatively and gripped it as she spoke.

“Wh-whatever it is, Misha… I’m here,” Hanako said.

“Wahaha~. Okay, Hacchan. Well, I guess I’ll just say it… you see, I liked Shicchan. I really really liked her, you know? I… I wanted her to be my girlfriend.”

Misha paused to gauge Hanako’s reaction. There was no shock or recoil from her, just a squeeze on Misha’s hand and a nod to continue.

“I was rejected. Oh, and… then I came up here to be away from her, and I found Rin and Emi, so I told them,” she finished, adding the last part like an afterthought.

“M-Misha…”

Hanako couldn’t think of anything to say. The words “I’m sorry” came to mind easily but she pushed them away. This wasn’t a time for an apology, so she shouldn’t say that. Ultimately, there was nothing she could say, she decided. All she could do was listen and understand. Hanako leaned forward and gave Misha a hug, burying her face in a pink-clad shoulder for a few seconds to hide that she herself was tearing up a bit. Misha pat her on the back as she returned the hug, sniffing a couple times as they then pulled away. Hanako looked into Misha’s eyes as she wiped the moisture from her own.

“Thanks, Hacchan,” Misha said.

“I’m really sorry, Misha,” Emi said, filling in for Hanako. “Things just… these things don’t always work out. I would know.”

“It’s okay, Emi. I think I’m okay now,” Misha said.

“You liked Shizune too?” Rin asked Emi.

“No, you doof! I’ve had a boyfriend before, you know.”

“That’s not the same. Misha didn’t get to have a girlfriend,” Rin pointed out.

“Well, yes, but… as you can see, he isn’t here anymore. Sometimes people just aren’t right for each other.”

“I guess. How sad were you about it?”

Emi scolded her.

“Rin! Seriously? Don’t you remember that day I came in your room and just held onto you and cried?”

“Of course I remember that day. It was pretty weird. You’re not really a crying person, I don’t think.”

Emi sighed.

“That was the day we broke up, Rin.”

“It was? Oh.”

“You’re hopeless… say, Misha.”

She turned back to Misha, the mood having lightened back up with the exchange between her and Rin.

“You haven’t been having naughty thoughts about me, now, have you? I know I’ve got an athlete’s toned figure, but surely, the Student Council vice president should be able to restrain herself!”

Misha looked genuinely confused.

“Why would I think naughty thoughts about you, Emi?” she asked, drawing an offended huff from Emi.

“You like girls, right? Are you saying I’m not worth thinking about?”

“Huh? Emi! I’m not like that!” Misha protested.

“Are you sure? I could swear I caught you peeking when I was doing stretches at the last track meet!”

Emi made as if to pull her skirt farther down over her knees and kicked her legs a bit.

“I know they’re a catch, but try to control yourself, Micchan!” Emi teased, sensing an angle by which to get back at her for earlier.

“Wahaha~! You are a catch, Emi-chan, but~! It’s really not like that. I don’t just… I don’t just like all girls, like boys do. I don’t really know if I like girls or boys. I was thinking about it, and… I think I just like who I like,” Misha explained.

“Hmm. That kind of reminds me of Miki. She seems the same way, like she just gets an eye for a certain person, could be a guy or a girl,” Emi said.

“E-Emi! Sh-should you really just be, t-telling us that?” Hanako asked.

“About Miura? It’s fine, she wears it on her sleeve. She’s not the type to hide who she is. Besides, this place isn’t the sort to judge you for it. Everyone here understands what it’s like to be different.”

“Well, Misha, you can look at me if you like. I don’t mind,” Rin said, raising her stubs as if to put herself on display.

“Rin, where did that come from?!” Emi asked. “Are you crushing on Misha now?”

“Hmm.”

Rin seemed to consider the question seriously.

“No, I don’t think so,” she finally decided. “It’s just that I like looking at people sometimes. So it only seems fair if I let them look at me.”

“So you do like looking at boys!” Emi declared proudly.

“Sometimes. Is there something wrong with that?” Rin asked.

“Ahaha~, you two are so silly! What about Hicchan, Rin? Do you like looking at him?” Misha asked.

This time Rin didn’t hesitate.

“No. I think he might be handsome, but he isn’t yet. He needs to destroy himself first. Like you did.”

“Does he?” Misha prompted.

“Everyone should, sooner or later. You weren’t you anymore, but then you did it, and you went back to being you. Or… you made a new you, that could still carry the good parts of the old you, but left the bad parts behind. Something like that,” Rin said.

