Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch43 Updated 19 Jan 2021: Impossible Friendship!]

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ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: *Ch32 Updated 11/9* Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot)

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:56 am

Chapter 35: Scartesian Coordinates

After writing everything I need on the board, I put down the white board pen, adjust my tie for I think the fourth time in fifteen minutes, take a deep breath, and turn around.

“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. Just remember to be friendly to the kids.”

“Sure. I will.”

Even though I’ve been a private tutor for two months already, I still feel nervous. This is the first day I’m holding a class in a tutorial center. The 10 o’clock class, which is the Mathematics class I sat through last week, is one of the classes of the tutor who resigned. Sitting at the back of the classroom is Alvin, the substitute last week, who will sit through today’s class to see if things are working fine.

There will be three students. I already met them last week. I hope they like me.

A flurry of knocks on the door tells me that a student, or more than one of them, has arrived. From the last class, I know that the three of them are good friends. Taking another deep breath and wishing myself good luck, I approach the door and open it.

“Hello. Welcome.”

It turns out all three students have arrived.

“Hi, Alvin-sensei (teacher Alvin)… oh…”

“Hey Makoto, you forgot? Today will be Teacher Nakai with you.”

“Oh. Hello, Nakai sensei.”

I smile gently at the little boy named Makoto.

“Hello, Makoto right?”

“Yeah.”

“And you? You’re Mitsugu, am I right?”

“I AM! Hi, Nakai-sensei!!”

This Mitsugu is very energetic, but not very good at schoolwork.

“And you’re Etsuko, right?”

The girl with ponytails known as Etsuko gives me a polite bow.

“Yes. Nice to meet you.”

“Nakai-sensei, we just call her Ecchan.”

Ecchan blushes a bit and smiles bashfully upon hearing her nickname.

Huh. I want to tell her that I’ve a similar nickname too. Maybe later.

“Alright, kids, please take your seats.”

Makoto, Mitsugu, and Ecchan sit together in a row.

“My name is Hisao Nakai. I’ll be your math teacher starting from this week.”

“Sensei! Did you comb your hair today? Why is there a bit of hair stuck out on the right side?”

Oh boy. This class is not gonna be easy. I can’t get angry though.

“This hair? It’s been sticking out for a long time. I can’t do anything about it, no matter I try.”

“Really? Can I try flattening it?”

“Uh… But aren’t we supposed to have a class?”

“Yup, but we wanna get to know the teacher first!”

I remember that Alvin also had a hard time with them last week.

“Alright, alright. See if you can flatten my hair. I doubt you can do it.”

“HERE I COME!!!”

Mitsugu, the energetic boy, immediately leaves his seat and runs at full speed towards me.

“Oh no!”

Afraid of being tackled at the front (like what Emi did to me last year), I instinctively move away, and Mitsugu falls on the ground after missing his “tackle”.

Oh no! I just dropped my student to the floor in my first day of class! I hurry over to him.

“Mitsugu, are you alright?”

“Awwww…”

It looks like he just scratched his elbow. Makoto, Ecchan, and Alvin come over.

“How are you?”

“I’m… fine…”

Ecchan folds her arms and stares daggers at Mitsugu.

“Told you not to act so rashly! You never listen.”

“Sorry…”

His scratched elbow is bleeding. I take out a bandage from my wallet. The last time I got to use this was three months ago on Hanako’s leg.

“Are you bleeding? Here, use this.”

I carefully rip open the package and apply the bandage at his elbow.

“Thank you sir.”

He gets up, wipes off the dust attached on his clothes, and scratches his head.

“Sorry, Ecchan. I won’t do that next time.”

“Hmph! How many times have I heard that statement already!”

“Hehehe…”

I suppose I need to apologize.

“Mitsugu-kun, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you fall down. I just moved away instinctively.”

“It’s okay, sir.”

If I don’t want to get tackled again, I need to tell them the truth. It’s been over a year since I had that accident, but I still feel uncomfortable telling others about my condition. But it’s probably easier to do it on kids.

“Uhm… I supposed I need to tell you all about this. I had a heart surgery a year ago, and it’s still kind of vulnerable now. That’s why I had to dodge from you. Please don’t tackle me again, or I’ll be in big trouble.”

“I see. Sorry sir.”

Ecchan raises her hand.

“Sir, did you say you had a surgery?”

“Yes.”

“My cousin had a surgery on her left foot last month. It left a big scar right there. Do you have a scar as well, sir?”

“Yes indeed, Ecchan.”

“D’you mind if you show us your scar? We’re curious!”

Oh boy. Seeing their sparkling eyes, somehow I find myself unable to reject the kids. I take a glance at Alvin, who is smiling all the time.

“Alright then.”

Making sure that my back faces the classroom door, I remove my tie and undo the buttons on my shirt, showing my chest to my students.

“Wow. So that’s what a scar looks like.”

I don’t like the idea of my scar being appreciated by a bunch of youngsters, but I don’t think there’s another choice.

“My cousin is actually very sad about her scar. I’ll tell her that she’s not the only one with scars.”

“That’s so kind of you, Ecchan.”

“Actually, he’s not the only one in this classroom either.”

Alvin-san, who’s been smiling all along, suddenly speaks up.

“Mr. Alvin?”

He proceeds to wrap up his sleeves and, surely enough, there’s a pretty long scar on his left arm.

“Wow. I didn’t know you have a scar as well.”

Mitsugu suddenly smiles wickedly.

“Hey, sir, why did you get this scar? Did you fight with the bad guys in the past?”

Alvin smiles.

“No, Mitsugu-kun. Sorry to disappoint you. One day I had a nasty fall in the rain when I was ten years old. I broke my arm, and this is the result.”

“I see.”

Makoto, who hasn’t said much since entering the classroom, seems to notice something on the board.

“Hey, sir, doesn’t your scar look like what’s written on the board?”

I turn around and realize that he’s right. Today we’re teaching Cartesian coordinates. The x- and y-axes do look like our scars. It seems like I just found a perfect way to divert their attention back to the class.

“Huh. I didn’t realize it. You’re right! That’s what we’re learning today! Let’s start our class right now then.”

***********************

“Made your decision already?”

“Uhm… I’ll have chicken rice with assorted vegetables, served with green tea.”

“Alright. Let’s go to the counter.”

Even though I only held two classes in the morning, I already feel completely drained. Luckily, it’s lunchtime, so I can take a short break. And today Alvin-san is kind enough to accompany me.

“You order first, Nakai-san.”

“Thanks. I’ll have pork ramen with assorted vegetables.”

“And I’ll have chicken rice with assorted vegetables. I’ll pay.”

“No. I should treat you today. It’s your first day working in the center! I’m your senior, so I kind of have to treat.”

“(Cashier) It’s 1450 yen in total.”

“But…”

“No worries. You can treat me later. Here’s 1000, here’s a 500 coin, and 50.”

“Er… Sir, this is a 100-yen coin, not 500-yen.”

“Oh. I made a mistake. Hold on… This one is 500. Huh. Don’t they look similar?”

No, they don’t. They’re of quite different colors.

“Errr… Well, here’s the change. 100 yen.”

“Thank you… Ah!”

Crap. He just dropped the coin on the floor.

“Where is it? Erm… Oh, it’s right there. Ah!”

“Ouch!”

“I’m… I’m sorry…”

It looks like he stepped the boy next in line on the foot while picking up his coin. The boy is visually annoyed.

“Be careful next time!”

“I will. I’m sorry…”

Embarrassed, we take the tickets and go pick up our food. We sit down opposite to each other in a corner of the restaurant.

“So, Nakai-san, how do you feel about work this morning?”

“Well, you can just call me Hisao.”

“Alright. Hisao-san then.”

Uh… Okay. Not the most common name I’ve heard (I think it has to do with him avoiding his surname), but it’s still way better than the nickname given by Misha and mom.

“And I’ll call you Alvin-san… oh, wait, I guess I’ve never addressed you in your surname.”

The boy from Hong Kong laughs at my strange comment.

“Still not used to it, huh? It’s okay. Alvin-san or just Alvin is fine. Doesn’t it feel strange for a Japanese to have a friend with a name in Katakana?”

Normally it would be, but coincidentally I do have a friend with a name in Katakana. (“Misha” is also Katakana, but it’s only a nickname.)

“I do have a friend from high school with a Katakana name. Her name is Lilly.”

“Really? There’s a female student in my university called Lilly as well. She’s a tall blonde, and she walks with a cane. She frequently appears in the English faculty.”

Wait! Does that mean…

“Hold on. What university are you studying in?”

“Kasshoku. In Chiba.”

“We’re in the same university then!”

“Really? So, is that the same Lilly we’re talking about here?”

“Must be. She’s in the English faculty too. She is a tall blonde with curly hair and blue eyes. She walks very gracefully.”

“I’m sure that’s the same girl. I don’t know about her. I just heard about her name.”

“What major are you in? And what year?”

“I study electronic engineering, second year.”

“Then how did you know about Lilly?”

“Besides engineering, I also love languages, so I applied for a linguistic class this semester as an elective. Since that class ends at noon, I often have lunch in the cafeteria over there. And every time I go there, I can see that Lilly girl surrounded by presumably her classmates, or boyfriends, I’m not sure. As you mentioned, she walks and talks with great elegance. I don’t know why she’s walking with a cane though.”

He apparently doesn’t know Lilly is blind yet.

“Well… I’m a good friend of her. I’m actually going to ask her for lunch this coming week. You can join if you want.”

“Sure. I’ve been having lunch with boys only for such a long time. You know, more than 90% of my classmates are boys.”

I can feel for you, Alvin. If I didn’t have Shizune with me, I probably would have ended up with the same fate.

“No problem. Let’s exchange phone numbers then. I didn’t know you’re in Kasshoku too.”

“Yes, I am. So, I assume you study science, then?”

“Yeah. So… my phone number is…”

We proceed to store each other’s phone numbers in our phonebooks.

“Great! Got it. By the way, can you speak English? I’ve heard that Hong Kong was once governed by the British.”

“Yes. I’m actually quite fluent, although after so many years in Japan, I might need to brush it up a little bit.”

“Lilly’s from Scotland. You can speak English with her.”

“Really? No wonder she’s tall and blonde. So she’s an international student?”

“No. Well… Maybe I’ll leave it to next week. You’ll know soon enough.”

“Sure, no problem.”

“Oh, by the way, d’you know Shizune is also our school mate?”

“Shizune? You mean the girl who introduced you here?”

“Yeah. Shizune Hakamichi. She’s also my high school friend. She studies business.”

“I didn’t know. I thought you’re her boyfriend.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Hmm… That’s strange. I heard from the Director that you know sign language. If not for Shizune, why would you learn language? Do you have a family member who you can communicate only in sign?”

So that’s his thought process. He knows that I know sign language, and because of the fact that I am not deaf or mute, he deduced that I must be Shizune’s boyfriend. He’s almost correct. I have to appreciate his observation and analyzing skills.

“No. Well… You’re right. It’s true that I learned sign language because of Shizune. It’s… well… uhm… Anyway, it’s complicated.”

“I see. You do like Shizune, don’t you?”

Looks like he’s not dropping the subject. Why is he so curious?

“Uhm… (Sigh) I guess I can’t hide. You’re right.”

“I see. Well, to tell you the truth, I find her pretty attractive. But now that I know about you, I’m not going to get in your way.”

I see. That’s why he’s been persistent. That’s… fair.

“Alright then.”

“You still haven’t answered my question.”

“Huh? What question?”

“How was work today?”

Oh. He started lunch by asking me this question, and we diverted our attention towards many other topics.

“It’s been an eventful morning, hasn’t it?”

“Yeah. The students here are very inquisitive.”

“I didn’t know you have a scar too.”

“I guess we have another thing in common then, besides being in the same school.”

This boy is surely interesting.

“By the way, Alvin-san, I just realized you’re using your chopsticks upside down. You know, the thicker side should be up.”

“Oh!! Hahaha… Oh well, it’s fine. I don’t mind.”

“And why are you taking a fork with you? I don’t think you need it.”

“Uh… Oh! I thought I ordered ramen. Turns out I’m having rice as lunch today! Hahaha…”

You don’t eat ramen with fork either. He’s certainly the clumsiest, or funniest, boy I’ve ever seen.

Chapter 36: My Last Hope
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: *Ch32 Updated 11/9* Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot)

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:57 am

Chapter 36: My Last Hope

The door opens, and the middle-aged man comes in with a pile of papers.

I give him an intense stare. They must be what I think they are.

He sits down behind the computer, puts down his briefcase, sorts out his pile of papers, looks up, and turns on the microphone.

“Since most of you are already present, I am now distributing the test papers.”

I turn my eyes towards the one sitting next to me. In return, she glares at me with a pair of sharp eyes.

This is it, Akemi. I’m not losing to you!

“Hanako Muragami.”

After being in Kasshoku for more than two months, I found out that there are a lot of Hanako in this school. I already know two of them in my department. I heard that there’s a counselor in the Faculty of Journalism bearing this name, and she is currently dating a graduate student in our department. What’s her surname again? I can’t recall. Anyway, Hanako is certainly a common name in Japan.

Hanako Ikezawa, my former classmate. I didn’t come across her last week in the Yamaku Festival, but Hisao visited her that day. He revealed to me that she was in much better shape than on Graduation Day. I didn’t say goodbye to her when I left Yamaku. She was apparently very busy; the only time I managed to get a sight of her was the brief moment I was on the stage during the ceremony, and she was sitting very far behind. (Nevertheless, I was quite surprised she actually managed to attend the ceremony.) Hisao told me that he visited her later that day while I was chatting with the Student Council, and a miracle happened: She was accepted as a fourth year in Yamaku. She gets another chance to take the Entrance Exam of this school. If she gets accepted, there’ll be one more Hanako here.

Hisao and I still don’t know what happened to her on that Open Day. The only people who know about that accident, besides herself, are Naomi Inoue, my two cousins, and the school staff. Even though I’m the class representative, the staff refused to tell me anything other than that she was suffering from emotional problems, which wasn’t anything new as she had that issue since she first came to school. I was asked not to do anything about her latency in class (not that I could do anything anyway, as the person didn’t even show up). Inoue also had her lips sealed upon mentioning that accident, and I despise talking to my two lame relatives. So I never knew what happened to her. Anyway, the fact that she’s doing better is good news. I hope she can recover as soon as possible.

Why am I getting distracted? I’m in the middle of a contest with Akemi! I guess I do care about my classmates, even after we graduated. I was the Class Rep and Student Council President after all! *Adjust my glasses*

Speaking of Student Council…

“Akemi Watanabe.”

My train of thoughts towards the Student Council is interrupted by the professor calling my rival’s name. My best friend in Kasshoku (other than Hisao) nervously collects her paper. She immediately puts it onto the table, covers it with her left arm, and signs to me with her right hand.

[I’m not looking before you get your paper.]

[Fine.]

“Shizune Hakamichi.”

It’s my turn. I’m confident. I’m not losing!

I take my paper and copy what Akemi just did: Put it onto the table, cover it with my left arm, and sign to her with my right hand.

[Let’s turn it around together. On the count of three.]

[Got it.]

We both do the countdown with our spare hands. It must be quite an interesting sight to our fellow students.

[One!]

[Two!]

[Three!]

We turn our papers together. We both look at each other’s score, and I see an 89 on Akemi’s paper. Then we look at our own papers, and I see another 89 on my test paper. We both shake our heads in disbelief.

[It’s a tie!]

Well. Alright then. I didn’t lose. That’s the most important part.

We both smile at each other, and we shake hands to acknowledge our rival.

After distributing all the test papers, the middle-aged man returns to his seat and turns on the microphone again.

“The mean score of this test is 74, and the … is 10.”

Akemi pumps her fist upon this. I get her attention.

[Akemi, I didn’t catch that. What was 10?]

[The SD. Standard Deviation.]

[Oh, I see.]

[Don’t you know what that means?]

How can I forget about the topic that made me lose to Hisao in our first mock paper when we were preparing for the Center Test?

[Of course I know. So… I suppose we are more than one SD above the mean then.]

[That means we’re well in the top 16% of the students.]

[Great! We both did well!]

We shake hands again to celebrate our mini success in our first test in Kasshoku.

[Hey, Shizune, I’ve something to tell you.]

[What’s that?]

[After class.]

***********************

As I expected, it took the professor a whooping five minutes to calm down all the students before he can deliver his lecture of the day. Maybe he should have released the test scores at the end of the class…

On second thought, if he does do so, then nobody would really pay attention to his class because everyone would be either discussing the test or be worried about their scores. So I guess the five minutes was worth it after all.

Right after the professor finishes his lecture, Akemi signals for my attention.

[Let’s talk in the computer room.]

We pack up and exit the classroom along with the other classmates. We have Accounting class in one hour, so we go to the computer room to print out the notes.

[So, what’s that you want to talk about?]

[Um… Shizune, d’you know that all the clubs in Kasshoku will have elections in the coming September?]

As she mentions elections, my mind goes back to the Student Council thing I was thinking about before we received our test papers.

[Yes, I know.]

[I really want to become the president of the Sign Language Club. You’ve been a president before, so I want your advice. Do you think I can be the president?]

So she’s playing with the idea of becoming the president of the Sign Language Club. Interesting!

[Of course! You just asked the right person! *Adjust my glasses* You wanna be the president? It’s not gonna be easy. I can share my experience with you.]

[Alright. What advice do you have?]

[To become the president, you first need a vision.]

[Vision?]

[Correct. You know, things like goals, directions, and plans.]

[I never thought about that!]

[What? That’s too lame. You don’t just write some reports, give out some leaflets, plan a few events, and then call it a day. That’d be too incompetent, you know.]

[I mean, I don’t see why we cannot keep things simple. It’s not like our club has many members.]

[No! If you slack off, you’d lose all the budget, and the club would be taken over before you know it! You need to be ambitious! First, you need to set up the order by stating the ground rules and carefully putting them down in the rulebook. Then you have to plan a lot of activities and find many sponsors. You try to grab all the budget from the university and use every bit of money efficiently. After getting your hands on the large share of the budget, the next step is to make your club famous and beat all the other clubs in the university, and finally take over the clubs in other universities to dominate all the colleges in Japan.]

