Developments (Post-Lilly NE) [Complete, 2015-08-11]

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dewelar
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Developments, Chapter 39

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:47 pm

"It feels as though we might get some rain this afternoon," Lilly says with a sigh as we exit through Yamaku's main gate. "I'm afraid I didn't pack an umbrella when I left Scotland."

"I have one," I say, double-checking my bag to make sure.

The morning had not gone well. Lilly's jet lag made her usual morning lethargy even worse, so even getting her out of bed was like pulling teeth. Once she did get up, the lack of caffeine kicked in, so it took forever for her to get ready and out the door. Then, it took longer than expected to fill out her paperwork and get her room key from the administration, so by the time Lilly returned it was nearly noon.

What all this meant for me was plenty of time to dwell on things I shouldn't. Mostly, that involved Lilly's attempt to reassure me about her relationship with Hisao. In fact, it did the exact opposite, because once again she couldn't bring herself to say she doesn't have feelings for him. That's the closest she's ever going to come to admitting that she does. I used to think it was my own insecurity getting the better of me when I thought that, but not after last night. Once that was in my head, I didn't get much sleep. When I did, the thought was there, too.

Of course, sleeping on the floor probably didn't help.

Once Lilly did return I did my best to banish all of that from my mind. Since it was so late, we left immediately, and decided that our first stop would be at the Shanghai for lunch, which would hopefully calm both of our nerves.

As we start on our way down the road toward the town, the familiar sound of Lilly's cane and rhythm of her movements almost makes things feel like nothing has changed. Only almost, though, because I can't bring myself to walk quite as closely to Lilly as I used to. I think that might be for the better, though, because right now I don't want to allow myself to use her as a shield. What does surprise me is that she isn't saying anything about it. I know she's noticed, and this is usually the kind of thing she feels the need to praise me for doing.

I suppose I should count my blessings.

With everything that happened last night, Lilly and I didn't have much of an opportunity to talk, so I had been looking forward to this walk. Now that we're actually here, though, I find myself not knowing how to start the conversation. At first, I'm not even sure which conversation to start, but I decide that since I know she won't say anything otherwise, I should probably ask about what's going on with her first. I asked Hisao what he knew while we were playing chess yesterday, but he didn't know much either.

"Lilly?"

"Yes, Hanako?"

"Do you w-want to talk for a bit?"

Well, that was stupid. Of COURSE she wants to talk, that's why we're here.

Lilly laughs lightly. "It would be better than walking all the way to town in silence, I think. Still, I presume you have something more specific in mind."

Much as I'd like to clear the air about Hisao right off, I don't want to ruin today before it starts. Instead, I decide to ask about something else that's been puzzling me. "I-I was wondering...what happened with your parents when you told them you wanted to...come back."

Lilly doesn't say anything for a few moments, and in the silence the tapping of her cane seems to echo from everywhere. I realize belatedly that when Lilly said she wanted to talk, what she meant was that she wanted to talk about me, so this might have caught her off guard. A car starts to approach us slowly, and without thinking I press myself against Lilly's back. When I do, I can feel that she's as tense as I am, if not more so. An instant later, however, I feel her muscles loosen a bit, as though my gesture somehow put her at ease.

Of course it did. It's the natural state of things to her, after all.

And why do I keep jumping to that conclusion?


Once the car has passed, I move away from Lilly again, and maybe a few inches further now. Lilly remains silent, and I begin to wonder if she's going to answer at all. Eventually, though, she says, "They were...surprisingly supportive of my return here."

As usual, her words are carefully chosen, although it's not often so obvious. "You don't...sound very happy about it."

Immediately, Lilly's face softens and she turns to me. "Don't misunderstand, Hanako. I'm very happy to have been able to return without the need to burn any more bridges than I already had. I just have some...questions about the reasoning behind my family's actions." Lilly sighs heavily before continuing, "Perhaps it's best to leave it at that."

That effectively cuts that topic off, too.

In need of a new subject, my homing pigeon of a mind comes back to Lilly's feelings for Hisao. I suppose that anything I want to discuss right now is likely to result in one or both of us being hurt, but that one will be especially dangerous. Just as I'm considering coming at it sideways by starting with my own issues with Hisao, Lilly saves me the trouble.