“Hmmm. Maybe Hicchan should do that, Rin. Maybe. Well~! I have to go find Shicchan to do more council stuff, or it’s the death sentence for me~! Wahaha~!”

“Yeah, we should probably be going too,” Emi said.

“O-okay. Thanks for inviting us! I-I had fun!” Hanako said, getting up along with the rest of them.

“Remember, everyone! The festival is tomorrow. Attendance is mandatory… and so is having fun~! I’ll make sure to find you all there. So get ready~! Wahahaha~!”

Chapter 17 | Chapter 19
Last edited by Hanako Fancopter on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:54 pm, edited 6 times in total.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
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Mirage_GSM
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:31 pm

I did try to make sure that all of these social situations in Act 2 are ones that pretty much happen to Hanako, as opposed to being instigated by her, with the exception of the Student Council work she committed herself to. I like to think the Misha pairing would make her more sociable, though. Part of its appeal to me is that I see Misha as someone who wouldn't try to insulate Hanako like Hisao or Lilly might, but instead just naturally expects her to keep up like anyone else.
Basically what I was trying to say was that any one of the friendships Hanako makes are believable to some degree. I definitely buy Misha and Emi, and you even kind of made Rin and Shizune work, but all of them together are quite a bit of a stretch - especially since it wasn't even Misha who initiated some of these.
“I-It’s okay, Emi. Just r-remember to use the track shed. She never ch-checks there,” Hanako said.
Shouldn't that be Misha's line?
“J-just that the tr-track team use it, to… well, t-to, to… h-hook up,” Hanako said, her face bright red.
And Lilly would know that how?
Misha might know that the shed is below Shizune's radar, and Emi might know about the track team's habits, but neither Hanako not Lilly are likely to have that information...
She turned back to Misha, the mood having lightened back up with the exchange between she and Rin.
between HER and Rin.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Tue Jul 17, 2018 7:18 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:31 pm
“I-It’s okay, Emi. Just r-remember to use the track shed. She never ch-checks there,” Hanako said.
Shouldn't that be Misha's line?
It could've been Misha's line as well, yes. In an earlier chapter I characterized Lilly as a bit of a gossip-monger who likes to collect tidbits like these--she'd also be aware of a lot of Shizune's habits from her time as the Student Council vice president.
Basically what I was trying to say was that any one of the friendships Hanako makes are believable to some degree. I definitely buy Misha and Emi, and you even kind of made Rin and Shizune work, but all of them together are quite a bit of a stretch - especially since it wasn't even Misha who initiated some of these.
I'm just happy you think I could make them all at least kind of work, lol. I didn't really set out with an arbitrary friend limit in mind for Hanako. All together they're a total of 6 people, so even if we include all of the other girls, Hanako can still count her friends on just one hand. I think she can handle it!

It's funny how the parts that I worry about the most when I'm writing never end up being the ones where others see an issue--personally, I've been consistently worried that my writing was the weakest with Emi.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
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Re: An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Thu Jul 19, 2018 3:47 pm

Chapter 19: Plunge

Hanako woke up later than she’d meant to. The sounds of the festival were already going strong outside. She didn’t plan to spend all day out there… too hot, too many people. Maybe she’d just hang out in her room and do a little reading first, then check out the festival. A sharp, continuous knock on her door made her think that someone probably wasn’t about to let her do that. Come to think of it, what had woken her up to begin with? It had been a particularly loud voice out in the hall…

“Come out, come out Hacchan~!”

Opening her door revealed Misha standing in the frame, taking up the whole thing with her typical wide stance. Shizune waited behind her in the hallway.

“Guess who, Hacchan~! You didn’t think we were about to let you hide away for the festival, did you? No, no—that’s no good~!”

Misha offered her hand and Hanako took it happily.

“We’re going to go and have fun today, Hacchan. From your Student Council representatives: That’s an order~!”

“M-ma’am… y-yes ma’am!” Hanako replied.

“Wahahahaha~! Shicchan says, finally someone addresses her with the respect she deserves! Let’s go to the festival!”

***

“W-wow… it’s so big…” Hanako said, trying to wrap her vision around the whole spectacle from the top of the stairs near the dorms.

“Yep, yep~! We went all out this year. Even though there’s only two of us! Well, three, sort of! You built a couple of those stalls, after all, Hacchan!”

