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

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dewelar
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by dewelar » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:12 am

Oscar Wildecat wrote:
azumeow wrote:I can't help but wonder who that last line is referring to. Hisao, or Lilly..?
From the context of the rest of the chapter, I would say Lilly.
Correct.
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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 45 up 7/

Post by Mahorfeus » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:20 pm

Late to the party, as usual.

I kind of suspected that you'd revisit that conversation with Emi from Hanako's perspective. A lot went on there both ways, and it would have been a little weird to miss out on half of that insight.

I have to admit though, I am a little worried by the Miss Yumi thing. That Hanako has to step back and think about her feelings for Hisao from that context this late in the game feels a bit unsettling. My paranoia is telling me that it is the setup for a Hanako "loss," but it looks like I will have to wait and see. :|
"A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love." -Stendhal
The verdict is (finally) in:
Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by Guest Poster » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:03 am

When you take a step back and see that the two central conflicts that are still running right now are paired (Hisao trying to fix the falling-out with Emi with some help from Hanako and Hanako trying to fix the falling-out between her and Lilly) I'd say a Hanako loss has been set up ever since Hisao tried to confess to Emi, even though he's kissed Hanako since then.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by Mahorfeus » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:41 am

I am still skeptical about that being an attempted confession, especially since Emi's alarm rather conveniently went off before Hisao could finish saying what he "wanted." Not to mention that Hisao's thoughts have not once reflected on that moment.

Of course, I could just be in denial.
"A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love." -Stendhal
The verdict is (finally) in:
Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:20 am

Mahorfeus wrote:I have to admit though, I am a little worried by the Miss Yumi thing. That Hanako has to step back and think about her feelings for Hisao from that context this late in the game feels a bit unsettling. My paranoia is telling me that it is the setup for a Hanako "loss," but it looks like I will have to wait and see. :|
I'm about as confused as Hanako is, as far as Miss Yumi's point, for what it's worth.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by Mahorfeus » Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:56 am

bhtooefr wrote:
Mahorfeus wrote:I have to admit though, I am a little worried by the Miss Yumi thing. That Hanako has to step back and think about her feelings for Hisao from that context this late in the game feels a bit unsettling. My paranoia is telling me that it is the setup for a Hanako "loss," but it looks like I will have to wait and see. :|
I'm about as confused as Hanako is, as far as Miss Yumi's point, for what it's worth.
Damn those old people and their cryptic advice... Would it kill them to just say what they mean!?
"A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love." -Stendhal
The verdict is (finally) in:
Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 45 up 7/

Post by Blasphemy » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:29 am

One interpretation to me is that Miss Yumi wants Hanako to ask herself if she really genuinely loves who Hisao is or rather just fell for him because he's the first boy being so close and caring to her and... considering her past, that may be all it takes for her to become infatuated.

That's not even really a negative connotation, although it kinda sounds like it. It's something that, if the case, could be problematic long term so she addresses it earlier on... and jut doesn't want to be too direct to avoid hurting Hanako. Maybe ;p

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Re: Developments, Chapter 7 (Notes at end)

Post by griffon8 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:45 pm

Well, you did it. You made me start to reread the whole thing.

So in Chapter 7:
dewelar wrote:Hisao looks over at me, but his expression is hard to read. I stand up and face him, my hand instinctively reaching to my hair, making it's in place.
Perhaps, "making sure it’s in place"?
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Re: Developments, Chapter 7 (Notes at end)

Post by dewelar » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:11 pm

griffon8 wrote:Well, you did it. You made me start to reread the whole thing.
:D

Well, depending on how long you take, the next chapter might be up before you're done. It's about halfway through editing now, so that'll probably be late tomorrow or Sunday.
griffon8 wrote:So in Chapter 7:
dewelar wrote:Hisao looks over at me, but his expression is hard to read. I stand up and face him, my hand instinctively reaching to my hair, making it's in place.
Perhaps, "making sure it’s in place"?
Fixed, thanks!
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Re: Developments, Chapter 7 (Notes at end)

Post by griffon8 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:13 pm

dewelar wrote:Well, depending on how long you take, the next chapter might be up before you're done. It's about halfway through editing now, so that'll probably be late tomorrow or Sunday.
Very likely. I’m rereading it on my iPad, and still haven’t finished Chapter 7. I stopped until I finally put up my note about the error.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

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Developments, Chapter 46

Post by dewelar » Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:43 pm

"Since this is your room," Rin says authoritatively, "that means I probably should be the one to leave."

I laugh, mostly at the incongruity of her statement, but also at the irony of the timing of this whole episode. "Probably. Thanks for coming by, Rin. I think it helped." She nods, and I open the door to let her out. Once she's left, I sit down and take a good look at the scroll. It definitely reminds me of the poster I bought, although there are also differences. I suppose I should expect that, though. I've never had anyone create something specifically for me before, so I can't help but feel touched.

No, not JUST me. Me AND Emi.

I can never be entirely sure I know what Rin's saying, but this time I'm pretty sure I got the picture, so to speak. She intended this scroll to mean something beyond just being something to hang on my wall. I mean, that is what art is supposed to be, after all, isn't it? It has meaning to the person who created it, and it's meant to convey some kind of meaning to those who view it, even if the two meanings wind up not being the same. In this case, Rin meant this scroll to represent me and Emi together, because she thinks Emi is...Emi-er when she's with me.