"I really do wish I'd been able to talk to you before returning, though. When I couldn't reach you the other day, I thought you might have already left on your trip. While I'm happy that you were here to meet me, I admit I was a little concerned when I heard that something had happened between you and Hisao."

She would have to bring it up on those terms, wouldn't she?

"It's...fine now," I say in response, hoping not to be forced to go into those details. "I just...m-made a mistake, and once I had a chance to t-talk to Hisao, e-everything was all right."

Lilly hums her agreement, then adds, "I thought that might have been the case when the two of you came to meet me together. I'm afraid I may have made Hisao worry a bit more than necessary, though."

"Y-yes, you did," I say, trying to sound neutral despite the memory. "He thought I was...shutting myself in, like on my...birthday."

That's getting easier, at least.

Lilly's face falls, and she sighs. "I was afraid of that. I am sorry, Hanako. It was a conclusion that I'd tried not to draw, but it seems I led Hisao to it anyway. I'm glad to know that it wasn't so, and hope that I wasn't the cause of further problems because of it."

"I don't...think so. Actually, it...might have helped me to...say some things to him that I...I needed to say." I certainly wouldn't have told him about my birthday without that push. As for the rest...

"That's good to hear," Lilly says, nodding. "Still, things did seem somewhat tense between the two of you last night. Is there something else bothering you?"

Well, now that we're on the subject of Hisao and me after all, I might as well do this.

I look down at the ground as I work through how to say it. "I...I'm worried that...what you said the other day, about things moving too fast...that I might have d-done that."

Lilly's face becomes serious, and she slows her pace slightly. "Hisao told me that..." she pauses, seemingly searching for words herself, before continuing, "...on the day you confessed to him, you also gave him your first kiss."

"Hisao...told you that?"

How much else has he told you, I wonder...

"I think he expected that you would have already told me," Lilly replies, a slight smile returning to her face. "Looking back on our conversation that day, I can understand why you didn't."

So I'm NOT the only one who regrets that day...

My response comes out in a rush. "I...didn't know then...I still don't know what to do. E-every time I'm with him I j-just want to...move things forward, because...something inside me tells me that...when I'm n-not with him, I'm...falling behind." My voice drops to a whisper as I say the last part.

"Hanako," Lilly says comfortingly, "you've told me how much you treasure the patience that Hisao shows with you. You have to be willing to trust in that."

I take a deep breath before responding, "I know. Hisao...said the same thing at lunch. But...that wasn't...the only thing I t-tried to rush."

"What do you mean?" Lilly asks in a tone that tells me she may already suspect what my answer will be.

"Lilly, I...know what you and Hisao did...the night you confessed to him."

Lilly stops walking, and her head snaps in my direction. "Hanako?"

"That's...what happened the other day. I...thought it was what I needed to do, but...Hisao said it was too soon, that...w-we weren't...ready, and...he walked out. That's why...my phone was off. I...I just couldn't f-face anyone."

Lilly lowers her head and resumes walking. "A fine example I set, then. I can't exactly fault you for that decision, since I made the same mistake. I suppose I could say that at least Hisao and I were sure of our feelings for each other, but I'm not even certain of the truth of that now, if I ever was."

Hearing that, a part of me wants to tell Lilly that she's wrong, that Hisao did truly love her, at least back then. However, the more cowardly part of me can't do that, because it might fan whatever flame might still be in her heart. Lilly doesn't say anything for a while either, and I curse myself for not being the friend I tell myself I'm trying to be.

I need to show her I can do this for her.

Just as I'm getting ready to say something, though, Lilly starts talking again. "I feel like I'm watching my own experience playing out all over again," she says with a bitter laugh. "I just hope that you and Hisao can work things out from here. Maybe the ending to your story will be a better one."

"Thank you," I say in response, "so do I." It's all I can think to say now. I'm not sure what I expected Lilly to say, either, so I just keep walking, watching the clouds as they continue to gather ahead of us. Neither of us says anything more for the rest of the way into town.