“Y-yeah… s-sorry I couldn’t do m-more.”

“You did more than anyone else, though. We couldn’t even get Hicchan to help with the hard stuff, but you got right to it. As a reward, Shicchan declares that you are entitled to eat lunch with us at one of the food stalls. Our treat!”

“Th-thanks, Shicchan! Hmm…”

Scanning the grounds some more, it didn’t take long to spot Lilly’s noodle stand. Her height and her blonde hair helped her stand out.

“…H-how about that o-one?” Hanako asked, pointing it out.

“Sure, sure~!”

Misha took her hand again and pulled her forward, skipping ahead just fast enough to move at a steady pace without straining Hanako, though she did nearly trip as she scrambled to adjust her pace.

“Careful not to step on the wrong tiles, now, Hacchan! Wahaha~!”

“Th-there’s no tiles out here, Misha… outside you play by st-stepping over cracks.”

“Ah, I see, I see~! Hmm…”

Misha stopped as she claimed a spot in line for herself and Hanako, looking back to Shizune and waving at her. The president was coming along behind them but refused to move faster than a brisk walk, looking slightly annoyed at Misha’s running ahead.

“Let’s have a contest! Who can go the longest without stepping on any cracks today?… What are the stakes, Shicchan? Hmm, hm~, I don’t know. What do you think, Hacchan?” she asked.

“Umm… m-maybe, the loser has to do something, s-something really embarrassing!” Hanako suggested.

“Waha~, well sure, Hacchan! But~! What would it be?”

Hanako realized that by participating, she’d be giving herself a fair chance to end up having to do the embarrassing thing. Maybe she should’ve thought about it more before blurting that out…

“The loser has to join the Student Council? Shicchan, that’s not fair~! Me and you don’t have to do it! Okay, that was just a joke, Shicchan says!”

Hanako breathed a sigh of relief at that. What was something that would be embarrassing for Shizune but not for her? That was hard, because Hanako felt like she could get embarrassed over just about anything. What if…

“…th-the loser has to be a helper for a d-day!” she declared.

“Hm~?”

“L-like… they have to follow around the other tw-two, and do st-stuff, for them… like the k-king game, but it’s all day. A-a-and… the other two are the k-king and queen!”

This way, if she lost, things wouldn’t really be too different from normal, Hanako thought. Shizune and Misha wouldn’t make her do anything too hard or uncomfortable… probably… but, if Shizune lost…

“Does that make the loser the pawn? I like it! It’s a good idea, Shicchan says! She’ll win for sure and then she’ll be the king, and we’ll both be her pawns! Wahaha~!… Hey Shicchan, I wanna be a queen if Hacchan loses!”

“Whatever are you going on about, Misha? You’re not troubling Hanako into doing work for the council today, are you?” Lilly asked.

Caught up in their negotiations, the trio had barely noticed when they arrived at the front of the line.

“Nothing, Lilly. Nothing~! Hacchan’s not working at all. None of us are! Even the Student Council gets days off, you know!”

An adjustment of Shizune’s glasses indicated that this last statement had been hers.

“And yet here I am, working in this stall all day. My, how ironic…”

“And we thank you very much for your service, Lilly. We’re really glad you could pull your stall together after all! It looks good—whoever built it did a really good job! Wahaha~!”

Lilly tried to figure out which of those statements came from whom, and how serious they were, then sighed and gave up. Sparring with Shizune was too exhausting to bother with today.

“Thank you. I hope you enjoy our food. What will you have?”

Shizune laid out a small collection of coins on the stall counter, then guided Lilly’s hand over so she could count them while Misha relayed their orders. After Lilly relayed them in turn to the students cooking behind her, Hanako brushed the back of her right hand against Lilly’s to get her attention.

“Y-you know, Lilly… th-this is our stall after all, mine and yours. I-I built it!” Hanako exclaimed proudly.

“Hey, that’s right, this is one of Hacchan’s! See, that’s why Hacchan gets to relax with the Student Council all day. She already did her work, ahaha~!”

Lilly squeezed Hanako’s fingers and smiled at her.

“Thank you for the stall, Hanako. It’s quite sturdy. I’m glad you were able to help me with my festival project after all… did you choose which stalls to build?”

“Umm, n-no, Shicchan assigned them…”

Shizune adjusted her glasses again, giving Hanako a proud smile but saying nothing.

