Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

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pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:29 pm

Music track: Caged Heart
The cold, misty Friday morning had finally arrived.

To my shock, Misha came to school today.

I can't say I'm happy about this turn of events at all. She had told me it's going to take weeks before she can leave the hospital; either her recovery is going that much faster than expected, or she had simply been this unwilling to stay there, no matter what the doctors said. That way she fumbles around the corridor with a pair of crutches makes me suspect the latter.

We did not talk, I avoided her on purpose. In fact, this development just reinforced my original idea to skip all morning classes entirely. The less she knows about what's happening, the better it is for me.

I check the balloons in my bag for what's surely the hundredth time this morning. They're all fine, none of them ruptured; I would notice that very quickly anyway.

Surrounded by dense fog, the school building almost feels like it's haunted. One can barely see anything outside the windows. Fragments of human speech can be heard sifting into the corridor from the classrooms, but the corridors themselves are completely empty. I walk in them alone, impatiently counting the minutes as the hours crawl by.

Can't time pass a bit faster, damn it?

Part of me just wants to kick in the council door and get it over with. But that would accomplish little, or at least not enough. Not enough for me, anyway.

My last-minute doubts begin to assault me as well. They question whether this is really worth it. Whether I am going too far or not.

I cast them all aside. My decision has already been made. There's no turning back now.

"…Um…"

I hastily turn my head to the side in alarm. I didn't hear or see anyone coming.

It's Hanako. Probably skipping classes just like me, she sneaks around the mist-covered school without a sound, truly like a ghost in a haunted mansion.

I'm not amused.

"What is it?"

Hopefully my curt, impatient question will make her realize that she would do well to keep this short. What could she possibly want from me at a time like this? I can hardly see her lecturing me for not being in class; that would be the pot calling the kettle black anyway.

She had to notice that I'm not in the mood for chitchat, because she seems to become even more tense than usual.

"… Lilly… was… looking for… for you… this week…" Feeling pressured, she struggles to get her point across. "She… wanted to talk… with you…"

Right. And I did my best to make any such contact impossible. "So?"

"…I'm… Um, we…"

She still doesn't give up. Why? Hanako is not the one to start a conversation, not to mention that my unfriendly attitude should have driven her off three times over already. She does look like she'd prefer to run even now, but something is holding her back. Very unexpected.

Whatever, I should have gotten used to such things already. It's just another example of how little I really know about the true selves of these people around me.

Her eyes cast down, Hanako's gaze is fixed on a square of linoleum on the floor that's slightly lighter in color compared to the others. "We're… w-worried about… the three of you."

I snap my head up. She definitely has my attention now.

"Lilly noti-- err, we noticed t-that… things… are n-not going okay with you… And now… Shizune is transferring away…"

I allow myself a mental chuckle to that. Good thing someone actually paid attention. Still, it's a nice effort, Hanako, thanks - but I don't want any of your pity. Or Lilly's, for that matter.

"And? So what?"

"But I… I don't…" She is close to breaking down now, I can see it from the way her fingers clench around the sides of her skirt. I wish she would get it over with already. "You… you shouldn't… you shouldn't d-do this, Hisao! It's… it's not going to help…anyone…! Y-You… You'll regret it!"

I stare at her. She barely raised her whisper-like voice and I'm not sure what she meant by that, but I can nonetheless feel my anxiety rise.

"What are you talking about?"

Hanako clenches her eyes shut. Her very being is on the verge, like an overly tense string threatening to snap.

"I s-saw you… pacing a-around… the c-council room… And I… saw t-those… when… when you… when you t-took some of them out of your bag…"

I involuntarily take a step back.

She saw me. Hanako… she knows what I'm about to do.

If… if she tells the teachers… if they find out anything about this, then--

"D-Don't you dare!!" I yell into her face. "Don't you dare telling anyone, do you hear me?!"

My enraged voice echoes through the corridor.

Shit! What have I done?! Everyone must have heard that! I have to get out of here!

I dash towards the stairwell leaving the terrified-looking Hanako behind, and don't stop running until I reach the school grounds.

I think I made it. Only a few teachers or students could recognize me by voice, so I'm probably safe.

Unless… unless Hanako rats me out. If she does go to a teacher after this, it won't matter where I run…

No. I can't lose my nerve now. Not at the last moment.

What am I so worried about, anyway? It's Hanako. She can barely talk to people her own age, let alone the teachers. I don't have to be afraid of her. Luckily for me, she's pretty hopeless.

Feeling reassured, I decide to wait an hour or so before heading back into the building to let things calm down a little. I can put up with the cold until then. What comes after makes it more than worth the trouble.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
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Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:30 pm

This is it.

I eye the small, red box on the wall of the second floor corridor. There's only a single line of text on the transparent plate in front, printed in large bold letters.

Code: Select all

IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS
I check my watch. Too early, it's still 8 minutes before lunch break. I have to wait for another 174 aggravating seconds. The timing has to be perfect, or my whole plan is useless.

My eyes dart between the watch and the red box in front of me restlessly.

…150 seconds… 120… 85…

33… 20… 12… 8…

5…

4…

3…

2…

1…

Now!

I punch the box, and the glass gives in immediately.

The sound of a blaring siren hits my ears. I don't know where it's coming from, it's like the walls themselves started screaming.

But that doesn't matter. My job is to head to the council room as quickly and discreetly as possible.

Rushing down the stairs, I can see the class doors opening left and right. Students rush out, looking somewhere halfway between excited and worried as the teachers direct them towards the stairwell while struggling to maintain some semblance of order.

I manage to stay ahead of them, and watch from behind a locker on the ground floor as the crowd leaves the building. As I suspected, it takes several minutes for the last wheelchair-bound pupil to leave with some help from the elevator.

The school once again becomes eerily quiet, not even the distant voices from the classrooms are heard this time. I realize that even the siren had stopped; it shouldn't have unless someone deliberately switched it off. Looks like they've found the broken fire alarm box on the second floor and realized that the whole thing was just a ruse.

Fine by me, that alarm was grating on my nerves anyway. It's already too close to lunch break for classes to resume… and things aren't looking too good for the elections either.

But it's not over yet. I'm just getting started.

I abandon my hiding place and hastily make my way to the council room just down the corridor. I find Kenji standing there, nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"Good, you're here." I nod to him. "I was worried for a minute that you've let yourself get dragged out with the rest of your class."

I put my open bag down to the floor.

"Here, you can have half the ammunition. It should be more than enough for the both of us." He does not react. "Come on! Shizune can walk out that door any second, so move your ass!"

Instead of listening to me, Kenji decides to open his idiot mouth once again. I can instantly feel my blood pressure rise.

"You know, dude… I-I've been thinking about this and--"

"Move, don't think!! We're running out of time!!"

"B-But why? Hisao, the elections are already FUBAR. We won this round, man! So why risk our asses for nothing?"

"No, this is not enough! I've already told you that! We need to… we need to settle this for good," I state in a shaky, strained voice. "Here. Take these. …If you're not a fucking coward."

"I'm not a…!" Kenji's outburst is so pointless that even he realizes the fact and gives up. "Fine. But I don't like this. It doesn't matter who we're up against, it's still like… like we're a bunch of bullies or something…"

"Shut the hell up."

Kenji actually obeys. Must be some miracle.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:30 pm

No sooner than we take our positions, the bell sounds, that boring, mind-numbingly repetitive noise filling the near-empty school building. Lunch break has started.