[…]

It might be too much for her.

[It sounds intimidating, but you do it a step at a time. The more experience you get, the better you perform. It’s not as bad as it seems.]

[Well, I don’t know, but I don’t like the idea of expanding our club at the expense of others.]

[It’s the university we’re talking about. You know, the miniature of the society. The world is cruel. If you don’t thrive to live, you’ll eventually perish.]

[I don’t think other clubs would like to dominate the Sign Language club. We’ve been in the club for two months, and I don’t see any fights going on.]

[Anything could happen. The world is very dynamic. Everything can change within seconds. We need to stay alert.]

[…]

[…]

Am I pushing a bit too far? I remember seeing a pair of similar faces when I briefed the new Student Council last year.

[I’ll think about it. I can’t totally agree with you, but a few points you just made are quite interesting. I like the idea of having a vision as the leader of a club, just like being a company’s CEO. You also reminded me of planning high-quality events in order to obtain budget from the school. I’ll think through everything tonight.]

[Good. Tell me your thoughts after that. I’m in the Sign Language Club after all.]

[So, how about you? Do you want to join any elections?]

Of course! The Sign Language Club is too small for me though. I want to aim big.

[I’m going for the Student Council.]

[For real? You’re trying to get into the Student Council? It’s the biggest club in the university!]

[Of course! I’m aiming big. Being the Student Council President gives me a lot of power. And a nice addition to my already well-established resume. In fact, some students are holding a meeting tonight to gather those interested in forming election teams, and I’m joining it.]

[Well, you had experience with this, so, wish you good luck.]

[Thanks.]

***********************

After making sure that I have taken all the necessary documents about applying for elections (they are outside of the office so that students can pick them up even after office hours), I put them into my bag and proceed to exit the administrative building. The meeting is in the building across the street. Looking at my watch, it’s 6:50pm, which is almost time for the meeting.

I smile. I love my gold wristwatch. The boy always says he wants to buy another one to match mine if he earns enough money. It’ll be nice if we go out together with a gold wristwatch on each of our right wrists.

I take the elevator to the ground floor. There are several tables and chairs on the sides of the lobby. There’s a small aisle on the left side; I wonder what it leads to. Out of curiosity, let’s explore it.

Turns out it only leads to an electricity room. But there’s a table outside of that room, and a vending machine next to it. A boy and a girl are playing shogi on the table. I wonder if they are our school’s staff.

Let’s go to the meeting.

***********************

“Sorry, my teammates don’t think you are a suitable member of our team.”

That’s another rejection.

The meeting is held in a big classroom, and there are around 80 participants. After an hour of discussions, most of them have either exited the venue or already formed teams to discuss their election strategies. I’m standing in the middle of the room, alone, with my documents on hand.

I prepared a lot for this meeting. I came up with concise goals, a draft of yearly plan, a budget plan, a list of necessary materials for the election, and a potential sponsor list. I introduced my work to the students in the room, trying to form a competitive team. I thought my attractive election package, combo-ed with my feminine beauty, would be a hot pick in the market. Instead, I’m now left completely alone. Around half of the students, after knowing that I’m deaf, outright refused to even take a look at my documents. Most of the remaining participants thought I was too aggressive and serious; they said they just wanted to have fun. I can’t believe such weaklings exist in this school. A couple of students showed a degree of interest, but ultimately chose to join their friends instead.

I wish there’s an option to run a Student Council alone. Unfortunately, the application forms I just grabbed from the admin building says the minimum size of a team is six, with ten being the recommended number. I can understand the policy. This is not Yamaku. In Yamaku we only had 300 students. Kasshoku has more than 5000 undergraduate students. Of course they need a much larger team size.

Even if I manage to pull Akemi and Hisao into my team, I still don’t have enough members to enter the election.

Staring at the floor, I’m feeling very disappointed right now. All my efforts are going to waste. It’s going to be hard for me to soak up this reality. I hate the fact that my superior abilities are severely limited by my one and only one weakness: My deafness.

I’m about to trash my documents when I sense somebody standing in front of me. I raise my head. In front of me is a slim girl with a similar height as mine.

“E-Excuse me?”

I nod.

“C-can you understand w-what I am s-saying?”

I nod.

“W-we heard about you and your plans f-from the other s-students. Are you trying to form a team?”

I nod again.

“W-we actually like your ideas a lot. C-can we join you as a team?”

This is the first time in the whole night someone invites me to a team. If it was an hour ago, I would have been picky. This timid girl who stutters like Hanako Ikezawa certainly wouldn’t come close to be my choice of partner. In the current situation, though, if I don’t at least try to talk to them, I won’t even have a Student Council to run.

I hesitate a little bit, reluctant to talk to this shy girl in front of me. On the other hand, I realize she is my last hope if I don’t want all my preparations to be completely nullified.

{We can discuss the details.}

The girl in front of me looks elated, and proceeds to wave her friends over. It turns out they are a group of seven. We sit down in a circle, and we introduce ourselves to each other. The shy girl who brought out the most of her courage to approach me is Sakura Yamaguchi, a first-year studying Mathematics.

They are actually two groups of friends, one from the science faculty, and one from engineering. They all have ambitions to run a successful Student Council, but they need a student from the business school to be their leader.

I hand my documents over for them to read. They seem to appreciate them. Within ten minutes, we agreed to form a team, with me as the leader.

“Thank you, Miss Hakamichi, for joining our team.”

{Sure, Yamaguchi. We have a lot to do in front of us, if we don’t want to delay everything until after the exams.}

We share the workload quickly and, as the new leader of the team, I take the initiative to treat them for drinks.

{Let’s go and have a drink. I’ll treat.}

The three boys in my team seem to be excited, but the four girls hurry to refuse.

“No, we should share the cost.”

I snap my fingers so hard that everybody flinches in surprise. I remember the same reaction from my two best friends back in Yamaku.

I then make a sign, and then write down the following on my notepad.

{This sign means “No arguing!”}

I grab my bag and get up, signaling the rest of my team to follow me.

I smile. Yup. This is your leader we’re talking about.

Let’s make ourselves the most competitive Student Council ever.

Chapter 37: Best Friends. Only.
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: *Ch32 Updated 11/9* Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot)

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:58 am

Chapter 37: Best Friends. Only.

“*Yawn* How’s the steak?”

“Gonna flip to the other side. Gimme a hand, will ya?”

“Which one?”

I roll my eyes on her.

“Isn’t it obvious? Do you really need to ask?”

She shrugs innocently.

“You never know.”

“Whatever. If you don’t help right now, we’re gonna serve him with charcoal.”

“Alright, alright.”

As she helps fixing the frying pan in place, I use the best of my “skills” to turn the steak over. It took me almost half a minute to do so. Luckily the other side has not become charcoal yet.

“I can’t believe you’re actually making your promise. I still think it’s a bad idea.”

“C’mon, baby! He saved me! This is the least I can do!”

“But you don’t repay him by showing off your horrible cooking skills.”

“Hey! It’s not that bad. We’re following the instructions after all!”

“Says the one who just burned a steak an hour ago.”

“Twas an accident, baby. The next two went smoothly, didn’t they?”

“*Yawn* Whatever. I’m going to check the soup.”

“Thanks!”

As the steak in front of me continues to sizzle, I can't help but keep thinking about my bold decision of inviting only the boy but not the girl. It’s probably too harsh to say she’s a party-pooper, but I really don’t want her to ruin this evening. Two weeks ago we spent almost a whole day travelling with her. She was just so out of place. I mean, what’s the problem with her? In the train ride, she was constantly trying to drag the boy to play board games with her. In the school, every time we wanted to go to a stall, she suggested going somewhere else. Luckily our guys are both pretty friendly; if they weren’t kind enough, I’m sure there’d be a fight. Sometimes I just can’t imagine how the boy is able to tolerate with that hot potato.

That said, she does have her positive side. That evening train was really crowded. If she didn’t book our seats in advance (we thought we could just walk in and buy our tickets), I don’t know when we would be returning home that night. She may not be sociable, but her foresight does deserve a praise.

Anyway, I don't wanna risk her spoiling our gathering tonight, so I decided to invite the boy only. I did ask him if this would put him at risk of her wrath, but he assured me that it wouldn’t.

I have to make this evening a success. I’m very much in debt of him, given how much he did for me.

“The soup tastes fine to me. Not sure how much he likes it though.”

“He’ll be fine. No worries. Remember, I asked him in advance.”

“*Yawn* How about the steak?”

“Almost done. I think it’s time for you to finish the onigiri. The seaweed is on the table. Don’t fall asleep.”

“I’ll try my best. I don’t know, the medicine’s effect seems to be fading.”

“Can you take another one?”

“Not in another two hours.”

Modafinil, a medicine that helps against narcolepsy, and probably the only one that has an effect on Suzu. It’s been rumored that this thing is abused elsewhere in Asia to become smarter. Not sure if it really boosts your brain power, but Suzu’s quite smart, so the medicine might have a part in it.

“You don’t wanna sleep in front of your guest. Take another one as soon as it’s allowed.”

“It’s YOUR guest, not mine!”

“C’mon! Don’t you also wanna have fun with him? By the way, it’s a rare chance, baby. You don’t get this very often.”

“What d’you mean?”

“What do I mean? C’mon baby! The boy's comin' over alone! Without that pesky girl tagging along! What would he think about you if you fall asleep during our gathering?”

My best friend comes over and punches me on my ribs.

“Ouch!”

“I’m saying this again. I. Am. Not. In. Love. With. Him!”

“Fine, fine, whatever. I really think you two are a great match.”

“Mind your own business. In fact, I think he might be after YOU instead.”

“Me? Hahaha… What a nonsense!”

She suddenly makes a serious face.

“I saw it. In the train.”

“In the train?”

“He was staring at you.”

“He was staring at my shirt, that’s the truth.”

“No. He’s staring at you, I’m confident. That is, until the pesky girl you just mentioned dragged his attention away.”

“Staring at me? I don't believe it. Doesn’t make any sense at all! Can’t think of anything I have that attracts him. You two, on the other hand, can talk about science and math and all those stuff.”

I turn off the flames as Suzu puts her hands on my shoulders, signaling me to face her directly.

“Miki, you might not know about it, but I’m pretty sure I know why he finds you attractive. It’s the way you’ve changed. You toughed out the Center Test and found a career path of your own. You demonstrated to him how persevering you are. I’ve never said this, but as your best friend, I’m very proud of you. The fact that he accepts your invitation means that he’s still open to any possibility, now that he’s free. If there’s a chance, now is, Miki.”

Wow. Never expect that from Suzu. This is awkward. How should I answer her?

“Uhm… Not that interested in relationships just yet. Err... Go do your onigiri, okay?”

“*Yawn* Alright. Think about it. Also, no medicine tonight.”

I take out the last piece of steak out of the three (we cooked them one by one), turn on the flames again to cook the vegetables, and start spacing out.

Me? With the boy? Never thought about it. I thought he was in the pesky girl’s bag already. Did he really stare at me? Is what Suzu just said the truth?

What should I do? I’ve never handled a relationship before. What’ll happen tonight? What’s the time right now? Can I cancel tonight’s gathering? Crap! I need time to think about it! Oh no! Please, don’t be true. Please, don’t fall in love with me. You’re in love with the former Student Council president, not me. Please…

***********************

Ding dong!

“Whoa!”

“I’ll open the door for you.”

“Thanks!”

Snapped out of my confusion, I realize that the vegetables are almost burned! I pour water into the frying pan at once, trying to salvage the food.

The heat cools down. Let’s check the veggies.

Phew. Most of them are intact. Only a few pieces are burned. I’ll throw them away.

“Hi Suzu, how’re you doing?”

“Great, thanks.”

I hear them high-fiving as I hurry to dispose of the burned lettuce.

“Did you make those onigiri? They look tasty.”

“Thanks.”

“Where’s Miki?”

“She’s in the kitchen.”

The door opens. (It's summer, so we turned on the air conditioner. We closed the doors in order to save electricity.)

“Hey, Miki! How’s it going?”

Oh no! Here he comes.

“H…H…Hi, Hisao!”

“Uh… What’s the matter?”

“Huh?”

“It’s me. Why are you so nervous?”

“I… I…”

“She’s embarrassed. She doesn’t want you to see her cooking.”

As Suzu tries to save me, I find myself standing still, not sure what to do.

“Ah, makes sense. The steak smells really good! You’re a great cook, girl!”

He gives me a thumbs-up as I “hurt myself in my confusion” again. (Or “immobilized by love”?!)

“You must be tired. Take a rest outside. I’ll finish it.”

Hisao grabs the spatula from me as Suzu takes my hand and leads me to the dining room, in front of the onigiri.

*Facepalm*

“(Whisper) Snap out! Just behave like yourself!”

“I’ll go to the restroom.”

“(Whisper) Be quick!”

I hurry to the restroom and wash my face, trying to soothe myself.

Calm down, Miki. Just pretend nothing’s happened. The fact is that nothing has happened, so no need to freak out.

Taking a couple of deep breaths, I exit the restroom and carefully walk towards the dining room.

“You okay, Miki?”

Calm down. Smile.

“Sorry about that, Hisao.”

“No worries. We’re close friends, aren’t we?”

He raises his hand high towards me.

Yes, we’re close friends after all. Friends, nothing more than that.

“Of course, boy.”

I exchange high-fives with him and gesture him to sit down opposite to us facing the table.

“Welcome to our little hiding place!”

“It’s your first time visiting us, isn’t it? *Yawn* I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, the medicine isn’t working too well tonight. She might fall asleep soon.”

“No worries, Suzu. To be honest, I’m a bit tired today as well, after all the tutorial classes. And yes, this is my first time being here. Oh, by the way, some apples for you two. You know, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

“Gee, thanks, Hisao. Breakfast for you, Suzu.”

“Thanks. How many classes did you have today?”

“Four. The students are so inquisitive. Today’s been a rough day.”

“Rough, tough, Jiggly… sorry.”

“…puff, huh. Do you know Jun Yamazaki? She’s a third year student in Yamaku right now.”

“Yamazaki? I heard about her. If my memory’s right, her bones are easily broken.”

“Yup. You should make friends with her. She’s a big fan of Pokemon.”

“Really? Geez, I didn’t know. How d’you know about her?”

“We met during…”

“You two, sorry to interrupt, but can we eat now? I’m kind of hungry.”

“Sorry, Suzu. Yeah, of course, I’m hungry too.”

I pick up the orange juice we prepared in advance.

“Let’s give Hisao a warm welcome, Suzu.”

“(Together) Cheers!”

“Here, Hisao, try out the onigiri.”

“Suzu spent a lot of time on it, Hisao.”

“Thanks a lot, Suzu. I appreciate it.”

“I didn’t do much. Miki did all the work. The steak, the vegetables, everything.”

“Mmm! The onigiri is so tasty!”

Suzu blushes a bit upon hearing his praise.

“Thanks, Hisao.”

“Huh. Actually I was kinda worried if you two would be fine. Turns out I was worrying too much.”

“Don’t underestimate us, boy.”

“Yeah. You know, I was sweating hard when you two were bantering in the train. I was really hoping you two don’t make an accident.”

“We’re doing just fine, you see.”

“There you go, Miki. By the way, the shirt Suzu’s wearing…”

“Hehe…”

He noticed. Yup. Brown shirt, a sleeping beauty in the middle. And, of course, I’m wearing my brown shirt with a runner.

“Uhm… Hey Suzu, you might not like what I say, but I think it suits you quite well.”

“Yes! Told ya, Suzu! I knew it’ll fit you.”

Suzu looks a bit annoyed.

“Oh no… You two are bullying me!”

“Sorry, sorry, Suzu. No, please don’t misunderstand. What I mean is, Suzu, it suits you because you’re at home right now. I’m not saying that you should wear it outdoors. Miki, can you make another shirt for her to go outdoors? I think just a little girl is fine. Maybe, like, playing with a ball, something like that?”

“Yeah! Miki! Hear that?”

“Alright, alright. Sure. I’ll make it my next assignment. Oh, I almost forgot.”

I go to the living room and pick up the two shirts.

“Here you go, boy. Your brown and dark blue shirts.”

“Wow! Thanks so much! I’ll treat you another day. Promise.”

“Thanks in advance!”

Hisao munches down his onigiri and proceeds to try out the steak. Looks like he’s enjoying it.

“By the way, is Suzu living here now?”

“Yes. I lived with my parents in April, but then I feel like I want to be as independent as possible, so I eventually moved to live with Miki. My parents are in the next building anyway, so they can cook for us and lend us a hand if needed.”

“Makes sense. But then, Miki, how are you managing to pay rent? Living in Tokyo isn’t cheap, even though your apartment’s pretty far away from the central district.”

“Dad’s helping out a bit. And I’m earning money too.”

“You too?”

“Yup. You inspired me. When I learned from you that you’re a librarian, I also wanted to earn money on my own. I’m now a part-time saleswoman in a boutique.”

“Huh. Suits you quite well. I think it helps you in your career.”

“It surely does. I get to know the owners of some boutiques, and I learned a lot from them. Like, how to open a shop, how to use capital efficiently, how to attract customers, how to hire assistants, things like that.”

“That’s great, Miki.”

Suddenly I feel Suzu touching my leg. What’s the matter?



Is he staring at me again?

Oh no, he might be.

She might be correct. It seems he’s looking at me intently.

No, I shouldn’t think too much about that.

Let’s change the topic.

“So… how ‘bout your students today? You said they’re tough to deal with.”

“Yeah. That Mitsugu’s so annoying. He’s always trying to flatten my hair.”

We both can’t help but laugh at this, Suzu even dropping her onigiri on the table.

“Sorry… I didn’t mean it… Yeah, kids can be a real pain to deal with.”

“Sigh… Anyway, I earn quite a bit of money from the classes, so I at least get some consolation. I hope I can get used to them soon.”

“I think you can. Well, you’ve got to try your best to adapt. After all, your goal is to become a science teacher.”

“Good point, Miki. It’s great that we’re both reaching out towards our career goals.”

“Indeed.”