“Hm. Well, you and the council did a very good job getting all of these assembled. It must have been a lot of work. Enjoy the festival, Hanako. Remember—go back inside if you start feeling tired,” Lilly said.

“I-I know, Lilly. I hope you have f-fun too.”

“See you later, Lilly!… Ahh, Hacchan, watch out!”

Misha suddenly threw an arm in front of Hanako as they stepped away, stopping her mid-step. It was a small miracle that they both managed to hang on to their noodles, but even if they had dropped them, Misha had prevented a tragedy that was potentially even greater. Hanako had been right about to step on a crack in the cement!

“Oh! Th-th-thanks, Misha! That was r-really close!”

“No helping her? Shicchan, don’t you want the game to last a while, so it’s a good challenge? Of course you do~! Wahaha~!”

***

“Oh, oh~, look who it is!”

Misha pointed to one of the game stalls where Emi was trying and failing to knock some bottles down for a prize.

“This is our chance, Hacchan!”

“Mmhmm… th-those prizes look cute.”

“No, no, this is our chance to get Emi-chan! Come on!”

Misha imitated reaching forward and covering someone’s hands with her eyes, then pointed at Hanako.

“Y-you want me to d-d-do it?!”

“Of course, Hacchan, of course~! She’ll never guess! Ahahaha~!”

Shizune gave Hanako a nod and a gentle push on the shoulder to encourage her, grinning deviously. It seemed she was quite happy to play along with the guessing game when she was the one helping to inflict it on others.

“A-a-alright… I-I hope she doesn’t k-kick me…”

“She can’t, Hacchan. We’d make her pay a fine, yes we would~!”

Hanako was pretty sure that that was not how reflexes worked but she was willing to risk it anyway. A sudden kick was probably more dangerous to Emi than anyone else, if it might make her fall down. She looked back to Misha and Shizune as she crept up behind Emi, getting nods and thumbs up for encouragement. They swooped in behind her as she sprung the trap.

“Guess who~!”

“Aghh!”

It turned out that Emi did not, in fact, kick out of reflex, but she did pout and stamp her legs a little. Hanako found it rather cute.

“Misha, damn it! I was about to win!”

“Guess right and we’ll pay for you to go again!”

“I know it’s you, Misha!”

“Wrong~! Wahaha~!”

“What? Oh, you said we…”

“I did? Drat! Sorry, Shicchan~!”

“Ha! Gotcha, it’s Shizune!”

“Nope. Wrong again, Emi~! You get one more try!”

“Wait, it’s not… but how… crap, I don’t know! It’s, uhh… it’s both of you! You’re both using one hand!”

“Wahahahaha~! Wrong again! You lose! Ahaha~!”

“Grrrr! Well let go of me then, whoever you are!”

Hanako complied and Emi whirled around, looking ready to give her unknown assailant a piece of her mind, but froze dead stop when she saw who it was.

“Ahh! Hanako! What are you doing here?! I mean, uhh! You really got me, ehehe! I had no idea…”

Hanako gave her a reassuring smile.

“Y-yep. G-got you, Emi! Ha… haha!”

Emi’s frustration melted in the face of that smile. She rubbed the back of her head awkwardly, noticing that the stall attendant was growing quite impatient that they were carrying out these antics right in front of his game. He was probably only putting up with it because the Student Council president was part of it, Hanako thought.

“So, how are you guys finding the festival? Not eating any of that fried crap, I hope!” Emi said.

“N-no, we ate Lilly’s n-noodles,” Hanako said.

“Eh, empty calories, but I guess it’s better than straight up junk food. I better not catch you eating any, or I’ll have you running it off!” Emi threatened.

“You’re picking the wrong people to order around, Emi-chan. If I catch you running again, it’s the bottom of the barrel for you~!”

“The bottom of the—what does that mean?”

“It’s my special punishment for repeat offenders. No student has ever endured it and lived to tell the tale! Wahaha~!”

“Sh-Shicchan has a sp-special attack. Heehee!”

“Yikes, you seem awfully eager to hit people with that! Fine, fine, I guess the Student Council can get fat and gross if they want to. Anyways, I officially suck at this ball throwing thing. You guys wanna give it a shot?” Emi said.

“Sure, sure—whoa Shicchan, you’re jumping ahead of us! It’s your right as president? I guess…”

“I-I don’t mind if Shicchan goes f-first. Th-that way I can make sure I score higher than h-her,” Hanako said.