The problem is that right now, Emi and I are farther apart than we've been since...well, maybe since that day she collided with me in the hall. I look at the scroll again, and the memory of the day I went into town with Emi and Rin comes rushing back. Ever since then, she's been doing her best to shut me out, to keep her guard up. Still, there have been moments when something else has peeked through, and I have to struggle not to start hoping again.

I wonder if that's what Rin meant by "seeing her".

Heh. Leave it to Rin to throw my mind off in a completely different direction than the one I thought it was going.


When I realize what's happening, I put the scroll down on the bed and sit next to it, my head in my hands. This time, it was my own guard that was let down. After all the efforts I've been making to give Emi space, to try and forget my own feelings, and finally feeling like I was figuring things out with Hanako, Rin's visit has put me right back on the treadmill I've been on these past couple of weeks.

Why can't things just go back to the way they were between us?

In my current state of mind, it's a dangerous thought, but it slips into my head anyway. I had similar thoughts about Lilly before she left for Scotland, and that's a time I really don't want to revisit. Of course, at that time, I never acted on those thoughts, because I presumed she wouldn't want me to – a presumption that was upended when I found out she still loved me. I start to wonder if I'm making the same mistake again, just for different reasons, but I know that's wrong. I did try to make things right with Emi, but she either didn't want it or didn't recognize it.

Damn it, I'm thinking in circles again.

I reach over and pick up the scroll again to give me something to focus on. My eyes must be getting tired, though, because the colors are starting to blur together a little bit.

"...when I look at you and Emi, sometimes I only see one color..."

I close my eyes and shake my head, hoping that maybe Rin's voice will leak out through my ears. When I open them, I intentionally look away from the scroll, and start looking for a place to hang it instead. My eyes are immediately drawn to the place above my desk where I had intended to hang the Kamisaka poster. Since I don't really know if I'm going to get a replacement, this will be a pretty good substitute. I walk over to my desk, grab the mounting squares, and attach one to the rope at the top of the scroll. However, as I start to climb onto my desk, I flash again back to the night Emi was here, doing the same thing, and I see her falling...

...and then opening my eyes to see her worried face...

...I REALLY need to get some sleep.


Looking down at the scroll again, I realize that it doesn't belong above the desk anyway. It's a fairly traditional kakemono, after all, even if the artist is decidedly non-traditional. Since I don't have a proper place to put it, I settle on putting it next to the "Emi-est" drawing. Rin intended them to be related, so it seems the most fitting location.

It'll be a lot less creepy to look at than that floating eye, at least.

Having expended what energy I had left to do that, I decide I should actually get the sleep I keep thinking I need. I had been hoping to get back to reading after Rin left, but I know if I try now I'd just fall asleep anyway. Before turning off my light, I find myself staring at both works, and something else Rin said comes to mind.

"Everybody needs somebody who can see them, Hisao."

Is that why you did this, Rin? So I would always see Emi?

Is that why you picked up a leaf and set it back into the wind, just when it thought it could be more than a leaf for once?


* * * *

I wake up the next morning having slept somewhat better. I remember falling asleep looking at Rin's scroll, and wonder if that actually might have helped. Of course, I also remember dreaming about its shapes twisting and blurring into each other, until eventually they flowed into the line drawing next to it. When I open my eyes, I have to look twice to make sure it hadn't really happened.

Maybe I was wrong about this being an improvement over the floating eye...

After getting dressed, I make my way down to the track. Last night's events are still playing on my mind, because they've shown me that I'd been fooling myself into thinking I was getting closer to clarity. If Emi isn't going to talk about things to me, then I don't want whatever feelings I have for her resurface like that. Thus, I'm fully prepared for another morning like the last few, where nobody's happy with anything.

That's why I'm somewhat surprised when, upon coming over the top of the hill, I see Emi smiling and waving to me. She hasn't done that for the past couple of days, but I'm not prepared to attach any significance to it just yet. As I get closer, however, I see that something has changed. The dark circles under Emi's eyes that have been there for the past week are all but gone, and the smile on her face looks brighter than it has in a long time. "Hey, Hisao!" she shouts up to me in her usual animated manner.

"Hey, Emi!" I call back. "You seem more like yourself today."

Emi grins a bit. "Yeah, well, a lot's happened since yesterday. Still, you know the rules: run first, then talk!"

The two of us start to stretch. "You actually mean that today, don't you?" I ask with a wink, trying not to sound too serious.

"You doubt my sincerity?" Emi says, and she unleashes her pouty expression on me. I open my mouth to respond, but then she drops it and smiles again, this time a bit sadly. "Because I'd totally deserve it if you did, after these last few days." This takes me aback, and I don't respond right away. Instead, she continues, "Yeah, I mean it. There are some things I need to say, but I'd rather have a clear head when I do."

This makes me feel a little anxious, because I have no idea what she might want to say, and the possibilities start to run through my head. Since I'm not sure what she's been thinking these past few days, it could be almost anything. I have to hope that running does the job of clearing my head that I need it to do. The record's been spotty at best, but it's all I've got right now.

