Hanako's Story (COMPLETED 18/08/2014)

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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:06 am

Act 1 – Chapter Six: En Passant (Part 3)

We begin setting the board up for our rematch, when I hear the door open. We both turn at the noise to see Lilly gently walking in. “Good afternoon.”

“Lilly...” I start to speak at the same time as Hisao.

“Oh, hey there Lilly. Are you finished?” I guess he's referring to Lilly's class stall at the festival. I'd almost forgotten about it in the peace and calm of this room.

“You both are here? Wonderful. At any rate, our teacher was able to round up some extra help, so I was able to leave. Have you been here since you left?”

“Pretty much, we've just been playing a bit of chess.”

I take the opportunity to interject. “W-would you like a cup of tea?”

“Actually,” replies Lilly, “I think it may be a good idea to go outside for a little while.”

Does she really expect me to agree to that? It's hard enough when I'm with a few classmates, how does she think I'll be able to cope with being in the crowds at the festival? There's a damn good reason why I chose to spend my day in the library and in here. Talk about trying to throw me in at the deep end! Still, I'm not in the mood for a confrontation with Lilly, so I say nothing. She can't see the change on my face, but Hisao can.

“I... I kinda think that we should just stay here...” Hisao comes to my rescue. I'm relieved when Lilly's next words reveal both mine and Hisao's error in judgement.

“Really? It's so crowded here that I was thinking we should leave the school and head for the local tea house.”

“You mean the S-Shanghai?” That sounds like a much better plan. I quite enjoy going to the Shanghai, and Yuuko is likely to be working there today. I didn't see her in the library, after all.

“Of course. With everyone at the festival it should be practically empty.” Just the way I like it.

“Tea house?” Of course, Hisao doesn't know about the Shanghai. He's not been there so far this week, I suppose. Well, it looks like Lilly and I will have to educate him.

“Oh, that's right,” says Lilly. “You probably haven't heard of it. There is a tea house not far from here, which we go to every so often.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Hisao seems reasonably happy to visit there. “Hanako, what do you think?”

I jump slightly at being directly addressed, and have to fight the temptation to retreat into myself as I so often do. I'm glad that Hisao chose to seek my opinion though, rather than assuming I would be happy to go. As it turns out, I'm more than happy to visit the Shanghai, even if I feel a slight disappointment in abandoning our rematch. “If... if it's the Shanghai, I think it'll be nice.” I don't just think it. I'm certain of it.

“Well then, it's settled. Let's be on our way.” I notice smiles on everyone's faces to some extent. My own included. With a practised movement I quickly return the chess board and pieces to their proper place in the cupboard.

“Looks like we're ready now,” says Hisao. “Please, lead on.”

I walk close to Lilly, helping to guide her through the corridors, keeping clear wherever I hear too much sound. We make our way to the front gates, with Hisao following, and begin the descent down the hill. The noise from the festival is faint and the sun is starting to set, the sky a dark red.

“Strange,” Hisao comments. “I thought that most people would be beginning to leave by now...”

“They're probably here to view the fireworks.” I can hear just a hint of bitterness in Lilly's voice as she mentions the firework display that traditionally closes the school festival, but I'm not so sure Hisao notices.

“Fireworks?”

“Yes, apparently the school puts on quite a show. A lot of people come from town just to watch them.”

I can't really blame them. The fireworks are visible from the town, so I won't be missing them, and for that I'm glad. They're the one part of the festival I can actually enjoy, and every year's display seems to be better than the last. It's good that we're headed out of the school, though. With so many people coming up, I'm better off downhill, though we see very few people walking the path. Most have already arrived, or plan to drive here. Still, I focus on the route ahead. Even the stares of the small number of fellow pedestrians is too much for me.

Soon enough, we've reached the Shanghai. From the outside it looks quite ordinary, but inside it's something else. I've rarely seen anywhere quite as traditional and rustic as the Shanghai, a quaint feel giving rise to a peaceful atmosphere that goes right through me. It's also quiet, since most of the town are now at Yamaku. Not that it tends to get too busy here anyway, though when it does I can easily hide in one of the high-backed booths. Yuuko always makes sure to reserve one if there's a chance Lilly and I will be stopping by. Speaking of Yuuko, she doesn't seem to be around right now...

“Er, is this place closed or something?” I find myself agreeing with Hisao's sentiment. Until a red-haired bespectacled figure suddenly jumps up from behind a booth.

“I wasn't asleep and welcome to the Shanghai!” Wasn't asleep. Right.

Yuuko rushes over from her resting place clutching a menu. Before she can say another word, however, Hisao asks the obvious question.

“You work here now? What happened to the library?”

“What? Lilly? Hisao?” I don't feel left out, like most people would at being ignored. Sometimes I suppose I can blend into the background a little too well, and Yuuko does look rather puzzled anyway. Best not to confuse her even more. “Welcome to the Shanghai!”

She bows low, much lower than one would expect a server to bow even in a place as old-fashioned as this. Her glasses, already askew from her 'not sleeping', slip even further down her face and fall to the floor. “Uweh? My glasses...” Hisao picks them up for her, while Lilly starts to explain to him why Yuuko is present.

“Yuuko works here part-time as well as at the library. It's one of the reasons we like to come here.”

Yuuko takes her glasses back and responds, “Yes... that's right... thanks... Shall I show you to your table?” I look around and see nothing but empty tables. The place is completely deserted – as if Yuuko's snooze wasn't evidence enough of that. “There's no-one else here so you can choose your table and order whatever you like, but there may be a delay as I will have to make it myself...”

Lilly clearly agrees with me that there's no need to make a fuss. “It's all right, Yuuko. Just a pot of black tea and a plate of sandwiches will be fine.”

“Right! I'll get right onto that!” Yuuko runs off towards the kitchens, only to return almost instantly. “I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Please, sit wherever you like! I'll be right back!” Yuuko has pretty much been like this for as long as I've known her. Slightly neurotic, eager to please everyone yet always nervous that she isn't doing a good job of it. Still, she's a genuinely good person. I just think she could be a bit more relaxed sometimes.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:07 am

Act 1 – Chapter Six: En Passant (Part 4)

Hisao takes the lead, guiding Lilly and myself to a booth near the entrance, and sits down. Lilly and I also sit, the booth effectively cutting us off from the rest of the tea house. If anyone else walks in they wouldn't even know we were here.

“So, Hisao,” says Lilly. “I didn't know you played chess...”

“Well, not very well, but I do know how to play.” I assume they're both talking about Western chess as opposed to Shogi. I've never actually played Shogi against Lilly, though it would be interesting to try. I find the tactical aspect so much more complex, and much more fascinating, but I don't know if Lilly has any idea of the different rules.

“I suppose the obvious question would now be... who won?”

Lilly has such an innocent smile on her face, but her real thoughts are locked to me. Such an enigma, I have no idea what she hopes to find out here. Hisao's pause gives me a clue, though. I see a frown on his face, while I look rather sheepish, but there's no way for Lilly to pick up on that. I guess she wants to test Hisao rather than me for once – maybe to see how he reacts to the question. Whether he's a gracious victor or a sore loser. Either way, I decide to put them both out of their misery.

“H-Hisao did.”

“Yes... but, uh, not by much...” Hisao's voice is full of guilt for beating me. He appears to be downplaying the result purely so it doesn't seem like he hurt my feelings. I wish he wasn't treating me like a fragile doll, but I appreciate the sentiment. It's rather amusing to see him so flat footed.

“Well done, Hisao. You've accomplished something I've only ever failed at.” To be fair, it is more difficult for Lilly to play chess. She has to remember the locations of all the pieces, keeping a detailed play-by-play run-through of the game in her head. Or feel every piece and remember which are black and which are white. Then again, blindfold chess is a good way to improve the strength of most regular players. Strictly speaking she should be getting much better with every game...

“Er, thanks,” replies Hisao. “I haven't played in ages, so it felt good to play again.”

“Y... yes... It did.” My nerves show as I start to play with my hair a little, but I can't avoid a little smile.

As we discuss the chess game, Yuuko makes her return, carrying a tray with a large pot of tea, cups and saucers, and a plate of sandwiches. “Are you alright there, Yuuko?” asks Hisao. “Do you need a hand?”

“I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine. I have to do this properly, it's my job.”

So obsessive about her work. She looks down at the tray, staring as if she's willing it to stay steady. It doesn't work. Everything is rattling hard as she gently lowers the tray, placing it on the table with a gentle crash. “There, see!”

“Err, well done?” says Hisao, looking rather baffled.

“Thank you, Yuuko,” Lilly says. Yuuko bows once more, head low again.

“You're very welcome.”

“Would you like to join us? There's something else I'd like to discuss about that recent order, if I may...” Lilly was telling me the other evening that she'd ordered a lot of books in Braille, as part of her duties as class rep. There was only a limited selection until a few weeks ago, and she told me the blind students were getting somewhat annoyed at what they felt was ignorance regarding their own requirements. Now they need sorting, and Lilly had agreed to help Yuuko organise them.

“Ah, yes,” comes the response from Yuuko. “We didn't get the chance to go through them, did we?” She sits down quickly. “I'll be in the library tomorrow afternoon if you'd like to try again...”

“That sounds perfect. I'll meet you there after classes.”

I interject here. Lilly's actually forgotten something rather important... “Um... L-Lilly...”

“Oh dear, that's right. Tomorrow is Monday, how could I have forgotten?” I can't really comment here, given what I did on Friday... “Well, perhaps we could come to some other arrangement...” Lilly says. “Yuuko, will you be in the library later this week?”

“Hmm, maybe, but this is already overdue...” Yuuko is pulling Lilly one way...

“A-and there are some... things I n-need...” And I'm pulling her the other. I feel bad, but I need to stand up for what I want for once.

“This might be a problem...” Lilly sounds defeated, but she has to make a choice. Of course, Lilly being Lilly, she decides to take a third option. “I wonder, might we be able to enlist the help of another, if need be...?”

Hisao picks up on who she's referring to, but he doesn't seem to understand what she means. “Um, to do what? You lost me quite some time ago...”

“Oh, of course. The other day I was helping Yuuko sort the new Braille books in the library. But Hanako and I usually go shopping on Monday afternoons; it's much quieter on that day than on weekends.” Fridays are a rare occurrence, for essentials, but Mondays are the main shop for the two of us. And truth be told, I really do need to go tomorrow. For reasons that Hisao, as a man, would probably not understand... Lilly continues. “Last week we couldn't go because I was busy with the festival. I managed to slip away later in the week, but Hanako couldn't make it.”

She's being quite diplomatic, telling a half-truth while sparing my embarrassment at forgetting to meet Lilly when I did. I'm grateful to her for that. I don't think I could easily face Hisao if he knew about my lapse of memory, although I wouldn't be surprised if he suspected something anyway.

“Well, since I can't read Braille, I'm assuming you'd like me to go shopping with Hanako?”

I look at Hisao with a face like a rabbit in headlights, as I'm certain I've looked before at him. I can't blame Lilly, though. It's a sensible request and solves the problem for her, if Hisao agrees to it. It might be nice to spend more time with him, but then again it might be pretty damn awkward. As usual. And I'd rather be with Lilly than Hisao when buying my... feminine essentials, but they can always wait a few more days.

“Correct,” replies Lilly. “You were a great help to me the other day.”

“I think I can handle that. Hanako, what do you think?”

It's hard for me to say anything, but I manage it anyway. I guess it won't be so bad, given the extent to which Hisao and I seem to be getting on now. At least, as much as I can get on with anyone. “I-if you wouldn't mind...”