Shizune looked at her and made a V with two fingers, pointing it first at her own eyes and then at Hanako’s. It looked like the challenge had been formally issued. Turning back to the task at hand, Shizune held out her hand expectantly. When the attendant just looked at her in confusion, she began signing.

“Shicchan says, the Student Council gets to play for free! We put the whole event together for everyone, so it’s only fair! Whoever knocks down the most bottles between us, will get a prize! Right, right~?”

Hanako noticed that she hadn’t invoked that privilege at Lilly’s stall. Could she really do that? Either way, the stall attendant sighed, looking resigned to it. Hanako couldn’t blame him, she wouldn’t have tried to argue Shizune about it either. He handed Shizune the balls and the game was on. She took her time with each throw, eyeing the bottles carefully before winding up her arm like a pitcher at a baseball game. Every hit knocked down one or two bottles, so with three throws, Shizune ended up with five of the ten down.

“Not bad for a first time, huh!” Misha said for Shizune as she pushed her glasses back up.

“Mmhmm. Y-you’re pretty good, but you’re no match f-for… for…”

“…For?”

“…th-the library g-guardian!” Hanako finished, almost managing to strike a pose before deciding to just clutch bashfully at her blouse instead.

“The what? Wahahaha~!”

Emi joined Misha in her laughter, and even Shizune shook a few times, holding a hand to her mouth.

“What is that, Hacchan? Is that your super form~?”

“Yep! We came up with a superhero identity for her at lunch the other day. Oh, but aren’t you a villain, though?” Emi clarified.

“Th-that’s right… I-I’m very e-evil!” Hanako said. “Wh-when people are tr-trying to read… I come up behind them, and, a-and, I put m-my hands over their eyes and m-make them guess!”

“Wahahahaha~! You shouldn’t do that, Hacchan. It’s very rude to disrupt people while they’re reading!… I’m one to talk? What does that phrase mean, Shicchan? I am talking!”

Hanako took advantage of the silliness to go ahead and wind up her first throw, hoping that she might do better if they weren’t watching her as closely. No such luck… the ball missed completely, not even touching the bottles. No one said anything but she could practically feel the smug look on Shizune’s face. That was a huge waste, she couldn’t afford to miss again. Hanako focused her second throw very closely on aiming at the bottles. Unfortunately, she forgot to put power behind it as a result, and it bounced harmlessly off of them without knocking any over.

“Damn!” she exclaimed.

“Watch your language there Hana!” Emi said.

“Ah! I-I mean… shoot!”

“Wahaha~!”

Well, she was probably screwed now, but she might as well take her last shot. Not thinking about this one very much, Hanako went ahead and just tossed it… only for her mouth to fall open a bit as she watched six of the ten bottles collapse.

“Holy smokes! That’s more than half! Nice job, Hana!”

“Wahaha~! The library hero defeats the president of evil!”

“I’m a v-villain!”

Even the stall attendant looked impressed. The only person who didn’t look particularly pleased was Shizune.

“Shicchan says, that was just beginner’s luck!”

“B-but she’s a beginner too…”

“That doesn’t matter, Hacchan!”

Hanako looked at Shizune sheepishly.

“S-sorry, Shic—”

Shizune raised her arms in an X before Hanako could finish the statement, then pointed to the row of prizes at the back of the stall.

“I’ll get you next time, Hana-chan! Just take your prize for now. That’s two things the Student Council has fronted you today!”

“Th-thank you. I-I think… hmm…”

Hanako eyed the various options for a moment then chose a big, soft-looking teddy bear. Taking it from the attendant, she hugged it once to confirm its snuggliness, then offered it to Misha.

“H-here… I hope you l-like it…”

“Hacchan? No way! I can’t just take your prize. You earned it!”

“R-right… I earned it, so… I-I can do what I want with it. I-I want to give it to you, M-Misha.”

“Okay, Hacchan. If you’re sure~!”

“Y-you collect a lot of th-these, and it’s like Sh-Shicchan said, y-you guys are really nice to me today, so… I want you to have it.”

“Awww~! Thanks, Hacchan, thanks~! I’ll keep it close!”

Misha took the bear and mimicked Hanako’s hugging of it, burying her face into its fur for a moment.

“Mmmm! Nice and fluffy~! It’s perfect, Hacchan!”

“Take a look at these guys. Hey, you want one of those, Suzu? If Emi can win it, it should no problem for me!”

“Miki! Be nice!”