Once we're on the track, however, it's as though the last few days never happened. As always, Emi is pacing me, but instead of being subdued she's returned to her normal cheerleading efforts, encouraging me with the occasional word or smile over her shoulder. I'm really not sure what to make of it, but I can't deny that it helps my own mood as well.

After the first four laps, Emi takes off on her sprints, and that's when I can really see that things are different. The combination of her ease of movement and intensity of focus have returned to the level to which I'd become accustomed – but not so accustomed that I don't still feel a certain amount of awe while watching her. It just makes me even more frustrated with myself at how easily I fall into old patterns.

Soon enough, it's time for cool-down. Emi still seems to be in good spirits as she falls into step next to me. "Okay, Hisao," she says before I can even get my mouth open. "I'm not even going to make you ask questions today, because I've got a lot to say."

"All right," I say, not knowing how else to respond.

Emi takes a deep breath before starting, "Okay, most important thing first." She glances at me, then looks down at the ground. "I'm...sorry for saying I was going to quit running with you. I never really wanted to do that, but I thought it was what I had to do at the time. So, I'm going to tell the track captain I won't be able to help him this fall, and we can keep running together." She looks up at me, and I see what looks like sincere remorse on her face. "If that's okay with you, I mean."

I blink a couple of times in surprise. "I'm...glad to hear that. Before I accept that, though, I should probably hear everything you have to say first. For instance, what got you to change your mind?"

"Yeah, that's fair, I guess," Emi says, fidgeting a little. "What got me to change my mind, huh? Well, I had a talk with Hanako yesterday." Again, I find myself surprised. I had thought Hanako wouldn't be talking to Emi until today. I had also thought that she was going to let me know after they'd talked. Since I haven't heard from her, I thought nothing had changed. "You two have been getting...pretty close lately, huh?" Emi continues, and the perfect timing of the statement nearly makes me laugh.

Not wanting to get into the discussion just yet, I reply, "Yeah, I guess you might say that."

"I figured as much," Emi says with a nod. "Anyway, she was pretty forceful about wanting me to keep running with you." Emi winks at me and says, "She might even be more worried about you than I am."

"Well, worrying about each other is what friends do, right?"

For a split second, Emi's face looks a bit uneasy, but she quickly shifts to her usual grin. "Yep, that's what friends do! Like I've been saying, I wouldn't want you keeling over on me. Hanako just reminded me of that, because...well, she doesn't want you to keel over, either," she finishes with a wink and an elbow in my side.

"So that's what Hanako talked to you about? Making sure I don't keel over?" I say, cringing inwardly. If my fears were right, and that's what was bothering Emi all along, then that would definitely bring some clarity to the situation. Still, something in the back of my head tells me there must be more to it than that. After all, Emi knew about that as soon as we started running together, and it didn't seem to bother her...and now I'm just circling in my head again. I force a chuckle and ask, "What else did you two talk about?"

Emi looks over at me cautiously, saying, "You mean...she hasn't told you already?"

I raise an eyebrow at that. "Told me what? I haven't talked to Hanako since before lunch yesterday."

Emi's face pinches up as she says, "Okay, and I was on my way out of the cafeteria when she almost bumped into me." I shoot her an incredulous look, and she says, "No, Hisao, it wasn't my fault this time, so don't..." Rather than finish the sentence, she punches me in the arm, saying, "Just let me finish, all right?"

"Okay, okay! No need to get rough!" I say in mock indignation.

Emi grins at that before continuing. "So, anyway, it was right after lunch, she was coming out of the stairwell, and she...kinda cornered me into talking. In a way, I'm glad you haven't talked to her yet, 'cause it means I can tell you myself." Emi says with a sigh, her smile fading a little. "Come on, Hisao, we should probably sit down if we're gonna talk about this."

I raise an eyebrow at her, becoming more curious by the minute. I follow her as she walks over to the bleachers, and we both sit down. Emi takes a deep breath, then looks over at me with an unreadable look in her eyes. She opens her mouth to say something, then closes it again. "Take your time, there's no rush. I've been willing to wait for you this long, I'm not going to push you now."

Emi's eyes narrow a little, and she asks, "Willing to wait? What do you mean?"

"Well, now that you're giving me a chance to tell you, I've been waiting for you to tell me what's going on all along. Believe me, it hasn't been easy to keep myself from asking you what was bothering you, but maybe I should have, since it seemed like you were assuming I was going to anyway."

I was attempting to sound like I was teasing, but Emi looks like my words hit her pretty hard. "Wait a second, you mean...you weren't...aw, shit." Emi lowers her head, and her voice is quiet. "I...really screwed this up, Hisao. I should've known you wouldn't, but I thought you were, because I just haven't been thinking clearly lately. Ever since...well ever since that day I fell on your chest. I know nothing happened, but I just couldn't help thinking that between that, and...and last week, and...well, it doesn't matter now. I just thought that since I kept causing these problems, that it..." She lifts her head to look at me with a pained expression as she finishes, "that it might be me that caused you to keel over."

I blink at her a couple of times, trying to process that information. I was on the right track, thinking the problem was my heart, but Emi being worried about causing an attack herself was the missing piece, and suddenly everything makes a lot more sense. As I connect the dots, though, I realize that in the course of making sense in one way, in another way it throws sense out the window. "But...you know that the opposite is pretty much the case, right? I mean, I feel better than I have since I had my heart attack, and maybe even before that! The only reason I've been having trouble is because I was stupid!"

