For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (Updated 11/1/19)

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ProfAllister
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by ProfAllister » Thu May 16, 2013 6:00 pm

Oddball wrote:
I would dispute your claim that Shizune and Misha use "student council business" as a general excuse for anything.
They seem to be perfectly fine skipping class and going to the Shanghai under the excuse that it's Student Council business and using left over funds to buy themselves meals on different occasions.
Didn't I revoke your "talking about Shizune" privileges? :x

You and Markus seem to bring up essentially the same points, so I'll answer here. Their actions as the Student Council tend to be legalistic. They may only have a paper-thin excuse, but they still feel the need for the excuse. Go back to the first scene at the Shanghai and they make this abundantly clear. They may abuse their power, but they do it by the book.

As for the spending funds to buy themselves food, it's not nearly as much of an abuse as you seem to think. Paying for food for a "working lunch/dinner" is a perfectly legitimate use of funds.
And Shizune doesn't care that it's a little white lie. A lie is a lie.
Misha mentions that they usually just make up their reports, but since Hisao is helping out, they'll at least have relevant topics this time to talk about.
... are you really making that comparison? On one hand, you have a little bit of embellishment on a report that no one reads and no one cares about - a victimless crime, if you will. On the other, you have someone telling a good (perhaps even best) friend that he doesn't respect her enough to give her an honest answer, even if that answer is "none of your business." To add insult to injury, he's invoking a symbol of their unity in an attempt to drive a wedge between them. Even if you don't agree with that interpretation, you should at least be able to agree that a relatively reasonable person (Shizune, for example) could see things that way.
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by Markus Ramikin » Fri May 17, 2013 3:30 am

Helbereth wrote:That doesn't happen with omniscient perspective because the narrator is either an over-the-shoulder entity, or one of the characters looking back, and they know everyone's thoughts. If this were a past-tense or 3rd person story, this kind of confusion wouldn't work, but since we're live inside Hisao's skull, it does.
Yeah, I hear you. I'd say it's okay if the reader shares the protagonist's confusion about what is happening, as long as what is physically happening is no less clear to the reader as to the protagonist.

It's less okay if the reader is more confused than the protagonist, because the protagonist sees the scene he's in clearly, but the description the reader gets is confusing and you can't even reliably picture the scene in your mind.

I think what threw me off was
1. the inconsistent use of quotes - "Shizune" was put in quotes in the next two lines, but not in [My name is not Shizune]. Translation conventions and formatting conventions are meant to be trusted. Forcing the reader to distrust and become consciously aware of them brings him out of the story (lost immersion), so I initially kept thinking that's not what was intended. I think it'd be better if "Shizune" were put in quotes there from the start, to give the reader formatting consistency. Hisao would still need an explanation, so that's okay.
2. If sign language names for persons are pretty much arbitrary convention, then a statement like "My name isn't [thissign]" is pretty meaningless. Sure, I get that Misha has two signs for her, one of which is meant to be a nickname, but then we have...
[It is. Misha calls me “Shizune.” My name is …]
So the author deliberately puts himself in a position where he doesn't even have a word to put in the sentence, because he's already using ["Shizune"] to mean ["Shicchan"], and yet doesn't describe the actual signs used. I'm left wondering what this whole mess is for in the story. Just to let the reader know Misha has two signs for Shizune? Not worth it. IMO at least.

Just imagine, as a thought experiment, that this conversation was never shown to the reader, but the later chapters are unchanged: you still have Misha and Hisao talking in sign language and Misha saying [Shicchan] and Hisao saying [Shizune]. That would be perfectly unproblematic. The reader would immediately pick up on that there are two signs for Shizune just from that, and probably not spend any thought on it at all. And if it was important to let the reader know that previously Hisao had it wrong, a single sentence ("It turns out...") would handle that.

If the purpose of the scene is some kind of bonding time for Shizune and Hisao, then yeah, that might justify it. But at least I'd keep the formatting consistent. Or maybe explicitely narrate that Shizune is showing Hisao a different sign after [It is. Misha calls me “Shizune.” My name is …], and that he's mentally rearranging them to fit intended meanings.

Anyway, just my thoughts, it's not that big a deal. Back to waiting for moar story. :)
Last edited by Markus Ramikin on Fri May 17, 2013 4:56 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri May 17, 2013 4:38 am

As for the spending funds to buy themselves food, it's not nearly as much of an abuse as you seem to think. Paying for food for a "working lunch/dinner" is a perfectly legitimate use of funds.
That may be the case in your company, but I strongly doubt it would be considered appropriate for a student council :mrgreen:

And regarding Hisao's "lie"... I also thought Shizune's reaction was way overblown and hypocritical, but I chalked it up to her being... well, Shizune ;-)
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by ProfAllister » Sun May 26, 2013 8:10 am

I didn’t know it back then, but the day of the thunderstorm was the last free time I’d have for quite a while. The very next day, Shizune called the Student Council together to begin work in earnest on the Tanabata preparations. Every spare minute was occupied with assembling booths, filing requests for supplies from the various clubs, and completing requisition forms to get more booth materials, more festival supplies, and more requisition forms. On the rare evening when the Student Council didn’t demand every last second of our time, Misha and I got together to study, since exams were looming ever closer. Perhaps a bit too often, our “studying” consisted of Misha falling asleep on my shoulder. I can’t really blame her, considering how hard Shizune has been pushing us to get everything just right for Tanabata.