Walking past Hanako and the council duo, Miki grabbed Emi around the shoulders and started to give her a stump-noogie. Hanako recognized the voice of the person who’d told her to be nice, although just barely. Suzu Suzuki followed in Miki’s wake, gently prying Emi loose from her grip and apologizing for her behavior. Hanako figured she could count on one hand the number of times she’d heard Suzu speak in class… it looked like she and Miki were pretty good friends, though, to be hanging out during the festival.

“Shame we don’t have time to stick around and show you lot how it’s done. I just came to collect Emi—the team’s going into town for dinner, you up?” Miki asked her.

“Hm? Sure! You shoulda told me earlier, I would have raced you there! Now I’ve got these on instead…” Emi said, tapping one of her prosthetics. They were the more “realistic” ones today instead of her running blades. Shizune had been glaring daggers at Miki since she arrived, apparently not impressed by her roughhousing and flippant demeanor, but Miki ignored her.

“You should be more respectful when your class president is present, miss Miura!” Misha reprimanded her, translating for Shizune.

“Right, bow down before her majesty, all that jazz. I get it. You just keep ‘Hana-chan’ company for me, yeah?”

This comment did what Hanako thought to be impossible: it actually shut Misha up and made her blush. Miki gave her a good-natured bump with her stump and walked off, Emi in tow.

“Bye guys! Have fun!” Emi called back to them.

“…That Miura! She’s so careless! One day, she’s gonna really step in it!” Misha said for Shizune, getting her wits back about her as the president scowled at Miki’s back.

As they went, Hanako couldn’t help but notice that Miki and Suzu were walking hand in hand. She fidgeted with her own hands as she began to walk on to the next attraction with Misha and Shizune. Hanako wasn’t sure if that kind of thing was normal for girls to do, but… she went ahead and reached one of her hands tentatively out to Misha’s, fingertips brushing against the back of her target.

Misha looked down, seeing Hanako’s hand hovering nervously next to hers. Hanako blushed and made to pull it back, only to find Misha’s hand chasing after it and taking hold. Misha’s fingers wrapped around Hanako’s own and then twined into them. Hanako felt her heart thumping as her eyes met Misha’s, feeling the other girl’s palm pressed into hers. It was such a simple thing, yet it felt so intimate, and Misha’s only reaction was acceptance with a simple smile. No questions, no judgments.

Hanako smiled back and they continued on, hand in hand.

***

The day was winding down and the sun was getting low in the sky when Hanako, Misha and Shizune came across Rin’s mural. They’d passed by it on their way out of the dorms but hadn’t given it any thought. Hanako wondered if Rin had been sitting here even then, legs crossed and back against the wall, staring off at nothing.

“Hi Rin, hi~!” Misha said, bouncing up and leaning down in front of her.

Rin adjusted her gaze to meet Misha’s very slowly, blinking like a person coming out of a coma.

“Hello.”

“We’re very proud of you for finishing your mural, Rin! It’s very… well, it’s something!”

“It is definitely a thing. What kind of thing, I’m not really sure.”

“D-did lots of people come and see it, R-Rin?” Hanako asked.

“A few. Not very many.”

“Awww. W-well, I like it…”

“It’s for the better, maybe. I don’t really like how it turned out.”

“You got it done on time, though. You should be proud of yourself for that, Rin, if nothing else. It shows commitment!” Shizune said, relaying through Misha. “…Shicchan, don’t you like her painting, too?! She worked really hard on it!”

“It’s okay not to like it. I didn’t make it to be liked. Still, it’s a shame … paintings aren’t like people. You can’t just destroy them and make a new edition of the same painting. You have to make a different painting instead,” Rin said.

“Can’t you just paint over it if you don’t like it?”

“Huh.”

Rin looked up to ponder this, as if she had truly never thought of it before.

“Wh-what’s it about, Rin? It’s… it’s very a-abstract,” Hanako said.

“I don’t think I can use words for it. If I could, then it would be a poem, or a story, not a painting.”

“M-maybe it’s a picture with a st-story to tell?”

“Maybe. But you have to read it with colors and shapes. Not words.”

“Hmm…”

Hanako began to walk down the length of the mural, holding a hand to her chin as she tried to “read” its “story.”

“Have you been here all day, Rin? I hope you went out and enjoyed the festival some, too! You didn’t have to stand guard by your mural if you didn’t want to!” Misha said, some of the words hers but the basic statements coming from Shizune.