“Of course not. I'm still not familiar with all the stores in the area, so it sounds like a good idea.”

“O-okay.” I can help him in learning more about the layout of the town, too, and maybe I'll get a chance to show how useful and how strong I can be. Maybe I'll have the courage to take the lead on tomorrow's little journey.

“Now that we have that arranged, shall we have some tea?” The pot is still sitting in the middle of the table, probably cold by this point. It doesn't matter much to me, I don't mind cold tea, but Yuuko still has her nerves shattered trying to make up for her apparent lack of duty.

“It's my fault! Let me pour that for you...” Hisao reaches the pot before she does, however, and starts to pour instead.

“It's alright, I've got it. Since you've already made the tea and sandwiches, you've fulfilled your waitress duties, right?”

“I... I guess...” She doesn't sound so sure.

Before we can begin eating and drinking, a loud bang is heard from outside, and a bright flash. I jump a little at the sound but soon realise what's going on.

“Ah, I take it the show has started.” She may not be able to see the fireworks, but Lilly's hearing is as good as most people's. Possibly a bit better, to compensate for her lack of sight. Not that anyone but Shizune could fail to hear the explosions coming from the sky. Really though, I hadn't even realised how much time had passed since we left the school grounds.

“Let's go watch!” Yuuko's waitress duties are all but forgotten as she rushes across to the window, Hisao and I following close behind. “Oh... sorry, Lilly...” Maybe she heard the faint bitter tone in Lilly's voice too?

Lilly takes it in stride, though, and in her usual fashion is as charming and understanding as ever. “Please, don't miss the show on my account. From what I've heard, this isn't a bad location to watch them from.”

I love the fireworks. It may seem odd, given the reasons for my condition, but there's always been something about the beauty of the lights in the sky that appealed to me. I know I'm not pretty, but I appreciate beauty elsewhere, regardless of its form. Bright lights shining against such a dark background. It's wonderful to see them before they burn themselves out and fade away...
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:09 am

Act 1 – Chapter Six: En Passant (Part 5)

Fade away they do. Soon enough the show is over, too quickly for my liking, but fireworks cost a lot of money, and even though Yamaku puts a massive amount of effort into the festival compared to other schools, it still has a limited budget to use. We turn to go back to the table with our tea and sandwiches. Before Hisao leaves the window, though, I turn to face him. I want him to know how grateful I am to him for making me feel less lonely. It's hard for me to say anything, especially considering how quiet I usually am, but the words come readily.

“Um, t-thanks for today... and tomorrow.”

I smile at him as he replies. “That's okay. I don't think that I could have faced those crowds either. On days like this, it's more relaxing to spend some time away from everyone, don't you think?”

My sentiments exactly. “Y-yeah.”

“Anyway, we've been delaying this tea for far too long now, let's get back.”

“S-sure.” He's right, but it's only as I sit down that I think about how cold the tea will be by this point. I lightly touch the side of my cup as Lilly begins to speak – sure enough, the cup is like ice.

“That sounded impressive,” says Lilly, no trace of her earlier disappointment. “Bigger than last year's, at least.”

Yuuko is full of excitement, her enthusiasm shining like the fireworks themselves. “Yeah, it was great! I've never seen them put on such a show. It gets better every year!”

“I'm afraid, however, that during that time the tea has gone cold.” The frown on Lilly's face isn't one of annoyance, but rather a look of resignation, as if she's simply informing us of the state of our tea before we begin to drink. Yuuko doesn't take it that way, however. Not that she sees Lilly's comment as a criticism, but Yuuko is more prone to criticising herself. Maybe something we have in common? Except I have good reason to do so to myself, whereas she doesn't...

“Oh no! Let me make some more! This is my fault...”

“Calm down, Yuuko, it's nobody's fault.” Again, Hisao is the voice of reason. Whenever he takes the chance to defend someone or help someone I feel conflicted. I dislike his tendency to be a white knight for everyone, and I hate it when Lilly does the same for me. I want to stand on my own two feet. But at the same time, seeing Hisao act in such a way for others is rather sweet. It makes me admire him even more. I'm really not sure what I should be feeling, as a matter of fact.

Hisao takes a sip from his cup of tea, licking his lips with clear enjoyment. “This tea isn't too bad cool, anyway. It's like an iced tea.”

“Really?” asks Yuuko. I can agree with him actually. After tasting my own cup, I can see Hisao's point.

“Yes, really. If you add a bit of sugar it's kind of nice.”

“Are you sure?” Yuuko the skeptic.

“I'm positive. Now, why don't you sit down, and we'll finish this together?”

“O-okay.” She sits down in the only free space, next to Hisao. No sooner has she done so than she measures out five spoons of sugar and tips them into her teacup. I've often thought, seeing her drinking tea in her office in the library, that if she isn't careful she'll end up at Yamaku as a student herself. Diabetes, more than likely.

“Er, I said a bit of sugar...” Hisao is alarmed, while Lilly can't see the sheer amount of sugar Yuuko has taken.

“I know, but I like my tea sweet anyway.” I'll say. Hisao looks across, into her cup, and I too steal a glance. The sugar is just a lump sitting at the bottom of the cup, even after stirring. Until Yuuko takes a large gulp, of course, and soon there's nothing left in her cup at all. “You're right! That's not bad at all!” she cries out.

“Er, good...” Hisao does the same, while Lilly and I are both already done. “Well then, it seems we're all finished.”

“Should we head back now, or do we want seconds?” Lilly's query is reasonable, but I'm not exactly hungry any more, and I can see the look on Yuuko's face. She may take her work very seriously, perhaps a little too seriously, but even she has her limits. Hisao has also seen it, and heads off any further discussion on the matter early.

“I think that it would be best if we got back soon. We do have to get back before curfew, after all.”

“Oh,” replies Lilly. “That is a good point.” Yuuko looks relieved, massively so, and I can hardly blame her. “I'll meet you tomorrow, Yuuko.” Lilly is clearly referring to their arrangements regarding the Braille books.

“I'll be looking forward to it, Lilly. Goodnight, everyone.”

We make our goodbyes and begin the long walk uphill, back to Yamaku. Because of the festival, curfew has been extended tonight, so we have more time to return than we would normally have, but we hurry anyway. I feel much less self-conscious walking in the dark, where fewer people can notice my scars, but I still lead us along a few more minor streets to avoid the bulk of the returning crowd. When we arrive at Yamaku, standing outside the dormitories, Hisao bids Lilly and I farewell.

“Well then, thank you both for today. I think I learned a lot.”

“You're most welcome,” says Lilly, “but I'm afraid that I really must be going. Today's been a long day.” She has spent half of it on her class stall, after all, and the walk uphill can be very draining even when not carrying bags of shopping, as we usually do.

“Sure thing. Well then, I'll see you both tomorrow. Good night.”

“Good night, Hisao,” comes Lilly's response.

“N-night,” I stammer. Lilly and I leave Hisao to his own journey back, as we walk across to the girl's dorm.

“So, how was it all for you?” Lilly asks. We're both aware the conversation won't be very long, as we are both somewhat exhausted after today, but I answer anyway.

“It was... fun. I-I enjoyed spending time with H-Hisao.” I'm stuttering, as usual, but I'm smiling too. Lilly won't be able to see that, but she can surely hear the happiness in my tone of voice. She smiles too, in my general direction, as we enter the girls' dormitory building.

“I'm glad to hear it. You two get along so well...” With that, Lilly heads up the stairs alone, leaving me to wonder what she means. I get the feeling she senses something that I don't. Wondering at what that might be, I follow her upstairs and retreat to my own room for a well earned rest.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Guest Poster » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:24 am

Nice read. It's interesting to read the familiar story from Hanako's POV. Pretty well written overall, there being only a few things that caught my attention:

- Lilly telling Hanako about Hisao's condition.

This one's debatable, but the scene at the very end of Act 2 (where Hanako tells Hisao about the fire that scarred her) Hanako mentions she feels it's right for Hisao to know some things about her past, since Lilly told her about his. This kinda suggests Lilly didn't tell Hanako about Hisao's heart condition immediately after finding out about it, but holds it off until near the end of Act 2. (which would make sense since Hisao's not that close with either of them yet at that point)
I can't even remember the last time Lilly managed to beat me.
This line suggests Lilly did manage to beat Hanako at some point, Hanako just can't remember exactly when. That's not the case though. Hanako's always won every one of their matches.
“I had a phone call yesterday afternoon. Akira's in town today. I guess I should have told you sooner...” Lilly's sister. Of course, I understand why she has to go. I guess I'm just a little selfish at heart, but given my life so far one can hardly blame me. I look forlorn and make an effort to try and convince her to stay, though I'm fully aware of my actions. I can't stop Lilly from seeing Akira, especially since they don't often get to meet given Akira's work. And really, my issue is less to do with selfishness and more to do with being alone with only Hisao to keep me company. I like him, I really do, given the effort he's been making to overcome the difficulties inherent in even speaking to me. But it's hard for me to interact with him, and having Lilly around would be a great help.

“Do... do you really have t-to go?” I try to sound as innocent and helpless as I can. It usually works with Lilly, though I very rarely use it on her. I always feel so guilty afterwards, but usually it works when I want ask to do something I want for once. I wish she would treat me as someone stronger. But until then, subtleness is always a useful trait to have. Maybe she'll see that strength in time.
This seems contradictory to me. On the one hand, Hanako wants Lilly to treat her as a stronger person, yet at the same time she fakes weakness in order to influence Lilly's decision, encouraging the very behavior she dislikes. It seems out of character for her. Also, Hanako isn't just shy. She has a VERY low self-esteem and part of that is her being extremely sensitive to the possibility of inconveniencing others. (directly or indirectly; for real or imagined) She'd never try to persuade Lilly to hang out with her instead of with Akira, because in her perception, Akira (or any other person in the world for that matter) is more worthy of Lilly's attention than she is and she has no right to ask for more than she's given.
Sisterhood: True Edition. Hanako epilogue I wrote. Now expanded with additional chapters.

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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:49 pm

Guest Poster wrote:Nice read. It's interesting to read the familiar story from Hanako's POV. Pretty well written overall, there being only a few things that caught my attention:

- Lilly telling Hanako about Hisao's condition.

This one's debatable, but the scene at the very end of Act 2 (where Hanako tells Hisao about the fire that scarred her) Hanako mentions she feels it's right for Hisao to know some things about her past, since Lilly told her about his. This kinda suggests Lilly didn't tell Hanako about Hisao's heart condition immediately after finding out about it, but holds it off until near the end of Act 2. (which would make sense since Hisao's not that close with either of them yet at that point)
I can't even remember the last time Lilly managed to beat me.
This line suggests Lilly did manage to beat Hanako at some point, Hanako just can't remember exactly when. That's not the case though. Hanako's always won every one of their matches.
“I had a phone call yesterday afternoon. Akira's in town today. I guess I should have told you sooner...” Lilly's sister. Of course, I understand why she has to go. I guess I'm just a little selfish at heart, but given my life so far one can hardly blame me. I look forlorn and make an effort to try and convince her to stay, though I'm fully aware of my actions. I can't stop Lilly from seeing Akira, especially since they don't often get to meet given Akira's work. And really, my issue is less to do with selfishness and more to do with being alone with only Hisao to keep me company. I like him, I really do, given the effort he's been making to overcome the difficulties inherent in even speaking to me. But it's hard for me to interact with him, and having Lilly around would be a great help.