Speaking of Shizune’s high expectations, that’s why we’re sitting in the student council room at 6 in the morning on the last day of our three-day weekend. The entirety of which we’ve spent working on Tanabata preparations.

Aoi and Keiko are lounging in the back corner, each gingerly nursing their cans of coffee. They started a little slow, but it wasn’t long before they started to rival Shizune and Misha for dedication. Especially Aoi. While the rest of us get tired out simply trying to reach “good enough,” Aoi and Shizune have energy to spare, arguing with each other in a fascinating pantomime as they each accuse the other of slacking off. Shizune thrives from this sort of competition, and Aoi is certainly invigorated by the challenge, too. I can’t say it’s good for anyone else’s health, though. Especially after Aoi convinced Shizune that we needed to dismantle all the booths and fasten them together with screws rather than nails. Keiko and Misha take it all in stride, so I’ve learned to keep my objections to myself.

Shizune and Misha haven’t arrived yet. Shizune went out of her way to make sure we were all aware of this “emergency meeting,” and then she ends up late. She was obviously here earlier - she’s the only student with a key to this room. We’re not waiting in the hallway, and she never forgets to lock up at the end of the day, so she must’ve been here first. Which leads to the question of why she left, I guess.

One advantage of the regular swim sessions with Misha is that I’m not nearly as dependent on coffee as I used to be - in the mornings, at least. The nurse was glad to hear that. Of course, that means I’m much more awake than Aoi or Keiko, even though I didn’t have the opportunity to swim today. Misha wasn’t at the pool, and no Misha means no swimming.

I try to talk to the two of them to pass the time, but Keiko shuts down any sort of conversation with her terse replies while I receive the equivalent in facial expressions from Aoi. Something tells me they’re not morning people.

With a loud crash, the final two members of our party barge in. “Hi, hi~!”

Shizune’s wearing a smirk that makes it clear that she’s up to no good, while Misha is mostly focused on the can of coffee wrapped tightly between her hands. She makes several abortive attempts to drink from it, but it’s still too hot for her. Pleased to see that everyone’s arrived, Shizune smiles confidently and snaps her fingers, making a loud crack. Upon hearing this, Misha jumps to attention, placing the coffee on a nearby desk.

Misha is decked out as usual, makeup and all, but the long hours seem to be leaving her a little frayed around the edges. Her hair is styled in her trademark drills, but it’s still so wet that they’re actually dripping. While she puts on a brave effort to be her usual bright and cheerful self, she occasionally wavers slightly, as if she were going to fall over at the slightest push.

With a satisfied nod, Shizune begins signing. [I called this emergency meeting because I discovered something shocking while I was reviewing our preparations for Tanabata.]

“Okay~! Okay, okay, okay~! We called this emergency meeting because Shicchan found something shocking while looking over our preparations!”

I feel a part of me die inside. Did we misspell something on a form, forcing us to celebrate “Tanabartholomew” this year? Is there a bylaw in the student council charter requiring us to build booths using nails, not screws? Did the administration decide to observe Tanabata according to the traditional lunisolar calendar this year?

[We’re ahead of schedule!]

“We’re ahead of schedule~!”

Shizune and Misha are both brimming with pride. At least, they do until Misha processes the words that just came out of her own mouth.

“Wait. Ahead? Not behind?” She silently repeats the signs for “ahead” and “behind” to herself a few times before she’s satisfied that she translated it properly. “Yup~! We’re ahead of schedule! That IS surprising!”

[All we have left to do is stuff that needs to wait until the week beforehand. So we get to spend today celebrating a job well done.]

As Misha relays the message for the signing-impaired, Shizune puts on the air of a benevolent dictator, as if we should be thanking her for allowing us to treat our holiday like a holiday.

To my ears at least, "celebrating" is not quite the same as "free time." And I get the feeling it's not optional. “You seem to have something specific in mind for our celebration. Would you mind letting the rest of us know?”

She covers her mouth and shakes with silent laughter before replying. [You’re so impatient. I was just about to tell everyone. We’re going to make a day trip into the city. Let’s take a few minutes to change out of our uniforms, and we’ll meet up by the gates at 7.]

I relay Shizune’s response to Aoi and Keiko, then take my leave to prepare for this obligatory excursion. I would like to have had a choice, but I can’t complain too much. I had written this day off as more time doing student council work anyway, so the fact that I’m doing anything other than paperwork and manual labor for a festival that’s still several weeks away is a bonus, I guess.

***

It looks like I’m the first to arrive at the gates. On getting there, I notice a familiar figure casually leaning against the wall outside.

“Hey, Akira, right?”

She glances up with the barest of efforts and gives me an equally careless grin. “Yup, that’d be me. And you’re Misha’s boy toy, right?”

I grimace at the term, causing her to chuckle. She shrugs her shoulders. “Would you prefer ‘man candy?’ I never caught your name, so I don’t really have many options.”

“It’s Hisao. Hisao Nakai.”

“Well, Hisao Nakai, it’s a pleasure to meetcha.” She offers her hand in the standard Western greeting. “Can’t say I expected to see you this time around, this time.”

I return the offer of a hand, which she proceeds to grab by the fingers and shake like a dead bird. “Why is that?”

“Simple,” she replies matter-of-factly, “I was told there would only be three passengers. You’d make it four. That shouldn’t be a problem, though.”

That doesn’t sound right. “I thought there would be five of us without a driver. So six if we’re counting you.”

This new number catches Akira off guard, but only for a moment. “Huh. I guess she found another driver, then. Too bad Hideaki isn’t around to see this...”