Fortunately, we reach the Shanghai before the clouds finish gathering. As usual, it's nearly empty, but no doubt once the rain starts it will fill up quickly. As we walk in, Yuuko appears. "Welcome to the Shanghai!" she says nervously before adding, "Lilly? What are you doing here? I thought you'd left for Scotland! It's good to see...er...have you here again!"

Lilly laughs dismissively, saying, "Yuuko, it's good to meet with you again, but how many times must I tell you not to change your speech patterns on my account?" Yuuko fidgets unsteadily, but before she can say anything Lilly continues, "Yes, I did leave for Scotland, but I returned last night. I missed this place quite a bit in the short time I was gone, and I'm looking forward to some tea and sandwiches."

"Of course! I'll get those right away!" Yuuko says with one of her violent bows. She then retreats toward the counter, saying, "Sit anywhere you like!"

"Thank you," Lilly says bemusedly to the empty space where Yuuko used to be. I lead her to a secluded booth toward the back of the café, which is the closest thing we have to a regular table. This is the first time the two of us have come here without Hisao since before they started dating, so despite the tension I feel a bit nostalgic. Lilly smiles as she breathes deeply, taking in the scents of the place.

Even after we sit down, the silence between us lingers for a while, although being here makes it feel a lot more comfortable. Silence will probably always be a friend to me, but lately it seems I'm discovering more and more ways in which silence can be uncomfortable, so the change is quite welcome. It isn't long before Yuuko brings our order, and once the tea has been poured Lilly brings the cup to her face, inhales deeply again, then takes a sip. "Ah," Lilly says, sighing happily, "now I can truly relax. I never did get used to English tea. Thank you very much, Yuuko."

While Lilly might be relaxed, I can't help but notice that even after bowing to us, Yuuko is still standing next to our table looking nervously at Lilly. Since Lilly doesn't seem to notice, I say, "W-what's wrong, Yuuko?"

"Oh, are you still there?" Lilly says, startled slightly. "I apologize for not noticing," she continues with a light chuckle, "but I'm afraid I was a bit lost in my tea."

"I don't mind. Sometimes it's fine not to be noticed. Actually, that's kind of what's bothering me. Um, I hope this isn't too forward of me, but I was wondering if you were coming back to Yamaku?"

Lilly nods, her smile broadening. "Yes, I am. I will start classes again normally after the break."

"Will you be...um...will you be coming back to your duties in the library?"

Lilly hums softly, then says, "Well, to be honest, I hadn't thought about it. Why do you ask?"

Yuuko's troubled look deepens. She looks around her, then leans over and almost whispers, "I think the person who replaced you might be stalking me."

"Stalking you? Kamisaka?" Lilly asks, obviously surprised. "He doesn't strike me as the type who would do something like that." I nod along with Lilly, as I'd met him a couple of times in her class and he seemed nice enough.

"Well, if you say so," Yuuko responds, becoming more agitated, "but he certainly makes me nervous. He's been here every day since the library closed, and it just feels like he's...well, obviously he's not watching me because he's blind, but he's...well, anyway, I just don't think it's normal."

"I think I understand," Lilly says sympathetically. "I should be meeting with him soon enough, so if it's troubling you that much I can ask him about it."

"Oh, would you?" Yuuko says, brightening a bit. "I would appreciate that very much, Lilly, thank you," she continues, bowing again.

"It's the least I can do for a friend," Lilly says with her usual smile. Just then, the front bell rings and Yuuko retreats to the front of the café. We've just started to enjoy our lunch when I hear an odd dragging sound behind me, followed by Yuuko seating someone in the booth right next to ours. She quickly departs again, and Lilly says, "Hmmm...strange that she chose to seat someone back here."

Just then, a male voice comes from the next booth. "Is that Lilly's voice I hear?" it says.

Lilly smiles in recognition, although I'm still at a loss. "It is indeed," she replies, sounding a bit more formal than usual. "Might that be Kamisaka?"

Speak of the devil. That explains it.

"Yeah, it's me. I just sat down. What's going on? I thought you were in Scotland permanently."

"Yoshiro," Lilly says patiently, "if you want to talk, it's a bit awkward to do so like this. Why don't you join us?" Lilly turns to me and adds, "As long as you don't mind, Hanako."

My mind searches for reasons to say that I do, but can't find one that would sound reasonable. "N-no, I...guess not."