“Do... do you really have t-to go?” I try to sound as innocent and helpless as I can. It usually works with Lilly, though I very rarely use it on her. I always feel so guilty afterwards, but usually it works when I want ask to do something I want for once. I wish she would treat me as someone stronger. But until then, subtleness is always a useful trait to have. Maybe she'll see that strength in time.
This seems contradictory to me. On the one hand, Hanako wants Lilly to treat her as a stronger person, yet at the same time she fakes weakness in order to influence Lilly's decision, encouraging the very behavior she dislikes. It seems out of character for her. Also, Hanako isn't just shy. She has a VERY low self-esteem and part of that is her being extremely sensitive to the possibility of inconveniencing others. (directly or indirectly; for real or imagined) She'd never try to persuade Lilly to hang out with her instead of with Akira, because in her perception, Akira (or any other person in the world for that matter) is more worthy of Lilly's attention than she is and she has no right to ask for more than she's given.

Thanks for the comment, just figured I'd address a couple of your points. You do make some good ones, and I'm glad you seem to be enjoying the story so far, but I reckon that most of your criticisms can be easily met. I'll post my own thoughts anyway and see what you think of my defence :)

Regarding Hisao's condition and Hanako's knowledge, given how close Lilly and Hanako are (and how Lilly can clearly tell how close Hanako is becoming to Hisao), it makes sense that Lilly would tell Hanako what she knows of Hisao's condition at an early point. Also, Hanako isn't stupid, far from it. So few fanfics seem to put across the point that Hanako is an intelligent individual, as shown in the game, but ah well. That's a whole other discussion entirely. In this case, I'm certain Hanako would at least have some idea of what's wrong with Hisao, even if she doesn't know the specific problem (or organ affected). Hanako wouldn't reveal the information to Hisao so early, of course, because she doesn't feel as close to him as Lilly sees them to be, if that makes sense. Bear in mind, in the game we see everything from the point of view of a single narrator (i.e. Hisao) - pretty much the whole point of this fanfic in the first place xD

About the chess, again, it's Hanako's internal monologue. Saying she doesn't remember the last time Lilly beat her doesn't necessarily imply that Lilly has ever beaten her. I could say that I can't remember the last time I ate liver - yet I've never eaten liver before. Both phrases are still completely true and don't necessarily imply anything different. Just me nitpicking here to be honest, but still... ;)

On the situation with Akira, the whole crux of your point seems to me to be that Hanako wouldn't try to manipulate Lilly because she's so sensitive to what other people think. To be completely fair, I do address that in the story - I do make a point of saying how guilty Hanako would feel following that. But given that she is an intelligent person, and given that she so rarely gets her way compared to other people, surely it makes sense that she would occasionally (when she's feeling at least a bit confident, or really wants something quite badly) try to get her way using whatever methods come to mind? Being able to manipulate someone like Lilly is also a sign of how strong Hanako really is - her lack of confidence merely means that this side is very rare in surfacing. I think that to some extent Hanako does want people to see her as more than other people, and does feel she has some right to get what she wants for once, but again it's rare in the showing. Hence why she gives up so easily and accepts Lilly's disappearance to see Akira. I think Hanako would at least try in the first place though, she just wouldn't keep up the facade for very long, again out of guilt and the sense of non-deservedness, but she would definitely at least attempt to get her way to some degree. It's only later in the arc that she really does start to come out of her shell properly, and more so in Lilly's arc of course...
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:50 pm

Act 2 – Chapter One: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme... (Part 1)

I awaken slightly later than usual, but today I have every intention of going to class. If only because I want to see Hisao again. It's a very new feeling, a very strange one, but I don't feel like avoiding him today. I'm a little embarrassed, yes, but I feel like I can stand up to whatever glances come my way, whatever judgemental looks I get, if I'm there with him.

I can't avoid being a little late, though. Fortunately, Mutou-sensei hasn't arrived yet. Misha and Shizune, on the other hand...

“G... good morning, Hisao.” I enter the classroom and gently close the door behind me, ignoring the pointed look from Shizune and the naturally confused expression on Misha's face.

“Morning, Hanako. You're a little late, aren't you?”

“I... was talking to Lilly. A... about today.” Turns out we were both more tired last night than we'd realised, and we both overslept. We walked together to class, chatting about the night before. As well as the potential aftermath. I was curious to figure out what she meant with her comment last night, about how well Hisao and I get on, but she wouldn't give me any more details. I wonder... never mind. She gave me her shopping list anyway, so I know what she needs later.

“Ah, so you've got her list then? We can leave straight after classes in that case.”

“S-sure.”

“I'm looking forward to it.” At this I smile briefly, while noticing a glare coming my way. I guess Shizune had other plans for Hisao today. Not that she'd get very far with them anyway. Today, Hisao is mine! Time Shizune learned that not everything she wants is going to happen, and Hisao's attention can be directed elsewhere. I head to my seat as Mutou-sensei arrives, and classes begin.

It's actually rather boring. We get exercises set from the textbook and very little else to do. Everyone, Mutou included, is feeling the effect of yesterday, and it looks like everyone wants to return to the carefree fun of the festival. No such luck. Even I jump a little when the bell rings at the end, signalling the end of our apparent learning time. I look across at Hisao while packing my books away. As I predicted, Misha and Shizune have already got him cornered. I should probably step in and steal him away for our trip to town, but Shizune scares me. Just like most people, except more so.

“Say, Hicchan, it's still not too late to join up,” comes Misha's voice. “There's a lot of post-festival paperwork for us to complete...”

“Er, sorry Misha, I've... got plans.” I guess this is my cue. Misha is already looking at me as I start to walk over. I can guess what she's thinking. Something more... risque than I would consider. She isn't jealous, is she? Then again, seeing how close she is to Shizune... wait. Could Shizune be the jealous one? Hell, I'm starting to feel a little jealous myself... I push the thoughts away. I barely know Hisao, and I never let anyone that close. Although I've let Hisao this far. Maybe I could open up a little more. Perhaps, when the time is right.

Misha laughs as I get closer. Yeah. Risque thoughts. “BWAHAHA! You move fast, don't you, Hicchan? We won't disturb your date any further! Bwahaha!”

Date? How could she think... well, I suppose it looks a bit suspicious. Hisao and I spending time alone together, when the most I've managed before with anyone but Lilly has been a brief session of work in class, or the like. I look at Shizune to get her reaction, but she's deliberately avoiding both my gaze and Hisao's. I can't tell if she's angry, upset, jealous, annoyed, or just bored. Though if she was any of those things, I'd be the last person she made it clear to. Well, the second-to-last. Lilly would take that 'honour'.

My eyes lower, my retreat obvious in my embarrassment. I gently pull on Hisao's sleeve to get his attention. I want to be able to face down Misha and Shizune, but I shy away from the confrontation, and besides, it would just serve to confirm Misha's assumptions. Not everyone has gone either, and a few curious looks are directed our way

“L... let's...” Hisao knows what I'm trying to say.

“Gotcha. Shizune, Misha, I'll see you later. And I'm still not interested in the council.”

“Spoilsport,” says Misha, grinning at me. Her eyes are closed and her face looks so mischievous, or, dare I say it, flirtatious. Would that be on Shizune's behalf towards Hisao, or her own thoughts? Towards him, or me? I'm guessing not me. I can only speculate idly, but she has always been attached to Shizune at the hip. Almost literally, in fact. She's never given any signs, but I remain curious...

They leave before we do, chatting in sign language as they walk out to the hall. As the classroom empties, Hisao and I are finally left alone.

“Got all your stuff?” he asks. “Let's head off.”

We head out together, approaching the school gates. We're not the only ones. Although the majority of students at Yamaku live on campus, a sizeable portion don't, meaning they leave at the same time as Lilly and I usually do on a Monday. As we walk, I move a little closer to Hisao. It's not the same as when I walk close to Lilly, but until now I have always kept Hisao at least at arm's length. Something has changed between us. I can sense it, I want to know if he has too.

I don't show it, though. I try, but something holds me back. I'm so nervous, I can feel the blood draining from my knuckles as I squeeze the straps of my bag. It hurts a little. I keep my mouth closed, my lips tight, my face pointing down. My eyes are staring at the road ahead as we walk. I can't bring myself to acknowledge Hisao, nor any of the other students going into town. I can feel them watching us, judging us. At least when I'm with Lilly I can get closer, almost hiding my face in her long golden hair, and with us both being girls it's not so strange to see us together. What are people assuming when they see me walking with a boy? No, not a boy. A young man. Misha may have been the first to notice, but she'll hardly be the last. Everyone else will draw the same conclusions about me walking with Hisao...

I have no idea what Hisao's thought process has been, but I hear a strange sound coming from him. It's almost like a suppressed cough, but there's a hint of something else...

“W-what's the matter...?”

“Sorry. For a second there, it looked like you were getting into trouble.” He's awfully blunt about it. I don't understand what he's talking about, either way.

“W-w-what do you mean?”

“I think you need to relax a little. We're not going too far, and it's only students around, right?”

I pause for a moment. “R-right.” If only it were so easy. I can't get Misha's cheeky smile out of my head, and it bothers me, the thoughts she had. It's not far off the truth, or rather, what I'd like to be the truth, but I feel so conflicted! So nervous, and to be honest, a little scared...”

I realise Hisao has continued speaking. “And you do this every week, don't you?” He has a point, I'll give him that.

“Y-yes. With Lilly.” I make a point of saying that. He needs to understand how different the situation is today. Especially after the festival...

“Well, I'm here. Besides, we're not going far. It'll be over before you know it.” I suppose so. Normally Lilly and I take a while to finish our shop, but since this time I'm with somebody who has full vision, things might go a bit quicker. I'm almost sad that I won't be spending as much time with Hisao as we could have done, but if it means avoiding the stares from our fellow students I'd rather get this over with. I smile a little, but the full effect doesn't come through. My hands start to regain a little colour, though, and my grip on the bag straps loosens considerably. We carry on walking in silence, however, I feel a little more confident, enough to actually look up this time.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:51 pm

Act 2 – Chapter One: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme... (Part 2)

When we reach the convenience store, no-one else is present. I guess more than a few students were headed for the Shanghai instead, or else the small park here in town. Hisao and I enter and pick out baskets, one for me and Lilly, and one for Hisao himself. I have a recipe in mind, and I need thyme, though Hisao looks confused when he sees the herbs on selection. Maybe rosemary too? Or maybe not. I find myself unconsciously keeping Hisao between myself and the store attendant, even when the attendant pays me no attention. I know it's not a problem for him, as many of Yamaku's students are regular customers here. It's all perfectly natural to him to see disabled people walking through his doors. It's just a habit of mine, but one that's very hard to break.

We walk around the store and I pick out my own required ingredients. When I'm done, I hand my basket to Hisao, along with a few crumpled bank notes. It's the same as what I do with Lilly when we come here together. I'm not exactly confident enough to approach the checkout myself.

“C-c-could you p-please...” I stammer. Hisao pauses for a moment, trying to work out what I need him to do for me.

“Oh, you want me to pay for this?” I nod in reply, but keep my head down. “Sure. Lemme just grab a couple of things...” He quickly moves away and throws some essentials into his own basket.

I stay behind Hisao as he approaches the checkout. I realise my actions aren't quite rational, as the attendant hardly pays any attention to either of us as he scans the items in our baskets. It doesn't change anything for me anyway, and I still keep as hidden as possible.