“To see what?”

My puzzlement earns me a smirk and a sidelong glance. “You don’t know? Well, I’m not going to spoil the surprise for you, then. I’m not Shizune’s personal chauffeur. I was promised a show. I don’t think this will top seeing Misha with a boyfriend, though.”

She punctuates her comment with a slightly exaggerated and altogether unnecessary wink. I’m quite intrigued by this promise of a “show”, but it’s clear Akira isn’t going to spill the beans on that. “Why isn’t Hideaki around?”

“Exactly why you’d expect. He has a hot date tonight.”

“That’s precisely what I wouldn’t expect. We’re talking about the guy who looks like Shizune’s little sister, right?”

“Little sister?” she snorts, clearly amused. “I guess you could say that, considering how you met him. He’s actually quite the lady killer. And you should see him in his school uniform. Damn, if I were a little younger... and not his cousin, of course.”

It takes me a moment to clear my mind of the unbidden mental picture of Hideaki in the Yamaku girls’ uniform before I make the connection. “Cousin... would that make you Lilly’s-”

“Sister? Yup. You found me out. Most people just reach that conclusion since we both have blonde hair.” Laughing at some inside joke, she turns more fully toward me and gives a formal bow. “Akira Satou, at your service.”

Returning the bow, I decide to try shifting the conversation in a new direction. “Speaking of hair, you were giving Misha a hard time about hers last time I saw you. You don’t really strike me as the traditional sort, so what was that all about?”

A look of disgust crosses her face on hearing my question. I fear I may have misstepped. “Ugh. ‘Tradition.’ That’s why we have a shithole like this place.”

I can only gape at her response. It just kind of came out of nowhere. Noticing my shock, she laughs a little. “Guess you haven’t met anyone who shares my opinion. I won’t apologize for it, but it might help if I explain myself.”

Producing a coin from her pocket, Akira starts playing with it while pacing around lazily - passing it between her knuckles, flipping it in the air and catching it, and similar tricks. “This school’s a great place - according to the brochures. Unlucky kids, dealt a raw hand by fate, given a chance to learn how to live a good and fulfilling life. Like it’s out of a damn fairy tale. And we get the compelling life stories - degenerative diseases, lost limbs, all sorts of horrors. But those plucky youngsters pick themselves up and keep going. Makes you feel kind of proud, right?”

As she continues, she begins to sound increasingly cynical. “But those fairy tale stories don’t just magically appear. It all comes down to this,” she adds, indicating the coin in her hand. “It costs money to run a school like this, and those heartbreaking tales of woe usually don’t have the cash to support themselves, much less an entire school. So they’re put in the brochures, to sell enrollments. And it just so happens that there’s a bunch of ready buyers for a boarding school where rich people can hide the shame of their imperfect children. Out of sight, out of mind. And they have an excuse to feel philanthropic with enormous donations to ‘that wonderful school for the less fortunate.’”

She makes a face, as if just talking about the school left a bad taste in her mouth. “So yeah, tradition can screw itself. To answer your question, I don’t care if she dyes her hair pink, blue, green, silver, or even shaves it all off. I care about why she dyes her hair.”

“And why is that?”

Akira shrugs. “I couldn’t say. I’ve got a hunch, but I don’t know for sure. You’d have to ask her yourself.”

“Then how can you say you don’t approve?”

“You’re a sharp kid, you know that?” She regards me with a slightly amused grin. “But you still don’t have much experience. I’m a lawyer. In my line of work, it’s as important to pay attention to what isn’t said as what is. Usually more important.”

“So, what you’re saying is that you don’t like her hair because of what she hasn’t said about it?”

Akira begins inspecting her fingernails, as if the conversation has started to bore her. “That about sums it up.”

“I’m not buying it.”

With a shrug, she continues her examination. “Buy it or not, it’s what I’m selling.” Pausing thoughtfully, she adds, “Have you ever played a game with her?”

“A few times, with Shizune. She’s not very good.”

An amused smirk. “Is she now?”

“Yes. She’s pretty bad, in fact. What does this have to do with anything?”

“That,” she explains dramatically, “is better left unsaid.”

How did I know that’s where this was headed?

“Oh, Hicchan, you’re already here~!”

Guess that’s the end of this conversation. I turn around to see five girls assembled by the gates.

Misha is wearing a knee-length denim skirt and a green t-shirt with an english phrase in white lettering. Something about living professionally. Shizune has a sleeveless blouse and a pair of loose black shorts. By comparison, Keiko’s outfit seems a bit too professional, with tight slacks, a long-sleeved blouse with embroidered sleeves and a close-fitting vest. Aoi rounds out the expected party in a spaghetti-strap sundress that’s clearly intended to emphasise what little figure she has.

Much less expected is Lilly, holding onto Shizune’s arm for guidance. And they’re both smiling. This must be the “show” Akira was hinting at.

Seeing everyone’s here, Shizune begins signing.

“Hahahaha~! Now that we’re all together, it’s time to split up! Lilly, Shicchan and me are going to ride in Akira’s car. Hicchan, you and Aoi will be riding with Keiko. Okay? Okay~!”

Anticipating my reaction, Misha bounds close to me and grabs my hand lightly. “Sorry, Hicchan, but we have some catching up to do with Lilly. Girls only. Maybe next time~?”

She cuts off any objection with a firm kiss. Before I can work out a question to her sudden boldness, she beats me to the punch with an explanation. “We’re not on campus, so there’s no rule against kissing, Hicchan~. Wahahahaha~!”

Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t argue with that logic. Well, I could, since it’s being legalistic and only following the letter of the law, but I won’t.

As Lilly, Misha and Shizune pile into Akira’s nearby car, I turn my attention to the remaining two people, who are already walking toward the parking lot. “You have a car?”

Without even bothering to turn around, Keiko gives a flat reply. “Demonstrably.”

With no other choice, I follow Keiko as she and Aoi lead the way.

Keiko’s car doesn’t look very spectacular, but I don’t know much about cars, so for all I know, it could cost more than a house. Aoi quickly claims the front seat, leaving me to sit in the back by myself. As Keiko starts the car, her companion fiddles around with the radio, turning it to some pop station. Cranking the volume as high as it can go, she begins dancing. Well, as much as you can dance while buckled into a car. Keiko remains entirely unfazed.

***

As expected, Keiko’s driving is just as precise as everything else she does. Less expected is the complete lack of restraint. While moving at speeds that are clearly unsafe, she rapidly swerves between other cars and stationary objects, clearing them by mere inches - all with flawless execution. After the seventh such near miss in as many minutes, I find myself extremely thankful for the rigorous exercise schedule Misha has been holding us to. Every morning except Sundays and holidays. There’s no way my heart could take Keiko’s driving otherwise. Just to be safe, though, I shut my eyes and try to focus on the blaring music. If her driving’s going to kill me, it will have to do it the old-fashioned way.

Far more surprisingly than it should be, we manage to make it to the city in one piece. Leaving our cars in a parking garage, we reassemble by the street.

Akira is the first to speak up. “Okay, kiddos, now that we’re here, what's the plan?”

Misha’s shout of “Shopping!” is certainly the loudest sentiment, but all of the other girls seem to be in agreement. As the token guy, I stay silent. Misha boldly leads the way to a nearby clothing store while the girls pair up and follow behind, with Akira taking the rear. Or she would be, if I weren’t trailing a few feet behind her, feeling very much out of my element.

Inside the store, the girls immediately break into smaller groups and head off in separate directions. I’m surprised to find Aoi standing next to me, looking at me expectantly.

“You’re waiting for me?”

Up until that point, I never imagined a facial expression could be dripping sarcasm, but there you go. Of course, it’s no talent for a girl to make you feel like an idiot without saying anything. They all can do that.

“You aren’t planning on shoppin-”

Mid-sentence, she grabs my hands, and slowly lowers them. The signing must bother her. It takes me a moment to remember that I don’t need to move my hands to speak, and constant focus to shove them into my pockets and keep them there.

“Not interested in shopping for clothes?”

She purses her lips ambivalently and shrugs. Not really her thing, I guess.

I’m getting a little annoyed with her little silent routine. “You know, it’s kind of difficult to talk to you if you refuse to speak.”

She arches her eyebrow and her lips curl into a smile, as if she’s challenging me.

And then it occurs to me that I’ve already lost. She hasn't said a word, and I’ve managed to understand everything she would say just by reading her body language. And the added humiliation comes when it dawns on me that I just lost an argument with someone who refuses to speak.

“... I guess I need to kill time some way. I’ll look at the men’s department. You’re welcome to tag along if you really don’t have anything better to do.”

This store is clearly designed for women. Plus size, misses, petites, and several other sizes, each subdivided into tops, bottoms, swimsuits, outfits, accessories, shoes, and “intimates.” And, crammed into one corner, with a flickering half-burned-out light, is “men.” With no subcategories.

In spite of the general sense of despair over here, the clothes actually look pretty nice. Especially the sweater vests. A quick glance at the price tags makes it clear that they’re way out of my price range.

A gentle nudge reminds me that I’m not alone. Aoi’s picked out an orange and black sweater vest, which she seems to be forcing into my hands. I protest that I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but that doesn’t seem to matter. She nods toward the lone dressing room in this part of the store, and starts pushing me in that direction. I put up some half-hearted resistance, but I eventually give in and make my own way there, prodded along impatiently by my companion.

I don’t really think I need to use a dressing room to try on something worn over my clothes, but I didn’t really have a say in the matter, so what’s the harm? A moment later, I’m changed, and also surprised at how well it works. Assuming the mirror isn’t lying to me, that is.

Upon seeing me emerge in the borrowed clothing, Aoi claps happily and gives me a thumbs-up. Before I can react, she grabs me by the shoulders, spins me around, and pushes me back into the smaller room, closing the door behind me.

She’s nowhere to be seen when I come back out, having changed back into my original clothes. I imagine the others might be finished by now, so I try to find the door we first came in.

The store turns out to be a rather intimidating maze, in spite of the signs posted everywhere, but I eventually find Aoi waiting by the exit doors with a box in her hands. Catching sight of me, she holds out the box for me to accept.

“I’m not really sure I feel comfortable accepting this.”

Her eyes dart from side to side before she sighs and shrugs. Giving up on expressing her intent through interpretive dance, she actually uses her voice for a change. “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a gift between friends.” Her eyes meet mine, and her stern expression makes it clear that there’s no room for misinterpretation. “Nothing else.”

“There you are, Hicchan~!”

Turning toward Misha’s voice, I see the rest of our group assembled around her. She and Shizune are already carrying several bags.

“Oh! You got something, Hicchan~? What is it?”

Instinctively, I clutch the box closer to myself. “It’s a secret.”