"Oh, Ikezawa? I didn't hear you over there." Kamisaka gets up and makes his way to our booth, and Lilly slides in to make room for him. On the way, he almost crashes into Yuuko, who nearly drops her tray.

"I...should I just put this down here, then?" Yuuko asks him.

"Oh...um...yeah," Kamisaka replies, blushing a bit. Once Yuuko leaves, he turns to Lilly and says, "So what, you forgot something and needed to come all the way back for it?"

"That would be a rather...poetic way of putting it, I suppose." Kamisaka wrinkles his brow and frowns, and Lilly giggles a bit. "What I left behind here was very important, enough that I've returned permanently to reconnect with it."

Kamisaka continues to look puzzled. "Okay, well, it's your life, I guess. It's just kind of strange. With it being break and all, it doesn't even feel like you were gone. Anyway, welcome back," Kamisaka finishes with a smile.

"Thank you, Yoshiro."

Kamisaka's expression turns a bit troubled as he asks, "So, uh, are you...planning on taking over as class rep again?"

Lilly covers a light laugh. "Are you that anxious to free yourself from Shizune's grasp?"

Kamisaka sighs. "Yeah, under normal circumstances, but that's not why I asked. I...have other reasons why I need to know."

"Might it have something to do with a certain librarian?"

Kamisaka, who was taking a sip of his tea, sputters and coughs a bit, looking a little angry. "Did Hisao tell you?" he says in a strained whisper. "I swore him to secrecy on that."

"My, my, it seems I guessed correctly," Lilly replies smoothly, ignoring Kamisaka's discomfiture. Her own voice is barely above a whisper as she continues, "Actually, your attention hasn't escaped Yuuko's notice, either. If you're going to say something to her, I would suggest you do so soon. I doubt your chances of success are going to increase in the future."

"I know that," Kamisaka says, rubbing the back of his head. "She just...makes me so nervous. I get myself convinced that I can say something, but the moment she comes over, all I can do is order more tea. I think I'm as addicted to the stuff as you are now, and I spend way too much time in the restroom." He drops his head onto the table with a thump, nearly causing my own tea to slosh out of its cup. "I guess I'm just doomed to admire her from afar, and shit, now I'm even starting to sound like an artist."

Lilly laughs again. "You can't fight destiny, Yoshiro. I'm sure Tezuka would be very pleased to know that."

Kamisaka groans as if he's in agony. "Just one week, just one damn week I'd like to go without hearing that name. Like it's not enough to hear Hisao going on about how I shouldn't tell her I'm not interested in art."

I sit forward just a bit as he says this. I didn't even know Hisao knew Kamisaka, much less was giving him advice. Lilly seems surprised as well, as she says, "Really, now?"

"Yeah, at lunch a few days ago he was saying something like if I told her, it would ruin her dream or something. Not like I was going to say anything like that, but he was pretty forceful about it."

"I didn't know that he and Tezuka were that friendly," Lilly says, seeming a bit bemused. I smile a little, too, but for a different reason. I know that's who Hisao is, and I admire that about him. Whether he's friendly with Tezuka or not, he would make sure nobody treated her with anything but respect.

Just like he's always treated me.

"Getting back to the issue of your interest in Yuuko," Lilly continues, "I would ask you to proceed with caution. Yuuko is a dear friend of mine, but she's never been a particularly confident woman. Her last relationship...didn't end well, and as a result she has become even less confident about such things. Since she's already noticed your interest, it has put her somewhat on edge. If you're not ready to talk to her, I would suggest perhaps not putting so much effort into seeing her until you are."

Kamisaka lifts his head again and leans back against his seat. "Yeah, okay, I get your point. So I'm working her nerves, huh?" he asks, his voice sounding a bit distant. "Damn, I definitely didn't want to do that. Okay then, once I finish my lunch, I'll head back and figure out what to do next. Thanks for the tip, Lilly, I appreciate it."

"You're quite welcome, Yoshiro."

"So, enough about my relationship woes. What about yours, Lilly?" Kamisaka leans forward conspiratorially. "Now that you're back, do you think you're going to get back together with Hisao?"