“I did enjoy the festival. I don’t know if I really wanted to sit here all day… but I did it anyways, so in the end, I guess I wanted to.”

“What did you do just sitting here all day? Aren’t you getting restless?”

“No. I like to watch people. Days like this are interesting. People are more… themselves.”

“More… themselves?”

“Yes. I think. In daily life, there are rules, and you know what to expect, so it’s very routine. But on a day like this, no one knows what to expect. They have a chance to do un-routine things. You and Hanako for instance.”

“Me and Hacchan?! What about us, Rin? Have you been spying on us?”

“I guess you could say that. I had a good view from here. She looks more herself when she is with you. Usually, she reminds me of Hisao, but today she was more the way that I think he needs to be.”

“Wh-what about H-Hisao? Is he here?” Hanako asked nervously, returning from her short tour of the mural.

“Hacchan! Hi there~! Umm, no, nope, no Hicchan, not at all~!” Misha said.

“M-Misha? Is something wrong?”

“Nope, nope~! Nothing, Hacchan. Everything’s fine, everything’s great~! Wahaha~!”

Shizune pinched the bridge of her nose, looking like a mother worn out from dealing with her children all day. She began signing to save the situation.

“Oh, Shicchan says, we’re just worried about Hicchan!… Because we haven’t seen him all day, that’s right~! Have you seen him, Rin?”

“Actually… no. And I think I’ve seen every person going to the festival from the dorms.”

“Maybe we should check on him? I hope he didn’t spend the whole festival alone in his room…”

Hanako tensed slightly at this suggestion.

“Umm… I-I don’t think so. I think, even if he is in his room… th-then… if he wants to be al-alone, we should let him,” she said.

Shizune looked at her for a moment, mulling over this advice before responding.

“Okay, Hacchan. That makes sense! We’ll ask him about it in class tomorrow!”

“Mmmm…”

“I think I am going to my room. I’m sleepy,” Rin announced.

“You’re not gonna watch the fireworks, Rin?” Misha asked.

“It depends on if I sleep. If I do, then I think I’d prefer to do it in my room.”

“Okay~! What about you, Hacchan? Wanna watch the fireworks with us?”

“Mmhmm! But… c-can we go inside? I’m a bit t-tired…”

“That’s a good idea! We’ve been outside all day. My hair’s getting all icky!… You’re not coming, Shicchan?”

Hanako looked on as the two of them signed in silence for a moment.

“Okay! Shicchan says, she has to go check on some stuff, to make sure the festival wraps up right and stuff! She told us to enjoy the fireworks together!”

“Oh… o-okay. Thanks for h-hanging out with me, Shicchan!” Hanako said.

Shizune gave them all a wave and turned to walk back into the sea of people and stalls, while Rin got up and started towards the dorms without another word.

“Well, Hacchan~! Where should we go?”

“Hmm… wh-what about the Student Council room? We can go in there, r-right?”

“Let’s go~!”

“Yay~,” Hanako said lightly, trying to imitate Misha’s type of enthusiasm a bit. She didn’t really put her all into it like Misha always did, so it came out sounding forced and weird. Misha put a hand to her mouth, clearly starting to laugh but still trying to hide it. Her plan was working perfectly—Misha was distracted right when they were coming up on a spot where the concrete was broken. There were cracks on the ground everywhere and Misha stepped on several right away.

“Aha!” Hanako exclaimed, hopping up once and poking Misha.

“What? What’s got you so fired up, Hacchan~? I’m excited for the fireworks too!”

“N-no! Misha… I g-got you!”

Hanako pointed down to their feet, revealing how many cracks Misha was standing on.

“Aww, darn! I guess I am the pawn after all… hey, you weren’t messing with me on purpose just now, were you Hacchan~?”

“I-I told you… I’m a v-villain! Eheehee!”

“Wahahaha~! You really are, Hacchan, you really are~! Come on, evil queen Hana-chan, we’re gonna miss the show!”

***

“I-It seems so lonely without Shicchan…”

“Aha~, yeah, it does. Look, Hacchan!”

Misha hopped over to one of the desks and started rummaging around, soon producing a couple of their RISK posters, which had been taken down by now. Hanako put the teddy bear down on another desk, having carried it around so Misha could sign.