Our shopping complete, Hisao and I leave the store and begin the long walk home. The streets are relatively deserted, as is the road uphill to Yamaku. Maybe it shows, as I don't appear as reserved and timid as I did on the journey down. Instead, my back is straight, head up, as I carry my own shopping bag in one hand and Lilly's in the other. Things seem like they could be normal.

“So, why all these weird things,” asks Hisao. “Mixed spice? Why would you need that in school?”

This is something I can talk about. It might be nice to share something with Hisao, when there's so little else I feel prepared to discuss with him. Food is one of my few passions, similar to my love of chess. I feel glad to be able to avoid the awkward silence as I answer. I still stammer, of course, but that's a regular feature of my conversation even with Lilly.

“I... sometimes... like to m-make food.”

“Well, yeah, so do I, but... spices? That's a little more advanced, don't you think?”

“N-not really...” I guess Hisao isn't exactly a connoisseur of fine foods. That being said, some of my 'experiments' have, shall we say, turned out better than others...

“Well, I think it's cool. You'll have to teach me one day.” Oh Hisao, you certainly know how to make a girl smile... is my first thought. One that I quickly bury in my reservation. I still smile a little, even so.

“S-sure.”

It isn't very long before we're standing outside the dormitories. I look over at Rin's mural on the wall – apparently she managed to finish it in time for the festival, but I don't really know what to make of it myself. It certainly looks... unique. I tear my gaze away and begin to sort out the bags that Hisao and I are carrying. Some of our things have been mixed in together for easier carrying, but I know what I needed and we have Lilly's list to guide us on her items. Most of the fancy stuff goes into my bag, while Lilly and Hisao both make do with the basics.

“I tell you, you're putting me to shame here...” Hisao has picked up on the stark difference between our grocery needs.

“N-no I'm not... I just...” I reply, flustered at the attention he's giving my ingredients.

I still haven't bought my own 'feminine essentials', but that can wait. I'll ask Lilly if we can go back to town for them soon, when we next visit the Shanghai, or if she could pick them up next time she sees her sister. However soon that may be.

“I'm only joking,” says Hisao. He can't stay long, it seems. “I have a stack of homework that I skipped last week, so I must leave now. Will you be alright getting that to your room?” Ever the gentleman. I almost wish he could stay a little longer, but I'm not so comfortable in bringing him back to my dorm just yet. Besides, his work is more important.

“Y-yeah.”

“Sure? Okay then. I'll see you tomorrow.”

“B-bye.” I smile again, ever so slightly, as we say our goodbyes and turn away to our respective dorms. I pick up mine and Lilly's things and make my way to the kitchen in the girls' dorm, carefully labelling my own items and putting them away. I can hear an old song on someone's radio in the common area – Scarborough Fair. I used to have a problem with people taking some of the fancier things I bought, until they realised they had no idea what to do with them in a meal. The petty theft soon stopped, and the quality of the meals the other girls were preparing apparently went up. I take Lilly's items to my own room for now. She has a small fridge and a cupboard in her room for food, since it's easier for her than searching every cupboard downstairs for anything labelled in Braille – not that I can read Braille in the first place.

A few hours later, Lilly returns to the dorm. I'm sitting in my bedroom, walls bare and white and furnishings minimal. I hear a knock on my door, followed by a soft voice that sounds oh so familiar.

“Hanako? It's me, Lilly.” It could hardly be anyone else, as Lilly is my only regular visitor. I suppose it could have been Misha, complaining for Shizune about me stealing Hisao away this afternoon, but she would be much louder. Plus, she'd probably try the door to see if it was open first.

“I'm here, Lilly. C-come in.” The door is open, as a matter of fact. I lock it when I don't want to be disturbed, which to be fair is most of the time, but my time today has been a bit more enjoyable than usual. I'm in a state of mind where I feel I can almost face the world, if only a little.

Lilly enters the room, closes the door, and skilfully manoeuvres her way towards the solitary chair, feeling her way across. I stay on my bed, legs crossed and clutching a cushion. I rarely take the initiative, but I'm in a good mood right now.

“H... how was your thing with... with Yuuko?”

Lilly looks a touch surprised, but she smiles a little too as she replies. I don't think she really expected me to ask the question myself, before she had the chance to speak.

“It was fine, Hanako. Thank you. Everything's sorted now, and hopefully my own class will be a bit happier about the selection.”

“T-that's... good to hear.”

“How about you? I trust you managed to get everything you needed?”

“N... not everything...” I say. I still didn't get the things I need for, well, my monthly routine. “I bought all the... all the ingredients I w-wanted, though.”

Lilly's face is full of understanding. We've known each other for long enough that she realises what I mean. If I managed to get all the food I wanted to buy then there's only one thing left that I could particularly need.

“It's okay, Hanako. I managed to pick something up the other day. I'll bring them to your room a little later.” How did she manage that without Hisao noticing, if she bought them on Friday? Unless she didn't care if he saw. Unlike me.

“T-that reminds me... I m-managed to get y-your stuff, too...” I get up and take the bag containing Lilly's items from the cupboard in which I'd stored it. Passing it to her, she puts it on the ground next to her cane that rests against the wall.

“Thank you,” Lilly says. “So, what did Hisao think of your shopping list?”

She smiles again, but it's a bit wider this time, and a lot cheekier. I blush at this side of Lilly, and at the implications in her comment, though of course she can't see my cheeks turning red.

“I... I'm not... sure...” I stammer more than usual now, and Lilly can most definitely hear it. “I-I think he... he was a b-bit... impressed... to be honest...”

“Impressed? Has he tasted your food yet then?” Sandwiches aside, that stings. But Lilly's face is full of innocence, and I can hardly be angry at her attempt to bring a little humour to the conversation. I smile as well and respond in kind.

“I... I'm sure he'd l-love it more than y-yours...”

“Ah, a low blow indeed.” She starts to laugh, and I do too, our voices ringing through the room and into the corridor. It's so rare that I get moments like this, I have to make the most of them when they occur. Maybe if I get the chance with Hisao, we could have moments like this too. If I can gather the courage to actually show my heart to him and reveal myself, everything about me. My thoughts and feelings, my whole life. Maybe in Hisao, I could do something that has happened so few times before, and never with a boy. I could honestly say that I managed to find a true friend...
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Guest Poster » Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:22 am

The crux of my point was more the fact that Hanako already feels that Lilly pities her and she hates that so encouraging that pity seems a strange thing for her to do. I don't really see how an attempt to evoke Lilly's pity is a sign of strength in any way. If anything, it makes Hanako seem hypocritical as in: I hate being pitied, except when it suits my needs. Several members of the female KS cast have their moments of hypocricy, but Hanako isn't one of them. Feeling guilty about it afterwards would miss the point that Hanako hurts her own interests much more than she hurts anyone else by encouraging pity from others.

An important point of Hanako's route is that she hates it when people cater to her out of a sense of pity. If Lilly were to call Akira and say: "Sorry, I can't hang out with you today because I just can't leave Hanako alone." I think Hanako would be offended. So it seems weird she'd be actively shooting for that kind of reaction.
I think that to some extent Hanako does want people to see her as more than other people, and does feel she has some right to get what she wants for once, but again it's rare in the showing.
I agree with the former, but disagree with the latter. Hanako's extremely low sense of self-worth isn't something that's merely a superficial trait...it dominates her entire worldview. She's convinced Lilly's only hanging out with her out of a sense of responsibility...that's hardly a solid basis for a feeling of entitlement.

On another note, I found it somewhat odd to see Lilly and Hanako exchange playful jabs in the latest chapter. Lilly's a pretty big tease at times, but only towards Hisao once she gets to know him. I don't recall her teasing Hanako at any point...which might be smart seeing that she has the tendency to interpret people's attitude towards her in the worst way possible.
Sisterhood: True Edition. Hanako epilogue I wrote. Now expanded with additional chapters.

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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:39 am

Hmmm, okay, I will give you that. To be fair though, I think really everyone has their own interpretations of the character. I suppose since everyone looks at the character and the story in a different way, everyone will have their own opinions and that's perfectly fine. Writing this, I tend to provide my own interpretation of events from Hanako's point of view, but not everyone will agree with me, and that's actually great, because it means we get nice debates like this and we can explore the character even further. Each to his or her own, I guess :)

Either way, I'll keep your comments in mind when writing later - after all, character development is all about how a character changes and adapts over the course of a story, and there's no reason why an author can't adapt over time as well xD. Thanks for the reply anyway, and I hope you enjoy reading the rest of the story when I get around to writing it...
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by TimmyB1tch » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:23 pm

wow this seems long and liek you put a lot of work into it, I will read it though even though I have a lot of things on my hands like completing FF VII and FF IX and FF VI/III and Super Mario RPG... man I need to finish my RPGs :lol: but I am going to read this somehow :P anyways cant wait to tell you what I think of it :D

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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:29 pm

Act 2 – Chapter Two: Of Rice and Saving Graces (Part 1)

It's hot. Thee whole day has been nothing but a wave of heat hitting the classroom, and I can't even retreat to the library to cool down. No air conditioning there. Misha decided to have her top buttons undone half the day, which can't have cooled her down much but did serve to have half the male population of our class drooling. I never really thought of her as 'that' type, but no matter. I did feel a stab of jealousy when I saw Hisao looking at one point, but I guess I can't blame him. Much.

By the time the bell sounds for lunch, everyone is lethargic enough from the summer sun that they struggle to even leave the room to go eat. I hang around a little though, hoping to catch someone in particular...

“H... Hisao?”

“Hey there, Hanako,” he replies. “What can I do for you today?”

I lift my hand to show Hisao the bag I'm carrying. I don't even need to say anything, my idea is so obvious. I smile and still ask, just as a formality more than anything else, but also because last night I realised I should start taking the initiative a bit more often. After all, that's exactly why I'm here now.

“Um... would you like to have lunch with us again? I... I brought enough for everyone...”

Hisao smiles back at me, though he can see how nervous I was asking him to lunch. It was pretty tough, but I feel better for asking without relying on Lilly to be here. “Awesome. You don't have to be so stiff about it, though.”

“Ah... right.”

“I take it we're going to the tea room?”

His last comment caught me off guard a little, but although I get a bit flustered I don't regret anything. “P...please. Lilly said she'll meet us in there, so we should... should...”

“Should?”

“...should go ahead together...”

I would be lying if I said this was entirely my idea. But to be fair, I did make the suggestion for Lilly to go on ahead without us. Ultimately, it was a joint effort. But I tried to be at least a bit assertive. Whether Lilly caught on or not, I can't tell, but she seemed pleased that I wanted to spend more time with Hisao. Even if I am still a bit embarrassed by the stares we received on the journey to town yesterday evening.

As I continue to smile, rather sheepishly, at Hisao, he responds to my comment with a clear enthusiasm. “Sounds like a plan. This heat has made me pretty hungry.” I sigh with relief, glad to have been successful in my first real attempt to socialise with someone. He packs his things into his bag, and we make our way to the tea room.

When we get there, Lilly is nowhere to be seen. Maybe she was held up, or maybe she decided to give Hisao and I a bit of space before her arrival. Either way, there's no point in waiting for her without knowing what the hold-up is, so I start to lay out the food I've packed. Ultimately, this was my plan, as I suggested last night to Lilly. Seeing Hisao scanning the herbs in the store with his look of bewilderment inspired me to make something extra special. I ended up buying more than I really needed, meaning I had plenty of ingredients to come up with another of my experiments. It's not much, really, and I did make sure to taste it beforehand, though Lilly's judgement may be a little harsher. No less polite, of course, but still...