Not my most rational moment, but for some reason I felt threatened. Misha is taken aback for a moment, but quickly recovers. Folding her arms and pouting, she reprimands me, “Don’t be so stingy, Hicchan~.”

I think I’m used to this game now. I just need to turn the question around on her. “If keeping secrets like that is so stingy, then what did you get?”

Laughing heartily, she shows off her ever-present toothy grin. “Hahahaha~! I can’t tell you, Hicchan~.”

“Why not?”

“Because,” she replies, waggling a finger admonishingly, “Shicchan says that a woman would com-pro-mise her femin- feminine mystique if she shared all her secrets~!”

“And how is that not stingy?”

Misha looks at a loss for a second, but Shizune intervenes with a quick phrase, which Misha repeats proudly and dutifully, “It’s in the service of the greater good! Wahahahahahaha~!”

I had forgotten the most important rule of dealing with women - if you play by their rules and start winning, they just change the rules on you.

Act 3 Scene 2 Part 2 | Act 3 Scene 3 Part 2
Last edited by ProfAllister on Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by ProfAllister » Sun May 26, 2013 8:11 am

We stop at a few more stores after that and even manage to squeeze in a movie before lunch. The movie isn’t anything special - an American film with subtitles. It’s the sort of “romantic comedy” that’s neither romantic nor funny. At the very least, it makes me feel a little better about my ability to understand English. And it’s nice to have Misha leaning against me for the duration of the movie. She falls asleep rather quickly, but it’s the thought that counts.

Lunch is a relatively low-key affair, with Akira introducing us to her favorite noodle place. The food there is good. Really good. Everyone seems to be more interested in eating than conversation. Even Misha’s too busy eating to be her usual chatterbox self.

After everyone’s finished, Shizune suggests we go to a nearby cosmetics shop, which is met with enthusiastic approval. As the girls begin to file out, Akira comes up next to me and matches my pace. “I really doubt you’re interested in makeup. Lilly and I found a pretty cool antiques place the other day. Interested?”

I have to admit that antiques sound marginally more fascinating than lipstick and eyeshadow. “That could be fun. Is it really a good idea to split off from the rest of the group, though?”

She dismisses my concern with an airy wave of her hand. “Not a problem. Lilly knows where it is if we end up taking too long.”

“That’s all well and good, but shouldn’t we tell her rather than just assume she’ll know?”

“No need,” she replies casually, “Lilly’s been eavesdropping this whole time. It’s a bad habit of hers.”

I glance toward Lilly. I can only see her back from here, but I imagine she’s pouting at the accusation, assuming she does in fact hear us. Akira’s her sister, so there’s no reason for me to assume she’s wrong. “Sure, why not?”

At the next crosswalk, Akira leads the way to the antiques shop, breaking us off from the rest of the group. Once we’re a good distance away, she speaks up, still walking purposefully forward. “We are going where I said we’re going, but you’re a smart kid. Even though it’s a pretty cool store, we both know that this was an excuse. I’m also not going to bother with the castration threats, ‘cause I like you.”

“Erm... what?”

“Castration. It’s when you take a knife-”

“No, I understand that part. I’m trying to figure out how we went from old curiosities to... whatever it is you’re getting at.”

“We’re here.”

I look up. It’s an old-fashioned storefront full of various interesting-looking handcrafted objects. The writing in the window uses western characters - “Othello’s Antiques.”

Entering the shop, I begin browsing one of the aisles. Akira follows behind, glancing around disinterestedly. After about a minute of silence, she speaks up again. “This is about Misha.”

She sounds a little awkward, like she’s embarrassed or something. “Crap. How do I say this? That castration bit was just a joke. You know that, right?”

I turn to give her my full attention. She fidgets as she continues, making it clear that she’s way out of her comfort zone. “Just... don’t do anything stupid, okay? Not just for Misha’s sake. It’s for you, too. If you go and do something you'll regret, you’re going to be far worse on yourself than anyone else. That’s just the way things work.”

This is the first time I’ve seen Akira as anything approaching vulnerable. “You really care about Misha, don’t you?”

“Guilty,” she sighs, “Shizune, too. And Lilly, of course. Can’t forget Hideaki, either. Yet another ‘gift’ from my ‘beloved’ parents, I guess.”

There’s an edge of sharpness when Akira mentions her parents, but she’s still a far cry from her usual confident self. “It’s been a gradual process. First it was Lilly, when our parents moved as far away as possible. Then Uncle asked me to keep an eye on Shizune and Hideaki. He must’ve been desperate if I was the closest thing to a ‘positive female role model’ he could find. By then, I couldn’t help but take ownership of their friends, too. Heck, we barely know each other and I’m already starting to care about what happens to you.”

She adds a half-hearted chuckle to the end of that last comment, trying to pass it off as a joke. It’s obvious that she meant it, but she clearly doesn’t want to fully admit it. I can respect that. I add my own forced laughter to hers. “Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep it in mind.”

We return to silence after that, and quietly look through the rest of the wares. Nothing really grabs my attention, and the few things that catch my eye lose it quickly after a glance at the price tag. I eventually decide that I’m not going to buy anything today.

“Okay,” I call over to Akira, “I think it’s time to meet back up with the others.”

I make a mental note of the shop’s location. It might be worth stopping by later. There are some interesting things here. I wonder when Misha’s birthday is...