The door of council room slowly opens, right on cue. Looks like it wasn't even locked this time.

Shizune steps out into the corridor. I can't see her face well from where I'm standing, but she's carrying a large cardboard ballot box in both hands, with a stack of photocopied ballot papers resting on top of it. Completely unaware of what happened in the last few minutes, she begins to walk with careful steps towards the elevator.

I can barely restrain myself as I watch her leave. Kenji, what the hell are you waiting for?!

Music track: High Tension
He finally appears from behind one of the lockers in front of her. Surprised, Shizune comes to a halt.

The bastard is visibly hesitant, but finally throws the balloons in both of his hands at her. One of them is way off the mark, but the other is flying in the direction of her right leg.

Probably on reflex, Shizune jumps back a feet or two, the stack of papers swaying dangerously on top of the box. The balloons burst as they hit the floor, splashing water in all directions around them… but sadly, she manages to avoid it for now.

Kenji reaches for another balloon tucked away in his shawl, and Shizune begins to back away.

Fool.

She doesn't know she's heading right towards me. She doesn't know that Kenji is nothing but a diversion.

Finally noticing me from the corner of her eye, she turns around at the last moment - but it's already too late. From such close range, little more than two feet away, I do not miss.

I feel a special sort of satisfaction as I watch the balloon hit her squarely in the face. Her glasses fly off as she loses her balance, the outbursting water soaking her from head to toe. She falls towards the ground. The moment she lands on her butt, my second balloon hits the cardboard box.

Water is everywhere. The ballot papers are covering the floor, completely drenched, well beyond saving.

…Too easy. Way too easy.

This can't be it. It can't be over yet. There must still be something I can do.

I hurry past her, into the council room. I glance around, then reach into my bag - still plenty of balloons left.

Good.

Without any real target or goal, I begin throwing them around the room with reckless abandon. It works well. The rest of the papers, the other ballot box we made, the reports, notes and handouts in the drawers, the posters, the board games - everything is washed away. Destroyed. Gone.

The Student Council is no more.

I realize with some resentment that I've finally ran out of balloons. I reluctantly turn around and walk out of the room with dazed steps.

Something's still amiss. But what…?

Shizune is still sitting on the floor in the middle of the puddle of water, unmoving, drenched sheets of paper all around her. Shockingly however, I can definitely hear some kind of noise from her direction.

Low, muffled sobs.

Shizune is crying.

…Pathetic.

"What? You thought I'd just let you walk off? After everything you did?" I question her, my voice rife with anger. "So tell me! Was this worth it? Was this worth throwing me… throwing us away like trash?! Answer me!"

Nothing. She can't hear me of course, but that's besides the point. She makes no effort to even see me. She doesn't even raise her head.

She's… she's still ignoring me…!

With a couple of indignant steps, I go to stand exactly in front of her.

"Look at me when I'm talking to you, damn it!!"

No reaction. None.

That… that damn bitch!

My trembling fingers dig into her dark, silky locks; I pull her hair backwards, forcing her to show me her face.

Tears stream down her cheeks… but her eyes are clenched shut.

Arrgh… Y-You!!

My other hand clenches into a fist, and I raise it threateningly into the air.

"I… said… LOOK… AT… MEEE--!!"
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 8:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:31 pm

Music track: Cold Iron
There's a sudden sensation of impact, and something throws me off balance.

Struggling to stay on my feet, my back hits one of the lockers as I stagger backwards. My face hurts. Warm, salty liquid is dripping from my nose to my lips.

Something… someone broke my nose? The hell--?!

Eyes wide, I stare blankly ahead, unable to believe what I'm seeing.

Hanako stands before me, panting heavily. Her right arm is still extended towards me; both of her fists are clenched, her expression a terrifying mixture of fear and rage.

You got to be kidding… Hanako, of all people, punching me in the face?! What the--?!

Her entire body shakes as her dark eyes dart between me and Shizune's limp form on the ground.

"Stop it…!" She finally turns away, as if the sight is causing her physical pain, her whisper-like voice escalating into a hysterical scream. "STOP IT!!"

With that, she whirls around and flees in panic, her running form disappearing from view in seconds. I can only stare after her in disbelief… until I realize that she did not come alone.

"Hanako…?" Lilly stands a couple of steps behind me, looking shaken. Absent-mindedly, I also notice that Kenji on the other hand is nowhere to be seen. That spineless coward.

So, instead of running to the teachers, Hanako brought her friend here instead. How terribly cute. And so very pointless.

Lilly begins to walk forward. Her steps are slow and careful as she waves her cane in front of her, but there's unmistakable determination showing on her face.

"What now?" I ask with a scornful snort. "Don't tell me you're also here to lecture me about what I'm doing wrong… Or do you want to skip that and just try beating me up instead?"

Seconds pass without a single sign that she heard a word of what I told her. Lilly simply walks past me, pausing only when she notices the puddle of water under her shoes. Shortly after, her cane bumps into Shizune on the ground.

She crouches down, her free hand searching for the other girl's face.

"I'm sorry, Hisao… but to the man you've become, I have nothing to say."

A curt answer. More like an offhand comment.

Yeah right. What gives…? Care to get off your moral high horse for a second?! Last I checked, you hated everything about Shizune just as much as I do! And you have the gall to put me down with something like that…?!

That's what I want to yell at her, but my lips refuse to move. There was something in her voice, something inexplicably imposing that simply zipped my mouth shut.

I can't believe this.

Wiping the tears from her cheeks, Lilly takes Shizune's hand between hers, and starts doing some really bizarre motions with her index finger. It's like she's writing something into Shizune's palm, occasionally grasping one of her fingers as well. Is that some sort of sign language?

Shizune's sobs quiet down, and Lilly helps her to her feet.

As far as I'm concerned, I feel too disgusted by this "touching scene" to even look anymore. Leaning against the locker, I close my eyes in resignation and listen to their footsteps as they slowly fade into the distance.

Whatever. I don't care anymore.

You can all rot in hell.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:31 pm

Music track: Breathlessly
A different kind of approaching noise draws my attention after a while. It's similar to what Lilly's cane makes as it touches the ground, but a little heavier-sounding, and it also feels more like there's two of them, instead of just one.

A pair of canes? No…

A pair of crutches.

…Why on earth is she here?

I open my eyes to glare at the newcomer. Misha is leaning on her crutches to keep herself from falling over, looking exhausted to the point that her good leg can barely support any of her weight at all.

"Hicchan…"

I avert my gaze. "Leave me alone."

She doesn't listen. Hardly surprising.

"…You and Shicchan weren't in class, and… when I asked to the others, no one would tell me why… Then I saw Hanako run to Lilly when the alarm went off, but… I couldn't keep up with them, and…" She takes a longer pause to catch her breath. Her voice wavers even more when she continues, "W-What happened? Did you really… did you really do this, Hicchan?"

"And what if I did?" The fact that I can only answer in a quiet murmur makes me feel humiliated.

"But… why? This makes no sense…" Misha's voice grows increasingly desperate, struggling with the tears that she'd hope to hide even now. Deceitful to the very end. "You're… you're not like this, Hicchan… So why… why did you--?"

A jolt of anger runs through me.

"What the hell do you know about who I am?!" I snap at her. "You don't know anything! You were too busy with your own little issues to ever bother to learn! …Like, just for starters, do you have any idea how much I've hated that damn nickname ever since I was a kid?!"