“I guess Lilly isn't here yet. Should we start without her?” Hisao's voice is one of concern, as if it's rude to begin preparing without Lilly being here. We already discussed it last night, though, the two of us, and Lilly agreed then that if one of us was late, the other should still make good use of the time available. Lunch can often pass quickly at Yamaku, especially in the tea room, with remarkable speed. I should still say something to assuage Hisao's concern.

“S-she'll be here soon...” I pick up the rice container and try to prise it open, only to meet with what appears to be a tight seal. I swear it wasn't so difficult to open when I was putting the rice in there...

“Here, let me help with that.”

Hisao takes the container from me, only to hit the same wall as I did. (Let me guess, did you put this in while the rice was still hot?”

“Y-yes, I was in a rush...” I avert his gaze, looking sheepish at my schoolgirl error. The rice clearly must have expanded while hot, then shrunk and created a vacuum after being shut in the plastic box. The vacuum would have sealed it completely airtight.

“I thought so. It looks like this is wedged shut. We'll need some hot water to get it open.” I agree. The hot water will cause the lid to expand and make it much easier to pry the lid off. “But that could be a pain in here. We'd get water everywhere.”

I look down at my feet, still embarrassed, but he's right. We could always go to a bathroom to heat the lid, but we're running out of preparation time. Soon enough the lunch period will be over, and we'll have to return to class. It's such a shame, too. I'd used a special blend of spices to give the rice flavour, and I was so looking forward to hearing Hisao's opinion on it...

We're saved, however, by Lilly's timely arrival. “Well, in that case, how about I contribute to today's meal?” As she enters, she carries a bag full of bread rolls and buns. This wasn't part of the plan... though I'm not complaining. “Since you two had a change of plans because of me, I thought I would bring a little something.”

“Thanks, Lilly,” says Hisao, smiling. “Here, let me get that for you...” He places the rolls and buns in the bowl originally intended for my rice, adding it to my own platter, before beginning the process of brewing a pot of tea. “Well, I'm looking forward to this.”

As he starts to eat while the water boils, I try not to stare. Even so, I can't help but search his face through the corner of my eye for signs of approval or disgust. I know it tastes good, I tried it myself, but I'd rather hear Hisao say it. He's a bit less biased, after all.

“Not bad, I guess this is made with the stuff you bought yesterday?”

“Y-yes.” Spot on. I continue watching Hisao, hoping he'll say something else. I'm glad he seems to like it, but the more feedback I have, the better.

“Well, it was clearly worth it. Thanks, Hanako.”

I'm so pleased that he likes it. “I... I wanted to show you this... after yesterday...”

“It's okay. I was just a little surprised at the stuff you were buying.” And little does he know that half of it was for his benefit.

“Hanako's always liked to experiment when it comes to food. I think it's good... most... of the time.” As Lilly speaks, my eyes turn to her, and her smile. It's only now that I notice her plate hasn't been touched, and her chopsticks lie on the side unbroken. How sneaky can she get? Making Hisao try my food before she dares to! I'm almost impressed, but I try to feel annoyed at her. I can't quite manage it though, given I know as well as she does just how some of my previous concoctions have turned out. Still, Hisao and I will need to get some sort of revenge on her later. Maybe I can deliberately make something terrible, and Hisao can trick her into thinking it's good...

“Well, it's good, and that's all that counts, right?” Exactly! Now you can start eating, Lilly. Go right ahead!

“R-right.” I don't let anyone see my thoughts of vengeance as I stammer like usual. Instead, I wait for Lilly to finish filling her plate with the other parts of the meal, and for Hisao to start eating. I load my own plate and begin.

Later, we're finished with time left before the bell rings and classes restart. The rice is still untouched, but I can always free it and eat it later. I might save some for Hisao tomorrow, if I remember. The rest of the meal is gone, with everyone apparently feeling full. Myself included.

“Thank you Hanako, that was filling,” says Lilly, still with a cheeky grin on her face. She ate it anyway, so I claim a victory in my own book. And she did provide the bread, so it would have been poor form for her to not even touch that.

“N-no... thank you for the bread...”

“Yes, it would have been a disaster if not for that.” Hisao plays the diplomat, but he's right. I am grateful to her for that saving grace.

“You're both welcome.” Lilly's smile turns less cheeky, and more warm, her eyes closed in contentment. “But now, I must be getting back. It's far too easy to be late after eating here.”

She has a point, and I wonder to myself if the bell has already sounded. It's sometimes tough to tell in here, though really the entire school is supposed to be wired to ring out the sound wherever people congregate. I guess this must be an older part of the building, or maybe the bell within our earshot no longer works and was never fixed. In any case, the only way to tell is by our watches. It's definitely near the end of the lunch period.

“Yeah,” Hisao replies, “I see what you mean. I think we'll just clean up here and then head off.” That sounds good to me.

“Well then, good day.” We bid Lilly our own farewells as she turns and leaves, the sound of her cane fading into the corridor as she walks. Hisao and I pack everything away, and sit around until the bell suddenly sounds, loud and clear. I guess it does work after all. I never really thought about it before.

Hisao shoots me a glance as we listen to the clamour, but I don't quite feel like leaving just yet. I want to stay a while, savouring the moment. This brief period of rest, with someone who I can be myself with, no matter how nervous I get. If he treated me a bit less delicately then it would be a perfect moment.

“Not... just yet...” I say.

We wait a little longer, my eyes closed in tranquillity. I wonder if this is how Lilly feels whenever she closes her eyes? There's not much more reason for her to close them, after all, as it has little real effect. It's so peaceful. Eventually, Hisao grows impatient.

“We really should go... people will freak out and start a search party if we skip...”

I sigh a little. “You're right.” We leave, and make our way back to the classroom. I almost feel like ditching class and going to the library, but would Hisao choose to come with me, or elect to return to lessons? I'd want him to follow, but I have no right to ask him to skip class too. Even if it was his own decision, I'd feel bad for giving him the idea. And if he skips out it's worse than when I do so. As Lilly mentioned to me that he has a heart condition, an absence of Hisao would set off alarm bells for the faculty and nursing staff. His comment about a search party wouldn't be mere hyperbole. At least I have an understanding with Mutou-sensei, plus my condition is hardly life threatening. Not any more, at any rate. They took me off suicide watch a long time ago.
Last edited by Trivun on Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:32 pm

Act 2 – Chapter Two: Of Rice and Saving Graces (Part 2)

When we reach the classroom, I take a position behind Hisao, as he opens the door, an apologetic look prepared for Mutou-sensei.

“I'm sorry we're late, teacher.”

Silence. For a brief moment, I hear nothing, until suddenly a very faint sniggering sound begins to build up into full blown laughter. I can see just a little into the room from my vantage point behind Hisao, and everyone seems to be holding in their laughter. Misha, of course, can't quite contain herself. I'm annoyed, a little. She could at least make the effort to try...

“Pffff... wahahaha! The lovers return! WAHAHA!”

So, Mutou is just as late as Hisao and I. More so, rather. It's not lost on everyone else that the two of us have arrived together, either. I don't know what to think. Whatever people had in their minds yesterday, the situation now is worse by a hundred-fold. People will talk, and I don't know whether I do feel that way, or if the situation between Hisao and I is nothing more than just friendship. I've only known him for just over a week, after all. But gossip will happen whatever the situation may be, especially where Misha is concerned, and it hardly makes my own circumstances easier to hear it like this.

There's no helping it. I can't run away now, that will only serve to add more 'proof' to Misha's wild speculations. Plus, it would be unfair of me to leave Hisao here on his own to face the stares of the class.

“Yeah, thanks,” he says in response to Misha's giggling. “You can calm down now.”

Keeping the entire class mentally at bay, I press myself as close to Hisao as possible to hide myself, until we reach his desk. I'm just able to make the short walk, quickly, to my own desk and hide my face in my arms as I sit down. Before he does the same, Hisao follows me and whispers briefly in my ear.

“Don't worry about Misha, she's always like this. I enjoyed myself today. Don't sweat it, okay?”

I nod a little, my head still wrapped by my arms, but stay hidden. I do feel a tiny bit better with Hisao's consolation, but around me I can still hear Misha trying to keep her laughter quiet (a vain hope), along with the muffled giggles from at least half the rest of the class. In fact Suzu is the only one to not be laughing, and that's only because she's asleep, like most of the time. Even Shizune has a smile on her face, though her amusement obviously can't be heard.

Just as Hisao finishes speaking, he is forced to return to his seat in a rush, as Mutou-sensei decides to enter the room. He's already in the middle of a lecture, apparently forgetting outside the classroom that he wasn't actually speaking to anyone yet.

“...which, of course, is directly proportional to the charge but inversely proportional to the square of the distance...”

As Mutou drones on obliviously, I hear Misha approximate as close to a whisper as she can manage. Somehow, the teacher doesn't pick up on this, but I've never known that man to let anything get in his way once he's on a roll. It sounds like she's talking to Hisao. I don't want to eavesdrop, but I'm definitely interested in hearing what she has to say, if only because I'd rather know if she's saying anything about me, rather than wait until Hisao tells me second-hand.

“The teacher may not have noticed your tardiness, but I did.” I lift my head from my arms long enough to see that most of the stares are gone, redirected towards Mutou instead. Misha is leaning across to speak to Hisao, while Shizune is very deliberately looking out of the window. Clearly, Misha is translating for her, but they're being very coy about it.

“I have been instructed to let you off the hook for today,” she continues, “but only on one condition.”

“Oh? And what would that be?” I'm certain Hisao knows full well what they want him to do. It's all Shizune ever tries to do with most people.

“You have to help us this afternoon!” I knew it. They were desperate for him to help the Student Council yesterday, and I stole him away to go shopping in town. It makes perfect sense they'd try again now. Blackmail though, is a bit extreme... no. For Shizune it's just another perfectly valid tool to get her own way. I can certainly see why she and Lilly don't get along, and I wasn't even part of the council back then...

“Fine. Just for today.” Hisao is taking the easy way out, and I can't blame him. A choice between constantly being pestered by Misha and Shizune, or giving in just once with the promise of future relief, is hardly a choice at all. “I've already told you, I'm not joining the council, remember?”

As if they'll keep that in mind. “Of course!” says Misha. “Doing so could be considered... um, considered...” She looks down at her notebook, as if reading from a prepared manuscript given to her by Shizune. Actually, that's probably what she is doing.

“...under duress and hence would be against regulations.” She seems so proud of herself, but when have those two ever stuck to the regulations? One rule for some...

Hisao seems to be following the same line of thought. “How very strange of you to be considerate of the regulations now.”

“Things should be done by the book!” With her innocent smile and raised finger, Misha seems like she could almost be sincere. I continue to peek, through a gap in my arms, but Shizune continues to look away. She can't see how the conversation is progressing, but she must have a general idea. If she wrote prompts down for Misha to follow, well...

“It's just that the book hasn't been written for every situation, so there are times when it can be ignored.” How convenient.

“And yet,” Hisao replies, “you two wonder why no-one else wants to be in the Student Council...”

At this, Misha sticks her tongue out at him, before returning to the lecture. I decide to unfold my arms, confident now that no-one is staring any more, and open my book to take notes. The class drags on the same as always.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:34 pm

Act 2 – Chapter Two: Of Rice and Saving Graces (Part 3)

A couple of hours later, we are finally free. Well, some of us are. While I begin to pack away my notes from the last class, Misha and Shizune gather next to Hisao, each placing a hand on his shoulder. They're taking no chances after yesterday.

“Hey, I said I'd help out, damn...”