Lilly and I wince in unison at the question. If anything, Lilly seems to be more pained by it than I am. "No," she says quietly, "we've both moved on, so it's best to let things rest."

As expected, the same non-answer you gave me.

"Yeah," Kamisaka replies, "I guess you two didn't part on really good terms anyway. Besides, even if you wanted to, I understand you'd have some serious competition."

Is...that supposed to be a joke? Does he even remember I'm here?

"I'm well aware of that, Yoshiro."

"Oh, yeah, he told me he talked to you a few days ago. He probably told you the whole story. All I know is that he had two girls after him, and one of them's that track star from 3-4."

I shrink back in my seat. So he doesn't know I'm part of the competition, which...I think is a good thing. I consider asking Kamisaka what else Hisao told him, but as I'm trying to figure out how, he drains the rest of his tea and gets up from the table. "Well," he says, unfolding his cane, "if I'm going to get back to Yamaku before the rain starts, I'd better get going. You two heading back?"

"No, we're actually on our way to some shopping."

Kamisaka looks a bit embarrassed at that. "Oh, man, you should've told me. I'm sorry I intruded on you guys. I guess we'll run into each other again sometime."

"Most likely. Take care, Yoshiro."

"Y-yes, take care," I say, feeling a bit guilty for it being my first contribution to the conversation.

"Good luck keeping dry," Kamisaka calls out as he departs, leaving Lilly and me to finish our lunch. As he walks away, I hear that same odd sound, which I now realize is being made by the ball on the end of his cane.

As I take the last bite of my sandwich, I begin to hear the distant rumbling of thunder. "That sounds ominous," Lilly says wryly. "Perhaps we should see about heading for the shops."

"R-right," I reply before draining my teacup. Just as I'm standing up to leave, the bell heralds the entrance more customers. I look toward the front door, and my eyes are immediately drawn to a head of pink hair, and another of blue-black hair next to it. I try to duck back down, but it's no use, because I hear Misha's loud voice calling, "Hi hi~ Hanako~! Is Lilly with you?!"

Lilly, who's in the process of unfolding her own cane, grimaces. "Oh, dear. Is my cousin here as well?"

"Y-yes, she is," I reply quietly as I stand up and nod in Misha's direction as Lilly resumes her seat with a sigh. As they approach, the grin on Shizune's face tells me all I need to know of her intentions, and I wonder if the thunder was nature's way of announcing her presence.

"Wahaha~!" exclaims the lightning that accompanies her. "There you are, Lilly! Shicchan and I have been looking for you all morning~ to welcome you back!"

They've only been here for a minute, and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. Before I know it, I'm saying, "I...I'll be right back," and my legs are carrying me to the bathroom.

I enter one of the stalls, which are almost as large as the ones at Yamaku, so I have plenty of room to kick myself for running away again like that. After all, I was able to face Shizune and Misha the other day without too much trouble, but...I just know there's going to be some kind of confrontation, and I don't want to be involved...

...but I also know I should be. If I'm ever going to be a real friend to Lilly, I have to be able to stand by her, even...no, especially at times like this. I spend a few moments making sure I'm not going to panic, then gather my strength and head out to face the storm.

As I exit the bathroom, I pull up short at the sound of Misha's voice saying, "Did you or didn't you tell Akira you wanted to undo what you did by leaving here?"

Wait, what?

I ease myself into another booth, hopefully out of the sight of the Student Council, so that I can hear this without interfering. "Certainly there are some things that I wanted to undo," I hear Lilly reply, "but why do you insist on that being one of them?"

"Because...aw, do I have to say that, Shicchan?" Misha says sadly. Then, after a pause, she continues, "Because Hisao made you happier than I've seen you in years, and you should regret that more than anything~! And~ because I know you still love him...is that true, Lilly?"

"Misha," Lilly says, her voice rising dangerously, "you can tell my cousin that she can stop minding my business any time! As far as I am concerned, this conversation is over, and once Hanako returns, we will be out of your way."

You won't answer directly...even when I'm not there?

"I-I'm here, Lilly," I say as I move toward the booth.

"Excellent timing, Hanako," Lilly says, her voice barely masking her displeasure with the situation. "Shall we start our shopping in earnest, then?"