“So, Suzu, d’you have any plans for the future?”

“Uhm… I haven’t thought much about it, but I think right now the best path for me seems to lie on the academic side.”

“You mean, a professor?”

“Hmm… I’m not sure if I can climb that high, but if I can’t, at least I want to be doing research work.”

“Interesting. So, contributing the society through inventions?”

“Something like that. Since my disability is quite serious, I cannot engage in highly physical work, nor can I work long hours. Researching seems good for me. If I get tired, I can freely go to sleep, and then when I wake up I can work again.”

“Flexible working hours. I agree with you, Suzu. Staying in a university seems to be the best choice for you.”

“Thanks. *Yawn* I’m going to study hard in order to earn my doctoral degree.”

“Are you okay? Can you stay awake for a bit longer? At least after the soup.”

“Bring me the soup, Miki. I don’t think I can hold on much longer.”

Even though her condition is serious, she hasn't given up on herself. She's trying hard to cope with it by learning the symptoms right before falling asleep and alerting others when her condition is about to be triggered. This is what the Nurse encouraged her to do before she left Yamaku. It looks like she’s been taking his advice quite well.

“Sure.”

I take the bowls, go to the pot, and return with three full bowls of Chinese soup. I learned the recipe from the internet. The combination of red and green carrots, and pork ribs is very common among the southern part of China. Since the ingredients are easy to get, and the preparations are pretty simple, I picked this soup to serve my guest.

“It smells really nice, Miki. What's this soup? Is it Chinese?”

“Yup. Carrots and pork ribs. Very famous in the southern part of China.”

“Southern part of China? Does it include Hong Kong?”

“Suzu, you're the best in geography. Is it?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. I'm going to ask Alvin about it. He's my colleague in the tutorial school, and he's from Hong Kong.”

“Wow, really? Does he know Japanese?”

“He's fluent. We all call him A-ru-bin-san.”

“Interesting.”

Hisao takes a sip of his soup.

“Delicious! Nice job, Miki!”

“Yes! Told ya, Suzu. I know he'll like it.”

“Props to you.”

“Yeah. You asked me the other day whether I like Chinese soup. I said I don't mind. I didn't know it would be so good.”

“China has a lot of great soup recipes. We'll have to learn more of those.”

“Sure. Well, Miki, Suzu, I'll try to make one as well, and next time you two can come and visit me.”

“Great! I'm looking forward to it.”

We proceed to clean up all the food and the soup. It didn't take long before everything's wiped out.

“Thanks so much for the treat, girls. I'm so satisfied.”

“Glad you like it. Suzu, you had a great time?”

“Yes. *Yawn* I think I'm falling asleep in ten seconds.”

“Good night, Suzu. Thanks for the treat.”

“Good night, Suzu. I'll carry you to your bed.”

Ten seconds later, Suzu falls unconscious into my arms. I carry her on my back as Hisao opens the door to the bedrooms for me.

“Is it okay? She hasn't cleaned herself up yet.”

“No probs. She'll wake up at midnight and help herself.”

“Wow.”

“The left room is Suzu's. The right one’s mine.”

Hisao opens the door to Suzu’s room, and I put her down onto her own bed.

“I'm always surprised how you manage to carry a girl with you this often. Literally single-handedly too. You have excellent strength.”

“Practice makes perfect, boy. Don’t forget, I was a baseball player after all.”

We leave Suzu's room and close the door.

“So this is your room?”

“Yup. Come in.”

“Is it okay for me to enter a girl's room?”

“It's fine. There's really not much to see anyway.”

I open the door and turn on the lights.

“I don't decorate my room much. Again, there's really nothing to see.”

“Well, now you're in fashion design, maybe you can make some decorations.”

“You've got a point. I don't have much time though.”

“How much time do you work for the boutique?”

“Weekends, almost whole day. Weekdays, every Tuesday and Thursday night.”

“That's quite a lot of hours. Your schedule is as busy as mine, if not busier.”

“It's better to be busy than to be idle.”

Hisao chuckles.

“Can't believe this coming out from you, of all people.”

I turn around to face him.

“Thanks a lot for everything. I mean it.”

“You're welcome. Seeing you like this makes me really happy.”

I blush. I can't face him directly any more, so I turn away from him.

“What's that on the table?”

“On the table? Oh.”

I go to the table and pick up the photo frame.

“Me with my dad. In Osaka.”

“You're holding a Pikachu doll. You really love Pokemon, don't you?”

Pokemon. Brings back memories.

“It's very important to me.”

“Why?”

I pull out the drawer below the table and take out my Gameboy Color.

“This is the only game dad bought for me. After I won a baseball tournament.”

“There's a Pokemon game inside?”

“Yup. That, of course, happened before the accident.”

“Sorry about that.”

I shake my head.

“No worries. Then, that... happened. Mom left us. Dad's devastated. Playing Pokemon with one hand sucks. No more baseball either. I became a miserable person. That's until you showed up.”

“I didn't really do that much.”

“Help me say thanks to Shizune, will ya? She might not be the most sociable girl in the world, but she did encourage me to study and find my own goals. For two years.”

“I will. Don't worry.”

“Maybe I should've invited her along too. I hope I didn't make the wrong decision.”

“It's alright. I understand. You can treat her later. She's learning. Her friend Akemi is giving her a hard time. She'll eventually learn how to socialize. It just takes time.”

“Sometimes I wonder how you can put up with her.”

“Huh. It's... not as bad as it looks like.”

“And she's still holding you up.”

“It's okay. We made the promise, so I'm fine being just friends with her.”

We fall to a brief silence. I'm curious. Is he...?

“Have you thought about... you know...”

Oh no, I said it. I should not…

“What d'you mean?”

…but I really wanna know.

“I mean, there are so many girls around you. Like Suzu. Like Lilly Satou. Haven't you thought about them?”

“...”

“...”

“They're my friends all right. Very good friends. But no more than that.”

“I always think you and Suzu are a great pair. You two can talk about science and math and all those academics. But both of you have declined any feelings towards each other in front of me.”

“Yeah, we just don't find each other attractive, that's the issue.”

“Well, you have other choices out there.”

Hisao turns away from me and looks into distance.

“Emi... we talked for quite a bit in the Yamaku festival, but we aren't even friends yet. Hanako... It's true that I helped her a bunch, but I've no feelings towards her. Misha... She's in America, and... yeah, you already know everything.”

“I'm just thinking... is it really that worthwhile to wait a girl for so long just to give yourself a remote chance? You don’t know what will happen next year. And as you said, she still needs to learn how to socialize, which may take ages.”

Hisao falls silent for a while before replying.

“Well, that's the disability she has to deal with. Just like all of us. We're not much better anyway.”

“Even so…”

“...”

“...”

He turns back to face me directly.

“Miki, fashion design was indeed the right choice for you. Being a salesperson helps a lot as well. You’ve changed so much over the year. You’re so adorable now. For almost a whole year, I had been treating you as a boy. Now I have to start treating you as a girl. No, as a woman.”

That came so sudden that I don’t know how to respond. I can’t handle it. I can’t face him directly, so I look at the floor, but I know he’s staring at me.

Does he really like me?

But I don’t even know if I like him or not. What should I do now?

If he likes me, he’ll take the initiative. I’ll just wait.

We just stand here, completely silent, for minutes.

For a brief moment, I thought he was going to propose to me. But then he moves his eyes away from me.

“Shizune is a very special person to me. We have a lot in common. The time we spent together in the Student Council and the exam period was invaluable. We understand each other’s feelings. True, she’s sometimes a pain to deal with, but that’s no doubt part of her disability, while I also have my own condition to watch out for. If you look beyond her social issues, you can find a lot of positives in that little girl. She’s a real gem. That's why I like her.”

I’m pretty sure a lot just happened between the two of us. There’s very little doubt that he has a crush on me, which was really surprising but Suzu was smart enough to perceive it. But then he decided that Shizune’s probably the better choice for him.

As for myself, I don’t know. Everything came and went so sudden. I never thought somebody would even like me; I even tried to play matchmaker for Suzu. I didn’t prepare for any sort of relationship. But I think Hisao made the right choice. He’s much better off with the ex-President. Yeah, we do get along, but as he just said, the deaf girl is just so much better. She’s smart, she’s gorgeous and pretty, she’s a great leader, she has laid out plans for the future, she has a rich dad; even though she’s very pesky at times, I can’t deny that she is a real gem. I sincerely wish them happy together.

“You’re the only one in Yamaku who can call her a little girl. Good luck on capturing her heart, boy.”

“You helped out a bunch back then. Keep rooting for me, will ya?”

He raises his hand up high again.

“Sure.”

We exchange high-fives, virtually confirming to each other that we are best staying as friends.

“Best friends forever?”

“Best friends forever.”

Hisao seems to suddenly realize something, and he scratches his head.

“I think I just made things hard for myself. For a long time I thought Misha was my best friend. Now I want YOU to be my best friend. I can’t have two best friends at a time! What should I do? I don’t wanna dethrone either of you. Oh no.”

“You can have two best friends.”

“But that contradicts with the definition of ‘best’. You can only have one ‘best’.”

I chuckle on his silly grammatical trouble, and we both laugh.

“Yeah. It’s up to you to decide. I’ve no problems with having two best friends. Suzu and you.”

“Thanks a lot. I think I must go now. Help me say goodbye to Suzu, will ya?”

“Definitely. Remember, you promised to treat us later.”

“Sure. See you soon.”

He grabs his stuff, and I proceed to walk him downstairs. I return home and enter Suzu’s room. She’s still sleeping soundly.

“You’re right, Suzu. Nice observation.”

“zzz”

“But we’re best friends. Only.”

Chapter 38: A Tough Assignment
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Tue Dec 08, 2020 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune Bad End epilogue) (Chapter 12, Updated 14 Apr 2020)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:54 pm

Thanks for the comments. By the way, I was a bit stuck on the second part of the story until you pointed out "not to spare Hisao so easily". That actually was what I planned but eventually forgot about. Now I can continue with the story.
Glad to have been of help.

As for the newer chapters:
Emi's inner voice sounds quite vindictive... Personally I think it's not really in character for her. Also, chapter 17 - and several other scenes - are almost entirely dialogue with hardly any description strewn in.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch37 Updated 16 Oct 2020]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Dec 08, 2020 1:57 am

Chapter 38: A Tough Assignment

“Oh no!”

I open my eyes, and, realizing that I’m lying on my bed, I sigh. I just had another bad dream. Not again! Gimme a break!

Since the day I said goodbye to Misha and Shizune, for a span of two and a half months, I never had another one of those bad dreams.

Then it returned on Saturday, after my mini gathering with Miki and Suzu. Since then, I’ve had bad dreams for four straight nights.

The reason? Sigh. Of course I know the reason.

Yeah, I admit it. I do like Miki. I never knew. But the split-second in the train to Yamaku was the first sign that I might have fallen in love.

I’m so glad that I kept my cool and retreated at the last moment. I was about to propose to her and give her an embrace, and I think she would have accepted.

I didn’t repeat my mistake from last year. Well, technically I wouldn’t be cheating, as I don’t have a girlfriend right now, but it would still be an impulsive act. Yet I still feel so bad about the whole thing. That’s why the bad dreams.

I’m bringing Shizune to every gathering with Miki and Suzu from now on.

It’s dangerous to be with a girl alone, especially in a room. I’ll never put myself in such a situation again.

I’m scared. I promised to have lunch with Lilly today. She said she wanted to discuss something with me.

It’s probably fine though. We’re in an open area, and I have no feelings for her.

Let's get up. I've got a lot to do today.

I take my life-saving seventeen pills, clean myself up, and prepare for another day of challenge.

Tonight will be the first JUSC training session for me. I'm going to fight for glory on behalf of Kasshoku. I'll be on my very best.

***********************

Once I step into the cafeteria of the English faculty for the second time, I find Lilly's figure standing tall in the middle of the area, surrounded by presumably her classmates. It was the same last week when I visited her along with Alvin. I can't help but be amazed: Lilly is popular no matter where she is. If she wasn't blind, she would certainly enjoy some great success in the job environment. Though I'm not saying that she can't be successful without eyesight.

I should be happy to be a close friend of such a lady.

I walk towards the group and raise my voice.

“Hi, Lilly!”

“Hello, Hisao.”

The group of students surrounding Lilly immediately stop talking and turn towards me at the same time, which makes me feel a bit awkward. Lilly seems to sense the situation and starts walking towards me.

“Thank you for coming. It must have been a long walk for you.”

“It's okay. I won't have another class in two hours.”

She turns towards her classmates.

“Some of you have already met him. This is Hisao Nakai, a good friend of mine from high school. I have some important matters to discuss with him today, so please have lunch yourselves. I'll come back to you all later.”

“Sure.”

“Nice to meet you, Mr. Nakai.”

“Nice to meet you.”

After sharing greetings with a few of her friends, Lilly and I move towards a corner table with two seats. She folds her cane and puts it into her bag.

“What do you want for lunch? I'll order for you.”

“Thank you so much. You are such a kind gentleman. Hmm... I will have fish fillet with mixed vegetables.”

“And drinks?”

Lilly smiles mischievously.

“I think you already know the answer.”

I chuckle.

“Of course. I'll just bring you a glass of hot water, is it okay?”

“Thank you, Hisao.”

Since the set meal for fish fillet comes with a free drink, I'll take the drink for myself.

It took me a while to order the food (and in the process I greeted some of Lilly's other friends who were also waiting for their orders). I return to Lilly with two set meals, two drinks, and a glass of hot water.

“This is your hot water. Be careful.”

“Thank you so much.”

She then reaches her bag and takes out a teabag of Orange Jaipur. As expected.

“Can't believe you're still a big fan of caffeine.”

My lunch partner for today laughs heartily.

“I don't think this is going to change for the rest of my life.”

We start eating without further ado. The blind woman in front of me carefully uses her fork to figure out the food on her plate before putting that piece of carrot into her mouth.

“So, how's school recently?”

“I'm going to have a lot of tests and assignments in the next few weeks. Many of them are compositions. How about you?”

“Same here, except that the assignments are mostly lab reports. There'll be two tests coming up next week.”

“Will you continue doing part-time jobs during the exam period?”

“I'm thinking about it. I can still be librarian because I can study while being on duty. I cannot miss out on Saturday's job because I'm officially hired. As for the private tutorials, maybe I'll skip a few weeks if I need extra time to study. I can make up for them during the summer break.”

“It makes sense. What expectations do you have on your exams?”

“I'm feeling quite confident about them. I got pretty good scores on my last few tests, so I expect to get a few A's. I've heard from my classmates that the students who perform well are more likely to be nominated for scholarships, which I am, of course, eager to aim for.”

“I am so happy that you are aiming high and are constantly trying to help out your family. I also want to score high. I want Father and Mother to be proud of me.”

“Great! By the way, you said you have something important to discuss with me. What is it?”

The caffeine addict takes a sip of her Orange Jaipur before answering.

“Yes. I would like to discuss with you about Hanako.”

“Oh. Did she run into trouble? Two weeks ago she was happy playing with the girls.”

“Do you know that her birthday is coming up?”

“No, I don't.”

“The tenth of July. It's her birthday.”

“So, are you saying that we should give her a birthday party?”

“Sort of. The issue is, her birthday is a sensitive topic to her.”

“Why?”

“Last year, during her birthday, I had to fly to Scotland for a couple of weeks. Therefore, Akira and I had a small birthday gathering with her before my flight. I believe it was on the fourth of July.”

I nod, then instantly realize that she cannot see.

“Makes sense.”

“But then, while I was in Scotland, she shut herself down completely, especially the few days before and on her birthday.”

“Come to think of it, I remembered that she did skip a few days of class before the exam period.”

“Yes. Some students in your class told me about her absence, and the dorm keeper informed me that she locked herself in her room for almost three days straight.”

“Wow. Does she hate her birthday that much?”

“I have no clue. She never told me about it. I believe it might be related to her disability.”

“Well, the logical guess would be that something traumatic happened during one of her birthdays, which caused her disability.”

“I share the same line of thought as yours.”

“So, are we going to arrange a birthday party for her a week before, just like what you did last year?”

“Well, since the tenth of July is a Thursday, we probably cannot afford to travel to Yamaku, especially considering that we will be in the middle of some tough assignments and exams. We will have to schedule it earlier. The previous Sunday seems to be the best option.”

“Okay. I think I can go. I will have to bring my books to study in the train though.”

“However, things have now become more complicated.”

“What happened?”

“I called Hanako last Sunday. She told me that her therapist gave her a tough assignment. She will not be allowed to stay inside her dorm room during her birthday week, except during sleeping hours. Nor can she hide in the library. Hanako was asked to plan beforehand, and she is now asking me for help.”

“I see. So her therapist stripped her off the option of hiding inside her room. She wants Hanako to face her birthday issue directly.”

“Indeed. But don't you think this is too harsh?”

“Hm...”

“...”

“I can understand why her therapist did that.”

“Why?”

“Well, this is probably the last chance for her therapist to help her deal with the issue. In other words, this might be the last chance for Hanako to tackle this problem under the supervision of a therapist. She is now bound by the commitment of a fourth year, so the therapist at least has some kind of control over her. After she graduates, well, she does whatever she wants, whether she enters a university or not. Nobody can force her anything. Not even us. How slim her chance of recovering will be in that case. You can say that her therapist took advantage of Hanako's situation, but I think it is for her own benefit.”

“You made a great point, Hisao. You do care for her a lot. She is very lucky to have you as a friend.”

“My speculation is that Hanako also wants to deal with this problem, but she is unable to do this alone. Our task is to help her out without triggering her social anxiety or the like.”

“Do you have any idea?”

“Hm... Let's both think about it while we finish our lunch.”

As I take another bite of my steak, I don my thinking cap to find a possible solution.

What do I do when I feel sad?

What did I do when I was in the hospital? I kept reading books.

I like reading books, although I haven't read much recently other than textbooks, due to my extremely busy schedule. Reading made me temporary forget about the fact that I’m stuck inside the hospital with a heart condition.

So, the idea is to do something you like to distract yourself.