That rendered Misha speechless. An achievement, I suppose.

"Of course you don't. And you know what? I don't know anything about you either, except for the fact that you've been leading me by the nose like everyone else." I spit the words out like they taste unbearably bitter in my mouth. "Who the hell are you, really? I can't tell anymore. Your childish gags, your idiotic laugh, your hair, the way you talk, even the name you want others to call you - everything about you is fake! Tell me, does a real Shiina Mikado even exist somewhere? Was she having fun at my expense during the past month?!"

She slowly shakes her head in denial. "W-What do you mean…?"

"Come on, it's painfully obvious! You were just using me. Ever since you came to my room looking for 'comfort' or whatever, I was nothing but a cheap replacement for Shizune to you!" I point an accusing finger in her direction. Misha flinches. "At least I was good for you in bed; it sure explains why we did little else all the time! You never felt anything, and my feelings didn't matter: the moment you grew tired of this, in the very second you thought up a way to get back to Shizune… you dropped me like a hot potato."

Her gaze drops to the floor. An admission of guilt, if I ever saw one. "You're being really, really unfair, Hich… I mean, that's not… that's not true…"

"I haven't seen you for a week once you started stalking Shizune! What else was that supposed to mean?!" My yell gives way to a bitter chuckle. "Give me a break, why deny it? I can't help being a guy instead of a girl, and there's also no helping it if you're simply not wired that way…"

Misha finally gives up the losing battle she's been fighting, and her tears begin to flow freely from her eyes.

For the first time, I can truly recognize the girl from the video in the person in front of me. So, this is what Shiina Mikado really looks like. What a sorry sight.

I think I've seen more than enough. I turn around and head for the closest door I can spot, which happens to be the one leading into the student council room - or whatever is left of it.

"Just get out of here already," I mutter as I step through the threshold. "I'm sure Shizune will be overjoyed if you join her little pity party."

I can hear the tiniest voice answering me from the midst of her miserable sobs.

"I… I hate you…"

So much for not wanting to hate anyone. At least it's good to know that the feeling's mutual.

The door slams behind me. I start to trudge towards the nearest chair, but my legs refuse to carry me much further, and I soon slump down to the wet ground.

The ravaged council room seems to mirror my current state perfectly. Consumed completely by the raging emotions that flowed through me in the past minutes, my body feels much like a burnt-out husk.

I've come to hate these people around me, and yet, I can't help it… I feel lonely nonetheless. They deserved nothing less, and still… I can't deny that part of me abhors what I did to everyone.

In the end, I've shut them all out.

Now why does this phrase feel so familiar? Because of Shizune, who else?

She and Misha can still live happily ever after of course. She's the victim here, after all. Victims need to be consoled. I can almost see them bumping into each other in the corridor right now, embracing and talking about that horrible man who ruined everything.

Poor Misha, poor Shizune. Hisao Nakai came and messed up your lives.

The bastard.

You know what would be funny? If I could just die right here, right now. What a twist that'd be! A dead man no longer fits the role of the villain so well. All of a sudden, I would become part of the tragedy. Out of the blue, the situation wouldn't be anyone's fault at all.

"It must have been all that medication. Did you see the list of side effects? It'd be no surprise if some of them messed with his head. He didn't know what he was doing."

"A heart attack at such a young age! And then the sudden change of environment, less than a year before graduation! No wonder he couldn't take it."

People would say all that and more. They'd make a martyr out of me. A misunderstood saint.

It would be nice.

But my heart still beats. Slowly and steadily. I don't remember it ever being so calm and punctual in the recent past. It keeps beating on and on, pumping blood through my veins with no end in sight. Unrelenting.

Unwilling to take the blame.

Music track: -

THE END
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:36 pm

7B.

Well, all is fair in love and war, as the saying goes.

But this no longer has anything to do with love, and calling it a war would feel like stooping down to Kenji's level… or Shizune's, for that matter.

That's not something I want to do. Filling Kenji in is out of the question.

Still, even if the chances of him actually doing something besides mumbling about the end of the world are miniscule to say the least, I have to make sure he doesn't unwittingly go against my own plans. Better be safe than sorry.

"Listen, let's drop this gun topic for a second. What do you plan on doing, anyway? I mean, if you think the elections really are such bad news, you must have thought of something to prevent it, didn't you?"

Kenji gives me a smug smile that I'm sure was meant to look mysterious.

"What, so now you want to be part of the plan? No offence, but I don't give my top secrets away just like that. A man can never be too careful."

Yeah right. "You don't have any sort of plan, do you?"

His outraged expression makes the answer glaringly obvious before he even opens his mouth. "Bullshit! I have a whole lot of… stuff. The plans are just in the early stages of… planning."

I fold my arms, feigning disinterest. "Fine, whatever. I just think you're looking at this from the wrong direction."

"What?… Don't give me that shit. I always look at things from all directions. Sometimes I even do a handstand."

Sounds to me like someone is sulking.

"Then I guess you must've thought about how useless it is to confront the system head-on, right? You're way outnumbered, for starters. If one has a choice, it's much better to fight it from the inside than from the outside."

"You bet I did." Kenji nods immediately. "…What does that mean?"

Here goes nothing.

"If you're so afraid of what might happen, then instead of trying to stop to elections… why don't you run for council president yourself?"

Kenji's mouth slowly opens, then closes.

"Wha… whu… wha… what??!" he screams at me, his outburst fueled more by panic than outrage. "Are you nuts…?! You think the feminists would let me do that?! They'd have me killed in a second, or maybe even less than a second! They'd cut my throat and spill my guts out, man! I'm having a hard time dodging their assassins already!"

I've been expecting that line.

"That's what you think. But in truth, once you become a candidate, they won't be able to lay a finger on you. Just imagine: do you think they'd want to make you into a martyr in front of everyone? The publicity the elections give you is actually the best defense you can have."

No reply. Looks like it'll take a while for Kenji to digest this information.

"…Man… You… You're one twisted politician, Hisao."

Do you want me to punch you in the face?

"Anyway, I think you should give it a try. Even if you don't win, you can… err, serve as an inspiration for the next generation of anti-feminists."

I can clearly see he's tempted by the idea. Whatever remaining doubts he has, they now make him look more depressed than angry.

"Yeah, that's just the problem, dude. I'm going to have to graduate this year along with you. Tried my best to avoid it, but I could only delay it so far."

…Exactly how old is he?

"So what? That doesn't mean you can't be a candidate. Shizune's leaving next week, remember? The new president has to take over immediately, so you can still lead the council for a couple of months. And then you'll just organize a new round of elections before graduation… only this time, it'll be you who can dictate the terms."

Hearing that last line, Kenji staggers on his feet like he's been shot.

"I dunno, man… I… I have to think about this."

"Go ahead. It's your call."

Without bothering to say goodbye, he turns around and begins trudging back toward his room with aimless steps, almost like he's sleepwalking. I think this went even better than I hoped it would.

I feel a strange sort of relief as I watch his back disappear behind a couple of other male students talking in the corridor. I can't say I've calmed down, but this meeting with Kenji made me realize how close I've come to losing my common sense myself. I hate to say this, but I guess I owe him some thanks.

I must focus. I cannot let myself get carried away. The consequences of that would be devastating.