"O-okay," I say, still shaking a bit from the force of what I just heard. As Lilly gets up, I see Misha glancing my way with an apologetic look on her face. I close my eyes and nod slightly in her direction, hoping she'll understand, then allow Lilly to take my elbow. We quickly make our way to the counter, pay our bill, and leave the Shanghai.

When I get outside, the sky looks like it could open up at any moment. Lilly also seems to sense it and asks, "Shall we go to the tea shop first? It's a bit closer, and the convenience store is on the way back to Yamaku."

"S-sure," I say as I make sure my umbrella is easily accessible. The tension that has been building all day was only magnified by the scene at the Shanghai. I know I need to do something about it soon, so once we've put some distance between us and the café, I turn to Lilly again. "Before we get there, I was...wondering something."

"What is it?"

I take a deep breath, because this time it's me who's about to play Stormbringer. I quickly make sure my umbrella is rune-free before asking, "Why is it that...every time someone asks about you and Hisao, you d-don't give a real answer?"

Lilly stops walking, and her shoulders stiffen. "I'm...not sure what you mean..."

"E-every time I ask you...if you still have feelings for Hisao, you say...your relationship is over, but you never say...you don't love him anymore. Then today, you said the same kind of thing to Kamisaka...and then to Shizune."

Lilly doesn't respond right away, and when she does her voice sounds tired. "Are you sure you want to talk about this now, Hanako? We might be able to do so more freely once we're back at Yamaku."

Of course, because that would give you the chance to think of another way to avoid the subject.

"I thought...this trip was s-supposed to be a chance for us to talk," I say, trying to sound like I'm teasing Lilly. I don't think it quite came out that way, though.

"So it was," Lilly says resignedly. "Very well, then, you deserve to know the truth of the matter, even if it might be painful for both of us, and perhaps it's best that it be at a time of your choosing." She takes a deep breath before continuing, "You're right that I've been...less than open about things with you, and with everyone else as well. I had a lot of time to think about things in Scotland, and after searching my heart I discovered that yes, I do still have feelings for Hisao."

The words sting a bit less than I feared, because I had already convinced myself of that. That doesn't mean that they don't still hurt, but I need to know all of this. "Did you...know that when you...s-said I should act on my own feelings?"

"I was still...uncertain at that point. It took several more days to allow the pain of our parting to subside and for me to see my own feelings clearly."

Several more days...

"Then...did it have anything to do with your decision to come back to Yamaku?"

After another pause, she says, "What I said last night was the truth. I wanted to return to be with the people I considered family." Lilly bows her head before continuing, "If anything, the fact that I still love Hisao made coming back more difficult, because I know he no longer returns those feelings."

That feeling, I know very well. It's one I experienced when Lilly was with Hisao, and ever since I confessed to him I've feared its return. To see my best friend – and whatever else has happened, she is still that – in that same place...maybe we're just a little bit closer to being equals now.

I hope she feels that way, too.

I put my hand on Lilly's shoulder, which seems to take her by surprise as she gasps slightly. "Lilly, r-remember that day when you came to visit me after breaking up with Hisao? That was the first time you'd ever...shown me that you were hurting. Today...is the second. In between, you've done nothing but bottle it up inside of you. If anyone knows...the damage that can do, it's m-me. Please, let me...help you, too."

Lilly takes my hand in hers with a sad smile. "Hanako, I know you mean well, but this is not the kind of thing with which I can burden you. This pain is mine to bear. It's not something I can avoid, or shift onto someone else."

"That's...not what I'm asking," I say, my voice rising. "You can't shift it, but you can share it! You're my friend, and you've even said you think of me as...family. Who can you...trust to help you, if not me?"

Lilly takes another deep breath, and so do I as I try to keep my own frustration from boiling over. She was right that this was not the place for this, but there really is no place for this. "Hanako," Lilly says, her voice flat, "I think it would be rather awkward for me to discuss my own feelings for Hisao with someone who is trying to act on her own feelings for the same person. I think you could at least agree with me on that."

"H-how is that any worse than you asking me to tell you about...my feelings for him, when you still love him?!"

Lilly lets go of my hand and takes a half-step backwards. However, she quickly gathers herself, and her façade makes its unwelcome return. "You make a good point, Hanako. Perhaps it would be best if neither of us discussed this just now. Once things have settled down between you and Hisao, then we can come back to..."