***

If I had been asked how a girl could spend all day shopping, I’d have no clue. Even having seen it firsthand, I’m still not sure how they managed to waste so much time doing little more than shopping. I’m also amazed at the amount of money they manage to spend. I didn’t see the prices for everything they bought, but what I did see was anything but cheap. I know for a fact that I’ve never seen so much money thrown about with so little care. One of the perks of being rich, I guess.

I was expecting to be made into a pack mule, but that never happened, surprisingly enough. I have the sneaking suspicion that it’s because Misha’s making a point of keeping her purchases from me, and the other girls consider me her “property.” Somehow, I decide that Kenji’s to blame for that thought.

For dinner, the decision was made to eat at a nearby restaurant that sells American food. Misha is in the lead, and I’m just behind her. I examine the brightly-lit menu posted overhead, but I’m fairly certain that Misha’s already decided what I’m going to eat. She’s probably going to insist that I try a burger - she’s been harping on that ever since she learned that I’ve never had one. It probably won’t be as bad as I imagine, but I’m still not looking forward to a mountain of grease and sauces for dinner.

“Okay, Hicchan,” Misha announces, turning around to face me, “you’re going to get the- huh? Where did the others go?”

I turn around to see that, sure enough, the rest of our group is nowhere in sight. Not that it’s any real concern, though. We all have phones if we need to get in touch. And I have the sneaking suspicion that Shizune’s behind this disappearance. She orchestrated a date for us once already; I wouldn’t put it past her to try again.

“They probably figured we’d want to spend some time alone. I’m not complaining.”

“Haha, good idea, Hicchan~!” With a flirtatious grin, she takes a step closer to me. “Besides, we’re overdue for another date, don’t you think?”

Anticipating her next move, I catch her in a hug and go for the kiss before she gets the chance. Sighing contentedly, she lets herself sink ever so slightly into my arms. Admittedly, the hug is a little awkward, since I’m still holding the package Aoi bought for me this morning.

“Hicchan~?” she asks, resting her chin on my shoulder.

“Yes?”

“Do you want me to hold that box for you? It’s digging into my back~.”

“Oh! Sorry!” I release her from the hug, blushing profusely. “Sure, you can put it into one of your bags.” With a grin of my own, I add a parting blow, more teasing than anything else. “But no peeking!”

“Wahahaha~! Okay, Hicchan, I won’t peek~. Now, here’s what I think you should have to eat...”

***

In relatively short order, we find ourselves seated at a small table with our food. As expected, Misha got me an order of a massive burger with “the works,” whatever that means. She got something similar for herself, so it can’t be all that bad, right?

I examine the meal from several angles, trying to develop a plan of attack. It’s nearly the size of my head. Giving up, I turn to Misha for help. “How am I supposed to eat this?”

“Wahahaha~! It’s easy, Hicchan~! You just open wide and take a bite! Like this!”

To demonstrate, Misha takes a large bite out of her own sandwich. All that laughing must make it easier to open her mouth wide, because I’m still not sure it’s possible for me to replicate that feat. The way she’s watching me expectantly makes it clear that I need to at least try. Steeling myself, I open my mouth so wide that it almost hurts, and attempt to bite into the burger. I manage, just barely, to fit some of it in, but it’s neither clean nor pretty. The flavor isn’t spectacular, but it’s not too bad, either. I don’t expect it to become a favorite food for me, but I can certainly understand why people like to eat these.

As I finish my bite, I notice that Misha’s particularly amused by something - not that that’s unusual. I’d say she’s giggling like a schoolgirl, but, well, she is a schoolgirl. “What’s so funny?”

“Haha~, have I ever told you that you’re cute when you eat, Hicchan~? Because you are~. Also, you have sauce on your nose.”

Trying to maintain what little dignity I have left, I grab a napkin and wipe off my face. “Well, Shiina, have I ever told you that you’re cute whether you’re eating or not? Because you are.”

Rather than the expected smile, she frowns at my comment. “You’re not tired of that yet, Hicchan?”

“Huh? Tired of what?”

Looking mildly annoyed, she explains. “Aren’t you tired of teasing me about my name? If you want me to call you Hisao, you just need to ask, if it annoys you that much. But it’s just mean to tease me back until I figure out why you’re teasing me.”

“That’s not it at all!” I protest, still taken aback by the surprising accusation. Her hard expression softens slightly on seeing my reaction. “I meant exactly what I said. I didn’t like you calling me Hicchan at first. But I really do like hearing you say it now. And I really was hoping that I could do the same for you. It’s just as simple as that.”

As I finish explaining myself, Misha starts to look downright ashamed. When I’m done, she replies in a small voice. “I’m sorry, Hicchan. It wasn’t fair for me to assume the worst like that. I don’t think your idea will work, but, if that’s really what you mean by it, then... I think I might be okay with you calling me Shiina.”

Great. Somehow, the fact that she feels guilty about getting mad at me is making me feel guilty for not explaining myself better. She already looks like she’s cheering up, though. “While we’re talking about it, where did the nickname ‘Misha’ come from?”

“Haha~, that’s an easy one!” She seems to have recovered to full cheerfulness rather quickly. “When I was really little, I had trouble saying ‘Mikado Shiina,’ so I introduced myself as ‘Misha~.’ It just kind of stuck after that! Ahahaha~. For my friends, at least. My family kept calling me ‘Shicchan.’”

That’s straightforward enough, but it’s actually kind of cute. I don’t really have a follow-up, so I go back to eating. The second bite from my burger isn’t quite as bad as the first, but it still feels like it was designed for a snake, or some other animal that can unhinge its jaw to eat.