Of course, that's easier said than done. Especially since, like Kenji, I still don't know what I want to do either. With a weary sigh, I also set off to my dorm room, hoping that I may have better luck deciding after a good night's rest.

If I manage to sleep, that is.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:38 pm

9. See Yourself

Music track: Cold Iron
The next day, I visited Misha in the hospital again after school.

It was a short and not all that pleasant visit. I had already been nervous about the hospital earlier, but now the familiarity of her surroundings began to haunt me in whole new, utterly terrifying way.

For all intents and purposes, she had become me, and I had become Iwanako.

It was the same thing happening all over again: we barely exchanged a handful of trivial sentences, spent most of our time sitting in silence, and when I could not take it anymore, I simply stood up, said goodbye and left. Just like Iwanako did back then.

But what should I have said? That Shizune is running away from everyone and everything, and chances are they'll never meet each other again? Should I have mentioned that I'm no longer willing to take her idiocy lying down, perhaps?

It would have served no purpose. Misha looked depressed as is, almost like something broke in her the moment I stepped out of her hospital room on that previous Sunday evening. Her sullen mood felt just as unexpected, and just as impossible for me to comprehend as her earlier insistence to turn Shizune around no matter what. It seemed like silence was my only option.

Arriving back to the dorms, I still hardly consider myself to be in high spirits. Homework can wait; it'd be pointless to even try getting any of it done as things stand.

I did not sleep much last night, feeling compelled to lie awake in bed and think. I now have a plan that will probably work, even if it's undoubtedly risky. Nonetheless, I feel I am more than willing to take the risk right now. I'm at the point that even if whole school will--

I freeze as I turn into the small corridor branching off the hallway which leads both to my and Kenji's rooms. Someone's standing in front of my door, and it's not my hall-mate.

It's Lilly.

I have the feeling I know why she's here, and it's not something I want to talk about. Maybe I can still turn around, take a walk outside and come back later? It's possible that she did not hear me yet…

"Hisao, is that you?"

Right, of course she did.

"…Yeah. Hi, Lilly. Um, what can I do for you?"

I'm not exactly the best at telling people to leave me alone without sounding rude. Still, she's the most well-mannered person around my age, heck, possibly around the entire school, so hopefully I can get the point across with nothing more than my sincerely dispirited tone.

"I'm truly sorry if this isn't a good time. To be honest, I've been looking for you all day yesterday." With just two small sentences, Lilly acknowledged my feelings, but also made it clear that she's not going to back off. This isn't a battle I can win. "I asked one of your classmates about where your room is, I hope you don't mind."

What difference would that make?

"It's okay."

As my words die away in the air, aggravating silence descends upon us.

"I'm…" Lilly begins to say, but seems to be at a loss about how to continue.

In that case, I'll give her a hand. Let's get this over with. "It's about Shizune, right?"

She slowly inclines her head. "Yes."

It's hard to say whether she's relieved that I helped to move things forward, or annoyed that I interrupted her thought process. Well, it doesn't matter, since my reply won't change either way.

"There's nothing I can tell you."

"…I …understand."

That's what she said, but she's still standing in front of my door, looking unwilling to move.

Oh, I get it. Since there's nothing I can say, we should talk about what this "nothing" means in particular?

Alright, whatever.

"I haven't spoken to Shizune in weeks, if that's what you wanted to hear. She threw both me and Misha out of the Student Council," I state in a dry tone. "If you want to know why she's leaving, why don't you ask her yourself? I've been told you two can talk to each other if you really want to."

Lilly's eyes open in shock. "Shizune… expelled you from the council?" she echoes, conveniently ignoring my last sentence. "I would have never thought… I could notice that your relationship took a turn for the worse, but…"

She did manage to force something out of me in the end, didn't she?

Her expression pained, even sad, she bows slightly in my direction. "Forgive me, Hisao, I was being tactless. I shouldn't have cornered you like this." Reaching forward with her cane, she steps away from the door. "I will not inconvenience you any further."

Lilly moves to leave, but her way is blocked by me standing in the corridor… and this time I'm the one who finds it hard to simply step aside.

"Look… The truth is… I am…" I start to stammer. What the hell am I doing…? "Misha was… she's--"

I'm cut off by a door behind us nearly breaking off its hinges.

Music track: Out of the Loop
"What's going on here?! Is this an ambush??" A somewhat panicked-looking Kenji jumps out of his room, holding a chopstick in one hand and some piece of paper in the other. He points at us with the chopstick like it's some magic wand he can use to unleash a barrage of curses on the incoming enemy.

Well, except there's no incoming enemy, just us.

"Good afternoon, Kenji." Lilly tries her best not to let him know how much his timing sucks.

"Your timing sucks." I am less considerate.

He's not paying any attention to me, however. The moment he heard Lilly's voice, his expression began to transform into something truly unthinkable.

Kenji looks friendly. No, not just friendly, more like positively beaming with cheer. Like all the feminists abruptly disappeared off the face of the Earth exactly two seconds ago.

"Oh sorry, I just heard a girl's voice and thought… never mind, it's cool." He smiles at her. I'll say that again: Kenji is showing a carefree smile. To a class rep, no less. "Hey, Hisao. Good you're here, I wanted you to have a look at this."

He walks up to us and hands me the sheet of paper. The handwritten text on it is nearly illegible, but I can at least decipher the title.

Code: Select all

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE FOR ALL MEN
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I still am.

"What the heck is this?"

"My political program. I'm going to the council room right now to submit it along with my candidate registration. Cool, eh?"

I don't think anyone is interested in seeing your ramblings in written form, but far be it from me to stop you, as long as you get out of my face ASAP.

"Would that mean that you intend to take part in the elections?" Lilly is much better at hiding her surprise than I am, but it's still there.

Kenji's cheerful facade cracks a little as he warily turns his head in her direction. "Yeah, I'll be running for council president. It was Hisao's idea… So, err, yeah."

"I see. There is still some time until graduation, isn't there?…" I'm sure Lilly doesn't know, but her contemplative tone probably sounds like a death threat to my next-door neighbor, if his increasingly strained expression is any indication. "Would you mind if accompany you? This may be a little sudden, but I'm considering being a candidate myself."

Say what now…?

"S-Sure! Fine by me!" Kenji's hasty reply comes before I could ask what on earth she's talking about, and I'm further kept from voicing my shock by the terrified whisper he sends in my direction. "You're sure about the publicity protection thing, right?"

You think Lilly didn't hear that? Well, at least she's pretending she didn't…

"I'm positive."

It seems I managed to reassure Kenji somewhat, as he succeeds in putting some of his fake cheer back into action. "We better get going then. Later, man!"

Looking both reluctant and eager to leave, Lilly bows once more. "Good night, Hisao. Sorry about before."

I give a tired sigh. "…Good night."

A few seconds pass, and they're gone.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:41 pm

Music track: Nocturne
As I feared: reading, studying, homework - they're all hopeless. My thoughts seem to go every which way but in the direction I'd like to direct them.

Maybe I should have accompanied those two to the council room. Kenji might need an interpreter, even if Lilly doesn't. Still, chances are seeing Shizune would make me lose it. I have to wait until Friday to confront her; with that much preparation, I can hopefully keep myself in check long enough.

Yes, that sounds awful, I know, but it's nonetheless the truth.