“This is just insurance, Hisao, insurance...” Misha smiles brightly, while Shizune looks less amused. I guess the restraint was her idea then. She won't let anything happen to her slave labour, it seems. I'm not sure I feel confident enough to save Hisao from them, but he's been pretty decent to me this past week, enough that I feel obliged to do something to help. Maybe I can give him the opportunity to escape their clutches off his own back.

“H-Hisao?” I call his name as I'm making my way to the door, but if he thinks I want to hang out (and I guess it wouldn't be a bad thing, by any means) then perhaps he'll be able to come up with an excuse to get out of more work for the Student Council. It's not that I don't like Misha, or even Shizune, but seeing them try to force Hisao into doing their work for them just feels... wrong, somehow. It's one of the things that drove Lilly away from the council, after all.

“Oh, hey, Hanako. What's up?” He takes the bait. Shizune spots the opening too, however, and quickly signs to Misha, trying to close the gap in their offensive before Hisao has time to make a move.

“Hey,” Misha translates, “what makes you think you've got time to chat?”

“Oh, relax, this won't take long... Hanako, you were saying?”

Thank you, Hisao. “I... I was going to go to the library, and... and I thought...” Looking at Shizune's expression, maybe this wasn't such a good idea. It's not as fierce as it can be, but the slight frown is an early warning sign not to cross her. But I've come this far, I can't retreat now and leave Hisao to their mercy.

“Sorry Hanako, but Hisao has to come with us. He's got work to do.” Shizune signs again to Misha, and my fears of reprisal are confirmed. “Oh! But you can help too if you'd like.”

Sure thing, Misha... not. “Um...”

“So, how about it, Hisao?” Misha and Shizune both turn their faces towards him, looking for an answer.

“Hey, Shizune. I know I said I'd help, but I forgot I'd already made plans. Besides, I helped out more than my fair share last week, didn't I? I promise, I'll make it up to you some other time.” It's true, he did work pretty hard with me helping Lilly's class on their stall decorations. And many of our class didn't get involved at all, yet still enjoyed the festival regardless of their own input. It's remarkably unfair of the pair to expect Hisao to do even more now, though I suspect Shizune is just looking for excuses to spend time with him. It wouldn't surprise me. Again, I feel a strange pang of jealousy, but I'm still uncertain of my own feelings. I do enjoy spending time with him myself, but we barely know each other. Even so, he's followed my cue about the library. Shizune doesn't seem best pleased, but she pulls Misha away for a moment as they sign rapidly to each other.

Eventually, they return, and Misha gives the translation. “Well, you have a point there. To be honest, we were only going to spend the rest of the budget on cakes. So, if you're not there, it works out better. More cake for us! Wahaha...”

Isn't that the very definition of corruption? When we reach the library I resolve silently to open a dictionary and look up the word, just to check that a picture of Shizune and Misha isn't staring back from the pages.

They leave quickly, finally allowing Hisao and I to be alone again. “Well,” he starts to say, “that was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. Last week those two were like bloodhounds. Or prison guards. Or maybe prison guards bred from bloodhounds...”

What.

I'm reminded of that strange boy I met in Lilly's class last week. What was his name? Kenji?

“...never mind,” Hisao continues. I agree with that sentiment completely. “Anyway, should we go to the library?”

I smile a little and reply in the affirmative. “S-sure.” The journey doesn't take long, but I stick close to Hisao as we walk, avoiding the looks our fellow students give us. When we reach the library, I scan the stacks for a familiar face. Sure enough, Yuuko is working here today. I make my way to her and whisper a request in her ear. Next time Hisao and I play chess, I'm certain to win... though I'd rather he not find out my plans, of course.

“Um, you' find that in non-fiction,” she replies, “but I'm not sure where exactly. If you want I can look it up...”

“N-never mind.” I don't want Hisao to know what I'm up to, so it's better that Yuuko doesn't show me where to find the book I'm searching for. I guess it's obvious that it would be in non-fiction, but the stacks aren't too difficult to navigate, especially considering how often I come here. My request to Yuuko was on the off chance that she would be quicker at searching, but I can easily find what I'm after by myself.

“Hey Yuuko, what's all this about?” It seems Hisao's figured out that something is up. His suspicion has been piqued.

“Oh, Hisao... Hanako was just looking for a book on...” No! She'll ruin my plans!

“N-nothing...” I quickly interject.

“A book on nothing? In the non-fiction section?”

“I... I was just...” It's no use. I can't stop him from being suspicious, and my thoughts go back to a previous conversation between the two of us, where Hisao said that people are inspired to ask more questions when I say 'nothing'. It's the same situation now. He stays silent, however, but as we both look at Yuuko, my eyes pleading her to not tell him, I can see the pressure of keeping the secret is too much. That's the last time I ask her to keep quiet about anything...

“Yuuko, what did...” Hisao's final unfinished comment pushes her over the edge.

“Chess! She's looking for a chess book!” Thanks very much.

“Y-Yuuko...” I begin.

“I'm sorry Hanako... it just slipped out...” I guess I can forgive her. It wasn't really important. But I'd like to be able to match, or even best, Hisao in ability, and studying a bit more on my chess skills would have helped a lot. Now he knows I'm going to try and beat him next time we play. What if he decides he could use some extra study too?

“Well,” he says, “it's not exactly a secret any more. Come on, I'll give you a hand. I should really brush up on my skills, too.”

“O-okay.” That's exactly what I didn't want to happen, but it can't be helped. We make our way into the non-fiction section, leaving Yuuko behind as she returns to the main desk. It's easy enough to find the right section, on games and general activities, and between a card trick book and a guide to kid's games we find a solitary chess book. 'Chess Tactics for Champions.'

I see in the corner of my eye my companion is eyeing it eagerly. I don't give him the chance to take it though, before I quickly grab it and clutch it to my chest. I will definitely improve my chess skills before we next play! Just see if I don't, Hisao...

“Well, I guess that's yours then,” he says. I smile mischievously as Hisao feigns a sigh of defeat. “Mind if I borrow it when you're finished?”

“S-sure,” I say. It will be too late for him by that point. “I... I just haven't really played against anyone but L-Lilly before, so I thought...”

“Ha, well, it's not like I'm a master or anything. I just played a bit before...” He pauses briefly. Maybe he's starting to infringe on a personal topic, just as I do when my life before Yamaku comes up. I usually avoid the discussion in those cases, so I can't complain when Hisao does it. Or maybe he's talking about his condition? He still hasn't spoken to me about it, with the little I do know coming from Lilly. I feel no need to bring up awkward questions on what she told me by revealing that I know something, even if it is barely anything that I know.

“...before I came here.” Yes, the latter case seems more likely from this concluding statement. I feel concern though, so although I tread carefully, I do choose to bring the subject up.

“Are... are you alright?”

“Yeah, I was just remembering something...” Hisao takes a book from the nearest shelf, something about roller coasters, and it's clear the topic is done with. I won't push him for details, and if he isn't ready to talk then I fully understand. It's the same way I feel almost constantly. “Well, we've both got books now, should we go sit down?”

I nod, and we slowly make our way to the usual spot, with the large beanbags. As we both begin to read, I find myself drawn in to the knowledge I'm gaining by choosing this chess book. I constantly refer back to other sections, imagining in my mind the best ways to use different positions of both black and white to my advantage, the best openings to use based on what little I've seen of Hisao's playing style, and how to use those openings to gain the upper hand in the mid-game. I realise that I've overlooked several important strategic elements, such as using the Fianchetto to maintain a strong control of the centre of the board, and backing up the bishops with my knights. I realise how sacrificing my bishops doesn't necessarily give me an advantage when attacking my opponent's knights, and how a staggered pawn offensive can be broken if I can just get behind the enemy lines quickly.

It's only after I've exhausted myself considering a full game between Hisao and myself that I notice him watching me. I guess his book wasn't quite so interesting. Rather than my scars, though, uncovered by my own unconscious reflex brushing back my hair, he's looking at the book, watching me read. I hope he isn't trying to figure out my next strategy... I don't feel so worried. I know by now he doesn't care about my scars, or what I look like. He cares about me, and that's such a rare thing that I continue to let him stare without comment. The next time I look up from the book, Hisao has turned his head away and Yuuko has come across to meet us.

“Um... sorry to interrupt, but I have to close the library now.”

“Already?” Hisao sounds disappointed, and I don't blame him. I feel the exact same way. This afternoon has been so nice and calm, the two of us just hanging out, no need for conversation. The time has flown by so quickly...

“Do you want to check out those books? I can do it on the way out...”

I doubt Hisao will want to properly borrow his chosen book, judging by the lack of interest he showed over the past couple of hours. I'd like to read more about the tactics I've been learning though, so I reply positively. “P-please.”

“I'm done,” says Hisao. “I'll drop this one back on the way through. It wasn't as interesting as I first thought.” That much was fairly obvious. I use a small piece of paper as a bookmark and follow Yuuko to the main desk, while Hisao returns his roller coaster book. It still takes Yuuko a few tries to get the book to scan, though. She still believes it's down to her own clumsiness, even though I know full well the computers here haven't been updated in at least the past five years...

“Oh... there we go. Third time lucky. Since this is a non-fiction book, you can only have it for a week.”

“T-that's okay.” I'm fine with that. If needs be I can copy some of the more useful parts into a notebook, but I'll have plenty of time over the next week to study further. As Hisao joins us, Yuuko shuts the computer down and walks with us to Yamaku's regular hallways.

In the corridor, she looks briefly at her watch, and gasps in shock. “Argh! I didn't think it was this late already...!”

“But you're the one that told us you had to close...” I share Hisao's confusion here, just a little.

“Yes, but, I know, but, that was before I looked at the time! I'll see you later...” With that, Yuuko flees, rushing off like Emi (albeit less pink). I'm still puzzled as to why she decided to close the library without knowing the time, but it doesn't really matter, I suppose.

“I guess all librarians really are neurotic.” Hisao smiles a bit as he thinks of some joke that I don't understand.

“Huh?”

“Ah, never mind. I was just thinking that I've never met a librarian that can organise their time, no matter how good they are with their books.”

Maybe he knew a few librarians like Yuuko before coming here? I certainly did, books being a great way when I was growing up of keeping the world at bay. “Oh... I k-know what you mean...” I smile again, reflecting as I do that I've been smiling a whole lot more since Hisao came into my life. It's then that I realise the time myself. “I-I have to get back...”

“Yeah, me too. I didn't realise it was this late. Thanks for letting me hang out with you.”

There's not much need for Hisao to thank me, even though I did kind of help save him from Misha and Shizune. I accept his thanks regardless. “N-no problem.”

“I'm going to my dormitory room now anyway, so do you mind if I tag along?”

“O-okay.” I frown slightly, but that's more habit than anything. I really don't mind, and we're going the same way so it makes no sense for one of us to wait until the other has left before setting off ourselves. My pace is brisk though, if only to minimise the chance that I get caught by anyone other than Hisao. More questions wouldn't be great for me, where Hisao is concerned, and there's every chance that Shizune or Misha will still be around, occupied as they were after school hours with 'council business'.

When we reach the dormitories, I turn to see that Hisao is breathing a bit more heavily. I guess he had to jog to keep up with me. “Man, you walk pretty fast,” he says. “I used to play in a soccer club, and you manage to outpace me.” I blush a little, but smile again, looking down. I'm slightly embarrassed, yes, but it's fun to think that I've beaten Hisao at something. My smile turns slightly more cheeky, a change that isn't lost on my companion. We stay silent for a brief moment, but it doesn't have the air of awkwardness such quiet periods between us usually do. Eventually, the silence is broken.