A slight gleam in her eye, Emi says, "Yeah, I know. You were pretty stupid, Hisao. But," Emi sighs again, "I've been pretty stupid, too. I guess it just took someone who wasn't really involved to knock some sense into me." She laughs, and after the last few days it sounds like the most beautiful thing in the world. Still, that brings me back to the other thing that bothers me about this right now. "So...you told Hanako all of this when you talked to her?"

"Yeah, I did. If it weren't for her, I probably wouldn't have ever told you any of this." I let what she said sink in for a moment. If Hanako's known about this since just after she left the tea room yesterday, why hasn't she told me? She knows this has been bothering me a lot, even keeping me up at night, so something doesn't seem quite right about that. "Everything okay, Hisao?" Emi asks. "You look like you're spacing out there."

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just trying to figure out why Hanako didn't tell me she talked to you. I know when she left she wanted to go find Lilly, so maybe she just hasn't had the chance."

"Ya know, she did say she had to go do something before she left. I thought she was gonna go talk to you, but it must have been Lilly instead." Emi shrugs. "So, have you decided?"

I stare back at Emi blankly. "Decided what?"

Emi rolls her eyes. "Decided whether or not yer still a member o' this swarthy crew, ye swab!"

I smile, slowly getting to my feet and giving Emi a salute. "Aye, captain! I'm ready to follow ye to the ends of the earth...or at least the end of the track!"

Emi smiles and gets up herself. She takes a step towards me, but then stops and steps back again. That was...odd. "That's great, Hisao. After all that's happened, we need to get focused– both of us – on being running buddies again. Now, I'll ask you the same thing I asked you before we started doing this. You're sure you want to do this? Keep running with me, and everything that goes with it?"

"Yes, I do," I reply. "This time, though, I'm going to ask you back. Do you want to run with me?"

Emi's look turns serious at that question. "Hisao, if I didn't want to run with you, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have been here every day, even when I thought I needed to avoid you. I'm going to keep running with you for as long as you want me to." She then turns to look off into the distance before saying, "I...made a promise."

"To Hanako?"

"No...not that one. I guess you could say I made it to myself." After that, she turns back to me, her grin returning at full power. "So, now that that's settled, let's head up to the nurse!"

As I ponder what Emi means by that, she starts heading up the hill toward the auxiliary building. I follow more slowly, and when she gets to the door, she waits for me before going in. "Do you want to go first today? I mean, if you're planning on having lunch with Hanako, you probably should."

"Well, since I haven't heard anything from her, I can only assume she'll be there, and that she's expecting me."

Emi raises an eyebrow at me. "You don't sound too enthusiastic about it, Hisao. I mean, if I were in your position, I'd never pass up the opportunity to have lunch with a bombshell beauty like her."

I chuckle at her comment, and she looks at me quizzically. "Yeah, you have a point," I say as we reach the door to the nurse's office. "I guess I'll go first, then."

As he starts my examination, Nurse says, "You look a little better today, Hisao. Something interesting happen recently?"

"Well, my running partner is actually talking to me again, so that's a start."

Nurse laughs, then says, "I thought I heard the two of you together outside the door. Well, it's good that you're getting along again."

"It's definitely feels like some of the weight is off my shoulders. Still, there were a few moments where things felt a little...off."

"Give it time, Hisao. Knowing Emi, she probably still hasn't told you everything. The fact that she told you anything at all means a lot coming from her."

"Well, I can't exactly take much credit for that. She probably wouldn't have said anything without a push from Hanako."

"Really?" the nurse replies, raising an eyebrow. "That's very interesting. Things have been moving quickly lately, haven't they?" He shifts back to one of his knowing grins. "Well, I can't argue with the result. The both of them could always use another friend, I'd say. Anyway, no sense keeping her waiting any longer, so you're free to go."

As I walk out of the office, I pass Emi, who smiles at me again. "See you tomorrow, Hisao!" she says, still sounding for all the world like her old self. I try to answer her, but for some reason my voice catches in my throat. Instead, I settle for waving to her before she darts inside, and I start on my way back to the dorms.

I take my shower and my medications, and as I'm getting dressed I start to wonder about how lunch is going to go with Hanako. I'm not sure whether to be more upset that she didn't contact me about her conversation with Emi, or concerned because she was also supposed to contact me after she got in touch with Lilly. I'm still not sure why talking to her was so urgent yesterday, but hopefully everything's all right.

That wasn't the only thing that bothered me yesterday either. I remember when I mentioned the possibility of not running with Emi any more, it seemed to upset Hanako for some reason. Apparently, that carried over to her conversation with Emi, too. I suppose it's possible that because she was so focused on that, everything else went by the wayside, but I really hope that's not the case. Of course, the alternative – that she kept me in the dark deliberately – isn't really any better. It's hard enough trying to keep myself from being a leaf if others are working at cross purposes to me.

As lunchtime approaches, I decide to head down to the tea room early again. The more I think about things, the more I want to talk to Hanako, to understand why she did what she did. I almost feel like I'm right back where I was at the beginning of break, not knowing what's going on, and that's the last thing I wanted right now.