I rest my head on my arms sprawled across the desk. It's like this feeling of total exhaustion become the norm for me recently. I should be worried about it, but for some reason I'm not; I probably can't bring myself to care even about that anymore.

All in all, it looks like I've just hit rock bottom.

So pathetic. Should I just head to bed, and hope for some better luck getting a bit of sleep than yesterday?

Nah, I don't feel like getting up from my chair right now. I guess I'll just go to sleep right here…



I can hear the door open. Damn, I should've locked it.

"Hey." An unmistakable male voice sounds from right next to me.

"God damnit, Kenji. Learn to knock…" I mumble, refusing to move a muscle.

"I just wanted to say thanks," he goes on, ignoring my protests as usual. "It went without a hitch, exactly like you said. Although, man, it was still creepy as hell. I went there and had to wait in front of the locked door for who knows how long in the company of that blond killer, before that Hakamichi girl came out for some reason."

I want to tell him to shut up and get out, but the horrible truth is that I'm actually interested in finding out what happened. Argh…

"…And then?" I mutter in a resigned voice.

"It was the craziest shit, man! She took my declaration, read it, and just nodded!" Kenji exclaims with horror. "No complaints about procedure, no rants about being too late to sign up, nothing!"

He might be exaggerating, but I have to admit that I also expected her to be more reluctant to accept a new candidate a mere three days before the election date. Strange.

"Hey, that declaration or whatever did contain that you wanted to be a candidate, right?" I ask, just to make sure.

"Of course! Come on, I'm not crazy!" I have to wonder about that. "Anyway, that's not all. I was starting to suspect it was a trap and when the blonde spoke up I was sure she's going to kill me, but she only asked me to write down that she wanted to run in the elections too… My life was at stake, so I had no choice. I had to defile my declaration by adding that to the bottom of the page. And you know what happened then?!"

"No, but I suspect you're going to tell me."

"That Hakamichi girl looked at it and just nodded again!" Kenji declares in a grave tone.

"Uh-huh…" I mutter under my breath.

Really, what was Lilly trying to do? Was that some desperate attempt to get a reaction out of Shizune? Something that would give her a hint about her abrupt departure? Well, in that case she was bound to be disappointed. Shizune's behavior might be unusual for her and Kenji, but now that I think about it, it's nothing new to me anymore.

"That's when I realized something," he continues, now back in full-blown conspiracy mode. "Luckily for us, the feminists are not as united as I thought. Seems like there's some serious infighting going on, with battles for positions of power lasting to the bitter end. This must be one of them. I mean, it's just weird for someone to leave school a few months before graduation, isn't it? Well, get this, Hisao: I think that Hakamichi girl is not leaving because she wants to. She was kicked out. By her."

"Her…? You mean Lilly?" I can't believe I seriously considered the possibility for a second before realizing who he meant.

"Who else? They've hated each other's guts for some time, right? And there I was, stuck in the middle of a showdown between two feminist bosses. Fucking terrifying, man." Kenji falls silent for a second, and when I hear his voice again, he sounds more distant, like he turned his back to me. "Anyway… Not gonna lie, I almost felt sorry for that council president girl. This world is a cruel place, Hisao. The small fishes get eaten by the bigger ones, then those get eaten by the even bigger fishes, which are eaten by the really huge ones and so on… and in the end, they all get eaten by me. Kinda sad, if you think about it."

How I am supposed to respond to that, I have no idea.

"But you know the name of the game, dude." His voice brightens again. "Thanks to you, we've taken an important step towards stopping the feminist disease. You've proven yourself; I'm now confident that I can share all my secrets with you. They will be in good hands."

Oh no. Somebody kill me.

"Of course, it'd probably be too much for you to handle everything at once, so I'll give you the information in small doses. It's safer that way for the both of us. So for now, you can have this."

I finally find the strength to raise my head from the desk to see what he's talking about. Kenji is holding a dirty, battered mobile phone in his hand. Looking like it may fall apart by itself in any given moment, it's a small miracle that it still appears to be working.

"What do you want me to do with this…?"

"Check out the video on the memory card. I've brought you a nice piece of intel," he says, looking very proud of himself. "I'd never take the risk of making a call, but I did use the phone to gather some evidence last year. You have no idea about the horrors I uncovered. There was some sick, sick shit on this phone, man… I had to delete most of it because of a security breach, but there's still a file left that may be useful to you."

I highly doubt that. But, well… he's giving me this as a token of gratitude, so…

"Thanks." I try to smile while taking the phone and putting it on my desk.

"Not a problem, man." Kenji waves at me as he heads towards the exit. "See you around."

As the door closes behind him, I stare blankly at the phone's cracked screen. The clock had been set to Greenwich Mean Time for some odd reason.

Eh, what can I lose? It's not like I have anything better to do, right?

I browse through the folders of the device in the file manager. Kenji wasn't joking, the phone had been wiped clean almost completely. There are no contacts, no text messages, no pictures, no installed programs, nothing. Only one medium-sized file in the "Videos" folder.

Pressing "down" once, I select it - and then hesitantly push the "OK" button in the middle.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:42 pm

Music track: Concord
I see a couple of bushes. They're very close to the camera, as if the person holding the phone is trying to hide behind them. From the lighting, I assume it has to be sometime late in the afternoon.

I can make out a faint but very familiar voice. "Err… um… what are you doing over there?"

Is that… Yuuko? Nah, it can't be.

"Sssh, quiet! You'll expose my position!" Well, I certainly don't have to guess who this is. "Go check out the other stalls, I'm on a mission right now!"

Since there's no reply, I can only assume the mysterious girl did as he said.

Kenji with a member of the opposite sex? Man, that's some shock… Whoever she is, I feel sorry for her.

The camera finally moves away from the bushes, but only ends up facing a nearby tree, which keeps growing in size as he runs toward it. I guess that's going to serve as the new cover against whoever Kenji intends to spy on.

Again, I can hear, if only barely, the sounds of conversation from nearby. Before I can make out anything of what the voices are saying, however, they're drowned out by another.

"Surveillance log, entry 13." Due to his excitement, Kenji seems to be struggling to keep his voice down. "The Tanabata festival finally gave me an opportunity that is well worth the deadly risks I'm taking just by being here. No, if anyone wants to know, this is not a date. For the first time, I can get near the heart of the feminism that infests this damn school. The leaders of the conspiracy. The worst nightmare of free men everywhere."

Slowly, carefully, Kenji sticks the phone out from behind the tree.

I can see a stall covered by blue and red fabric, with a couple of plastic tables and chairs next to it. Almost all the chairs are occupied by people eating something from the disposable plates in front of them.

Why does this look so familiar? A year ago I didn't even know a place like Yamaku Academy existed…

Wait, something's moving. Two girls appear behind the stall, dressed in waitress outfits. A third hurries after them, carrying a tray in her hand with two glasses of soda on it.

The resolution of the video is very bad, but the first and the third girl seem to have long hair, blond and brown, while the second one's hair is short and dark… and… she seems to be wearing glasses…

Damn. I remember. The photo I saw in her room, it was taken at the same time. It's Lilly, Shizune… and Misha.

"The Student Council," Kenji states in a disgusted tone. "Our greatest, craziest, most fearsome enemy."

Oh shut up already, I want to hear them talk!

"…we should hurry to make more." I can finally make out Lilly's voice. "This demand is quite unexpected, so much so that we are almost out of food."

Shizune is not looking at her as she speaks but at Misha instead, for obvious reasons.