What does Hanako like to do? She likes reading as well, but she cannot go to the library. She can play games in Jun's room, but playing games for seven days straight is probably not very appealing to her.

What else does she like to do? I don't know much about her.

Let’s review the clues. We first met in the Yamaku library. Then we met again in the Student Council. She had a chess game with Shizune...

Yeah, I remember. She loves chess. She was even able to play two games against Shizune, the class rep that she is so afraid of.

Of course! The computer room!

“I've an idea, Lilly!”

I raised my voice so much that caused Lilly to flinch. She recovers quickly and makes an expectant face.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I believe Hanako loves chess, doesn't she?”

“Correct. And I am honored to be her first opponent.”

Wow. You can play chess without eyesight? I would never be able to do so.

“D'you remember Alvin? You met him last Tuesday.”

“Of course. He is such a funny boy, is he not?”

“Yeah, he is. He told me last week that he loves chess. He often goes to chess websites to play online chess with his friends. He even invited me to play with him online.”

“So, are you saying that she can play online chess with other people?”

“Well, playing with someone she does not know may not be the best idea, but she can at least play chess with me or Alvin.”

“Do you think she can play chess with Alvin?”

“Well, did I tell you that she once played two games of chess with Shizune in the Student Council room?”

“No. I never expected it. That was very brave of her.”

“If she can play with Shizune, she can definitely play with Alvin online. Given how much Alvin loves chess, he'll certainly agree. Then, if she feels comfortable, she can even play with other people.”

“That is a great idea, Hisao. I hope it works.”

“Then the problem is at least half solved. She can fulfill her librarian duties during the day, and then she can either go to the computer room to play chess online, or go to Jun's room to play Mario Kart or Pokemon or whatever game with her. Well, we can also chat with her on the phone. Ask her to, say, go to The Shanghai and talk to us. It's always quiet over there. We can both stay in Kasshoku for the phone call.”

“You are a genius, Hisao.”

“So Sunday we will make her a birthday party. For the next seven days, we already have three events for her. She can then repeat the events as she likes. If she doesn't want to repeat, then she can think of her own. The only thing we need to do is to send her an online chess website and make our own schedules, and, of course, notify Alvin about this. I’ll just tell Alvin that my high school friend wants to play online chess with him, and give him Hanako’s account name.”

Lilly's smile broadens upon hearing my plan.

“Excellent. I will tell Hanako about these. I am sure she will be thrilled.”

“Then let's plan our birthday party with Hanako. Do you think Akira can come back for this?”

“I talked to her the other day. She said she will try to make it. My current plan is that we can travel to Yamaku in the morning, and then Father and Mother can come and pick us up at night while saying happy birthday to Hanako.”

“Sounds good. Do you think we should ask Naomi as well?”

“Yes. Do you want to contact her?”

“Sure. I'll ask Naomi to call Jun as well. Let's hope that everything will turn out alright.”

“Let's hope so. By the way, what do you think we should bring for Hanako's birthday present?”

***********************

{Hi, Shizune.}

{Good evening, Hisao.}

{How was the day?}

{Great! I scored a 90 in my last test! I beat Akemi for the first time!}

Still competitive as usual.

{Really? What's the mean score?}

{76. I'm 1.5 SD above the mean.}

{Well done. Hope you can get an A.}

{Of course I will. By the way, how did the JUSC training go?}

{It was pretty fun. We now have six team members. Each of us is assigned two subjects out of Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. So each subject will be covered by three members. I was assigned to cover Math and Chemistry.}

{Math and Chemistry huh.}

{I'm confident with both subjects.}

{Are you going to cram the books?}

{They have question banks. I'll have to study a small section of it, then next week we'll have a mock contest session to train up our reflex. The questions will be selected from that section of the question bank.}

{Are you sure you'll be fine physically?}

{Well, the Nurse did say that I need to stretch my limit if I want to return to normal life as much as possible. If something happens, I'll immediately stop and maybe quit the team.}

{I wish you good luck. Take care.}

{Sure. I won't worry you.}

{Okay. Lunch tomorrow?}

{Yes. And afternoon run.}

{See you. Goodnight.}

I close the dialogue box and lie down on the bed.

Nothing bad happened today. That’s a relief.

I don't want any more bad dreams. Let's just stay close to Shizune. And always think about her. That'll help.

Chapter 39: Midnight Party
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Tue Dec 08, 2020 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune Bad End epilogue) (Chapter 12, Updated 14 Apr 2020)

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Dec 08, 2020 2:03 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Nov 15, 2020 6:54 pm
Glad to have been of help.
Sure. In the recent chapters (30 and beyond, including Ch38 I just uploaded) you see how I answered your comments.
As for the newer chapters:
Emi's inner voice sounds quite vindictive... Personally I think it's not really in character for her. Also, chapter 17 - and several other scenes - are almost entirely dialogue with hardly any description strewn in.
I have to be honest, I'm not very good at writing Emi, so I got some inspiration from other work. Emi being vindictive is actually coming from the Misha story "For Want of a Nail", if you have read it.
I feel like I'm better using dialogues to convey information than writing a lot of long descriptive paragraphs. This is probably my preferred writing style. I'll try to include more paragraphs in my later chapters.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch38 Updated 08 Dec 2020]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Dec 08, 2020 2:24 am

Chapter 39: Midnight Party

“Really? That is unfortunate.”

“Yeah. She might have to celebrate with Hanako alone.”

“Understood. See you in the afternoon.”

“HICCHAN! COME HERE! QUICK!”

“What’s the matter? Hey Lilly, hold on a sec.”

As Hisao’s mother calls him for something apparently urgent, I can’t help but feel disappointed. Akira sent Hisao a message at four in the morning (she knew I would not get up early enough to read it in time, and phone calls in an aircraft are strictly prohibited; Hisao read it when he got up and immediately called me), saying that her flight is delayed by a few hours due to bad weather in Scotland, and she will not be able to arrive at Yamaku until ten in the evening. Even if Father picks me up from Yamaku, it will still take at least four hours of drive to return to Chiba, so we probably need to leave before eight. In other words, Akira most likely needs to stay in a hotel tonight and celebrate with Hanako tomorrow alone. It is unfortunate, but there seems to be no better solution.

Two days ago, Hisao brought me to an antique shop near my apartment after school for Hanako’s birthday present. I took advantage of his presence by asking him to guide me to the convenient store I usually visit, and also carry the shopping bag for me until we arrived at the building where I live. He did not reject either of them. He is such a kind gentleman. My cousin should feel fortunate to have such a partner.

“Lilly! Are you still here?”

“Yes, Hisao.”

“There’s a serious accident in Omiya, Saitama earlier this morning! The Tohoku Shinkansen will be suspended until further notice!”

“Oh no!”

“I just checked the web. The train we’re supposed to be in will be cancelled.”

“What should we do?”

“We’ll have to take the bus if we want to go to Yamaku. That’s going to take a long time. We’ll need to leave, like, now.”

“Okay then. I’ll try to leave home in thirty minutes.”

“Your parents are at work, aren’t they?”

“Yes. Today will be a busy day for both of them. They will not be able to drive us all the way to Yamaku.”

“No worries. See you in the bus station.”

My hope of taking a few more hours of sleep cruelly dashed, I reluctantly get up and clean myself up. Sunday is the best chance for me to redeem sleep and take things slowly, but today we have Hanako’s birthday party, and with the unexpected circumstances, I am willing to sacrifice my sleep time for her.

***********************

“Excuse me!”

“Pardon!”

“I’m so sorry!”

When I finally arrive at the bus station (Hisao called me twice on phone to hurry me up), I instantly realize, from the abruptly rising room temperature and the significantly louder noise, that the station is very crowded. In fact, a few people just collided with me, apparently hurrying to buy their tickets.

“Lilly!! Hey!!”

I immediately recognize the familiar voice and turn my head towards its source.

“Hisao?”

“(Hisao) Excuse me! Pardon!”

It’s really crowded here! The suspension of the trains must have caused a huge inconvenience on today’s traffic.

“Hey, Lilly.”

“Hisao. Sorry, I am late.”

“Yeah, sorry to hurry you along. Luckily I came here in advance. All the bus tickets to Yamaku’s direction are sold out now. I’m happy to be able to grab two tickets.”

“Thank you so much, Hisao.”

“Let’s move to a less crowded area. The bus will set off in half an hour.”

“Sure. Please lead the way.”

“Have you had breakfast yet?”

“No, Hisao. I did not have time to make my own breakfast.”

“Here. Take a bite.”

Hisao hands me something that smells like bread. How kind of him! It’s probably very hard to find something to eat in this crowded station.

“Thank you so much!”

His kindness almost made me cry. Honestly I don’t like bread too much, but I am so hungry that any food is now delicious to me. I finish the raisin bread in seconds. I am always taught to behave like a proper lady, so today must be the most improper way for me to have a meal.

“Have a drink. Green tea.”

I’d like some Orange Jaipur if possible, but I cannot be picky today. It’s for Hanako’s sake!

“Do you think we should call Hanako? Tell her about our situation.”

“Yes. Nice thinking, Hisao. I’ll call her.”

After taking a few sips of the green tea, I put it into my bag and take out my phone to call my best friend.

“G-good morning, L-Lilly.”

“Good morning Hanako. Did you sleep well?”

“Y-yes.”

“Hanako, this morning there’s an accident in Saitama, so we cannot come by train. We’re now taking a bus. I hope we can come on time. Also, Akira told us this morning her flight will be late, so there’s a chance that we will have to celebrate with you separately.”

“…”

“Yes, Hanako?”

“I… I…”

By now I have enough understanding of Hanako to predict her train of thought.

“No worries, Hanako. We will be fine. We miss you so much, so please don’t ask us not to come. We’ll be studying in the bus. You just need to wait patiently.”

After a brief moment of hesitation from her end, she finally speaks up.

“O-okay then. T-take care.”

“See you soon. Bye.”

I turn off my cell phone and report to Hisao.

“I asked her to wait patiently.”

“Thanks. I think we should also call Naomi and maybe Jun. Probably not now, as Naomi should still be asleep. We’ll call her at around noon.”

***********************

“Damn! We’ve been stuck in the same position for fifteen minutes already!”

As Hisao groans about the inevitable traffic that comes along with the accident and the train suspensions, I can do nothing but continue reading my book.

Maybe I should calm him down a little bit.

“Complaining won’t make our trip faster. We might as well grab more time to study.”

“Easy for you to say. It’s hard reading in a bus.”

I giggle. Indeed, that’s an advantage of being able to read with my hand.

“The bus is not moving at the moment. It’s now the perfect time for you to read.”

“(Sigh) Fine.”

***********************

The bus finally stopped for lunch break after four grueling hours of stop-and-go, and we bought ourselves enough food for the evening (which included, to Hisao’s dismay, some instant noodles, since there’s not much else available), in case the ride does not finish by dinner time.

What a tough bus ride. I’m fortunate to have Hisao next to me.

“We haven’t even arrived at Saitama yet. We’re probably not making it before dinner. I think it’s time to call Naomi. Can you update Hanako with our situation?”

“Yes, Hisao.”

As I dial Hanako’s number again, I hear Hisao making his call to Naomi.

“Hanako?”

“L-Lilly? How is the t-traffic?”

“(Hisao) Hey Naomi?”

“I think we might be stuck in the bus until after dinner time.”

“Oh no! Will it be okay?”

Say something positive, Lilly. Don’t make Hanako worry.

“No worries, Hanako. At least we have plenty of study time right now.”

“(Hisao) Yeah. We’re stuck in traffic. If you arrive early, you might have to wait for us.”

“M-maybe you s-should…”

Stay determined, Lilly.

“No, Hanako. We might need to make some concessions, but we ARE coming to see you.”

“(Hisao) I know. You meet with Hanako first, then we’ll think of something. If we have to celebrate with her separately, then so be it.”

“O-okay.”

“Meanwhile, you should take the time to study. Your own exams are not too far away from now.”

“(Hisao) I wanna have a rematch too. We’ll see what happens.”

“O-okay then. S-see you.”

“(Hisao) Can you call Jun for us as well?”

“(Hisao) Thanks. Oh, by the way, if you meet with Hanako, don’t let her run away. You know, she tends to put all the guilt upon herself, so she might run if we’re late because of the traffic. Just keep playing games with her, and distract her as much as possible.”

“(Hisao) Great. Have fun with Hanako. Bye.”

As he turns off his phone, I smile at Hisao. It looks like we’re sharing the same line of thought about Hanako. Meanwhile, I’m very proud of my hearing ability being able to pick up what he said while making my own phone call.

“I hope Hanako does not run away from us.”

“Yeah, that’s why I have Naomi and Jun play with her and distract her as much as possible, in case things do go south here.”

The bus finally moves again, and we’re in for another few hours of tough journey.

***********************

After another five hours of waiting, we finally exited Saitama, according to Hisao. Several times I was on the verge of vomiting, but I managed to stay tough by thinking about Hanako and taking as much rest as possible. Now we’re starting to pick up some speed, but we won’t be in Yamaku until at least four hours later, which is ten o’clock in the evening. I called Father about the situation, and he recommends us to book a hotel near Yamaku and spend the night there. Father can then drive and pick us up if the traffic problem is solved overnight. He is on leave from work tomorrow.

“Lilly, as your father mentioned, I think we need to start thinking about booking a hotel.”

“Indeed. What do you have in mind? We haven’t brought a computer with us, and we don’t know the telephone numbers of the hotels near Yamaku.”

“Yeah, I thought about it for some time, and I’ve got a plan. I hope it works.”

“What is it?”

“Hmm… May I talk to Hanako please? With your phone.”

“Sure.”

I take out my phone and dial Hanako’s number for the third time today.

“L-Lilly! How are you?”

“(From afar) Yes! I found a shortcut!”

Naomi must have already arrived.

“Hisao wants to talk to you. Please hold on a sec.”

I give my phone to my neighbor.

“Yes, Hanako?”

“Yeah. Well, it looks like we won’t be arriving until ten o’clock.”

“No problem. I do have a plan, but I need your assistance.”

“Yeah. Let’s do this. We’re going to have our gathering outside of Yamaku.”

“Right. Please help us choose a hotel near Yamaku, and book four hotel rooms. One for me, one for you and Lilly, one for Naomi and Jun, and one for Akira. We’re going to hold our party in the hotel. Akira’s coming at ten, right? That’s perfect. We’ll probably arrive at the same time. You three have dinner first, then take a taxi to the hotel.”

“Yes. We’ll leave tomorrow morning. It’s okay. I can ask my classmates to take notes for me. I’ve also brought books to study.”

“Don’t say that, Hanako. Let’s make this work together. We’re very happy to be able to see you. All of us.”

“Good. Oh, please ask Naomi to get some rest in the evening. Otherwise her condition might trigger. And be careful around Jun.”

“Thanks. Can’t wait to see you soon.”

I pat my companion on his shoulder for the phone.

“Oh, Lilly wants to talk to you. Lilly, here you go.”

“Hello, Hanako?”

“Y-yes, Lilly?”

“After you find a hotel for us, can you give me a call before we book the rooms?”

“O-okay.”

“Alright then. Please take a rest, and we’ll see each other tonight. Take care.”

I turn off my phone and put it back into my bag. A well thought-out plan from Hisao. I am impressed!

“So we’re holding the party in a hotel?”

“It has to be the best solution. I can’t think of anything better.”

“It’s a great idea, Hisao. I’m impressed.”

I’m even more impressed by Hisao’s decision to talk to Hanako himself. Considering how much Hisao has done for her, she can hardly reject or run away from his plan.

Hanako, please wait for us. We’ll see each other very soon.

***********************

“What’s the room number again?”

“1802. It should be on the left side.”

Holding my sister’s arm, we head towards our party venue along with my companion who travelled with me.

“Get your presents ready.”

With our presents on our hands, Akira presses the doorbell. I can hear noise inside the room.

The door soon opens, and a familiar voice immediately draws my tears.

“L-Lilly!”

“Hanako!!”

She practically throws herself onto me, and we give each other a firm embrace, with Hisao holding my present for me. I feel my tears dropping onto Hanako’s shoulders. After a long, tedious, horrible bus ride, I’m finally able to meet the one I miss so much, even though we already met once last month.

“I’m so glad to meet you again! It’s been such a tough journey!”

“T-thank you, for c-coming.”

We stay like this for minutes before finally breaking the embrace. I can hear Akira and Hisao entering the room.

“Yo, Hanako!”

“A-Akira, t-thank you for c-coming all the way from S-Scotland.”

“No probs. I’ve some work to do in the Japan branch anyway, and the schedule fits quite well.”

“Hi, Hanako. Nice to see you.”

“T-thank you, Hisao.”

“Well, you didn’t try to run away from us, did you?”

Wow, how blunt is this! Out of everyone in the room, I think only Hisao has the right to say something like this.

“Um…”

“She said she thought about it, but we stopped her with games before she can start doing anything. I’ve finally played my first chess game!”

“Thanks so much, Naomi. Have you carried the video games here?”

“Of course! I’m dying to have a rematch with you. I’ve found a few shortcuts this evening, and I’m going to beat you hard this time. Hahahaha!!!!”

I cringe at Naomi’s volume (which reminds me much of my cousin’s pink-haired partner). Something’s never changed.

“Look, Hanako. I’ve something for you. Please wait a moment… Here. Some birthday cards for you. This is from Miki and Suzu, your dear classmates.”

“Whoa! T-thanks s-so much.”

“This one is from Shizune. She also gave you a present. It’s a bit heavy. Probably exam practice books, if I have to guess.”

“*Gasp* T-thank you! Y-you carry it all the way here?”

“No worries. And this is from Misha, written by Shizune on her behalf. You see, she didn’t forget about you, even in America.”

“T-t-thank you Misha…”

“Hanako, your classmates remember you. Once I told them we’re going to hold a party for you, this is their response. They all wish you good luck on the upcoming Entrance Exams.”

“I… I…”

Hanako seems to be in tears. It’s a bit risky for us to put her in the center of attention like this, but I think she should be fine. I know it, because she has grown. She’s a lot different from the Hanako I met last year. After going through so many trials and tribulations, combined with an excellent therapy program by her therapist, I believe in her ability to overcome her social anxiety.

