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

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dewelar
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Developments, Chapter 56 (Part 1)

Post by dewelar » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:16 pm

[Why did it have to be Ibarazaki of all people?]

Shicchan asks this as we're collecting some things from the Student Council room to bring to Ms. Shicchan's Mother's house. It's not the first time, either~, and she looks more exasperated each time. I guess I need to think of a different answer, and after a bit, I come up with one. [I don't know, Shicchan. I don't think it's such a bad~ thing, though! You have to admit, since they started hanging out together, nobody's complained about Emi running in the halls!]

Shicchan's face gets all pinchy at that. [That's because it's summer break, so there's hardly anyone here to complain! I'm reserving judgment on whether she's any less of a menace until classes start.] She adjusts her glasses with a sad smile. [I guess I should have expected this from the beginning, though.]

[Expected what, Shicchan?]

[Hisao and Ibarazaki. After all, look at how they met. She literally ran into him in the hallway, like a scene out of a romantic comedy. Since she didn't kill him, they were going to end up together in the end, right?]

"Wahaha~!" [That's a good point, Shicchan! I should have thought of that~ myself!] After thinking a little more, though, I frown. [I still feel sorry for Hanako, though.]

[I know.] Shicchan says, trying to look comforting. [I do, too, I suppose. They do seem to have been good for each other. Hisao was moping around a lot less even before Ibarazaki got hold of him, and Hanako's been somewhat less skittish lately, even around me.] She smiles a little at her self-deprecating remark. [I know Lilly feels the same way. That's why I'm really hoping I can do something to help rebuild the bridge between her and Hanako. They'll both be happier in that case, don't you think?]

[Right right, Shicchan~! I think they probably need~ each other now!]

Shicchan looks at me doubtfully. [Maybe. It's enough that they'll be happier, though.] Shicchan closes up the bag she's been packing. [That's everything we need from here, so let's head back to the dorm.]

[Okay!] I say enthusiastically. [I'll go get Hanako~, then!]

Shicchan looks at me impatiently. [Wouldn't it be easier to do that on the way to the front gate?]

It's just like Shicchan to be concerned about our efficiency~! [You're right, Shicchan~! But~! I wanted to talk to her a little first, okay~?] Shicchan's going to be focused on her cousin, after all~, so I need to do my best~ to help Hanako.

Shicchan almost frowns, but then doesn't. [All right, then. It's not like we're in that much of a rush.] She slings the bag onto her shoulder and walks out of the room. I follow, locking the door behind me.

On the way back to the dorm, Shicchan is surprisingly still, and I can tell she's still troubled. [What's wrong, Shicchan?]

[Although everything's going according to plan so far,] she says with a deep breath, [I haven't had the best luck with these two in the past. Hopefully things will work out better this time.]

[I think you're being too hard~ on yourself, Shicchan.]

[That's kind of you to say, Misha, even if it's not true.] Before I can deny that, too, we're at the dorm already. [I'll see you later, then.]

[Okay, Shicchan~,] I say sadly. [See you later.] Shicchan gives me a don't-worry-about-it look, then starts up the stairs as I push the button for the elevator. "Two-two-four, two-two-four..." I repeat to myself as I ride it to the second floor. I've never been here without Shicchan, so it takes me a couple minutes to find Hanako's room. Even so, I'm a little early, but I knock on her door anyway~. There's no answer, though, so I knock again~. "Hanako~? Are~ you~ in~ there~?" I call out when there still isn't any answer.

I hear a door open, but it's not the one in front of me? From behind me, I hear a voice say, "Huh? Who-...oh, it's you, Mikado. I should've known, since you're the only one I can hear right through my headphones. Noise-cancelling, my ass..."

I turn around and grin. "Hello~ Yoshimura!"

She winces. "Listen, Mikado, I know you have some kind of pathology with your volume control, but maybe you could take a pill for it or something." As I work out what she's saying, she sighs. "I've got a major headache, all right? Besides, if you're looking for Ikezawa she's not there. I heard her head to the bathroom a few minutes ago."

That explains it, I guess. "I'll wait for her here, then~!"

"Yeah, you do that." Yoshimura sighs again for some reason. "You know, this used to be a nice, quiet hall last year, but now I don't get any peace. First Nakai starts coming around, then Ibarazaki started showing up, and now you. Ikezawa sure is popular all of a sudden." I might be wrong, but I think Yoshimura is trying~ to hide a smile as she says this. I don't think I'm wrong, though. "I'd complain to the Student Council about it, but it might have some...advantages."

She winks at me, and suddenly I feel a bit light-headed. "Ummm...for what?"

Now she breaks out laughing all of a sudden? "You're too much, Mikado. Give my regards to the President and stuff. Later!"