After a couple minutes of eating, Misha speaks up again. “I took some time today to shop for decorations for your room, Hicchan~. I’ll give it to you when we get back to school.”

Looking a little uncertain, she glances down at her food, slumping a little in her seat. “It was a lot harder than I expected to find something I thought you’d like, though. I hope I did a good job~...”

“I’m sure you did,” I reassure her.

Maintaining her downcast posture, she turns her eyes up toward me. “We don’t really know each other very well, do we?”

I think about her question a moment before responding, but there’s no real point. It’s obvious she’s right. “I guess we’ve been too busy to really sit down and talk about ourselves, huh?”

“Ahahaha~, I guess so!”

Remembering my discussion with Akira this morning, I’m struck with an idea. “Exams start tomorrow, right? Are you feeling good about them?”

Her response is particularly warm. “Actually, I am, for once. It’s all because of your help, Hicchan~. You’re a good teacher~.”

“You’re not too bad yourself. You’ve been a good help for English. And sign language, too.”

It’s really easy to forget about the latter, oddly enough. Between our conversations and alternating interpretation duties for Shizune, I’ve fallen into the same habit as Misha, signing pretty much everything I see and hear. It’s become so natural that I don’t even think about it, my hands moving automatically.

“Anyway,” I continue, suddenly more aware of my simultaneous signing, “do you feel good enough about them that you might want to take a break from studying tomorrow afternoon?”

With a mischievous glint in her eye, she gives me an equally impish grin. “What do you want to do tomorrow afternoon, Hicchan?”

As it dawns on me what she’s implying, I can feel the blood rushing to my cheeks. “That‘s not what I was suggesting! I was just remembering something Shizune had said. That you can get to know someone better by playing a game with that person.”

On hearing my suggestion, Misha’s face falls a little. “You know that I’m not very good at games, Hicchan.”

“Yeah, I know that you haven’t been the fiercest opponent in the past few games we’ve played,” I admit, somewhat reluctantly, “but I seem to remember you saying you were good at a few games. Rich Man, Poor Man? Paper Football?”

She smiles a little at remembering that first day we met, but still looks somewhat down. “I was speaking for Shicchan, Hicchan. She’s good at those games, not me. I have terrible aim, remember~?”

“Actually, that’s what confuses me. If you have terrible aim, and Shizune refuses to throw anything, how could you be good at Paper Football?”

I looked up the rules for Paper Football. It really is a game for kids. Amused by my logic, Misha begins smiling again. “Shicchan normally refuses to throw anything~, but when it’s a competition, all bets are off! I don’t think she’s capable of refusing a challenge~! Wahahahaha~!”

That is kind of funny, but I’m still a little disappointed. “There isn’t any game you’re good at? Are you sure? I was really hoping that there was some game where we’d have a good challenge. Maybe even one where you could beat me.”

“Well~,” she begins, uncertainly, “I guess there is one game that I’m pretty good at...”

“And that is?”

“A secret! Wahahahahaha~! Hahahahaha~!”

As much as I like Misha, there are still times when she tries my patience. I continue eating while I wait for her to wind down. Noticing her begin to regain her composure, I speak up. “Are you finished?”

“Haha, yeah~. I’m all laughed up.” She pauses to wipe a tear from her eye, then gives me one of her more cheerful smiles. “You’re just going to have to wait until tomorrow afternoon to find out what the game is, Hicchan~. It’s more fun that way!”

***

Not very long after we finish eating, the rest of our group reappears. As I had guessed, it was Shizune’s idea for everyone to vanish - a fact to which she proudly confesses. Since it’s getting late, we all agree that it’s time to head back to Yamaku.

I had assumed that Shizune, Lilly, Misha, and I would all be riding with Akira, since her car has enough room for all of us, but Shizune volunteers to ride home with Aoi and Keiko. I’m too surprised by her decision to go on her own, without anyone who knows sign language, even, to think to mention that Keiko is a rather aggressive driver.

The ride home is surprisingly quiet and calming. Lilly makes some small talk about the upcoming exams, but it’s the sort of conversation that no one really cares to continue, so it just gradually fades into silence.

After a few minutes, though, curiosity gets the better of me. “I’m guessing you already told the others, Lilly, but how did you and Shizune make up? It wasn’t that long ago that you two seemed to hate each other.”

Lilly chuckles softly, as if remembering some long-past foolishness. “Looking back on it, it does seem kind of silly and childish. It wasn’t anything dramatic or spectacular. Shizune came and apologized for how she acted. I couldn’t refuse the apology, so I accepted the ‘cease fire’ - her words. And it was only a short time later that we remembered that we really enjoy each other’s company when we aren’t constantly lobbing insults at each other.”

Akira barks out a short, harsh laugh. “Nice try, Lilly. Misha might take you at your word, and Hisao doesn’t know any better, but do you really think you can fool your own sister? The only reason you two aren’t still fighting is because you think you won.”

Lilly opens her mouth in protest, but slowly closes it when she realises she can’t argue the point. Defeated, she sniffs petulantly. “Shizune started it. It’s only fair that she be the one to apologize.”

“Honestly,” Akira groans, “you two are just as bad as Father and Uncle.”

The two sisters descend into silence, Akira focused on the road while Lilly pouts silently.

My attention is returned to the back seat by a head full of pink hair, resting itself on my shoulder. “This was a good day~. Don’t you agree~, Hicchan?”

“Yeah,” I agree, “It has been nice.”

“I didn’t notice your sweater vest~.”