“T-thank you so m-much, everyone.”

“And you too, Naomi. If I don’t see you next year in Kasshoku, you’d better watch out.”

“Hahaha!! No worries. I won’t short myself out this time around!”

“Yo, everyone, the service lady is coming. How ‘bout we ask her to take a picture of all of us? Behind the birthday cake right there.”

“Of course, Akira. Everyone, quick, stand behind the cake.”

“Hanako, please lead me.”

“S-sure!”

I feel my best friend’s hands once again guiding me as we stand presumably in front of the camera. The feeling of her hands wrapping around me is so familiar. Her scent of freshness, probably coming from her washed hair, feels so soothing.

“Everybody, get ready. Say cheese.”

“Cheese!”

***********************

“Hanako, did you enjoy tonight’s party?”

“Y-yes. How w-was your trip? Was the bus r-ride very rough?”

“To be honest, yes. For many hours the bus was in a state of stop-and-go. Several times I almost vomited. Luckily Hisao was accompanying.”

“I’m s-sorry…”

“But it’s all worth it, Hanako. I enjoyed today’s gathering very much. Like Hisao said, no pain, no gain.”

“Or ‘sometimes you have to endure some short-term hardships in order to make a positive difference in the long run’, as our folks said.”

Akira’s quote from Father makes me smile.

“Akira, enjoying a party is not a positive difference in the long run.”

“But your friendship with Hanako is.”

“That’s true. Hanako, I’m so happy to see you again, even though the process was tougher than expected. I hope our friendship can continue strong despite the physical distance.”

“I’m h-happy to see you too. I’ll try as hard as p-possible to see you in university n-next year.”

“I’m waiting for you. Hisao too.”

Although sharing a bedroom with both Akira and Hanako is a bit tight for all three us, I don’t mind the reduced distance at all. That was my idea. After Hanako found a hotel for us, I asked her to book only three rooms instead of four, so that the three of us can sleep together.

It reminds me of the event during Christmas last year. On that day, Father made an offer to Hanako, surprising her to the uttermost. So far Hanako has not answered it yet, but I hope she’ll give a positive response in the future. I don’t mind spending the rest of my life with two sisters instead of one.

Our precious friendship. We’ve just made a “positive difference” today. I’m so happy about it.

Chapter 40: What a Sneaky Plan!
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Tue Dec 08, 2020 3:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch38-39 Updated 08 Dec 2020]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Dec 08, 2020 3:36 am

Chapter 40: What a Sneaky Plan!

After taking a few deep breaths, I put my hand on my chest once again to feel my heartbeat. No, they won’t work. My heart is still racing heavily. I really hope that it does not act up right now.

My neighbor pats me on my shoulder.

“You look nervous. Don’t worry. Just leave everything to us for the first part. You just sit and watch. When you feel ready, you can join us.”

That’s better.

I try my best to calm down, and take a look at the surroundings to distract myself as much as possible. Far away in front of me are a bunch of cameras, along with the cameramen and the staff. There is a screen above the cameras to display questions that include figures. On the left and right sides of the cameras sit the spectators, and among them I can see Shizune smiling at me. Sitting next to her on the right is Sakura Yamaguchi, the timid girl who has teamed up with Shizune for the Student Council election. Sitting next to her on the left is her friend Akemi. They have come to root for me and the school.

Each participant of the contest can invite up to three guests to the studio. I originally planned to invite Shizune and my parents, but dad hurt his leg two days ago and has to stay at home for about a week. Mom elected to keep an eye on him instead of coming over alone. They promised to come if we progress to the semi-finals and if my dad’s leg heals up in time. With two extra tickets, I let Shizune choose her companions, and she opted for those two.

Probably sensing my nerves, Shizune gives me a thumbs up, followed by an “okay” sign. I smile back at her.

Focusing on Shizune calms me down quite a bit.

I wonder if it is a poor decision from the team captain to send me out in the first JUSC match. They say that since we have a sizeable lead, it is a great chance for me, a first-timer, to get as much experience as possible. I am accompanied by the two most experienced members of our team who participated in all three of the previous competitions. Last year they lost in the semi-finals, so this year they are determined to best their previous record by entering the finals.

I take a look at my opponents. Since we are sitting on the left side of the stage (which should appear as the right side from the camera’s point of view), both of my opponent teams are sitting on my right side. The red team on the far right side, who is currently trailing in terms of score, has two boys and one girl. They look young and nervous, which leads me to think they’re probably first-years like me. The green team in the middle has three boys; they seem to be discussing their strategies.

We finished the first part, the paper test, of the competition three days ago. All six members must join this part. I performed very well off the stage, scoring an 80%, and as a result I earned a praise from my captain. Since we’re on the lead, the captain gave the three of us a simple instruction before the contest: To score well on the first part, building up the lead and forcing our opponents to go all-in and make errors in the “hayaoshi” round.

Let’s hope our simple strategy works out.

“Everybody, get ready!”

It looks like the competition is about to start. The moderator, who stands near the red team, prepares to start the show. His assistant, who helps keeping the timer and will play a large role in the second part of the contest, is sitting next to him. The staff hurry to their respective spots, and the cameramen make themselves ready.

“Three! Two! One! Start!”

There’s a brief moment of introduction music, and, after that, the spectators clap their hands to welcome the audience in front of the television. (The producers told me that there are indicators in front of the spectator seats instructing them to clap their hands at the appropriate moments.)

This is it. My first time ever on live television. Dad and mom should be watching at home. Please root for me!

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Joint University Science Contest! This is the third match of the preliminary round. Let me introduce the participating teams.”

“The red team, Pine University from Iwate Prefecture! (Claps)”

“The green team, Ringo University from Shizuoka Prefecture! (Claps)”

“The blue team, Kasshoku University from Chiba Prefecture! (Claps)”

I’m on screen now! I hope I’m looking handsome in front of the cameras. (There are televisions above the spectator seats to reflect the broadcasted point of view to us.)

“Let us take a look at the paper test scores, which will serve as the starting score of the contest.”

“Red team, 280. Green team, 350. Blue team, 470. (Claps)”

We have a 120-point lead over the second place. Seeing the score on the TV, somehow I don’t feel as nervous as before.

“We now commence the mandatory section. In front of me are ten sets of ten questions inside envelopes numbered one to ten. Each team picks a number, and the team will have to answer each of the ten questions. After I read out the question, the team has ten seconds to answer it. A correct answer yields twenty points, and a wrong answer gets no penalties. A fifty-point bonus will be awarded if all questions are answered correctly.”

“Now we start with the red team. Please pick a number.”

“Three.”

The moderator opens the envelope with the number three on it.

“Okay. Get ready.”

“Question one: Refer to the screen. Which of the following is a correct expression of one of the Maxwell’s Equations?”

“C”

“Correct. Question two: What is the most stable isotope of Uranium?”

The three students seem to be discussing. I know the answer. Time is ticking.

“Ding, ding, ding…”

“235.”

“Wrong. The correct answer is 238.”

That’s lame. No wonder they scored so poorly in the paper test.

***********************

“After ten questions, let us look at green team’s score. (Camera zooms in) 490. (Claps)”

The red team only got five correct answers, and their score is 380. Green team got seven questions right, and is now 20 points ahead of us. It’s our turn.

“Blue team, please choose a number.”

“Six.”

The team captain confidently chooses the question set for us, and here we go.

“Question one: What species do humans belong to?”

“Homo sapiens.”

“Correct.”

I notice that the questions today are not very hard, probably because this is the preliminary round, and maybe they also want to attract more TV audiences by having easier questions. I watch on as my two partners successfully earned sixty points from the first three questions.

“Question four: Refer to the screen. Which of the following choices is the general solution to the differential equation?”

The equation looks like this: y’’ + y’ – 12y = 0 (with respect to x). Let’s think. So the auxiliary equation is m^2 + m – 12 = 0, which gives m = -4 or 3. The general solution should have -4x and 3x as the exponents.

The team captain gives me a look, and signals me to answer.

Wait! Didn’t he say he’s handling things for me? Oh no!

“Ding, ding, ding...”

With no time to think, I blurt out the answer.

“B”

“Again?”

The captain bends my microphone towards me; I realize that I didn’t adjust the microphone in front of me before the match.

“B”

“Correct.”

Phew! I pulled it off in the nick of time. I feel my heartbeat rising quickly. Please, don’t trigger my condition!

“Question five: What is the most widely used wavelength, in nanometers, in optical communication systems?”

The captain seems confused. He consults his partner on the right, and he returns with a shrug. He turns to me, and I can also only shrug. Time is ticking down.

“Ding, ding, ding…”

“900”

“Wrong. The correct answer is 1550.”

Well, no perfect score for us. It’s fine though. We just need to maintain the lead.

After taking points from another five questions, with me contributing one of them, the moderator announces our team’s score.

“Let us look at blue team’s score. (Camera zooms in) 650. (Claps)”

We successfully extended our lead by a little bit, leading the green team by 160 points. I can see the green team making discussions, probably trying to figure out a strategy against us in the next round.

“Let us take a break, and we will come back with the second part of the contest.”

As the audience claps once again, the moderator signals to us that we can take a bathroom break if needed. Two red team members left the stage, but I am staying behind with my two team members. Meanwhile, the staff in the studio are re-arranging the assistant’s table for the second part.

My captain pats me on my shoulder again.

“You’re doing great! How do you feel?”

“Man! You said you would handle everything for me.”

“Hahaha. You do wanna contribute a bit, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

“For the second part, just relax. Only press the button if you’re sure you can score. Don’t be impatient. There’s no need to take a risk. We’re on the lead now.”

“Okay.”

I take another look at the spectators. Shizune is adjusting her glasses and smiling at me. I smile back. She always knows how to comfort me.

The assistant table is ready: There are two buttons, blue and red. According to the moderator during the briefing, the assistant will control these two buttons. She has a copy of the questions to be read by the moderator, as well as the answers. If a correct answer is given, she will press the blue button, making a “Dingdong-dingdong” sound, and a “Tick” sign will jump out in front of the blue button. If a wrong answer is given, she will press the red button, making a “Bzzzt” sound, and a “Cross” sign will jump out in front of the red button. A simple yet very neat design by the producers.

My opponents return to the studio, and the moderator prepares to continue.

“Everyone ready? Five, four, three, two, one, go!”

“(Music and claps) Welcome back to the Joint University Science Contest. We are about to start the second part. Before this, let us review the scores of the three teams.”

“Red team, 380. (Claps)”

“Green team, 490. (Claps)”

“Blue team, 650. (Claps)”

“Here are the rules of the second part. I will read out a question. The first team to press the button gets to answer the question. A correct answer gives 30 points, and a wrong answer deducts 20 points. If a wrong answer is given, the first of the other two teams who presses the button can answer the question. A correct answer gives 20 points, and a wrong answer deducts 10 points. Notice that once the button is pressed, I will stop reading the question. You have five seconds to answer the question. The contest time is 10 minutes.”

“Before we start, let us verify each team’s buttons. Red team, please press your buttons one by one. (Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding-dong!) Green team… Blue team… Good, the buttons are working.”

“Alright. Let’s start the contest!”

As the short background music is being played, I take a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm myself down, and put my hands on the button in front of me.

“If the determinant of a square matrix K is zero, which of the following is true? A: K must have a zero in one of its entries. B…”

“Ding-dong!”

“Green team.”

Huh? He hasn’t finished reading the question!

“B”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct. The answer is B: The inverse of K does not exist.”

I’m shell-shocked, as do some of the audience. The schoolmates of the green team are cheering.

Did they just guess the answer?

“Please refer to the screen. (Short pause) Which…”

“Ding-dong!”

“Green team.”

I haven’t even finished studying the screen!

“Ding, ding, ding…”

“Two.”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct. The question was, which of the arrows represents the net force on the box. The correct answer is Arrow Two.”

The green team fans cheer again.

So that’s their strategy! They’re trying to pre-empt us by pressing the button early and thinking about the answer during that five-second period! What a sneaky plan!

“Stay calm, no worries.”

My captain whispers to me as I focus myself on the third question.

The green team scores another one, and suddenly our lead has diminished by more than half. We are leading by 70 points only. I can see Shizune staring at us anxiously. My captain assures me again.

“No worries. Calm down.”

“The chemical formula of propanol is…”

“Ding-dong!”

“Green team.”

“C3-H8-O.”

“Bzzzt!”

Huh? What?

“…is C3-H8-O. State a compound with the same chemical formula.”

“Ding-dong!”

“Blue team.”

My captain pats me on my leg. Am I answering this question? Okay!

“Methoxyethane.”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct.”

Phew! Our lead restores to 110 now. I wonder why my captain knows that I know the answer. I guess he would answer it for me if I don’t know.

“How many Japanese Nobel Prize winners are there in…”

“Ding-dong!”

“Green team.”

In what? If it’s Physics, then there are six*; if it’s Chemistry, then there are five*. If it’s “total”, then I’m not sure. They are hesitating.

“Ding, ding, ding…”

“Five”

“Bzzzt!”

“…winners are there in Physics?”

“Ding-dong!”

“Blue team.”

“Six”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

I see. That’s what the captain told us beforehand: force our opponents to go all-in and make errors. I can see Shizune visibly relieved, as do some of my schoolmates. We’ve got this!

Another error by the green team, this time picked up by the red team, see their earlier efforts completely nullified.

In the next question, the green team tried to pre-empt us again, but the red team was a split-second faster, grabbing the 30 points. The captain of the green team looks dejected. With a massive lead of 170 points, I’m feeling a lot more confident than at the start of the contest.

“After 358 years, which theorem finally had a successful proof published in 1995…”

Brimming with confidence, I press the button for the first time in the match.

“Blue team.”

“Fermat’s Last Theorem.”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

Our schoolmates are visibly excited as I grab another 30 points for Kasshoku. Shizune gives me a big smile. We’re winning this!

After the green team makes another couple of errors, the rest of the match becomes largely irrelevant. I even manage to score another two questions to help humiliate our opponents.

“Ding, ding, ding, dingdong!”

“Time is up! Let us look at the final scores of the three teams.”

“Red team, 480. Green team, 510. Blue team, 810.”

I can hear our schoolmates celebrating.

“The winner of the third preliminary round goes to… (Camera zooms in) the Blue team, Kasshoku University from Chiba Prefecture! (Claps)”

“Thank you for watching the Joint University Science Contest. We will see you again on Thursday for the fourth preliminary round. Good bye!”

As the background music plays and eventually fades out, my captain celebrates with me while my other teammates swarm towards our seats.

“Well done, Nakai!”

We’ve won! I was live in a television show and won the contest! Both are literally first for me. My parents must be proud of me right now.

As my schoolmates continue cheering for us, I close my eyes to absorb this moment to the fullest possible. I just achieved something incredible today.

***********************

[Take care. Don’t work too late.]

After sitting through a small de-briefing with the JUSC team (drills continue tomorrow, no latency), I escort my ex-girlfriend to her apartment building. She apparently still has election work to do.

[(Frowns) Sometimes I really wanna pull another all-nighter.]

[You’ve school tomorrow, and this is not Yamaku.]

[Fine. Take care. You did well. You deserve something.]

For the first time since we enter Kasshoku, she gives me a peck on my cheek.

[See you at lunch tomorrow. I’ll treat.]

[Gee, thanks.]

With that, she disappears inside the building.

I’m sure she still remembers our promise, which will be due in a little more than nine months. Since the day we made the promise to each other, we’ve become even closer, even though we both have a lot of activities. I’ll have my JUSC semi-final (and potentially final) match to come, and a lot of part-time jobs. Shizune will work hard to become the first ever deaf president of the Kasshoku Student Council. Despite the busy times, we still see each other regularly and support each other’s work as much as possible.

I’ve a feeling that this must be the relationship Shizune’s looking for. We’ll keep being busy, we’ll thrive towards our goals, but we don’t forget about each other.

I touch my left cheek and close my eyes. I promise you, Shizune, I’ll take care of you for the rest of my life.

*As of 2009.

Chapter 41: Not So Tough Assignment
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch38-40 Updated 08 Dec 2020]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Wed Dec 30, 2020 4:26 am

Chapter 41: Not So Tough Assignment

“Mamonaku, Tokyo eki desu. Next station, Tokyo.”

As I take my bag with me and prepare to exit the train, while pulling my hat a little bit lower, I’m both excited and nervous about my upcoming assignment.

My phone vibrates (I’ve been setting my phone to vibration mode since, well, that accident), and I hurry to pick it up while the train starts decelerating.

“L-Lilly?”

“Hello Hanako? Have you arrived?”

“In a minute.”

“Fantastic. Please follow the arrows to the Keiyo Line once you exit the station. We will be waiting for you at the escalators.”

“T-thanks.”

The walk between the Shinkansen Line platform to the Keiyo Line platform takes almost ten minutes, but Lilly insisted on picking me up at this side of the station and walking the length with me. The argument was that she missed me and wanted to meet me as soon as possible, but I believe that the true reason is she doesn't want me to go panic in the middle of the crowd of passengers. I feel very guilty about this, not only because she has to walk the extra length, but also because of the nature of her train ride. The Keiyo Line connects Chiba and Tokyo, and passes through Maihama station on the way, which is our destination. Since Lilly sets off from Chiba, she could have waited for me at Maihama instead. But she insisted on not only going through the extra stations, but also exiting the station and spending extra money on the return trip (I know how rich Lilly's family is, but still...). And by doing this, she has to wake up much earlier than she would like to. I tried my very best rejecting her offer, but she is determined, saying it is a great chance for her to improve her life habits. Eventually I gave in.

Besides Lilly, I also get to see my benefactor again, who is accompanying Lilly to meet me here. After that wonderful birthday party a month ago, Hisao and his friend Alvin kept their promise of playing online chess with me during my birthday week, when I was prohibited from hiding inside my room except sleeping hours. I really appreciate their efforts; it was a timely distraction for me. After that week, Hisao had to prepare for his exams and his JUSC match, which I saw live on TV and was happy to see him winning, while Alvin has continued playing with me a few times a week (to take a rest from studying, though I highly question his idea of playing chess as a break from schoolwork). According to Lilly, Hisao planned the whole “birthday week distraction” thing for me. As a way to say thanks, I prepared a present for him today, and I hope he will like it.