“Here you go,” says Hisao. “See you in class tomorrow?”

“S-sure.” I promise myself that I'll be there tomorrow, and make sure to not skip and go to the library again. I've made a commitment now to Hisao with that one comment, and I most definitely intend to keep it.
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 25/09/2012)

Post by Trivun » Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:03 pm

Act 2 – Chapter Three: The Hatter, the Hare, and the Mouse

When I arrive at breakfast this morning, Lilly is already present. I usually try to get to breakfast early, to avoid the stares, but today I decided to turn up a bit later than normal. Maybe it's a sign of my new-found resolve to open myself up a bit more. I wonder what my therapist will say when I see her this weekend? Our session last weekend was cancelled because of the festival, but we have another meeting scheduled for Sunday, not that I ever look forward to them, but there's not much that can be done about it.

“H-hi, Lilly,” I say quietly as I approach with some food, trying not to disturb her too much. She looks quite deep in thought. It's still not as late as it could be, and the cafeteria is still pretty quiet.

“Ah, is that Hanako?”

“Y... yes. Are y-you okay?”

“I'm fine,” she replies, smiling. “It's nice to find you here this late.” It's not much later, but she still notices. Her watch is one of those that actually tells you the time.

“I... I decided t-to be a bit... later...” I stammer. “I s-slept in a little.”

“That's quite alright, Hanako. Actually, I wanted to catch you before you went to class this morning.”

“O-oh?”

“I met Hisao here this morning. It seems he couldn't sleep and decided to eat early.”

What did he say to her about yesterday, I wonder? For that matter, I wonder why he didn't decide to go running, if he was up that early? I guess Emi would have been targeting him, I've seen her speaking to him a few times since she bumped into him in the corridor and knocked him down. Not to mention the looks she's given him in the corridor, whether he noticed or not. Given his heart, I suspect the Head Nurse asked her to keep an eye on him.

“I was wondering, Hanako, if you'd be up for a little tea party tonight, in my room? It's been quite a while since the last time...”

I'm certainly up for that, tea parties with Lilly are always nice. But I'm also certain that she has more than that in mind... “S-sure...”

“That's good to hear. I also wanted to ask, if you said yes... How would you feel about inviting Hisao along?”

She must have brought it up with him before, after dropping that comment about seeing him earlier. I can't refuse now. Then again, I'm not sure I want to say no. I am a bit annoyed at Lilly's obvious attempts to play matchmaker, though. Still, it might be nice to have Hisao along for an evening tea party.

“Um... I g-guess... that would b-be okay... with m-me...”

“Excellent. I'll let him know then.” You say that, Lilly, but you've obviously already asked him, and he's clearly already said yes. I can't blame Lilly for the little white lie though, so I let it slide and begin to eat my breakfast. Who knows, maybe this evening will be rather enjoyable...

The day carries on as normal. I turn up to classes, though I don't get a chance to speak to Hisao at any point. He doesn't join us in the tea room for lunch today either, being dragged away by Emi to eat on the roof with herself and Rin. My guess is that she wants to monitor what he's eating, since I saw the Nurse giving him funny looks in the corridors over the past few days. If it helps his condition though, I have no complaints. I keep my head down and work on the day's problems, eat with Lilly, make my way back to my dorm room after the lectures finish, and read some more. The sun is already low in the sky, casting an orange glow on Yamaku, when I change into my nightgown, join a pyjama-clad Lilly in her room, and sit down to prepare the tea and wait for Hisao.

It's not very long before he arrives, a knock on the door signalling his presence.

“Is that you, Hisao?” Lilly calls. “The door is open, you can come in.”

The door opens rather slowly as a familiar face peers around the corner. I watch him as he takes in the quaint, antiquated look of the room, gazing at every piece of furniture and every defining aspect of Lilly's decorative style, before turning to the pair of us. I am fully conscious of how my scars are that bit more visible in my nightgown, even when I bought them specifically to keep as much of my body hidden as possible. I'm also quite shy at Hisao seeing me in this and nothing more, adding to my sudden need to be hidden. Old habits kick in and I tense up, shoulders forward and hands hidden between my legs, my head pointing down even though my eyes look up at Hisao's face. I smile briefly, just a shadow of a thing, pleased that he could come after all despite my insecurities.

“There's no point in you standing in the doorway, Hisao.” Sometimes I wonder if Lilly really is blind, or just a very good actress, but that's not fair to her. To cope with her lack of sight she has trained her other senses remarkably well. Especially if she could tell that Hisao hadn't come into the room properly yet. Maybe she guessed from not hearing the door close? She speaks again as Hisao enters.

“My my, I'm afraid this really is a small room for the three of us. Would you like to take a seat?”

Hisao walks over to the low table and sits on the floor with Lilly and I. As he approaches I see his eyes dart towards Lilly, pointing downwards... Does he think I didn't notice just what he was looking at? I feel bad for my friend, guilty at my smile, but I manage to stifle the giggle at Hisao's natural male tendencies before he notices me watching him.

“Well now, how about some tea. Hanako, could you please pour?” It would be my pleasure, Lilly.

“S... sure. Hi... sao... would... would you... would you like...” I don't know what's wrong with me. I feel so much more nervous now than I have at any point since my very first meeting with Hisao, back in the library that afternoon. I still feel exposed in my flimsy nightgown, even if it is too big for me. It's harder to interact here with Hisao too, in a more casual environment yet with Lilly present (possibly scrutinising my every move in her own attempts to help me). And in the back of my mind, I know that soon enough I'm going to withdraw even more than usual, a particular date approaching fast. Hisao hasn't been here for that in previous years, and I don't know yet what he'll make of it. It worries me...

He comes to my rescue here, though. “I would love some tea. Do you need a hand?”

“N... no, I'm fine...” It's true, I'm okay with pouring the tea. I'm just stammering even more than I normally do. I am grateful to him. “Thank you.”

I can see Lilly smiling with her head in my direction, even though I try not to make eye contact with her. For Hisao's benefit, of course, rather than Lilly's.

“Been a tiring day?” he asks me.

“Y... yeah.” If I'd been able to speak to him earlier then he'd already know, especially given my anticipation of this evening building up during the day and making me focus less on other equally important tasks. I actually struggled for once with the problems set in class today! I put this to the back of my mind, and pour the tea without incident. Almost without incident.

I gently clip the edge of a cup with the teapot, a 'cling' sound clearly audible despite the subtleness of the collision. In my nervousness I can't help but gasp slightly, even though my rational mind knows there's nothing to be worried over. Maybe I really want to impress Hisao at this point. I don't know why, but there's something about him that keeps driving me to get closer, to open myself up to him as I've never done with anyone but Lilly before.

“It's okay, Hanako. There's no need to be nervous.” Lilly's words are soothing and calm me down just a little. I'm still timid in my actions and attitude, but I continue pouring and manage to prepare three cups of tea for us without further hassle.

“Thank you, Hanako.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

“Y-you're welcome...” I reply to them both. As we all sip our tea, Hisao lets out a relaxed breath.

“This is nice, it's so different from any tea I had before...”

“Looks like you picked the right one, Hanako,” Lilly responds to Hisao's comment. “You've done well, even if it was a bold move.”

I smile again at Hisao, deliberately and with much more emotion than earlier. “I'm glad you like it...” I sip my own tea, feeling happier and more relaxed myself. When Lilly told me what she had planned this morning, I thought of a plan of sorts, confronting her with it at lunch while Hisao wasn't around. I asked if I could choose the tea we served based on how I saw Hisao, and what I felt he would like best. It was indeed a bold move, and Lilly knew that (well, I hope she did at least). I'm pleased that I made the right choice.

“So, Hisao, are you enjoying yourself?” Lilly's change of topic hardly bothers me. I'm simply content to discover I know Hisao a bit better than I previously thought I did.

“Yeah, it's relaxing. Almost like I'm not in the school any more. Do you do this often?”

“Quite often, but not as often as we take tea in the school building.” That's a regular occurrence, only stopping when either Lilly or myself are busy or when something else comes up, whereas these evening tea parties might happen once a week, or even less, depending on circumstances.

Hisao moves to take another sip of tea, but quickly brings his cup back down from his lips. Looking inside briefly I can see that it's empty. “That was delicious,” he says. “Thank you, Hanako, Lilly.”

“You're welcome,” I reply without a single stammer.

“Yes, you're most welcome, Hisao,” says Lilly. “It's nice to have a third person here.”

“Well,” he replies to us both, “any time you need someone to fill that position, I'm always available. Always.” As he finishes speaking, Lilly moves her hand to her mouth in an attempt to hide a large yawn. She fails miserably to conceal it, but I don't blame her. I feel just the same way.

“Pardon me,” she says. “I think I'm a little tired.”

“I think we're all a little tired,” I concur.

“My my, how astute tonight, Hanako.” I think Lilly is being playful in her teasing, but at the same time I'm happy she's noticing that I can take the initiative sometimes. This is as far as I go in tonight's exchanges though, at least for now. Baby steps, after all. The best way to change for the better is to do so over time, in moderation. I think I read that in a book somewhere. “We really should head to bed,” Lilly continues. “We all have class tomorrow.”

“Yeah,” Hisao agrees. “I should go.”

“Thank you for your presence, Hisao,” says Lilly.

My own sentiments match those of Lilly perfectly. “Th... thanks. You'll come again?”

“Not even a whole army could stop me..” I smile at this, but again I'm reminded of that weird Kenji guy.

“I'm impressed by your determination, Hisao,” Lilly says. Surely she knows what Kenji comes out with more than I do? I've met the man once, whereas she shares classes with him every day. Hisao's determination is still pretty impressive though.

“Either way,” he says, “you're right. We'd best get going.” Hisao stands and starts to walk to the door. As he approaches, I respond in kind, following him slightly. He must notice, as he stops and turns to look at me before he opens the door. “Are you coming with me?”

I blush, brighter than I could imagine possible, my entire face the same colour for the first time in ages. What does he think I'm trying to do, follow him all the way home? In a manner of speaking, that is. “No... I... not... this room... isn't...”

“It's okay, I was only joking.” He smiles at me, brushing off the thought that I was actually stalking him.

“Oh... okay... good night...” I'm a little relieved, and my face turns a bit less red. My hot cheeks feel slightly less warm now.

“Good night, Hanako. Good night, Hisao.” I can fully understand her wanting us to leave soon. As we all agreed, we're all feeling pretty tired by now.

“Night all.” Hisao turns around again and leaves, holding the door open for me to pass through. I may be annoyed when people treat me like a glass vase wrapped in paper and cotton, but being smothering is one thing and being a gentleman is another. I whisper my thanks as the door to Lilly's room closes after us.

I'm just about to head down the hall and enter my own room when Hisao stops again and looks me right in the eyes. “Hey, Hanako, you know, you don't have to be nervous around me or anything. I mean, we're friends, right?”

If only it was as easy as that for me to stop being nervous. Something else I read a while ago was that habits take ten weeks of constant development to form, and I've had much more than ten weeks of keeping everyone I meet at bay. I don't want to be nervous around Hisao, but I can't be fixed overnight. I'm not so certain I can be fixed over months, either. Lord knows my various therapists have all tried. What he says about us being friends, though, that's new. It's something I can feel too, and I don't disagree with him, but it's a strange situation for me, to have another friend. However, I am glad. It's not been long, but yes, he's correct.

“R-right. We're... friends.”