I smile. “And I didn’t notice your make-up.”

Misha grabs my arm and holds it tightly against her, nuzzling my shoulder as she tries to maneuver herself closer. We spend the rest of the car trip that way, leaning against each other.

When we finally arrive, Akira pulls up in front of the gates. “Alright, kids, back to reality now.”

It takes us a minute or two to get out of the car and collect our bags. Once we’re all out and the car’s unloaded, Akira calls out a quick farewell and drives off.

“Hey, Misha?”

She looks up to me from where she is, bent over her bags. “Huh?”

“I can carry your bags for you, if you want.”

Her eyes narrow in suspicion. It’s cuter than she probably intends it to be. “No peeking?”

“No peeking.”

With a smile, she picks up a couple bags and holds them out to me. “I’d like that, Hicchan~.”

Taking the bags, I notice Shizune approaching us in the fading light. She does not look happy. I’d guess she was less than thrilled with Keiko’s driving. Assessing the situation, she turns toward Misha. [I need you to come with me. Now.]

Concerned by the urgency, Misha’s focus shifts entirely toward Shizune. [What’s the matter, Shicchan?]

Shizune’s frown darkens. [I need to have a talk with the other Student Council members.]

Without waiting for a response, Shizune pivots on her heel and marches purposefully back in the direction she came from. Misha nods with exaggerated seriousness and prances behind Shizune, trying to catch up.

“It would seem that everyone else has left, Hisao.”

I had almost completely forgotten about Lilly. She’s standing more or less in the same place that she had been when she stepped out of Akira’s car, holding her own bags from the shopping trip.

“Would I be able to trouble you to guide me to the dorms? Using my cane while carrying these bags would be... awkward.”

“Uh, yeah. Sure. No problem.”

Taking my sleeve between her fingers, Lilly smiles radiantly. “Why thank you, Hisao. You are the very example of a perfect gentleman.”

It’s not that far, but Lilly moves rather slow, so we take longer than expected to get to the girls’ dorm. When we arrive, Lilly thanks me and then heads inside.

Only afterward do I remember that I’m carrying all Misha’s stuff. In the silence of dusk, I can faintly hear Misha’s voice carry across the grounds, cheerfully expressing Shizune’s anger. It’s a pretty solid bet that that will go on for some time. Once Shizune gets started on a good rant, it takes a while for her to wind down. And once they’re done, Misha will probably be asleep on her feet. With nothing better to do, I carry Misha’s bags to my room, set them in a corner, and throw myself into bed.

Act 3 Scene 3 Part 1 | Act 3 Scene 4
Last edited by ProfAllister on Sat Jun 15, 2013 11:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Current Project: Misha Pseudo-Route

Discord ID: ProfAllister#9754

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Hoitash
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Hoitash » Sun May 26, 2013 10:09 am

Well, that was ominous.

Excellent read, but ominous all the same :)
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by CaptainFalcon » Sun May 26, 2013 12:10 pm

An excellent chapter, as always :)
I look forward to the next one!

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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by LewishM » Sun May 26, 2013 7:09 pm

Oh boy another great read, looking forward to the next part when you have the time, keep up the good work!

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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Gruntbuggly » Sun May 26, 2013 9:39 pm

A fine job, as I've come to expect from you. Slowly but surely, the major conflict is manifesting itself.
Now to wait for a month or two, again...
"Oh freddled gruntbuggly, Thy micturations are to me As plurdled gabbleblotchits On a lurgid bee.
Groop I implore thee, My foonting turlingdromes. And hooptiously drangle me With crinkly bindlewurdles,
Or I will rend thee In the gobberwarts With my blurglecruncheon, See if I don't!" - Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz

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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Drascus » Sun May 26, 2013 10:28 pm

Hahaha, damn im loving this. I've probably read more in fanfics than in books. I really like the idea of having a misha route

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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Mader Levap » Mon May 27, 2013 7:21 pm

Is it bad that I already feel disturbed by all of this foreshadowing?... Cryptic comments of Akira, lack of proficiency in gaming apparently significant, even what Misha bought. Half of it is red heering, I bet.
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Hoitash » Mon May 27, 2013 8:03 pm

Mader Levap wrote:Is it bad that I already feel disturbed by all of this foreshadowing?... Cryptic comments of Akira, lack of proficiency in gaming apparently significant, even what Misha bought. Half of it is red heering, I bet.
That's what he wants us to think!

...My brain already hurts.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 4/8)

Post by griffon8 » Mon May 27, 2013 8:27 pm

ProfAllister wrote:With nothing better to do, I carry Misha’s bags to my room, set them in a corner, and throw myself into bed.
I misread this at first, thinking that Hisao took Misha's bags to her room, which meant that Hisao went to sleep in her bed. :shock: :lol:
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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Drascus » Thu May 30, 2013 4:45 am

im gonna implode with the anticipation
why do i want to catch up when i regret it immediately and i have to actually wait for new chapters?
;-; it makes no sense

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Re: For Want of a Nail - Misha Route (New Chapter 5/26)

Post by Kutagh » Thu May 30, 2013 3:49 pm

Drascus wrote:im gonna implode with the anticipation
why do i want to catch up when i regret it immediately and i have to actually wait for new chapters?
;-; it makes no sense

It actually makes sense when you reason back to the research done on patience and short term versus long term satisfaction... Children being given the choice to either get one candy right now or wait a hour to get two candy, often pick immediate satisfaction even though the rewards in the future are better. It is just a human characteristic.

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