Miss Yumi gave me this assignment last month, asking me to go on a vacation alone far away from the school area. I have always wanted to go to Tokyo Disneyland, but visiting there alone would be too boring, so I asked Miss Yumi if I can bring Lilly along. She replied that I can, but on the condition that I also need to be accompanied by at least one other person. Naturally I chose Hisao, without knowing whether he would be available, but Miss Yumi said no: a girl is required (but Hisao can join). I asked for some time to think about it. After returning to my room, I called Naomi, but she’s busy during the summer break. Then I called Lilly to see if Akira is available, but the result was negative, though Lilly was thrilled to come along. For my remaining companion, Lilly suggested that I ask Hisao for help, because he has a lot of female friends. Then I called Hisao about this, which took me a lot of courage. Upon knowing about my assignment, he revealed to me that his two lady friends, who are our ex-classmates, are also planning on going to Disneyland during the break. He suggested that we should go together. I was a bit hesitant, as I almost never talked to those two in Yamaku, but Hisao told me not to worry because the two girls are great to hang out with, they talk a lot, and their banters are enjoyable. After some encouraging from his side, I agreed at last. Miss Yumi was satisfied with the arrangements as well.

And that’s why I’m here.

Now come to think of it, I’m very happy that I’ve made the decision to go with the two girls.

The five of us had a lengthy discussion a few weeks ago planning for the trip. Before the discussion, Hisao sent me a copy, through e-mail, of the Disneyland map Shizune took with her when she went there with Misha before her best friend went to America (Shizune cannot come this time because she’s busy with Student Council election). She even wrote detailed notes on how to visit as many attractions as possible within the limited time span while avoiding long lines and peak lunch hours. According to Hisao, they managed to play all the major rides and 90 percent of the remaining places within a single day. Then they went to DisneySea the next day and also almost exhausted everything over there. We certainly won’t rush to complete all the “assignments”, but ideally we still want to avoid long lines and have lunch when the restaurants are not crowded.

Since all of us are visiting Disneyland for the first time, we want to visit a bit of everything without stretching ourselves too much. Two or three major rides, some shows, the parade, and maybe some time to buy souvenirs, and I’ll call this trip a success.

I exit the train, take a quick glance at the sign hanging under the ceiling, and quickly walk in the direction of Keiyo Line, avoiding the crowd as much as possible. The only thing I want right now is to meet Lilly.

Tokyo Disneyland has seven sections: World Bazaar, Adventure Land, Western Land, Critter Country, Fantasy Land, Toon Town, and Tomorrow Land. Each section has several attractions. Since Hisao's and Lilly's disabilities apply a lot of restrictions to our trip, we decided to take care of their needs first. We started by noting the places that Hisao definitely cannot go because of his heart disability. These include “Big Thunder Mountain” in the Western Land, “Splash Mountain” in the Critter Country, “Star Tours: The Adventures Continue” and “Space Mountain” in the Tomorrow Land. Unfortunately, they are also among the major attractions, and, unsurprisingly, the other two girls love them. So it is decided that Hisao will take pictures of us while we enjoy our rides.

Then we pick the places Lilly will enjoy the most. Honestly, I feel a bit guilty for inviting her along, as most of the attractions require eyesight to enjoy to full, and the fact that you need to run around a lot doesn’t help her cause. She didn’t mind, however, claiming that just hanging out with me is enough fun. Despite her claim, we still try to accommodate her as much as possible. The best attractions for her seem to be in the Adventure Land and the Fantasy Land. The Adventure Land is based on a jungle. We can take a boat ride, and go to the “Enchanted Tiki Room”, which is a musical serenade. For the Fantasy Land, “Mickey's PhilharMagic” is a concert, so it's a must-go for us. “It’s a Small World” is another boat ride that someone unable to see can also enjoy.

According to Shizune’s notes, a key factor of our trip will be the FastPass, which allows us to bypass waiting long lines in some major rides. One can only get one FastPass at a time, but one person can scan multiple tickets for the whole group to get everybody’s FastPass at the same time. We have a runner on our team, and she’ll be responsible for that.

That’s the major reason I’m happy to be able to travel with the girls. Without our runner, I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy everything in the park, especially during the summer break when it must be very crowded, even on a weekday.

After around an hour of discussion, our strategy was set. We even drew a detailed route on where we should go at what time. We’ll arrive at the park 30 minutes before it opens in order to wait earlier in the line, so that we can enter the park right after it opens. Then our runner will…

“Hello, Hanako!”

“L-Lilly!!”

Here she is! And my benefactor too. Well, let’s hope our plan works out. If everything goes well today, I might be able to hang out with more friends in the future, which is what Miss Yumi has always wanted me to do.

“G-Good morning, Hisao.”

“Hey, you look great today.”

Due to the special nature of our relationship, I always try to speak as politely to him as possible.

“T-Thank you. Here, I have a p-present for you. Thank you so much for h-helping me out l-last month.”

“Wow. Uhm… I didn’t do much actually. I don’t know if I should…”

“P-please accept it.”

My male companion hesitates for a bit and then scratches his head.

“Uh… well then, thank you.”

“What is it, Hanako?”

It’s actually a scarf I made for him myself. It seems silly to give him a scarf during summer time, but it’s for a few months later. With exams coming up in winter, I don’t expect to see him again until next year, so I give him the present in advance.

“I-it’s a surprise.”

Lilly smiles. Even though she has been to university for more than four months, she is still pretty much the same Lilly I knew from high school. Wherever she is, she always emanates a soothing aura that calms everybody around. I almost immediately forget about the stress I experienced during the whole train ride in rush hour.

“Very well. I guess I’ll have to ask Hisao later then.”

“Sure. Well, Miki and Suzu should be in Maihama soon. Let’s go.”

With Lilly acting as my shield, we start walking towards the Keiyo Line. I know Miss Yumi doesn’t want me to cling on to Lilly all the time, but please let me do this until we arrive at Disneyland!

Hisao notices. He seems to have perceived my thoughts, because he takes out a pink-colored mask!

“Here you go.”

He gave me this suggestion during our previous phone call, saying that it was Shizune’s idea. I considered it for some time, but in the end I don’t want to wear a mask every time I go out. I think I’ll wear it for today though.

“O-okay then.”

We caught up a lot during the train ride to Maihama. Lilly revealed that she is selected to be the speaker in an important occasion a few months later. She refused to elaborate on that occasion, which makes me think it’s probably the Open Day. Hisao will have his JUSC semi-final match next week, but he will not be on screen because it’s his teammates’ turn on TV. He’s still participating in the written test, so he has to prepare. If they manage to progress, we’ll most likely see him in the final round live on TV.

When we arrive at Maihama station, I notice Miura and Suzuki waiting for us at the exit. I immediately feel my pulse almost doubling its frequency.

“Miki! Suzu!”

“Sup, boy?”

Hisao exchanges high-fives with the girls as Lilly walks graciously towards the two, me clinging onto her sleeves.

“Hello, Lilly.”

Suzuki pushes her friend with her elbow.

“Miki! Use surname!”

“Nah. Surnames are too stuffy. Right, Lilly?”

Lilly laughs heartily while covering her mouth with her hand. What a demonstration of a proper lady.

“Sure. I suppose I can call you Miki then.”

“Of course. And this is Suzu.”

“Hello, Li-… uhm, Sat-, uhm...”

Lilly giggles again.

“Lilly is fine. Nice to meet you, Suzu.”

“Nice to meet you.”

I didn’t know that they never talked to each other. I guess even though Yamaku only has 300 students, you don’t get to know everybody in the school.

“Hey, Hanako. Welcome!”

Miura’s enthusiasm makes me cringe. I try to stutter a response under my mask, and remind myself not to use surname.

“G-G-Good m-morning, M-Miki.”

Miura suddenly stares at me for a moment. What’s wrong? I’m scared!

“You look really cute today. I love the way you wear. Especially with your mask on.”

“You shouldn’t say that, Miki! You’re saying she doesn’t look cute without the mask!”

Miura wags a finger in front of Suzuki.

“Misunderstood, Suzu. Look, the pink color on her mask matches perfectly with her dark green shirt and blue jeans. It’s fashion! Fashion! You know, my profession! If you’re to wear a mask, a pink one won’t do. Should wear a blue one to match with your brown shirt.”

“I don’t wanna wear a blue mask!”

“You’ll look great with a blue mask. It’s my professional opinion! I’ll grab one for you in Disneyland. Sleeping beauty guaranteed. Hahaha…”

“Ouch!”

Suzuki attacks Miura as the latter makes a face before fleeing towards the line in front of the Disneyland entrance. Lilly giggles, and Hisao shrugs.

“Yep. That’s Miki and Suzu in a nutshell.”

He’s right: Maybe traveling with the two girls isn’t that bad.

We all arrive at the entrance to Disneyland. Since we are 30 minutes early, the line is not very long. As a future journalist, I always have my camera ready, which is Naomi’s birthday gift for me. The photos will provide proof to Miss Yumi that I’ve completed my assignment. Hisao notices my camera and calls the two girls over. Miura seems to be making a pose. Is she stretching?

“How ‘bout we take a photo while we’re at the entrance... What’re you doing, Miki?”

“Warming up, boy. I’ve got a lot of running to do today!”

“Sure, but let’s take a photo first, shall we?”

Hisao leads Lilly towards Miura, who remains her pose in front of my camera. Suzuki stands to the left of Miura, while Hisao and Lilly stand to her right. I put on a suitable lens, adjust the settings, and pick the right time to press when there’s nobody behind them. I take a look at the picture. It looks satisfactory to me. This camera is certainly expensive. Thank you so much, Naomi.

“Hanako, you go in, I’ll take a picture for you.”

I hesitate.

“Uhm… I…”

Hisao whispers to me.

“You’re wearing a mask. You also need to present evidence to your therapist.”

He’s so right: I forgot about the fact that I must be in the picture too. I hand him the camera and make my way towards Lilly’s left hand side. Even though I’m wearing a mask, I still try to hide the right side of my face out of habit.

“Say cheese!”

I really hope the picture doesn’t show any of my scars.

***********************

It is five minutes until the official opening time, but it looks like the guards are preparing to open the entrance already.

“Hey, Suzu, Hanako! It’s opening! Prepare to run!”

“Alright then. You three go first. Lilly and I will catch you up later.”

Soon enough, the gate opens, and Miura rushes into the park along with the other visitors. Following our plan, our runner, who has all our tickets on hand, dashes at full speed to get the FastPass for “Monsters Inc. Ride & Go Seek” in the Tomorrow Land near the entrance, which is the most popular site in the park, and, fortunately for Hisao, he can ride it. Meanwhile, Suzuki and I dash towards “Space Mountain”, the white building several blocks behind Miura’s destination. A few boys are also running in the same direction, and we quickly fall behind them in the race. Then I realize I’m breathing heavily because I haven’t removed my mask. Even though taking off my mask puts me at risk of being stared at in public, I have no other choice if I want to occupy an earlier waiting position. We continue running, and at the end we manage to put ourselves into the top forty, which means we’ll be in the second round (24 people per round). When I look back, I see Miura right behind us! Wow, she’s really fast! No wonder she gets so many medals in the Track Meet.

Being alone with two unfamiliar girls in a crowded park dreads me quite a lot, so I focus myself on my camera while the girls continue bantering. Hisao said he doesn’t know too much about photography, so I have to adjust the settings so that he can take pictures of satisfactory quality with minimal operations. Unfortunately, “Space Mountain” is an indoor event, so he cannot take pictures of the actual ride.

Hisao soon arrives with Lilly, and I hand him my camera with the settings optimized. He then takes pictures of us waiting in front of the white building. Soon after, it’s our turn to ride, and Hisao returns me my camera before walking away with Lilly.

“You first, Hanako.”

Miura allows me into the building first, then the two of them follow. For my own security, I’d better put on my mask again.

Wow, it’s really dark inside! I don’t think I can take any pictures here.

According to the leaflet, “Space Mountain” is a roller-coaster ride simulating a space adventure. It should be exciting! I’m looking forward to it.

After watching an introduction video, we follow the others towards the platform. When I take a look at the roller-coaster train, I discover, to my horror, that all the rows have exactly two seats. If Miura and Suzuki sit in one row, I will have to sit with a stranger!

Oh no!

Even though it’s pretty dark, and even though I’m wearing my mask, whoever sitting next to me should be able to peek through and see my scars.

I’m horrified!

I want to quit this!

I turn around and see Miura and Suzuki looking at me. I’m about to tell the girls that I’m leaving, but Miura pre-empts me before I can say anything.

“Oh, Hanako. Forgot. You and Suzu sit together. I’ll be at the back.”

I gasp. How did you know what I’m thinking? You’re really smart!

“Yeah, Hisao told me everything. You’ll be escorted by one of our group throughout today. It’s your school assignment, isn’t it? No cheating’s allowed.”

Followed by a wink.

Wow.

That’s… a very nice way of saying it.

Thank you so much, Hisao. And Miura.

Even though Suzuki is more or less a stranger to me, at least she also has a disability, and she seems to be pretty shy as well, so I don’t feel as scared.

“O-okay.”

So, Suzuki and I sit in the first row (to prevent anyone from looking back to see my scars), while Miura sits behind me. We fasten our seatbelts. Let’s go!



A few minutes later, I stumble at the exit with a spinning head.

The ride was really rough! After the first section that looked like a space tunnel, we’re pretty much in the dark for the remainder of the ride, the only light sources being the stars. I was never able to predict which direction the train was going, so I couldn’t anticipate. The moments when the train suddenly turned left or right were especially scary. Throughout the whole train ride, I could hear screams from passengers at the back and somebody saying “what’s happening”. I’m glad that Hisao couldn’t ride it and Lilly opted not to join. If they were to ride this, well…

Hisao and Lilly await us at the exit.

“Are you okay, Hanako?”

“Y-yes. I might need to t-take a little b-break.”

“Sure. Let’s do that while we wait in line, shall we?”

According to our plan, Hisao and I will go to “Buzz Lightyear” for a shooting match, while Lilly joins the girls to “Star Tours”, which is a 3D Virtual Cinema. It’s basically like watching a movie, but you’re wearing 3D glasses, and your seat moves constantly in order to simulate a first-person experience. Even though Lilly is blind, she can still enjoy the sound effects and the moving chair. And, of course, a shooting game without eyesight is pretty much pointless.

So the two of us go straight to the line, which is already slightly long. We’ll have to wait for around 25 minutes.

“Can I take your camera while you’re coming to your senses?”

I hand him my camera, and he starts taking pictures of the surroundings. The skies are clear today, which means the afternoon might become quite hot. Today’s a weekday, so the park isn’t very crowded, but there are lines everywhere, especially for the facilities that have a FastPass option. Before my ride with Miura, she told me that our FastPass timeslot for “Monsters Inc.” is 10:10am (which is a very good time, by the way). The next FastPass will be available at that time, so Miura will dash towards the next FastPass before running back to do the ride with us.

“Turn around, Hanako.”

I obey, and I find him aiming the camera at me! My first response is No Thanks, but he assures me.

“No worries. Evidence time. Look at the lens here. Say cheese.”

Since I’m wearing a mask, smiling or not doesn’t really matter, but I smile bashfully anyway. I don’t think I need this many evidences, but I’m fine with a mask on.

Come to think of it, this is the first time I’m alone with a boy, except that moment on Graduation Day. He’s a really cute boy.

If I didn’t run away when we first met last year in Yamaku library…

No, I shouldn’t think too much about it.

Let’s call Lilly and talk about the trip while we’re waiting.

***********************

I had a lot of fun playing the shooting game! The cart holds two people, so Hisao let me sit on the left side in order to hide my scars behind him a little bit. We’re both given blue guns to shoot with. The targets were small, the environment was dark, and we were constantly moving, so it was very hard to aim. After randomly shooting everywhere I could see, getting a mere 500 points, I fired a random lucky shot at an obscure target and score 5000 points. We then gradually got used to the environment and tried to aim at tougher targets. At one point, Hisao managed to score 10000 points on a spinning target and overtake me. I retaliated, and was able to get 10000 points on a moving target through a wall. Finally, I beat Hisao by 3700 points. I enjoyed the game a lot! No wonder it’s one of the best attractions here. It’s definitely worth waiting for the 25 minutes.

Since there are still 30 minutes until our FastPass time, we, following our plan, spend the remaining time doing rides in Toon Town, which are not as popular. Hisao and the two girls go to “Gadget Go Coaster” at the back of the park, which is a small roller-coaster that the boy can handle, while Lilly and I ride “Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin”, a spinning car ride focusing on Roger Rabbit characters.

We all meet up at the Toon Town entrance. Miura grabs our tickets and quickly registers our FastPass for “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt”, which is exactly next to where we are (routes well-planned, by the way), while we slowly set off to ride the “Monsters Inc.”. It’s 10:15am when we arrive.

Each train has 3 carts, and since there are five of us, the staff kindly allows us to occupy one train, with Hisao sitting alone (poor Hisao). Each of us is provided a torch to play hide-and-seek with the cartoon characters in the ride: We aim our torches at the caps on the monsters to reveal their identities.

The trip started with a bunch of lockers with monsters inside, followed by trash cans, power plant (?), haunted mansion, Japanese house, more haunted mansion, wasted train, a scary factory, and finally a warehouse. Just like the shooting game, I had a hard time aiming my torch because the cart was constantly spinning, and during that I also had to describe the surroundings to Lilly. As more monsters showed up during the ride, I was amazed at the amount of effort spent on building everything, including the fascinating blue train we’re sitting in. Actually none of us know much about all those characters, but we still enjoyed the overall atmosphere.

When the ride is finished, I see Lilly wearing a huge smiling face. She’s loving it so far. I was worried that she might get bored. What a relief!

Looking at my notepad, the next destination is “Haunted Mansion” for Miura and Suzuki, and “Mickey’s PhilharMagic” for the three of us who certainly won’t enjoy anything of a horror nature. So we split up at Adventure Land, they go to the brown mansion at the back while we walk south-west towards the big castle, which we’re visiting in a minute.