She's not translating though. Her hands don't move at all.

"Oh… sorry, sorry~! I'm sorry, Lilly! Wait, I have to put the tray down somewhere…" I've never, ever heard Misha talk like that. She sounds… flustered. Nervous.

[Lilly says we need to make more food quick!]

She finally manages to relay the message, and Shizune's answer comes without a second of delay.

[Don't worry, I was prepared for this of course.] She whirls around and reaches under the stall, only to turn back a moment later. [Where are the noodle packages?]

Misha freezes in place, as if she had just been accused of stealing them all.

[I… I don't know. I have no idea, Shicchan, really!]

Shizune gives a silent sigh. [Calm down. I obviously wanted to ask Lilly, not you.]

The penny drops.

"Oh~! Err… Lilly, Shicchan wants to know where you've put the noodle packages."

Lilly seems confused. "I don't remember even touching those. If I'm not mistaken, Shizune brought them here along with the other ingredients. We have already used up six packages, aren't the rest supposed to be at the same place?"

"I… really don't know…"

Now it's Lilly's turn to sigh. "Could you please ask Shizune?"

Misha tenses up again. Memorizing the previous three sentences and presenting them to Shizune seems to require an enormous mental effort from her.

I have to say, this isn't the most efficient method of communication. She makes a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle mistakes, seems to translate only when asked, and even then she quotes the speaker instead of just translating the words as they come.

Combined with her odd mood, reactions and unusual hairstyle, it feels like I'm looking at a completely different person: a shy, nervous girl who is visibly unsure of herself.

It's so strange, I don't know what to think. How can someone change this much in just a year?

Or… did she change at all? Is the person I’ve come to know the real Shiina Mikado? Her overly energetic, bubbly personality always seemed unusual to an extent. Is it nothing but a front she puts up to keep people from seeing this? The truth?

On the rare occasions when I saw Misha sad, I always thought that it was so unlike her to act that way, and I instantly felt an urge to cheer her up, to bring her back to her usual joyful self.

But, it turns out, perhaps for her those moments were in fact the most real.

"I found them," Lilly appears from under the stall with a plastic package full of noodles in hand, triumph apparent in her voice. "It seems we now have everything we need. Misha, could you light the stove while I chop up the vegetables?"

Misha turns towards the portable gas stove behind them at a snail's pace, approaches it with similarly excruciating slowness, and finally picks up a box of matches into her slightly trembling hand. If I was watching a live video stream or a movie, this is the moment when I'd begin to worry that she's going to blow everyone up.

Suddenly, a hand appears on her shoulder. I recognize the hand's owner to be Shizune as she steps closer, Lilly obscuring her from view until now. I wish I could lean to the side, as I can barely see the signs they're making.

[What's wrong?]

A blunt question, as expected.

Misha's hands are moving about in the air, but I don't think it's the distance, the angle or the video's resolution that's making me believe they're not forming coherent words.

[Look, just calm down a bit, okay? If the customers keep pouring in like that we'll have to work quickly.]

I think I can finally see what Misha is signing, but it doesn't make me much wiser, since she seems to be only repeating a single word.

[But… but… but…]

Then without warning, the words explode out of her without much regard to whether Shizune can understand them or not.

"But Shicchan, I've never used a gas stove before~! It's really, really dangerous! And there are so many people here and they're all staring at me, and this outfit doesn't fit, and you're all speaking so fast I can't keep up, and the weather looks like it might rain right now or in a minute or two, and that makes me sleepy but I know I can't be sleepy right now, and… and…"

Please stop. It's so depressing to see you like this…

As if she heard my plea, Misha falls silent.

That's not true of course. Shizune is holding up an index finger, pushing it close to Misha's lips. You don't need to understand sign language to know what that means.

Looking pleased by her reaction, Shizune lowers her hand and gives her a warm smile.

[You're doing great.]

My eyes widen as I notice the effect those few simple hand movements have on Misha.

"You…you really think so?" For the first time, I see her arms and mouth move in parallel.

[Of course. This setup might not be the most efficient way of handling things, but we're having so many customers here because we're all doing a great job. You, me and Lilly as well.]

Before my very eyes, the flustered, insecure girl slowly disappears, replaced by someone all the more familiar. I know it's impossible, but even her long brown hair seems to have acquired a pinkish tint to it.

"Okay then, Shicchan! I'll try my best!"

That grin…

"But… please help me with the wok, okay? I don't want to burn the noodles by mistake…"

Shizune dismisses the concern with a wave of her hand.

[It's not a problem if they get burnt a little. After all, what does something like that matter when you have three cute girls working hard to make food just for you?]

"Wahahahaha~!"

About to chop a carrot to pieces, Lilly's knife-holding hand freezes in the air as Misha's laughter makes the microphone crackle. She involuntarily winces a little.

On the other hand, I find myself wishing the laughter would never stop.

This is not a mere front. It can't be. But then… what on earth is it??

"Lilly, the stove is ready~!"

"Thank you, I'll be there in just a minute," she answers, turning her head slightly.

Hey… Even though she can't see and her eyes are closed, it looks as if she's staring straight at the camera…

"By the way, Kenji, why don't you come out of hiding? We still have a bit of fried noodles left, and we would gladly give you some if you'd like…"

My hall-mate's panicked voice drowns out everything else. "Oh shit, I've been discovered! Aborting mission!"

No, wait, don't--!

The screen turns black, and a second later I'm looking at the contents of the "Videos" folder again. Nothing's there but a single, medium-sized file.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
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Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:44 pm

Music track: Friendship
I keep staring at the battered phone in silence. For some reason, it feels like I just learned more about Misha than I did ever since I've got here. If I could only make sense of what I saw…

Either way, it looks like I owe Kenji some thanks yet again. This is starting to get hugely embarrassing.

I stand up from the chair and change into my pajamas, getting ready to finally go to bed, while my mind keeps mulling over the contents of that year-old video.

Does it really matter if I understand her or not? After all, until recently I was content just going with the flow. I tried not to think about it too much: Misha was Misha, and she did what she did. That was all fine by me. Now, however, I'm beginning to realize that I'm falling into the same trap Shizune did earlier. Nearly word by word, even.

And anyway, the bliss of ignorance is just no longer enough. Both of them did things I would have never expected them to do, and while I may have given up on Shizune, I don't want to do the same to Misha.

Even if I still won't understand, I want to know more about her. About her personality, her past. About her plans for the future. And then maybe… if all else fails, maybe I could accept that she does what she does once more.

Do I still have a chance? Will our relationship be able to survive Shizune's departure? I can only hope.

I lie down on the bed and pull the covers over my eyes.

Hope is still better than nothing. It gives me strength to see things through. And then, when this mess with Shizune is finally over and I haven't been expelled from school or thrown into jail, I'll visit Misha in the hospital again… and apologize to her for everything.

First thing on Saturday.

The end of the week can't come quickly enough.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:45 pm

Music track: Stride
Friday finally arrived with an unusual, misty weather - and promptly turned all my plans upside down.

Man proposes, God disposes, right? Looks like Friday is out to teach me the meaning of this proverb in painful detail.

The reason for that being… well, as impossible as it may sound, Misha came to school today.