Why am I getting myself so worked up about this? I need to calm down, be patient, and listen to what she has to say.

I get there about the same time I did yesterday, but this time Hanako is already there and preparing the tea. She apparently doesn't hear the door open, as she's focused on what she's doing, so after a couple seconds I clear my throat. She gasps slightly, almost dropping the teapot in the process. "H-Hisao! I...d-didn't hear you come in."

She turns towards me, and even behind her fringe I can tell she looks tired. I move towards her, and she quickly tucks the fringe behind her ear. "Hey, are you all right? You look like you didn't get much sleep."

"I didn't. I was up w-waiting to hear from...Akira. Lilly...n-never came back to the d-dorms last night, so..."

"Hang on, she never came back?" I ask incredulously. "Have you heard from her at all?"

Hanako puts the teapot down and sits. "No, I haven't. That's...why I called Akira last night. She s-said she'd make some calls and...get back to me, but I h-haven't heard from her yet. Lilly's s-still not answering her phone, either."

I walk over and sit down next to Hanako, who's idly twisting her hair in her hands. "That definitely seems unusual. Lilly might be good at hiding behind her smile, but...well, I guess maybe I don't know her all that well after all." Hanako looks at me as I'm thinking of other ideas, when one strikes me. "Have you talked to Shizune? If anyone else on campus would know anything, it would be the Student Council president."

Hanako sighs. "Akira...suggested that, too. I went to the Student Council room, but it was l-locked. I don't have a number for her...or Misha."

"Heh...well, I have Shizune's number, but she hates using her cell phone. I have Misha's, too, so I could call her if you want."

"I-if you...don't mind..."

"No, not at all," I say, pulling my phone out of my bag. I dial Misha's number, and she picks up almost immediately.

"Hi~ Hi~ Hicchan! I wasn't expecting a call from you~ today! How are you?"

"I'm fine, Misha, thanks. You sound like your usual self, too."

"Thanks, Hicchan! I think..." Misha's voice trails off, and there's a short pause before she returns at full volume. "So! To what do I owe the honor of this call? Are you wanting to help out your Student Council again today?"

"Actually, I was hoping you and Shizune might be able to help us – me and Hanako, that is."

"Oh, are you two finally~ together? Is romance blossoming in the air as we speak~?"

I close my eyes and take a deep breath before responding, "Besides the fact that that's none of your business, what I want to ask is kind of important."

"Awwww...okay, Hicchan, what is it you need help with?"

"I wanted to find out if you or Shizune might know where Lilly is. Hanako says she hasn't been back to her room since yesterday morning, and there was something important she needed to tell her."

"Oh, you're looking for her, too? Akira called first thing this morning to see if we knew anything. Shicchan told her that she would ask around, but we don't know anything about it, either." There's another brief pause before Misha continues, "Tell Hanako we're sorry we couldn't help."

"I see. Well, thanks anyway, Misha. If there is anything you'd like me to do for the Student Council after lunch, I'd be more than happy..."

"That's okay, Hicchan! You just go ahead and enjoy your time with Hanako, and we'll give you a rain check~ on helping us!"

"Um...okay? Goodbye, Misha."

"Bye, Hicchan~!"

Once I hang up the phone, I relay what Misha told me to Hanako. Her look of worry deepens at the news. "I just...w-wish I knew where she was. I don't want this to...keep festering."

"I know. I still think it's better to let her have some space to think right now, though. Maybe you should wait until she comes back."

"What if she...doesn't? What if...she decided to leave altogether, because we both...rejected her? Or...what if..."

I jump in to cut her off, because it won't do either of us any good to start thinking that way. "But if that's true, where would she go? I don't think she'd go back to Scotland at this point. She gave up a lot to come back here, and she cares about you too much to just throw everything away. That's why she came back here, after all."

In a small voice, Hanako replies, "N-no, she...didn't. Sh-she came back...because she s-still loved you."

I lower my head, since I really didn't want this to come up again. It's a statement I'm tired of having to hear, and a fear that I'm getting tired of having to ease. With things the way they are right now, though, I know I have to ease it at least once more. I dip further into the well of my patience to respond, "Whether that's true or not, I've made it clear that that's not happening. Even if I still had feelings for her, I couldn't go back to being a part of a relationship like that."

The last part is something I've known for a while now, but maybe I haven't actually said it in so many words to Hanako before. As she turns to me, her fringe falls over her face, once again rendering her expression unreadable. "But...y-you were happy with each other!"

I sigh heavily. "Yeah, we were, or at least we thought we were. The thing is, looking back, I realize that I can't be that person anymore. That person was happy to sit back and hope everything would forever be like it was in that moment, happy to let himself get carried along through life like a leaf in the wind. I've made a promise to myself that I won't be like that anymore, that I'm going to start being the person that drives my own life." I'm not sure if it's the stress, the fatigue, or something else, but the next sentence escapes my lips before I can stop it. "It would be nice if everyone around me would let me do that."

Hanako looks at me curiously and asks, "W-what do you mean?"

Not wanting to discuss this now, I reply, "Never mind, it's not important right now."

Hanako stiffens slightly at that, and deliberately tucks her fringe over her ear again. "You d-don't have to...protect me, Hisao. I told you, I...don't want to h-hide anything from you, so please...don't hide anything from me."