The musical serenade is actually more like another 3D virtual cinema, except that it focuses more on music, and the chairs don’t move. After passing through the introduction area featuring drawings and glass displays, we enter the concert hall and wear the 3D glasses provided by the staff. It’s the first time I wear a pair of 3D glasses! It allows us to visualize the deliberately obscured objects on the screen as 3D objects, and, in Lilly’s case, it makes Lilly look cool (sorry about that, Lilly).

After a series of conversations, the curtains get opened, and on the screen, musical instruments pop out from a box-like structure. The conductor arrives, and soon the music starts. The instruments kind of rebel against the conductor, who is forced to flee and run into a long journey, where it constantly gets humiliated by various objects or people. With the 3D glasses on, the objects look so real to me! Hisao’s very interested in the technology as well, as he constantly looks away and then looks back into the glasses to see how the glasses change the perspective of the screen. A while later, the scene changes into Aladdin, and the song “A Whole New World” plays, which Lilly loves. Hisao and I don’t have the time to translate everything we see to her, but it looks like she’s been enjoying her time here. The concert ends after the conductor gets hit again by the instruments into the wall behind us.

When we leave the concert building, we find the girls waiting for us.

“Hey Miki! Was that scary?”

“Not a bit. Do I look like the kind that’ll be scared by THOSE little toys?”

“Expected. How ‘bout you, Suzu?”

“It’s okay. Miki’s here, so I feel a lot safer.”

“Jeez. Maybe I should’ve tried it after all.”

“You can go in alone, boy. I’m sure you’ll have lots of fun.”

“No, Miki! If his heart acts up, we’ll be in a lot of trouble!”

“Hahaha… Just kidding! Of course I know, Suzu. Oh, we shouldn’t waste our time here talking. Let’s visit the castle!”

So we wait in line to enter the beautiful white castle known as “Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall”. It’s the attraction I’ve been looking forward to, even though I’ve already been enjoying the trip so far.

It turns out we had to wait 15 minutes in the line, which is a pretty significant time loss considering the fact that it’s not a popular ride or anything with a FastPass option. The reason behind the long wait is that many girls like to spend a lot of time taking pictures of virtually everything in the castle. I can totally understand that, because once we manage to get in, we’re shocked by how magnificent it is built (sans Lilly, who cannot see). The golden big hall with drawings, the miniature house, the luxurious throne, everything here deserves a photo. I find myself using my camera non-stop, leaving Hisao with the daunting task of describing the surroundings to Lilly. When we finally get to try out the glass shoe left behind by Cinderella, nobody except Lilly manages to put a foot in, which gives her quite a lot of pride. In my childhood, I sometimes dreamed of living in a castle. Now my dream finally comes true, albeit just for a few minutes.

After making sure virtually everything in the castle is kept safe in the camera, we exit the castle just in time for the Pooh ride. Before that though, our dear runner once again serves us by grabbing the next FastPass for us: “Big Thunder Mountain” for the girls, and “It’s a Small World” for the three of us. Then we do the “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” ride together.

The cabin of the ride resembles a honey jar, and it can occupy five people at most. So we three sit at the back while the girls sit in the front. Riding the honey jar, we briefly stop in front of a big storybook, which opens and leads us into a golden forest. It looks like Pooh’s using a balloon to traverse through the forest, going tree by tree, and then it eventually enters a cave. The area becomes dark as the announcer keeps saying “be careful”. Where’s the honey? We then enter a strange area in which the honey jar keeps spinning in circles. It’s probably the bees’ home, but I’ve no idea what’s going on. Finally we exit the area and arrive at a secret place: Pooh finally gets the honey it wants so badly. The selling point of this ride is its trackless nature, which I find quite amazing. It’s definitely worth spending a FastPass on it.

After the ride, the time is 11:35, the perfect time for lunch. Before the trip, we considered reserving seats in a restaurant in Western Land to watch a show during lunch, but we found that all the remaining seats are reserved for visitors who live in a Disneyland hotel, so we decided to go for a restaurant in Critter Country, near the “Haunted House”. Accordingly, Miura, Suzuki and I run towards the restaurant to find a vacant table; luckily for us, we are able to find a round table for four, so with an extra chair all of us can squeeze in. The restaurant is decorated with wooden houses and big rocks. We take our order quickly, with Miura ordering for Hisao and me ordering for Lilly. When the two eventually arrive, we are able to start eating right away. I love it! It’s the power of cooperation!

45 minutes later, lunch is over, and we have a bit of free time before watching the parade at 13:25. The two girls proceed to ride the “Peter Pan’s Flight” in the nearby area, while the three of us enjoy the slow ride of “Pinocchio’s Daring Journey”, which illustrates Pinocchio’s story. We then go for shopping, and Miura manages to find some Sleeping Beauty goods for her good friend, much to her dismay. We end up buying a shirt of our own choices after receiving advice from our professional fashion designer. When we return to the castle area with our new shirts on hand, there is already a sizeable crowd waiting for the parade. We eventually find space within the crowd that can squeeze in five people, and sit down on the floor.

“Hey, Lilly. How do you feel about today so far?”

“I love the trip, Hisao. I appreciate the 3D cinema the most. The moving chairs make me feel like I am dancing along with the music.”

“Glad you’re enjoying it. How ‘bout you, Miki?”

“The rides, of course. I’m looking forward to Big Thunder Mountain.”

“I’ll try to take a picture of you. How ‘bout you, Hanako?”

Me? I don’t know. Everything so far has been fantastic.

“I l-like the shooting game.”

“The Buzz Lightyear? We haven’t tried it. D’you recommend that game?”

“Y-yes. It’s r-really good.”

“Great. Suzu, let’s make it our next FastPass… Oh…”

It looks like Miura is not going to get a reply, because apparently Suzuki is already asleep. She has a condition that makes her susceptible to falling asleep uncontrollably. I wonder if she can wake up in time to watch the parade.

“Don’t worry Miki. I think she’ll love it. I liked it too. Actually, if possible, I want to have a rematch with you, Hanako. I wanna take revenge.”

“O-okay. I a-accept your challenge!”

“So you’re gonna make it your final FastPass, huh. Sure. I’ll do it.”

“Thanks, Miki. You’ve been really helpful.”

“No probs, boy.”

“Oh no, if all four of us go shooting, how ‘bout Lilly?”

“No worries, Hisao. All the walking is already pretty tiring, so I will just take a rest nearby. You all have fun.”

“Thanks a lot, Lilly.”

With the last FastPass option of the day confirmed, I open my notebook and update the routes. After the parade, Miura will help us grab the FastPass for “Buzz Lightyear”, and then we will split once again to use our current FastPass. We three will go to “It’s a Small World”, while Miura and Suzuki will go to “Big Thunder Mountain”. Since their FastPass is fifteen minutes later than ours, Hisao should be able to take a photo of Miura on the ride.

Afterwards, we’ll go to Western Land and ride the “Mark Twain Riverboat”. Hisao and the girls will then ride the “Tom Sawyer Island Rafts” and explore the small island in the middle, while Lilly and I will listen to the “Country Bear Theater” show.

Next, the girls will go to “Splash Mountain” in the Critter Country with the single rider option, while the three of us will do the canoe ride of “Beaver Brothers Explorer”, followed by listening to the musical show “Enchanted Tiki Room” in Adventure Land. When we meet up, we’re going to have another boat ride called “Jungle Cruise: Wildlife Expeditions”, followed by venturing the “Swiss Family Treehouse”. Then we’ll use our final FastPass for a shooting match.

Lastly, we’ll do yet another boat ride of “Pirates of the Caribbean” before having dinner. We’ll then relax and do whatever we want before watching the fireworks as our journey comes to a close.

I’m going to have a lot to write about in my diary. Lilly’s mother asked me to practice writing every day in order to prepare myself for a journalist career, and the easiest way is to keep a diary. I started writing on Graduation Day, when I was thrilled to be given a fourth year, and I’ve been writing for more than four months.

I look around as my companions continue to chat. It’s going to be a special day for me. I’ve never had such a wonderful trip in my life, and it’s all because of my friends. Thanks, Lilly! Thanks, Hisao! Thanks, Miura and Suzuki! And, last but not least, thanks, Miss Yumi!

Chapter 42: It's Game Over
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch41 Updated 30 Dec 2020: More Miki!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Jan 05, 2021 4:48 am

Chapter 42: It's Game Over

I take a look at the well drawn-out, well-written, and rich-in-content leaflet in my hands. This is none less than a crystallization of our efforts over the whole month. I’m satisfied with the results. *Adjust my glasses*

My faithful teammates, with the help of some of their friends, have already put posters on virtually every wall in the school ground that is legal for posting. Now they are giving out goodies as promotion. Using our strong bargaining power, we’re able to obtain more than fifty sponsors and a whole bunch of great presents for our fellow students. They include nice folders, writing paper (which we usually write our assignments on), USB drives, snacks (with tea and coffee packs for students who elect to study overnight), little purses (for coins, keys, and other small stuff), key rings, bookmarks, and many other fancy stationery. Of course we’re not giving each student all of the items; we arrange the items as sets and let them choose one of the sets. In doing so we can cover the needs of various students.

While my six teammates are busy working on their promotions, Sakura and I are staying behind at our stall, which is simply an information counter and a storage place for our leaflets and goodies. There’s really nothing to do here, so Sakura’s studying for her upcoming test. In the next hour, however, we’ll be switching roles with two of our teammates.

We’re not the only stall here on the school ground. Since most of the clubs in the university are having elections this Friday, there are stalls everywhere nearby. Among the stalls are those of our competitors. We have three opponents in the Student Council election. I’ve seen most of them in the meeting a few months ago. I still freshly remember how they harshly rejected my kind offer. I’ll take revenge. I’ll win the election, and none of you guys will own the Student Council.

Last week I asked Hisao to pick up leaflets given out by my competitors and get some of their goodies, in an attempt to grab some information on their election strategies. When I finished reading the leaflets, I concluded that my opponents are exceptionally lame. Their annual plans cannot be more generic. They are getting only around 30 sponsors. Their goodies consist of folders, writing paper, and… just pens!? What’s going on? Are they not treating the election seriously? I wonder why they haven’t forfeited to us yet. Maybe they haven’t read our leaflets?

I also gave Hisao the mission of asking his friends which team they are planning to put their votes on this Friday. Every student in the university can vote for the Student Council. While this voting is not mandatory, the school encourages voting by making it an assignment of the mandatory Humanities class: Participate in any voting activity of any official club in the university. Students who have joined their favorite clubs will probably put their votes on one of the candidate teams, but for students who have not joined any clubs, they can always vote for the Student Council. After Hisao replied to me that most of his friends will vote for my team, I gained a huge confidence boost.

From Yamaku to Kasshoku. My ambitions of expanding my territory is going to realize. I’m going to be the President. I’m going to be the representative of the school. Just thinking about it makes me excited! Misha must be proud of me.

***********************

[Where are you going?]

[Promotion. How about you?]

[There’s not much promotion for me to do. You know, we don’t have a competitor. We’ve already put the posters. Students who are interested in sign language will approach our counter by themselves.]

[Do you regret running such a small club?]

[Not at all. Unlike you, I’ve no experience in running a club, so a small club is perfect for me. You always start with the entry level.]

The Sign Language Club currently has 20 members. We only had ten at the start of the spring term, but over the months ten more students who are interested in sign language joined in. We still have gatherings every Thursday. Since this is such a small club, Akemi’s team only has four members, and they have no competitors. They still need to obtain at least 40 percent of the votes (that is 8 votes) in order to become executive members. For a large club with more than 200 members, 20 percent is enough; for a medium-sized club with 100 to 200 members, 30 percent is required. With four team members, Akemi needs an additional four votes. This is not a hard task at all. Therefore, to say this is entry level is quite appropriate.

[Sure. By the way, just being your friend doesn’t mean I’ll vote for you. Hisao won’t either. You’ll have to earn our votes yourself.]

[I knew you would say that. Have you read my leaflet yet? I spent a lot of time on it. It came out last week.]

[No, I’ve been busy with my own elections. Do you have one on hand?]

[Here you go. Can you give one to Hisao too?]

[Sure. I’m having lunch with him tomorrow.]

[Thanks. Also thanks for your suggestions the other day. They helped.]

[Glad I’m of help.]

[See you tomorrow morning. Good luck on your elections.]

I wave Akemi goodbye, leave the computer room, and head towards my stall.

Hmm… Her leaflet looks nice. I like the layout. I’ll read it later tonight.

When I arrive at the stall, I find two men standing in front of it. They seem to be asking my members some questions. My teammates wave at me.

“Hey, Hakamichi.”

I go over to stand next to my teammates. The two men seem to be the school’s staff. They turn towards me.

“Are you Hakamichi?”

I nod.

“I assume you can interpret what we are saying.”

Of course. What is going on?

“Are you the leader of this Student Council election team?”

Yeah. Is there a problem?

“Would you please ask your teammates to come here? The school’s administration would like to have a word with you all.”

Why? We didn’t break the school’s rules, did we? The staff doesn’t look like they are joking.

I signal the two boys to call the other members back. After a few minutes, the two staff members lead the eight of us into the administrative building, where I took the election leaflets a few months ago. When we enter the meeting room, we are met by three officers. The middle one, a grey-haired man, starts the conversation.

“Good evening. We are administrative officers of the school, in charge of student affairs. We apologize for asking your team to come over here.”

I wonder what he has to say.

“I suppose you are Hakamichi?”

I nod. What’s the problem?

“First of all, we appreciate your effort in the Student Council election. Your eagerness to serve students and represent the school deserves our praise.”

I don’t think he calls us here for this kind of trash talk.

“Let me get straight to the point. Maybe we should have had this conversation a few months ago, but we did not anticipate the need to do so back then. The reason behind is that there are several other teams in the Student Council election, and we believed that students would make a right choice during the voting.”

My sixth sense tells me that something ominous is coming.

“However, our recent observation reveals the fact that most of the students are electing to vote for your team. In a sense we cannot blame them, as your team did a fantastic job on advertising. We studied your annual plan. We read your brochures. Your team certainly out-performed the other teams by more than a mile. As the leader of your team, Hakamichi, you have an excellent talent in leadership. We have to admit this much.”

It is obvious, from what he just said, that the school is not happy with us being elected as the Student Council. Why?

“Unfortunately, this is exactly where the problem comes from. We did not expect your team to perform this well. Our original plan was to let your team to be voted out of the election, so that we do not need to interfere with the election ourselves. However, it seems like things are not going to work out as planned.”

I take a look at my teammates. They are all looking very angry.

“Hakamichi, we do appreciate your effort, but I regret to tell you that we cannot afford to have a disabled student as the representative of the school, especially as the Student Council president.”

WHAT?

One of my male teammates slams on the table.

“This is plain discrimination!”

“Please calm down first. We have good reasons for this. Do you realize that, as the Student Council, you have to make presentations and communicate with other schools on behalf of Kasshoku in formal situations? You will be facing the media, professors, companies, the government, and even celebrities. How can we afford to have a deaf student facing the outside world, making signs to everybody in front of the camera and then letting one of your friends do the translations? We will make ourselves a laughing stock. They will say, does Kasshoku University not have anyone else but a deaf girl? This is disastrous to the university!”

Sakura, my dear friend, chooses this moment to speak up. How brave of her!

“Sir, I have to disagree with you. Hakamichi is one of the best representatives of the school. Not only does she perform well academically, but she also possesses excellent leadership. She is very pretty too. She comes from an upper-class family. Her father owns a large company that is influential to the society. Sir, how can you say that Hakamichi is disastrous to the university?”

The three officers share a look, and the man in the middle lets out a deep sigh.

“We know about Hakamichi’s background. This is one of the reasons why we did not outright reject your application. To be honest, we really do not want to make this conversation with you. I feel terribly sorry for you all. However, this is the school’s order. The matter has been decided by upper management.”

“So you are now kicking us out from the election?”

“Sort of. You have several options. If you want your students to be able to enjoy the plans you have made, you may transfer your plans to one of your competitors. Or, the other members of your team can elect another president. Or, the other members can join one of the competing teams. In any case, Hakamichi is not allowed to represent this school.”

“This is outrageous! We are NOT accepting any of your filthy suggestions!”

“Then, very unfortunately, the school will have to disqualify your team from entering the election.”

I cannot believe this.

Despite my teammates’ fierce resistance, it is ultimately my disability that denies me our dream.

I HATE BEING DEAF!!!

Realizing that there is virtually no room for negotiation, I slam hard onto the table, stand up, and storm out of the meeting room after kicking the door open. I go down the building through the staircase. There are a million things in my mind right now. Maybe I can cool myself down in that small corridor on ground floor.

I sit down on the bench next to the vending machine. I cover my eyes with my hands. This is unreal. I cannot accept this reality. I’ve been through so many hard times. Being deaf has hurt my social life so much. And now it’s going to utterly dismantle my dream. I’ve tried as hard as I can to turn the tables around, but ultimately, everything is going to waste.

I feel a hand wrapping around my shoulders. The rising surrounding temperature tells me that my teammates are here comforting me. Sakura is my great teammate, fighting for me until the end. I gently touch her hand with my own. I really appreciate what she did for me, but this is not enough.

Sorry, Sakura, I need some time alone.

I move her hand away, shake my head, and exit the building, leaving my teammates behind. I just want to be alone!

I keep running. Any direction is fine. I focus on the ground. I don’t want to see anybody. Not even Hisao.

It’s game over for me.

It’s all over.

Why? Why do I have to be deaf?

Under the dim light from the streetlamps, I cross another road. I don’t think I’ve been to this part of the school, but I cannot care less.

It’s game over. I feel the sky crashing down on me.

Images of me meeting my teammates are flashing in my mind continuously.

I’m sorry, Sakura. I’m sorry, my teammates. I let you all down. You shouldn’t have elected me as the president. You shouldn’t have invited me into your team. Our encounter was wrong at the beginning.

My summer break, all of our preparations, our sponsors, our goodies, our posters, our brochures, all go to waste. Because of this stupid deafness.