On one hand, I'm happy to see her. Her stay in the hospital was supposed to last well over one week, so her recovery must be going better than expected… or, well, it's also possible that she just ignored the doctors' advice and came no matter what. She's visibly far from healed: the cast is still on her right foot, she can't put any weight on it and she must use a pair of crutches to get around. But even so, the very fact that she can walk on her own is encouraging.

On the other hand, though, she being here completely terrifies me. She knows nothing about what's going on. She has no idea that this is Shizune's last day here at Yamaku, that the elections will be held today… and that I'm going to try my best to stop the whole thing.

From the second she limps into the classroom, I feel like I'm watching some kind of psychological thriller unfold. Our classmates rush to her, bombarding her with questions about how she's feeling, how long the cast needs to stay on and so on and so forth. I sit in my chair with my nerves on edge, unable to move a muscle, anxiously waiting the moment when Shizune or the elections are brought up and all hell breaks loose.

The moment refuses to arrive. Strangely enough, no one even goes near either topic, even though I have the feeling that Misha would like to ask them about it; she glances at me and towards Shizune's empty chair often as she tries to satisfy our classmates' curiosity with a moderately fake-sounding cheer in her voice. They don't give her a chance to steer the conversation in that direction, however.

This can't be anything but deliberate. They must at least suspect that Misha doesn't know, and don't want to be the ones to break the news to her.

So I guess rumors of the conflict within the Student Council have finally started to spread. Shizune's sudden transfer must have raised people's curiosity, and if Lilly managed to figure out that something isn't right, then it wouldn't be impossible for others to likewise connect the dots.

By chance, my classmates have become my accomplices in this little game of deception. I can't believe I'm feeling relief over this.

The disgusting sensation is only fleeting, however. My anxiety gets twice as worse once Misha arrives to her seat at the neighboring desk.

"…Good morning, Hicchan," she greets me in an odd voice as she slides carefully into her chair, balancing her weight on her good leg. She lays her crutches down to the floor, her eyes not leaving me for a second.

That's it. I can't take this anymore.

"M-Morning." My legs almost move on their own as I jump to my feet. "Sorry, but I need to run, I have something to take care of."

Without another word, I flee the classroom, deciding that it's probably for the best if I skip all morning classes today.

I'm such a coward.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:47 pm

I spend most of the time before lunch break wandering around the school building. The thick fog completely isolates the place from its surroundings; you can't see anything but a gray haze through the windows. It's almost as if Yamaku was transported into a pocket dimension to shield the rest of the world from the earth-shattering events that will soon be set into motion inside it.

Well, perhaps not earth-shattering for most people, but they definitely feel that way for me. I'm risking a lot with what I'm about to do, in order to achieve something that may prove to be largely pointless in the end.

And still, if I don't do it, then no one will stand up to Shizune and her selfish idiocy, and that is something I will not allow to happen. She was the one who took things too far first.

The first step is to throw a wrench into her election plans. Unfortunately for her, Shizune delayed things until the last possible moment: if the elections can't be held today, then she won't be able to take part in the procedures at all. That is all I'm after. If the school decides to organize a new round of elections at a later date, that is no concern of mine. Shizune will no longer be around to see it.

The second and similarly important step is to confront her. She's been living in denial for too long about what she can and cannot do, and what she can get away with. I've been evading her far too much as well; it's time to give her a piece of my mind in a way she won't forget any time soon. She needs to know why I did what I did. She might choose to ignore everything I tell her anyway, but at least she'll no longer be able to claim ignorance.

And no matter how it'll go, by tomorrow Shizune will be out of my life for good.

Well, good riddance, right?

Right?

…Damn it.

It's almost time. I climb the stairs to the second floor and head towards the storage room at the end of the corridor. Everywhere I go, photocopied replicas of the one and only "Declaration of Independence For All Men" litter the walls. From what I've heard, Kenji put them up as part of his "campaign" with the Student Council's written consent - Shizune must really not care about anything anymore.

Well, putting them here was pointless, since barely anyone ever comes by. That is one of the reasons I chose this place; the other being the small, red box on the wall next to the storage room entrance.

There's only a single line of text on the transparent plate in front, printed in large bold letters.

Code: Select all

IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS
This is the risky part. The alarm is connected directly to the local fire department; it is anything but a toy, and I do believe the school punishes those who trigger it in vain accordingly. I'm not sure if there's criminal liability involved, even.

Worse still, if they fail to find the broken alarm box while evacuating the school and don't shut the thing off by themselves… I'll probably have to admit that I did it, at least if I want to keep this from getting out of hand. Otherwise the place will be swarmed by fire engines before long, resulting in the horrible embarrassment of the entire school staff - all thanks to me. I don't want that; but even if I didn't care, such an outcome would make my situation look even bleaker should they eventually find out that I was the culprit on their own.

At least now I could claim that I tripped and triggered the alarm by accident… but I'm not sure how far that'll get me either. I'll be in big trouble no matter what.

Still, there's simply no way around this. If I don't break that glass in exactly two minutes and twelve seconds, I might as well give up on the whole thing altogether.

Two minutes and nine seconds now…

Seven… five… three--
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:48 pm

Music track: School Days
"Here you are."

I can feel my blood freeze. I glance back ever so slowly, dread filling all corners of my mind.

I'm completely busted.

"The mysteriously disappearing Nakai, who turns up in the morning but inexplicably vanishes when classes are about to start."

Mutou is standing behind me, eyeing me with a hard look.

"But… how…"

How can he be here?!

"I left the class with a group assignment, in case you were wondering. Right now, I was on my way to the student council room to check with Hakamichi that everything is ready," he states in a dry tone. "I was thinking I might also find you there, but from the looks of it I was sadly mistaken. You were simply skipping classes, correct?"

I can't think of any viable excuse. My brain has ground to a halt. "…Yes, sir. I'm sorry."

Mutou crosses his arms over his chest. "Nakai, what in blue blazes is wrong with you? You've been acting like you're in a coma all week, and now you're skipping classes for no good reason… this is unlike you. No, not like you at all."

I have no answer for him. I don't know what I could say.

Instead, I opt to just stare at the floor. Tick-tock, tick-tock… The sounds of an imaginary alarm clock echo in my mind, reminding me of precious seconds slowly slipping away.

"Alright, listen." I glance up. Mutou's expression seems to have relented slightly. "I know your friends gave you a rough time this week. I have to say, when I was told that Mikado was hit by a car and you might have suffered another heart attack… I haven't gotten much sleep that night either."

I gawk at him. This must be the first time I've heard Mutou talk like this.

A second passes, and he continues in his usual tone like nothing happened. "Even so, you need to pull yourself together: what you're doing now accomplishes little. Or am I wrong? What do you think? Did skipping my physics class make you feel any better?"

"No, sir." I mechanically shake my head.

He hasn't got the faintest idea why I'm here. I sort of understand that he's trying to help me, but all he's doing is making me more and more frustrated. How long have we been standing here? Am I already out of time? I can't tell anymore.

Mutou, sadly, cannot see anything beyond the fact that I gave him the answer he was hoping for. He gestures towards the corridor behind him. "Then we should go back to the classroom. You probably haven't noticed, but Mikado was released from the hospital this morning; she came to school straight away also, despite the nurse's fervent protests. I assume she would be happy to see you…?"

He's waiting for me to get moving. But I can't. If I go with him now, everything will be ruined. The elections will go without a hitch, and Shizune will leave… just like that. And yes, Misha is probably waiting for me in the classroom… with questions that need to be answered. Or perhaps she already knows. And she's hating me for it.