Saying it like that pretty much forces my hand. I'm going to have to say this eventually, so if she wants to hear it now, I guess it'll be now. "You talked to Emi yesterday," I say, not as a question but as a statement.

"Y-yes, I did. I...I know, I should have said something...before now. I...guess I was so worried about Lilly that..."

"I know," I say quietly to interrupt. "That did bother me at first, but I understood, at least once you told me Lilly didn't come back last night. There's something else that bothered me more than that, though." Hanako looks at me questioningly. "When I said yesterday that I was considering not running with Emi anymore, it was just idle pondering, based on something that might or might not happen. I have to say, I was pretty surprised to hear how focused you were on that when you talked with her. I guess I didn't know how worried you were that I would keel over on you."

The last sentence came out sounding a little more acerbic than I'd meant it to, and Hanako looks somewhat stricken by it. In a way, I suppose that's appropriate. After a moment, she replies, "I...w-was just...trying to m-make sure...you..."

"I know, Hanako," I say, trying to soften my tone. "I know you meant well. I know you were trying to watch out for me. All I wish is that you'd told me that you were worried about that rather than bring Emi into it." Hanako looks away from me, and her hair falls from her ear again. Thankfully, she doesn't bolt, or look like she's going to panic like that day at the convenience store. I steel myself for the one last thing I want to say before I drop the subject. "I know you've said that Lilly doesn't treat you as an equal, that she doesn't fully trust you. When I heard what you told Emi, I felt, for just that moment, that maybe that was how you were treating me."

"I..." Hanako starts to say, with tears starting to come to her eyes, and she suddenly looks very fragile. I want so much to reach out to her, but right now, I know I can't. "I'm...s-sorry, Hisao, I...didn't realize..."

I'm sorry, too, Hanako. I didn't mean for it to come to this.

"M-maybe...we should talk about this...later. I...n-need to go...I should find...Sh-Shizune..."

I let out a deep breath and look down at the ground. I almost feel relieved that it's going to end here, at least for now. "Okay," I say awkwardly, "just...let me know what happens with Lilly?"

"I will," she says, regaining a little of her composure, and she heads toward the door. She turns, and opens her mouth, closes it, then opens the door and says, "S-see you later, Hisao."

"Right. See you later." My eyes follow Hanako out the door, and I think about how different she is now from when I first met her. Maybe it's not that so much different as...she's able to show who she really is, at least to the people she's close to. I remember Lilly telling her that she'd become a strong, confident woman someday, and right now I think that someday is a lot closer than any of us thought. Lilly also told me that the person who has helped Hanako grow the most is me. I still have my doubts about that, because in the end it comes down to Hanako herself, but whatever role I played, I'm glad for it.

After today, I just hope I'm around to see how it all turns out.

I lean back heavily in the chair, fiddling with my empty teacup and staring out the window. After a few moments, I hear an unexpected, yet familiar, voice at the door. "Um...Hisao? Are you okay?"

I turn to see Emi standing there, frowning. "Oh, hey. What are you doing here? "

"Well, I was supposed to go into town with Rin today, but when I got up to her room she said it could wait. I came down here to get lunch for us, so I figured I'd check in and see if you'd heard anything about Lilly." Emi pauses for a moment, looking embarrassed. "I, um, kinda overheard the end of your conversation, so I guess I know the answer to that."

"Yeah," I say with a heavy sigh. "I just hope she's not too mad at me."

"Hanako? Nah," Emi says with a wave of her hand. "I doubt it. She...loves you, after all." As she says this, I swear I hear a slight waver in Emi's voice, but it's gone quickly. "This'll blow over soon, I'm sure. Anyway, if you want, you can come have lunch with me and Rin."

"Thanks, but I think I'll pass this time. I need some time to myself right now."

Emi smiles knowingly. "I gotcha. Well, then, I guess I'll see you tomorrow. Morning run! Don't forget!" I smile back at her. If nothing else, having that part of my routine back is really comforting right now. As the door closes behind her, I get up to start cleaning up from the tea we never had. I take another look out the window, and a stray thought strikes me.

"You're closer to understanding your feelings for both Hanako and Emi than you think you are."

Am I? Really? It doesn't feel that way to me right now.


Once I'm finished cleaning, I decide I don't really feel like wallowing in self-pity on an empty stomach, so I head down to the cafeteria after all. When I get there, I see a familiar face sitting by himself. I haven't talked to Yoshi in a few days, so once I get my lunch I start towards his table. As I approach, though, I notice that he's just sitting there, swirling his chopsticks around in his noodles and looking pretty down.

Well, misery loves company...

"Hey, Yoshi, mind if I join you?"

Yoshi picks his head up at the sound of my voice. "Hisao? Hey, haven't seen you in a few days. Been eating lunch with one of your two admirers, I suppose. Or maybe both of them?"

Even though that sounded like it was supposed to be a joke, Yoshi's voice sounds about as flat as I feel right now. "Yeah, okay, you got me. Most days I've been with Hanako in the tea room, but I haven't seen you down here lately, either."

"Well, I was here yesterday. Maybe if you'd been here, you could've talked me out of it."

"Out of what?"