"What, so...you can just go right back to...keeping it all inside, and...hurting yourself? I don't want to see you like that!"

Lilly's composure falters again as she says, "So you'd prefer that I hurt everyone around me as well, including you? Because that's what I don't want, Hanako. Can't you understand that?"

"All I'm asking is that you let me do for you...what you've always done for me!"

Lilly's face now looks apologetic. "Hanako, I'm sorry, I just...don't think it's a good idea."

Of course you don't.

"B-because you don't think I...I can handle it?!"

"Hanako, please! That's not..."

"Lilly," I say, trying to keep myself from breaking before making this one last move, "on the night you left for Scotland...you said I could be...a strong and confident woman someday. I'm asking you...right now...let me show you. Let...me...TRY."

All of the air seems to go out of Lilly, and she reaches out her hand to lean against a nearby light pole. "I'm sorry, Hanako," she says, looking more miserable than I ever thought she could. "I...can't."

I lower my own head at that, and spend a few moments fighting back the panic that's threatening to overcome me. When I'm finally able to bring myself to say something, all I can muster is a hoarse whisper. "I...understand," I say, even though I'm not entirely sure I do. Before I turn to start walking again, I add, "Let me know...when things are different."

Lilly doesn't respond, so I start to make my way down the street towards the convenience store. As I do, I keep hoping that I'll hear the tapping of Lilly's cane behind me. Instead, all I hear is the sound of the rain that has just begun to fall, and the low rumble of thunder. I open my umbrella and turn back to see if she's still where I left her, but all I see is the light pole, standing starkly against the grey sky. After waiting a few moments in vain to see if she'll reappear, I turn around and continue on my journey.

~~~~

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Last edited by dewelar on Wed May 07, 2014 9:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by bhtooefr » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:33 pm

Ho.

Lee.

Shit.

I'm so proud of your Hanako right now.

Also, poor Yoshi. I've been in his shoes way too many times. :?
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:48 pm

Oh that dramatic rumble in the background, just before the storm… your characters are so very… alive, and more so with each chapter. Also, their psychological conflicts are very realistic. It's been a great way to end my evening. Thanks for Chapter 39! :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by monkeywitha6pack » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:04 pm

great chapter! Things are starting to unravel now
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Wahahaha~.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:41 pm

Thanks for catching those, everybody...did most of my editing late last night, so I'm not surprised a couple errors crept in. For future reference, I think I'd prefer having them pointed out via PM rather than in the thread.
RandomPerson wrote:words
That was rather...rambling, but I think my response can be best summed up as follows: this story was written to show how I thought things might develop after Lilly's neutral ending. As its title implies, it's about how all of them develop as people as a result of her departure for Scotland -- i.e., it's not just about the love triangle/diamond. In that way, I'd like to think it's true to the spirit of Katawa Shoujo. Also, there's still a fair amount of this story to be told, which may address some of the issues you've brought up. In any case, glad you've enjoyed it for the most part, and I hope you hang in there until the end!
bhtooefr wrote:Ho.

Lee.

Shit.
Heh.
I'm so proud of your Hanako right now.
Well, she did what she could. If I was brythain, I'd say "I'll let you know when I see her" :D . Sadly, my Hanako-space only allows for observation, not conversation. :(
Also, poor Yoshi. I've been in his shoes way too many times. :?
You are not alone there, my brother.
brythain wrote:Oh that dramatic rumble in the background, just before the storm… your characters are so very… alive, and more so with each chapter. Also, their psychological conflicts are very realistic. It's been a great way to end my evening. Thanks for Chapter 39! :)
Thanks very much!
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:44 pm

Another fine addition to this story.
I've send two technical notes via PM - about the story itself:
Your interpretation of Lilly surprises me...
Her original path is all about being open about one's feelings, but in this story she seems to be the character who has the most problems talking about her feelings - more than even Hanako.
It almost feels like you're... deconstructing her character. Intrigueing...
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Guest Poster » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:51 pm

To be honest, I've always felt that the choices in Lilly's route were more about being open to oneself than being open to others. By not sweeping his own problems under the rug in front of Lilly, Hisao gains a little measure of self-reflection that's used after Lilly leaves to spring him into action. Lilly's never been very good at putting her problems on other people's shoulders. She's kind of like Emi in that way, though the mentality behind it is probably different.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by bhtooefr » Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:14 pm