No, no, I cannot leave. I can't! I… I have to do something!

With a sudden, barely controlled movement, I throw myself against the wall behind me. I don't know if I made a passable impression of slipping or not, and I don't really care either; my arms flail in the air, hoping to somehow hit that little plastic box.

I hit nothing but air and the hard, unforgiving plaster. I glance to the side from my slumped position on the floor; the fire alarm seems to be light years away. I wasn't even close.

Still, I likely wasn't far enough to leave any sort of doubt about what I was trying to do, or even if I did, my gaze just now betrayed my intentions perfectly.

There's nothing but deafening silence all around me, and I can't bring myself to look up at the teacher again. Come on, say something already.

"It looks like you forgot about a few things, Nakai." Mutou's voice is low and reserved. "Well, no matter. Let's review what you've learned. What do you remember of the fundamental principles of scientific experiments?"

…Eh? Where did that come from??

Driven by surprise, I manage to meet his gaze once more, but end up none the wiser. Judging from his expression and tone alone, I might as well be sitting in physics class right now.

"Research needs to be conducted in a way that allows for precise measurements, minimizes outside interference, while also favoring methods that are easy to reproduce should we want to double-check our results. Simplicity and safety are also important concerns," he continues his bizarre train of thought, not giving me time to answer the question. Not that I could have answered him at this point. "The Sun provides plenty of plasma to study, for example, but because it's far away from us, creating plasma by ourselves is often better for some experiments. There is also more than one way to create new atomic nuclei from the nuclei of lighter elements, and we have to use the method that suits are goals best. Or to bring up a less esoteric example…" His gaze slides up the wall. "…if my goal is to speak with Hakamichi before the voting without the chance of being interrupted by others, I could certainly try to make it so that only the two of us are present in the school building. But that would violate several of the above guidelines: success isn't guaranteed, the method is overly complicated and unsafe, and its ethics are questionable. Instead, I need to realize that it doesn't actually matter if the school is empty or not; as long as the voting is not yet underway, everyone will remain in their respective classrooms, as per our agreement. No one will interfere; I can just go down and talk to Hakamichi right now, as simple as that. Did you follow all of this, Nakai?"

"Uh… Err…" I think my eyes are nearly popping out of their sockets right now. "…Y-Yes, sir."

The scariest part is that I'm not bluffing. I do understand what he's trying to say… even if I can hardly believe it.

"Good." Mutou nods curtly and stands aside. There's a strange, uncharacteristically cheerful glint in his eyes. "Off you go then."

I can only give a similarly minuscule nod in reply. I somehow get to my feet, and hurry towards the stairs.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:50 pm

Music track: Stride
I owe an apology to Mutou about what I thought of him before. I was wrong. He's… I guess he's an awesome homeroom teacher - or at least a lot more perceptive than what I gave him credit for.

I'm the one who's not worthy of his trust.

Apparently, from what he just told me, he seems convinced that I want to talk Shizune out of leaving. He might not know the details, but he can still guess that this was her own idea from the beginning, and when it comes to the "personal reasons" necessitating the transfer, one should look no further than me and Misha. He must think that I want to seize this final opportunity to make things right somehow.

But he's wrong on that count. If Shizune wants to leave, then she can leave for all I care. What I want is… is…

What the hell do I want exactly? I know the things I wanted to do, but to what end? What was the true goal of this "experiment"?

As far as sabotaging the elections go, the answer… well, when viewed from this angle the answer is rather obvious I think.

I wanted to make Shizune feel miserable.

The first rule I've laid down was that this shouldn't be about petty revenge, and then I went and tried to do exactly that. And to think how much I was willing to give up for it…

What has gotten into me?! Even if I managed to get away with it, this would've made me no better than her! If it weren't for Mutou, I…

Hold it. Stop. I need to calm down. This isn't the time to panic.

The second half of my plan still stands; I need to see that part through. I owe as much both to myself and to Shizune to tell her the truth about her selfish machinations.

Yes, the truth needs to be brought to light - and I'm going to do that right now.

I run even faster down the stairs, knowing that I absolutely have to reach the council room before the bell. Come on, come on….

I pass by a fellow student at the last flight of stairs, and a couple of seconds later I'm finally on the ground floor. Now I only need to--

"Hicchan?"
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pip25
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:48 pm

Re: Blame (Post-Shizune Bad End Misha route) (Complete)

Post by pip25 » Mon Jun 03, 2013 6:52 pm

Music track: Caged Heart
The voice stops me in my tracks.

I was in such a hurry that I didn't recognize her from the corner of my eye as I ran by. Misha is looking at me from around the middle of the stairs; the way she balances herself with her good foot and both crutches on a single step is a rather worrying sight.

This just isn't my day. Why the heck did she get out of class? And why now? Why at the worst possible moment?

"Where have you been, Hicchan…? Are you here to see Shicchan too?" she asks with confusion written across her face, mixed with a hint of sadness and exasperation. "The others told me that the elections will be during lunch break… but why? It's still too early! What's going on?"

No one told her anything still? Really? Not even Mutou?

Well, honestly, I don't want to either. I mean, why? Why the hell does it always have to be me?!

…That being said, this time I'm pretty much cornered. I can't simply walk away now, after all, can I? It's not like she can run after me, but…

Maybe I should just resign myself to my fate. I can't avoid this, no matter how hard I may try. I wanted to tell her about what's happening sooner or later anyway, tomorrow to be exact. What difference does a day make, not counting my cowardly wish to delay things as much as possible?

Obviously, there's one notable difference: Shizune's still here. Hearing the news, Misha will no doubt want to talk to her.

I don't want that.

I don't want that at all. I don't want to continue with the same stupidity from last week. I don't want Misha to meet her. Shizune should just… she should just go the hell away!

…W-What am I saying…?

What… what am I so afraid of?? I was about to confront Shizune myself! So what if Misha's also there?! What I want to tell Shizune is simply the truth! Nothing but the truth!

The truth… right…?

Damn it… Damn it!!

My head feels like it's about to explode as my right hand tears into my hair in frustration. And then…

All conflicting thoughts and emotions are washed away by the sound of the bell.

Lunch break has arrived.

Oh crap!! And I'm still not at the council room! I snap my head back, my eyes on the far end of the corridor. I must get there, now!

"Hicchan, wait!" I hear Misha shout after me as my legs begin to move.

Despite my crazed frenzy to get going, I freeze in place. Somehow, I instinctively know what is about to happen, even without looking in her direction. Two things flash through my mind in quick succession:

Misha is not used to the thought that her crutches impede her movement, and…

…she easily gets dizzy on the stairs.

"Ah--?!"

Oh no…

By the time I whirl around, she's already losing her balance. The crutch slips from her right hand; she struggles to stay on her good foot, but the side of her injured leg is now completely without support. Wobbling for a second, she quickly falls forward.

Time slows to a crawl. I watch her flailing form plunge through the air as I make a leap; my momentum carries me much further than intended and I feel a jolt of pain as my body crashes against the bottom of the stairs.

I can't let that distract me. My eyes do not leave Misha for a moment as I reach out and catch her, grabbing her by the waist before she falls head-first onto me. I can't stop her movement completely, however: my arms wrapped around her in desperation, we roll away from the stairs on the floor a couple of times, before finally coming to a halt.
Last edited by pip25 on Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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