"I finally got up the nerve to confess to Yuuko this morning." Yoshi slumps backwards in his chair before continuing. "She rejected me. Hard. Said she was done dating younger men after her last relationship, and was too busy, and a bunch of other stuff that I don't remember because I stopped listening."

"I'm...sorry to hear that," I say, but Yoshi holds a hand up to stop me from saying more.

"Nah, don't be. I pretty much expected it. That's why I kept putting it off, I think. I just...didn't want to stop hanging out where she was. Then a couple days ago, I ran into Satou down at The Shanghai, and she said me doing that was making Yuuko a little nervous, so if I wasn't going to say anything to her I needed to back off. So, I did...long enough to get up the courage, anyway. Now I pretty much feel like crap, so if you're about to tell me how great your life is you can leave."

"Well, yeah, my life could be worse. Since the last time I saw you I told Lilly I didn't love her anymore, Emi's been pushing me away, and I just had a fight with Hanako...sort of."

"Interesting times, huh?" Yoshi says, and I chuckle. "And old Yoshi is Plan B...or D, or Q or whatever? Story of my life. Still, I'm feeling pitiful enough that I'll take it, so have a seat before your lunch rots in your hand."

"Thanks a lot," I say, half sarcastic and half grateful. I put my tray down, then continue, "Sounds like you're a little bitter about the whole thing."

"Yeah, well, it's been a long time since I felt like I connected with anyone like that," Yoshi says, his expression turning a bit sad. "When we were working together, it just felt like we were clicking, but I guess it was just me. So are you ready to tell me what your secret is yet?"

Although he made it sound like a joke, there was almost a hint of pleading in Yoshi's voice. I shake my head out of habit, then say, "I wish I could help you. I don't feel like I'm doing anything special, you know? Besides, if I knew what I was doing, maybe I could figure out why everyone was running away from me."

"Running away?" Yoshi says with a chuckle. "Well, that's the chance you take when one of the girls who's after you is a track star, right?"

I chuckle, a bit sadly, at that. "That's part of the problem. I'm not so sure she's after me anymore."

Yoshi clicks his tongue at me, shaking his head. "So, down to just the one, then? Well, then, that's a good thing, right? You don't need to worry about which one to choose if there isn't a choice to be made."

"Or, given the fight I had with Hanako, if I'm down to none at all."

Yoshi reaches across the table and, once he finds it, awkwardly claps me on the shoulder. "Welcome to the club, Hisao," he says with mock sympathy.

"Thanks again," I say, my sarcasm level rising. "Well, I thought you looked like you could use some cheering up, so I guess my job here is done."

Yoshi laughs a little, saying, "Well, if it can happen to a master of romance like you, it can happen to anyone. Eh, not that it makes me feel any better, really." Just then, he abruptly straightens up in his chair and asks, "Hey, Hisao, you got any plans for tonight?"

"No, not really, why?"

"Well, I was planning on drowning my sorrows tonight, and I figured, since it sounds like you've got some sorrows to drown yourself, you might want to join me."

I start to deny it, but with everything that's been going on, I suppose he might have a point. Still, this starts to trigger something in my memory. "Hang on, this isn't going to be like when Kenji goes up on the roof during the festivals, is it?"

"Well..." Yoshi starts, and from the tone of his voice I immediately start to get nervous. "I can promise there will be no roof involved. You won't catch me going up there again, not with that rickety fence being the only thing between me and a broken neck." He lowers his voice to a whisper to say, "There will be whiskey involved, though. Funny you should mention Setou, since he's the one that gave it to me."

I raise an eyebrow, saying, "I thought you two didn't get along."

"Yeah, well, he didn't used to be as bad as he is now. Of course, I didn't really know him that well until last year, when I became the alternate class rep. That's when he talked me into joining him for one of his "manly picnics" last fall during the sports festival, and I'm not sure if the headache I had the next day was from the hangover, trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about, or both. I give you credit for putting up with him longer than I did. I bailed out after a couple hours, but I don't even think he noticed, because when I left he was still ranting at one of the fence posts. The next day, he showed up at my door and gave me a bottle he said he got from his mom. I haven't touched the thing since, but I figure there's not gonna be a better time. So whaddya say?"

Listening to Yoshi's story, I actually start to feel a little sorry for Kenji. Despite his eccentricities, he really seems like a nice guy who looks out for what few friends he has, and even some people who aren't necessarily friends. It almost makes me feel sorry for brushing him off the way I do.

Like I wasn't feeling depressed enough. Maybe this is the kind of clearing my head really needs after all.

I sigh heavily and say, "Yeah, why the hell not?" I promise myself I won't have too much, because I remember what happened at Hanako's birthday party, but I feel like somebody should be there for Yoshi at least. Just then, I hear an unexpected voice from behind me.

"Hey, Hisao, you slumming again today?"

I turn around to see Noriko, standing right behind my chair, lunch in hand. Well, I suppose I don't need to be quite so worried about her now. "Hi, Noriko. How's it going?"

"You'd know how it's going if you'd been down here for lunch once in a while, but I guess you've been in the ivory tower instead." Yoshi laughs, and Noriko smiles slyly. "So who's your friend? I see him down here all the time, but he never wants anyone around."

"Hey!" Yoshi exclaims as he picks his head up. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just what I said. You always look like you're either lost in thought, or all depressed like now."