Lilly's inability to let people shoulder her burdens is, in my opinion, actually closer to Hanako's anxieties than Emi's.

Emi's fear with letting people shoulder her burdens is that the other person will die.

Both Lilly and Hanako's fear, however, is that the other person will be unable to see past the burden itself, and will abandon them. Hanako openly states this for her own case. Lilly implies it to an extent, even as she tries to hide it, but I think her fear may actually be deeper-seated than Hanako's. Even if she denies Akira's interpretation of events, it lurks in the back of her mind always (and, we now know in this story that Akira's interpretation wasn't correct, but the fear likely still remains). Hanako's parents at least didn't abandon her, and her mother explicitly gave her life to save her.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Mahorfeus » Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:00 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote: Your interpretation of Lilly surprises me...
Her original path is all about being open about one's feelings, but in this story she seems to be the character who has the most problems talking about her feelings - more than even Hanako.
It almost feels like you're... deconstructing her character. Intrigueing...
I'm not so sure. The route certainly counted on Hisao's honesty and openness to succeed, but Lilly's concealment of her dilemma and her feelings regarding it were what formed the conflict. I get the impression that her character here just builds off of that.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by griffon8 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:51 pm

I understand that my opinion right now is colored by the fact that this chapter was from Hanako's perspective…

… but I've never thought so lowly of Lilly as I do right now. That is an edit from my initial, more puerile thought.

I wonder how my opinion of her will change with the next chapter, or whenever we have one from Lilly's POV again.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Yukarin » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:50 am

AAAAA

HOLY SHIIIIIIIIIIIITTTT

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by cake307 » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:04 am

I'm not sure why people would think less of Lilly for this chapter. Yes, Hanako asked her to open up, but as Hanako herself should know, that doesn't work. Hanako doesn't think Lilly's doing it to protect her, either; she's (probably correctly) interpreting it as not wanting to share her burden. She has every right to feel that way, and most people would, especially in the situation that's been laid out here, I think. If anything, I think Hanako should know, from her own experiences, that pushing for an answer is never the right way to go. She's gotten Lilly to admit that she still feels love for Hisao, and that said love made it more difficult to come back, not easier; it seems like Hanako is then to blame for trying to push it farther. I can see Hanako doing what she did, though, especially the way she's characterized here, but I'd almost expect it to come more from a place of "What if she's not telling the whole truth?" not a place of "I should help her." Proof Hanako has grown even more than I thought, but I'm still cheering for Emi! :lol:

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by hyroglyphixs » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:22 am

Oh my goodness.. what a fantastic chapter! Ugh, this whole Lilly conundrum is so crazy that I have no idea how it'll be resolved. Perhaps a Lilly POV soon?

Keep up the good work :)

PS. I've said this before.. but is it weird I'm cheering for Lilly? (She is my favourite girl..after all)
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by Mahorfeus » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:39 am

I am most interested in seeing how Hisao will react to Emi. This makes twice now that it seems like he was going to "choose" her, but neither attempt came from his point of view.

Out of the girls, right now Hanako seems to be becoming the strongest. However, that does not necessarily mean she is the one who will end up with Hisao. I am very happy with how her character has developed here. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I thought she would break down once she confirmed Lilly's feelings, but her willingness to be supportive completely caught me off guard.

I hate to say it, but for some odd reason I am leaning toward Lilly "winning" this time around.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 39 up 4/

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:49 am

So, where DO we stand now, anyway?

Hisao: Probably leaning towards Emi
Emi: Preparing to ship Hanako with him
Misha: Shipping Hanako with him
Shizune: Shipping Hanako or Lilly with him (anyone but Emi)
Lilly: Shipping Hanako with him
Hanako: Shipping herself with him... but this could change (and I think she'd prefer Emi over Lilly, but I'm not entirely sure at this moment in the story)
Naomi and Natsume: Shipping Hanako with him

I'm beginning to see a trend.
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