“If you ever want to hang out or anything, just let me know. We still need to have that chess rematch, remember?”

He remembered that? I could hardly forget, given how much I've been poring over the pages I copied from that chess book Yuuko lent me. I didn't think Hisao would be as eager, though. No matter, I'll beat him next time anyway. “S-sure... b-but I don't think you'll win...”

He smiles, matching my own. “It wouldn't be any fun if it was easy.”

I chuckle, just barely, but I also feel a yawn coming on, so I stifle my laugh as quickly as it begins. “G-good night, Hisao...” With that, I walk across to my own door and disappear. I reach my bed, draw back the duvet and lie down, and fall asleep before I even hit the pillow...
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Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 11/10/2012)

Post by Trivun » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:17 pm

Yes, I realise that I screwed up the timeline for when Hanako finds out about Hisao's arrythmia. Put it down to author convenience. That's the beauty of fan-fiction, after all - I'm less cosntrained by canon than official writers... ;) Oh, and if anyone understands the reference behind the chapter title then congratulations! Pay attention to Hanako's reading material for a hint... :P

Act 2 - Chapter Four: The Mirror

I choose not to tell Lilly about my plans.

I've thought long and hard about this. Waking up in the middle of the night, worrying about my friendship with Hisao, how I know about his heart and how he knows next to nothing about me and how I got my scars. It's not right that we should be getting closer and becoming friends when I can't even bring myself to tell him such basic facts about my life. Isn't that what friends do? They don't have secrets from each other.

Last night, I made my mind up. I decided I would tell Hisao how I lost my family and how I ended up at Yamaku. It's up to him whether he accepts me then or not. Besides, it might be good to finally tell someone other than Lilly. My therapist keeps asking me to open up to her, but I never do. I can't handle it. With Hisao, though, maybe I've managed to find someone I can truly be myself with.

The day starts out alright, even if Mutou-sensei's lecture is more boring than usual. I briefly see Lilly as she's leaving the female dorms, and we chat a little about mundane things and the tea party the previous night. However, I don't give away what I plan to do. I do see Hisao in class, but we don't get a moment to talk, and I realise that speaking here, with everyone else able to listen in (Misha especially), wouldn't be a good idea. I can't ask Hisao to talk somewhere else, though. If Misha were to spot me trying to be casual, or inconspicuous, while chatting to him, she'd immediately think something was up and come barging in with a smile on her face, her voice booming some assumption about our apparent status as a couple.

Instead, I decide to retreat as usual at lunchtime. I don't go to the tearoom today, instead visiting the library. Even Lilly's presence would be enough to put me off telling Hisao about my past. I want it to be just the two of us, and going to the library gives me time to think of a way to catch him alone somewhere.

As I settle down into my beanbag, I look at the cover of the book I've chosen this time. A man and his shadow. I almost feel as if I'm the shadow in that picture, but fighting for once to step away from the wall and become the person instead. It's a long, hard, road. One that I'm willing to take. I open the pages and begin to read. 'Dance Dance Dance' is the title, another work from Murakami. Every time I read his books I can sympathise with his themes, but it never gets any easier, trying to match my own issues with the underlying context of the words he writes. For me, the challenge is to overcome everything he writes about and break through the loneliness, but until now I've never quite been able to do so. Maybe I finally have a reason though, with Hisao's support.

“Hi, Hanako. How's it going?” Speak of the Devil, and he shall appear. Hisao's voice startles me a little and I look up at him as he flops down onto another of the beanbags opposite me.

“Hello, H-Hisao. I'm fine.” I'm actually very pleased to see him. Nobody else is here save Yuuko, and she's at the other end of the library busy with her work. This saves me from having to find a way of getting Hisao alone without it seeming contrived and awkward, which would almost certainly end up being the case. He looks surprised though, to see me smiling at him. I guess it's pretty rare that I do except in special situations. I usually look more frightened and nervous rather than happy.

“Good to hear. How's that book? I've heard it's a trip.” I didn't know Hisao was familiar with the works of Haruki Murakami. Then again, he's one of the country's more prolific and influential authors, so it's not too surprising that he would know the book, however briefly.

“I-it's good... I think... I've only j-just started it, so I d-don't really know.”

“Fair enough. Let me know how it goes, I may borrow it once you're done.”

“S-sure.” I wonder if he's read any of Murakami's other books? If so, what insight would that have given him regarding me? I read them because I can relate to the themes and characters, but what could Hisao have gained from the stories himself?

I turn back to the book, but I find myself unable to concentrate. This is too good an opportunity to speak to Hisao, and I can't let myself pass it up. However, I'm too nervous to begin speaking. I've never told anyone but Lilly what happened all that time ago – even my therapist had to make do with the official reports and medical observations. Every time I look up I meet Hisao's eyes and duck down again, afraid to engage with him and begin the conversation that I so desperately want to have.

He's noticed it too. “What's up? You look like a prairie dog on lookout.” An apt simile, I suppose.

“N-... it's nothing,” I reply with an air of evading the question.

“I've told you before, 'nothing' means 'something' when you say it like that.”

He has a point. And I do want to tell him. I wriggle around a little, fidgeting awkwardly and trying to screw up the courage to finally bare my soul to somebody.

“I... I was in an accident.” I've begun, so I guess I'd better finish.

“Accident? Just now? Are you alright?” Hisao's first reaction is understandable, but he doesn't realise what I'm trying to say. In response I shake my head, hair flying around as I move.

“N-no. When I was y-younger. When I... when I was...”

“It's alright, Hanako,” Hisao says. He's realised what I'm trying to do. “You don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to.”

I shake my head again as I sink a little into the beanbag. I have to do this. “N-no. I want... I have to tell you.” As I tell the story of what happened, I gain a little strength with every word. It's hard, yes, but I've faced tougher times than this. I have to endure! I have to be strong and continue to the end.

“When I was young... I was in a fire. M-my house b-burned down, and I nearly... I nearly didn't make it. A-after that... I was alone...” As I speak I can feel the tears building in my eyes. I haven't told Hisao the whole truth. I can't stand remembering why I managed to survive. The coming days will be tougher, that date looming just a little more than a month or two away. It's better he knows the reasons now rather than later.

I feel a hand touching mine, and without looking down or wiping away the tears I know Hisao has reached across to comfort me. “It's okay, Hanako. You don't have to keep going.”

“B-but... I have to...” Don't you see, Hisao? I need to do this.

“Why?” he asks. “What brought this on?”

I feel bad for the little white lie, but I don't want Hisao to know just how long I've been aware of his own secrets. “L-last night Lilly t-told me about your heart... a-and I... I didn't think it was f-fair.”

“Fair?” He looks puzzled, a frown across his face, my hand still clutched in his.

“T-that I knew about you b-but you didn't know about me...”

He squeezes my hand a little, to reassure me. “Don't be silly. But yes, I have a heart condition. What I didn't tell Lilly is that I had my first attack when a girl confessed to me.”

Confessed? As in a confession of love? I feel that sharp pang of jealousy again, just a little one, but present nonetheless. “R-really?”

“Really,” he replies. “I haven't heard from her for a while though, so I guess it's all over. So now, we both know a little more about each other. But you don't have to talk about things if you don't want to.”

He still doesn't realise that I truly wanted to tell him what happened. I still do. But I realise that for now, enough has been said. Baby steps, after all. I can always bring the subject up again another time, but it's still early days, and I hate to be reminded of that day. I can't help but think of the recovery, those weeks that turned into months of sitting in a room alone, a completely sterile environment, only to be told that nothing could be done about my scars and to realise that my life would forever be blighted not only by my appearance, but by my isolation. The smell of the hospital, the white-washed walls, feeling sorry for the victims even worse than me in their sterile pods completely cut off from the world. Trying to return to my old life until everyone I knew and thought was my friend turned on me, showing their hatred not for who I once was, but for what I had become. Moving on to the orphanage, where I was finally treated with decency, until every child was taken home while parents passed me by without a second glance. My eventual arrival at Yamaku.

My memories flash by as we sit in silence. I know that one day I'll tell Hisao all of this, but for now I'm happy that he at least knows the basics. Maybe I can really move on someday.

“T-thank you, Hisao. I... I haven't told many people about this.”

“To be honest, I haven't told many people about my... circumstances, either.” It seems that Hisao and I are more alike than I first thought. I smile again, genuinely and full of warmth.

“T-then I won't tell a-anyone either.”

“”Deal.” Hisao's hand still clasps mine, but quickly adjusts to form a handshake, one which I gladly match. As we shake hands, the warning bell sounds for the end of lunch. “Well then, we'd better head back to class, eh?”

“S-sure.” We walk back to the classroom in near silence, the quietness only broken when Hisao reveals he forgot to let me know something. Apparently Lilly wishes to speak to me later, after her class rep duties are complete. We slowly make our way back to lessons as the afternoon sun shines through the windows, illuminating my path forward.

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The classes drag on, as boring as they were this morning. At least I'm here though, not skipping again. I notice I've been cutting classes less since Hisao joined us. Maybe he's been a good influence on me? The clock ticks our lives away as the day continues, until the bell finally sounds for the end of school. I begin to head towards the tea room to meet with Lilly, curious as to what she wishes to discuss, before realising she's too busy today. I return to my room instead to wait for her.

A while later, a knock on my door drags me yet again from my continued reading. “Hanako? It's Lilly. Can I come in?”

“Y-yes...”

The door opens and Lilly walks in slowly, her cane tapping for any obstacles that could impede her progress. “Hello, Hanako. I trust that Hisao was good enough to pass on my message this afternoon?”

“Yes, he... he did. W-what was it y-you wanted to speak... about?” Even when I'm with Lilly I can't avoid stuttering. Maybe one day I'll overcome it, but until then...

“I just wanted to know how you were feeling. I was proud of you yesterday, you know.”

“T-thanks...”

She continues, “How were things with Hisao today?”

“They w-were... good. Um...” I pause, unsure of whether to continue.

“Yes?”

“I... I...” Suddenly, in a quick burst, I tell her. “We talked about my past today.”

For the first time in a while, Lilly looks shocked. Not in a bad way, but rather in the sense that she doesn't quite know what to say. “W-what do you mean? Your past...?”

“I t-told him what happened... how I got my s-scars...”

“Oh, Hanako, you didn't have to do that...” Lilly's reaction is just the same as Hisao's. I appreciate that they want to protect me, but they still don't understand. I can't come to terms with what happened if I can't tell anyone.

“I... I had t-to tell him... it wasn't right that... I knew a-about him and h-he didn't... about m-me...” The tears are returning, but I resolve to stay strong. I won't let myself cry. It doesn't matter that Lilly can't see me, I won't let any tears fall this time. “He t-told me about his heart... his f-first heart attack...”

“Hanako...” She sighs a little. “What did he say? Although I guess it's okay if he wanted to keep it private...”

“I... I think H-Hisao would be better off t-telling you...” I wouldn't feel right letting Lilly in on what he said, not when Hisao gave me that knowledge in confidence.

“I understand. Hanako, are you sure you're okay?”

“Y-yes. I'm fine now.” I'm not lying. I feel strangely calm, despite the tears. It's as though a great weight was holding me down, and now it's gone. Like a new chapter has opened in my friendship with Hisao, a brand new story where finally we can be on the same level. As I consider this, Lilly and I chat a bit more about various topics, though I know she still worries about me even when we stop speaking about the day's events. Soon enough she leaves, and I prepare for bed. For once I sleep soundly, no nightmares despite what is still to come. My mind is clear.
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