“Ahh… some of these are mine… I-I remember this one. These look b-better than I remember them…”

“They’re good, Hacchan~! I told Shicchan to keep them around in case the next Student Council wants them. But~! Actually! I kind of wanted to keep a few for myself! Wahaha~!”

“Y-you did?”

“Of course~! You saw in my room, right? I love putting all our council stuff up! And these are extra cute~. After I saw the one you put up, I had to get some too!”

“Y-yeah, I like them… aha, I remember, I was so scared of Sh-Shicchan that day. I thought, sh-she would, I don’t know… that I wouldn’t be good enough for her, s-somehow. A-and I guess, I wasn’t after all, but…”

“Awww, don’t start on that, Hacchan! You know it’s okay with us that you didn’t want to join the Student Council. We shouldn’t have pressured you!”

“I-I know, Misha. When you came to my room, and I-I heard you… I was too anxious to talk right then, but I believed you r-right away. I felt so much better, because I knew you didn’t… I-I knew that it was okay.”

Hanako reached out for Misha’s hand, taking it and leading her across the room to the windows. They sat on the sill together, hand in hand, as Hanako reached up and undid the latches on them, pushing open the nearest two. The sounds of the festival flooded back in along with a wave of fresh air. The sun was down now and the temperature had cooled considerably. The bustle of the festival was a distant, gentle rumble instead of a constant roar. It was perfect, Hanako thought.

“Shicchan’s not really so scary either… n-not after you hang out with her some. Sh-she doesn’t really mean to be mean.”

“I’m glad you know that, Hacchan. Shicchan just wants people to do their best. She doesn’t want to hurt their feelings, but she doesn’t always think like other people, so there are… things get all mixed up. Like a parfait~!… but a bad-tasting one, with ingredients that don’t go together.”

“Y-you just have to mix it again until you g-get it right, I guess.”

“Yeah~! See, Hacchan! You get it! I wish more people could see her like that…”

“D-do you think… maybe, it’s because of her sign language? Sh-she can’t talk to anyone normally… you are a really good tr-translator, and you try really hard, but… I don’t know if it can ever be the same.”

“You might be right, Hacchan. It can be hard for Shicchan, too. She can’t tell what people really want, sometimes. That’s what I think. You know, if someone is saying something in their voice, but not with their words… she can’t hear it.”

“Mmm.”

“…Do you hear something, Hacchan?”

“Hmm?… Oh, y-yeah… huh.”

Both of them looked up, hearing faint voices from somewhere above. It sounded like mostly one person yelling at another one. Whoever it was, they were very worked up about something, and they were slurring their speech a little.

“I guess someone’s being naughty on the roof. Well, they’ll probably be quiet when the fireworks start~!”

Right on time, the first blast sailed up into the sky from far away, bursting into a spread of brilliant color.

“W-wow… it’s so pretty.”

“Hacchan?”

“Yes?”

“I’m really happy you’re here with me.”

The fireworks reflected in Misha’s golden eyes as they went off, the only source of light in the dark room. Hanako couldn’t stop thinking about how pretty those eyes were right now. Her legs shifted as she felt her heart thumping faster again; it fluttered as her fidgeting caused her thigh to nestle up next to Misha’s. Hanako was suddenly aware of just how close their faces were. She knew she was supposed to look away and get up now, that they were too close, but some other part of her forced that one down and told it to be quiet.

Misha reached up and stroked a long lock of Hanako’s hair away from her face, looking deep into her eyes as she leaned in…

Thud.

“Ah!”

Both of them jumped, the moment broken as something heavy whizzed past the window and landed outside. They looked down at it together, enduring a long, horrible moment of silence as they processed what they were seeing.

“Oh my god! Hanako, don’t look!”

“M-M-M-Misha…”

Hanako whipped her head away from the window, falling from the sill to sit on the floor as she let out a loud, piercing scream which faded almost immediately into sobs. Misha knelt down and wrapped her arms around her, holding her head close to her chest and trying not to panic. Outside, she could hear more screams starting to go up from the crowd. It would have been pretty hard to miss Hisao falling off the roof like that, especially with the horrible sound it made on the concrete. Her only thought was sheer relief that she wouldn’t have to leave Hanako like this to go tell someone what had happened…

END ACT II

Chapter 18 | Chapter 20
Last edited by Hanako Fancopter on Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:54 pm, edited 6 times in total.
An Unusual Friendship (Misha x Hanako Route)
Riposte (Rika Mini-Route)
One-Shots Thread (Random Smut/Meme Stories)

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