It’s all over.

Running at full speed towards who-knows-where, I suddenly notice a figure right in front of me. Oh no! Watch out!

Crash!

I’m sorry! I knocked that person down!

Are you hurt? It must have been a rough tackle!

When I raise my head, I am shocked to realize the identity of the person I just knocked over.

…What should I do? Should I just go away? The victim probably doesn’t know…

No, I cannot. I tackled this person. Even though… uhm… anyway, I’m responsible for this. Let’s lift this person up.

I look around. It’s already late at night, so there’s nobody around. Even if someone’s around, the probability that he or she knows sign language is close to zero.

With trembling hands, I reach my victim’s slender fingers. As much as I hate to do so, this is the only option I have at this moment.

Chapter 43: Frenemy Reunion
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch41 Updated 30 Dec 2020: More Miki!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:10 am

Chapter 43: Frenemy Reunion

“This is all for today’s class. Please complete the assignments on pages 20 to 22. The deadline is next Friday.”

So, “Assignments on page 20-22, deadline next Friday.” Got it. After typing it on the typewriter, I take the generated Braille paper and put it into my folder.

In this semester, most of my classes are held in this classroom. To avoid always carrying a typewriter with me, I put it in a box at the corner of the room and take it out whenever I need it. Considering I’m the only blind student in the university, the risk of my typewriter being stolen is practically non-existent.

“I will see you again on Wednesday.”

As the teacher leaves the classroom, I hear my classmates talking about something very exciting.

“Let’s have a picnic this Sunday. I know a fantastic site. Anybody wants to join?”

“I’m in! Hurray!”

“Me too!”

Right, it’s autumn, the perfect season for picnicking.

“Last time we did it, we ended up with excess amount of drinks but not enough barbecue food. This time let’s do it like this. I’m going to send an e-mail to everybody, listing all the items that we need to bring. You all can then reply the e-mail to everybody, filling in the entries with your names. In this way, there will be no repetitions and nothing will be in short. How does that sound?”

“Great idea, Tatsuya.”

This Tatsuya is a nice and caring boy. In the last semester, he arranged study groups with us and booked the rooms in advance, so that we could do our homework and study for exams together. He’s one of the few Japanese who can speak English without a heavy accent. He’s also a diligent student. Last semester he ranked second place in our class, behind me. At the beginning of the semester, he vowed to study even harder to overtake me. Even though beating a half-blood like me is a daunting task for him, I appreciate his spirit.

“Picnic? Count us in!”

“(Tatsuya) Hey Lilly, are you going as well? Picnic. Eight of us are already joining.”

Sounds fun.

“I am! Thank you for inviting me.”

“(Tatsuya) Yes! Hey guys, Lilly’s going too! How ‘bout you all? Picnic.”

“Holy crap, Lilly’s joining too? I’m definitely going then.”

“(Several others) Me too!”

Another example of classmates following me wherever I go. Although I am already used to being the spotlight, sometimes I still feel a little bit embarrassed. Just a little bit though. (I’m actually pretty proud of myself.)

“But there’s a problem. Lilly doesn’t have an e-mail account.”

“(Tatsuya) It’s alright. Just ask her what to bring to the picnic, and we’ll accommodate.”

I smile. Thanks to Hanako, I’m not completely incompetent in computers any more.

“Not necessary, Tatsuya. I do have an e-mail account now.”

“(Tatsuya) REALLY?? You can use e-mail now?”

“Wow! That’s amazing! How can you do that?”

“I would never be able to use e-mail if I were blind.”

I laugh heartily. Other blind people might find these comments offensive, but I am familiar enough with them to know that they mean no harm.

“My best friend from high school set things up for me. She modified my computer settings, and added Braille code stickers onto the keyboard so that I can type. Then she did something to my computer… I believe it is speech recognition? It allows me to send e-mails by voice.”

“Your best friend did THOSE for you? She’s a computer genius! What’s her name again? I think you told me before, but I forgot…”

“(Tatsuya) Uhm… I think it’s Hanako. Right, Lilly?”

“Indeed, Hanako is her name. She will be applying for Kasshoku next year.”

“Oh my goodness, she’s coming? I wanna talk to her!”

“(Tatsuya) Looks like you just found a girl who loves computers as much as you do.”

“Yeah! And she’s Lilly’s best friend too! She must be very adorable, isn’t she, Lilly?”

This boy named Kozuki is a computer expert. For obvious reasons, I find it very difficult to communicate with him whenever he starts using technical terms. I cannot believe Hanako already has a fan here even before she enters university.

“Yes. She is an extremely nice girl. I love her very much.”

“(Kozuki) Can you introduce Hanako to me when she comes?”

I’m not sure if Hanako would like to meet you though.

“Kozuki, Hanako is a very shy girl. I advise you not to be aggressive around her, or she may just run away from you.”

“(Kozuki) Oh. So she’s the shy type, huh. That’s fine for me too. I’ll be polite. Please introduce her to me.”

Not giving up just yet? Maybe he’s for real then.

“Do you like chess? She likes playing it on the computer. Maybe you can play online chess with her.”

“(Kozuki) Online chess, huh. Sure. Which website does she go to? I’ll make an account. Just ask her to send me the hyperlink.”

“(Tatsuya) Hey Kozuki, are you sure you can play chess? I saw you play shogi last time, and you lost pretty badly.”

“(Kozuki) No probs. I can learn! An internet date with Lilly’s best friend! How can I pass this opportunity?”

As I struggle to find an answer to Kozuki’s technical terms (the only term I know about computers, except “e-mail”, is “online”, which means “on the computer” to me, although I’m sure it has a deeper meaning. What exactly does “website” mean? And what is “internet”? I’m lost!), I hear somebody calling my name from afar.

“Hey, Lilly!”

I naturally turn my head towards the source of the calling.

“Yes?”

“The administrative staff wants you to meet him. In the faculty office.”

“Oh. What is it about?”

“He didn’t say.”

“Alright. Kozuki, I will be on my way. I will ask Hanako if she is open to the idea of playing online chess with my classmates.”

“Thanks, Lilly.”

***********************

“Please take a seat. It is right in front of you. There are three officers sitting across the table.”

I sit down and await the officers. Today I have a late class, so it is already seven in the evening. I’m hungry. Why are they meeting me at such a late hour?

“Miss Satou, we would like to talk to you about the upcoming Open Day.”

Oh. About the Open Day, when I am assigned to read a few poems in front of potential new students and their parents.

“Ahem… Last time my colleague told you about the Open Day assignment. According to school tradition, the student with the best academic performance will be selected as the speaker in front of high school students and their parents. Since you performed best in the previous semester, you were nominated to represent the school on that day.”

“Affirmative. She did tell me about this.”

“However, we encountered a problem about the assignment.”

“Oh. What would it be?”

“The thing is, the school has not yet decided the poems to be performed on that day. There is a possibility that the pieces are changed at the last minute, and there might not be enough time for the school to arrange… uhm… a readable version for you to practice for.”

“It is not an issue at all. As long as there is a small list of poems to be performed available to me, I can memorize all of them and adapt accordingly.”

“Do you not think this is too much of a burden for you? The list might be as long as ten, or even more.”

“No, sir. I am highly confident of my memorizing ability as well as presentation skills. I believe that I would not be able to study in this university if I did not possess such skills.”

A brief moment of silence follows. Are they considering shortening the list for me?

“Erm… Miss Satou, I believe you did not understand what we are trying to convey. As a renounced university in Japan, we must produce a perfect display in front of the public, especially in a formal situation such as the Open Day. We cannot afford any risk of inadequacy.”

“Yes, I understand. I will assure you of a performance that is more than adequate.”

I hear a deep sigh from the other end.

“While we appreciate your ability and confidence to produce a satisfactory performance on behalf of the school, unfortunately it is simply not enough. We need a flawless performance, which means we cannot accept any defects.”

“Defects?”

“Correct. And there is one obvious defect, specifically on you, which mounts as an unacceptable risk of this particular event.”

My sixth sense tells me that something ominous is coming.

“You are not telling me that…”

“Yes. Let us make it clear. The reason we ask you to come here is to inform you that we have selected another candidate, the second best first-year student in the faculty, for this event. He is actually waiting outside the meeting room right now.”

WHAT? This is plain discrimination!

“This… This is…”

“It is an unfortunate turn of events, but this is the decision of the school’s upper management. Please understand that the school cannot afford any risk of its image being tarnished.”

Are you accusing me of tarnishing the school’s image by being blind?

“But… but…”

“We understand that it might be difficult for you to accept this reality, but it is better said earlier than later. Releasing this news to you is difficult for me as well.”

I don’t think I can keep my cool any longer.

“I cannot believe that this school is… is so corrupt.”

“I would not count this decision as corruption, but I do feel sorry for you.”

“You feel sorry for me? Do you know what you just said? This is disgusting! This is absolutely a discrimination! What a shame on this corrupt university!”

“(Sigh) We have nothing else to inform you. Please leave this room. We still have to discuss with the other candidate.”

Filled with anger, I take out my cane from my bag, stand up, poke the ground with the cane forcefully, and storm out of the room. I want to leave this building as soon as possible!

“Lilly? What’s wrong? What happened…”

“Sorry, Tatsuya, please leave me alone.”

I walk at a speed that probably matches my all-time record, slam on the elevator button, and exit the building in a flash.

I cannot believe it! This is absolutely outrageous!

Where am I going? I don’t know. I guess anywhere is fine. Or not fine.

Why? I have worked so hard in this university, I deserve an opportunity to represent my school in front of the public, and yet it is my inherent disability that ruled me out of it! This is one of the few times I want to curse myself of being born with my disability.

I hate this university! I don’t think I’ll be given any chance to represent my school, no matter how hard I try. If my blindness tarnishes the school’s image, why are you accepting me as a student anyway? Do you want to humiliate me? Should I drop out of the school?

Eventually my legs get tired. I stand in the middle of who-knows-where, unsure where to go or what to do. I want someone to talk to me! My parents are probably still working. Akira is in Scotland. I don’t want to trouble Hanako further. Hisao is having a tutorial class right now.

Never in my life have I been so hopeless. What should I do? Help me!

I hear quick footsteps approaching me, and at the same time I feel a sharp gust of wind blowing from my right side. The footsteps are getting closer! Oh no! Is someone trying to attack me?

I try to dodge whoever’s coming, but it’s too late!

Crash!

“Ahhhh!!”

Somebody just tackled me on my waist, and I fall down along with my cane. Luckily I land on my hips, so the damage is minimal. The person who just knocked me down tumbles on top of me briefly before rolling away.

“Who’s that?”

No response. Who is it? So irresponsible!

Even though I landed on my hips, I still feel pain. I struggle to get up.

Then I feel somebody’s hands around me, and with the extra help from that person, I slowly sit upright. The slender fingers tell me that this is probably a girl, which makes sense because the person who tackled me is most likely not tall. But why did she have to tackle me?

Then I feel my left hand being touched by her two hands. I can feel her hands trembling. The next moment, to my big surprise, the girl gently brushes my fingers away and writes something on my hand…

…which reads “I’m sorry!”

Wait! The only girl in the world who can do this to me is…

{I’m terribly sorry, Lilly.}

{Are you… (I hesitate in writing her name)}

{It’s me.}

Of course. The only person in the world who can communicate with me using fingers is none other than my dear cousin. We used to talk like this before our dropout in the second year of Yamaku. With her identity confirmed, I immediately tighten myself up and put myself in the alarm status.

{Why did you tackle me?}

{No, sorry, I didn’t mean it. I swear. I wasn’t watching.}

{You weren’t watching?}

{Yes. I was running, facing the ground the whole time, and when I realized somebody’s in front of me, it was already too late.}

Then I’m very curious…

{But why the English Faculty?}

{No, I was running randomly. I was in a very bad mood, so I just wanted to vent out my anger. Again I’m terribly sorry. It was an accident.}

I pause. Let’s gather the information I just received. Assume Shizune is not lying, she was in a bad mood, she was running randomly, with her head facing the ground. She unknowingly ran to the English Faculty, which is pretty far away from the Business Faculty, and collided with me. Doing something reckless like this is so out of character from her, and, in addition, she should not have the time to do that right now, because she is busy with her elections. To conclude, something’s wrong with her.

{Okay, I forgive you. But what happened?}

{Nothing. I was just in a bad mood.}

{I mean, doing something like this from your end is beyond unusual. Something terrible must have happened.}

{It’s none of your business.}

I can let it go away, but maybe I can help? Even though we are not exactly friends.

{You tackled me. At least I want to know the reason.}

A brief pause follows before she writes on my hand again.

{Well, you’ll know it soon enough. But it’s partially related to you, I suppose. You should know about this.}

The next words she spells shock me to the uttermost.

{This school is corrupt.}

WHAT?

{Wait! Come again?}

{THE. SCHOOL. IS. CORRUPT.}

*Gasp!*

I immediately freeze. It’s the same conclusion I arrived at a few minutes ago.

The only thing in Shizune’s mind right now should be the Student Council. She just said that the school is corrupt, and she said it’s partially related to me. “Student Council” plus “corrupt” plus “very bad mood” plus “related to me” means…

No way.

{Shizune, I’ll make a guess. I hope I’m wrong, but...}

Taking a deep breath, I write down the only logical conclusion that I can draw from the above information.

{The school disqualified you from the Student Council election…}

A silent gasp, followed by her hands completely freezing, confirms my speculation.

{…because of your deafness?}

{How… how did you know?}

I slump my shoulders. So we suffered the exact same fate on the same evening because of our respective disabilities. Even though Shizune and I are so far apart and so different, we have one ultimate common factor which costs us any hope in the future: Our conditions.

I guess it’s not a bad idea to share with her my fate as well.

{Well, the school just rejected me a chance to make a public speech on the Open Day. You know the reason.}

She does not reply in words, but it is obvious how she’s feeling right now.

For a couple of minutes, we sit here side-by-side in the middle of the road, hands still in contact, letting everything sink in.

Never in my life will I ever dream of sitting next to my cousin like this, but it’s happened. I don’t think Shizune’s going to pick any fight against me tonight.

Eventually I break the silence.

{Well, what to do now?}

{No idea.}

The only thing I can do right now is some self-consolation.

{At least you’re not going to laugh at me, are you?}

{No. In fact, like it or not, we’re actually on the same side, politically speaking.}

{Against the school, you mean.}

{Indeed. Now come to think of it, the politically correct action for me right now is to join forces with you. To fight against school corruption.}

Really? She wants to join forces with me? We’re enemies!

I can’t believe she’s considering this.

On the other hand, her train of thought is certainly reasonable. We have a common enemy right now, and, given how the meeting with the school administration went, I don’t think I can do enough on my own.

{Are you sure?}

{We’re on the same boat. I hate to say it, but if we don’t join forces, it’s impossible to turn things around.}

I think back to the days when we were in the Student Council at the same time. We had big dreams back then. We talked about organizing a charity festival, setting up our own orphanage, setting up another school for the disabled, and even taking over the world one city council at a time. Now that our future in the university is on the line, it is natural for us to co-operate once again to save our own dreams.

{It’s true. If we co-operate, maybe we can gather enough resources to negotiate with the school.}

{Well said. Okay then. To be honest, I don’t think I can ever agree with your way of handling things, but at least it is worthwhile to settle our differences for once and focus on the tasks on hand.}

{Agreed. In fact, there’s another person in the school who can give us a hand. Our mutual friend Hisao.}

{Yup. Let’s sign a truce. We’re going to join forces until we graduate. No fighting.}

{I agree.}

We shake hands for the first time since, well, very long time ago.

{The truce expires on the day we graduate. After that, well, whether we will sign another pact or not is another matter.}

I smile. How typical of her; although I have a feeling that the working environment will be even harsher and more discriminating, meaning that we might be forced into a situation when we have to cooperate again.

{Okay. But now what?}

{I don’t know. Well, let’s talk about it after dinner. I’m hungry.}

{Okay.}

“Hey! Lilly!”

I recognize this voice. This is Tatsuya.

{Shizune, this is my classmate Tatsuya.}

My cousin helps me back on my feet and hands me my cane. Then I feel a bow coming out from her.

“Yes, Tatsuya?”

“Lilly, I knew everything. The school wants me to replace you for the Open Day.”

I sigh. What an unfortunate reality.

“Well, Lilly, I just rejected that scumbag.”

“Wait, what did you say?”

“This is plain discrimination! I cannot accept this arrangement!”

Tatsuya…

“Lilly, I already phoned our classmates. Almost everybody in our class knows about it now. They are all very angry at the school.”

“Re-really?”

“I’m going to write a letter of complaint to the faculty. I’ll ask our classmates to write a jointly-signed letter to the school. Lilly, don’t worry. We’re on your side!”

To be honest, I feel embarrassed being on the receiving end of such protection, but I very much appreciate their support. Their caring act almost makes me cry.

“Thank… Thank you all so much.”

“And this one is… Oh, I know about you. You’re Hakamichi, the Student Council candidate.”

“Yes. She’s also my cousin. Well, she’s not a candidate anymore, because she just got disqualified by the school as well.”

“What? I’m going to vote for her! What’s wrong?”

“(Sigh) Because she’s deaf.”

“Two discriminations in an evening? This school’s management is rubbish!”

“Hey, Shizune!”

I can hear a girl calling Shizune’s name, and a lot of footsteps coming over. Probably six to eight people.

“Shizune, we’ve searched for you everywhere! Are you okay?”

“…”

“Shizune…”

“…”

“We’re on your side! No matter what happens!”

They are probably Shizune’s election teammates.

“…”

“We’ll try to find a way to do something, okay? We’re a team. We work together. Never give up!”

“…”

Maybe we have a lot more resources than I think. Let’s contact our mutual friend.

“Tatsuya?”

“Yes?”

“What’s the time now?”

“Er… Seven thirty.”

Hmm… Will I bother him? I think just a second is okay.

I pick up my phone and call my best friend in Kasshoku.

“Hello, Hisao?”

“Yes, Lilly?”

“I am sorry to bother you, but we need you here in Kasshoku. Would you mind coming back to school after your class? It is urgent.”

Chapter 44: Proper Voters

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