"I see you've accumulated another lady friend, Nakai," Yoshi says archly. "Someone else you're gonna keep to yourself, apparently."

I shake my head at the banter, chuckling. "Noriko Yoshimura, this is Yoshiro Kamisaka."

"Oh, the new 3-2 class rep, huh?"

"Yeah, for now anyway. Satou can have the job back if she wants it. Actually, I may as well quit either way."

Uninvited, Noriko sits down next to me, and whispers in my ear, "What's his problem?"

"Ask him yourself," I whisper back.

Noriko shrugs, and says, "Okay." She turns to Yoshi and says, "So, why are you all depressed right now, anyway?"

I bring my hand up to my eyes, not quite willing to watch this train wreck. Surprisingly, Yoshi answers her. "Eh, I confessed to a girl and got rejected."

"Well, that explains why you were talking about getting drunk tonight," Noriko replies in what is apparently her typical, matter-of-fact manner.

Yoshi drops his chopsticks, spraying broth onto all three of us. "You...heard that?"

"Well, you started off being all quiet about it, but by the end half the cafeteria probably heard you. Still, two guys drinking by themselves over girl trouble sounds depressing to me, so I thought I'd come by and liven things up."

I shoot Noriko a look, and say, "That's not necessary, really. I think..." while Yoshi simultaneously says, "Yeah, why not?"

As the train wreck continues around me, Yoshi continues, "Seriously, Hisao, are you against it? I mean, I know you've probably had half a dozen girls in your room by now, so another one won't hurt that reputation you're building."

I roll my eyes, and Noriko laughs, saying, "I warned him about that, but he didn't listen."

Before this gets any more out of hand, I say, "Who said it was going to be in my room, anyway?"

"Well, it can't be my room," Yoshi says. "I don't want anything to be out of place and spend half of tomorrow trying to find it."

"Well, I'd suggest my place," Noriko says with a smile and a wink, "but Hisao's already turned down that offer."

"Yeah, you couldn't get me drunk enough to take you up on that one."

"Oh, now that hurts, Hisao," she says, mock-pouting in a way that is entirely unlike Emi. "Now you have to make it up to me by letting me come."

You WOULD put it like that, wouldn't you?

"You heard the lady, Hisao. You can't turn her away now."

"Fine," I say, my resistance crumbling. "I guess it's my room, then. It's room 119. Anytime after dinner is fine, I guess."

"Thanks, Hisao," Yoshi says as he gets up. "I owe you one, big time."

As he walks away, I see Noriko staring after him. "Your friend's kinda cute, Hisao. After tonight, maybe he'll owe you two."

"Yeah," I say. I look down at my food and discover that, even though I only ate about a quarter of it, I've lost my appetite. "I guess he might. Excuse me, Noriko," I say, picking up my tray and walking away before she can stop me. I dump the remainder of my lunch in the trash, then start heading back to the dorm.

I wonder how comfortable the couches in the common room are...

~~~~

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Last edited by dewelar on Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

bhtooefr
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 46 up 7/

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:13 pm

Hisao, you fucking dumbass. Just because you had a fight with Hanako doesn't mean that everything's over with her. And, really, Emi was far more guilty of the same thing, and in a far worse way.

I do like how you revealed Hanako's own white knight streak, and had Hisao call her out on it, though.

Even more worried about Lilly at this point. About the only thing giving me hope is that you think my writing is too dark, which means that you're probably not going the places that I think you're going.

And the drunken antics with Noriko, yeah, this is gonna be bad. At least he realizes that...

Edit: What's interesting is how much the thought of losing Hanako is messing with him, though. I mean, the thought of losing Emi was causing him much more of a problem, but that was partially because he didn't know why she was avoiding him, and was worried about her as well. And, he now seems to be under the assumption that Emi's decided not to pursue a relationship with him (which is about as far from the truth as possible), and he isn't that broken up about it.

Edit 2: Then again, on a re-read... damn you... I do get a vibe that Emi's holding back, though, for some reason.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 46 up 7/

Post by brythain » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:32 pm

bhtooefr wrote:I do like how you revealed Hanako's own white knight streak, and had Hisao call her out on it, though.

Even more worried about Lilly at this point. About the only thing giving me hope is that you think my writing is too dark, which means that you're probably not going the places that I think you're going.

And the drunken antics with Noriko, yeah, this is gonna be bad. At least he realises that…
Especially these three things from bhtooefr.

I do feel this chapter as a calm-before-the-storm sort of piece. Winding up into the last lap, sort of. That kind of sensation. Damn feminists. :) Nice to see Comrade Hisao finding himself though, which must be the central idea of Developments, surely. I think. Argh, the orbital mind-control lasers…
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 46 up 7/

Post by Deadpool021 » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:07 am

I've got a bad feeling about this

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Chapter 46 up 7/

Post by Carighan » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:10 am

Deadpool021 wrote:I've got a bad feeling about this
Yeah but no one since the last chapter seems to be willing to type it down that Lilly might end up killing herself.
Though I'm not sure. dewelar writes really really well, but I'm not sure he (she?) wants to pick up something as big as an undertone of grief. So who knows, maybe she's just busy binge-drinking somewhere. Can probably pick her up from the hospital after they pumped her stomach out and treated her for acute alcohol poisoning. :P
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