As she's closing her door, I suddenly remember that there was something~ I was supposed to tell her! "Oh! Wait, Yoshimura!" The door stops closing, and her head reappears. "Katayama is back from the hospital~! Shicchan thought~ you might want to know." Katayama is one of the students Shicchan worries about the most. I don't know her too well myself, because she's not here more than she is~ here, I think. But~! Yoshimura seems to be something like a friend of hers? So~ I'm supposed to keep her up to date on things like this. It works the other way around, too, because Shicchan worries about Yoshimura, although I think I know her even less?

Anyway~, Yoshimura's expression gets complicated after I tell her that. "Yeah, um, thanks. Guess she hasn't had time to call yet or something. Well, good luck finding Ikezawa, then."

Yoshimura closes her door the rest of the way. Just then~, out of the corner of my eye I see Hanako coming down the hall. "There~ you are!" I call out, and Hanako stops like she always does. "Are you packed and ready to go?"

Hanako starts looking a little bit like a rabbit. I wish it was in a cute way, but it isn't. "P-packed? I..."

"Right right~! And don't forget your sleeping bag~!"

"S-sleeping...bag?"

"Wahaha~! Of course~! We're sleeping~ there, after all!"

"R-right, but...I don't h-have one," she says, and I can her eyes darting around.

"Aw...I'm sorry, Hanako, I probably should have asked about that before now. I'm sure it'll be fine~ though! Ms. Shicchan's Mother is always prepared, so she probably has one for you! Or~ maybe your neighbor has one we can borrow! I'll go ask her!"

Before Hanako can tell me not to, because I know she will, I dash across the hall and knock on Yoshimura's door. This way, too, if Hanako needs to hide in her room, she can! Yoshimura throws~ the door open almost immediately. "What the fuck, Mikado? I already told you I'd..." She glances off to the right, and she gets quieter? "Oh, you found her, I guess. So what do you want from me now? Did I get mail? Or maybe your boss already decide to move my room?"

"Um...I don't think so, but..."

"Then what?" she asks through her teeth, and for a moment I forget why I knocked.

Then, I remember~! "Oh~! I wanted to know if you had a sleeping bag Hanako could borrow! We're having a slumber party~!"

Yoshimura looks at me, says, "A slumber party?" like it's some kind of insect, then looks behind me. I look back, and I can see Hanako standing there, rigid, looking back and forth between me, Yoshimura, and the door to her room. "Oh, one of those. This is one of those things where you get together in your pajamas and sip tea and your foreigner friend talks about how hard it is to deal with the riff-raff, right?"

Hanako balls her fists up by her sides and says, "Don't talk about Lilly like that." Her tone is even, but I can tell from her eyes that she's angry. I'm not sure I've ever actually seen~ Hanako get angry, but I guess it can happen!

"Easy, easy, put the claws away," Yoshimura says, waving a hand at Hanako. "Sleeping bag, huh? Yeah, hang on. Just don't feel like you've got to go do something while I go get it."

Yoshimura steps back into her room, and I look back at Hanako, who still hasn't moved. I smile to try and reassure her, but I don't think helps because she still looks angry? "Don't worry, Hanako~! We won't be late!" I say, because I'm not sure what else to say. I don't think that helps either.

Yoshimura comes out a bit later with a large orange bundle. "Have fun," she says, dropping it on the floor next to me. "Just make sure it comes back in one piece. I never know when I might need it. Later." She waves vaguely in Hanako's direction and, without waiting for an answer, shuts the door in my face.

"Um...thanks~!" I say through the closed door. Picking up the sleeping bag, I turn to Hanako – she's less tense, but still a little shaky. "You're packed otherwise, right right~?"

"Y-yes, excuse me," Hanako says as she quickly~ goes into her room. A few seconds later, she comes back out with a small bag, which I think~ is the same one she brings with her to class.

"Okay~ then! Let's get Shicchan!" I head for the elevator, and apparently she follows because~ she's next to me when the door opens. After going down one floor, we follow the halls to our rooms. "This is my~ room, and Shicchan's is right across the hall~!"

Hanako thinks for a bit, then quietly says, "That m-must be...convenient."

"Right right~? When Shicchan told the administration that I was translating for her, they moved my room down here! Now, all we have to do is open~ our doors, and we can talk without disturbing anybody~! And~! Even if the elevator breaks, I only have to take one~ flight of stairs!" I set the sleeping bag down, knock on Shicchan's door to let her know we're here, then open my door.

"W-will that..." Hanako starts to ask, but before she even finishes~ the usual question, Shicchan is already in the hallway~, bag in hand. She puts it down briefly to greet us.

[Is Hanako ready?]

[Yep yep~. She was just~ going to ask me about your door!]

[Well, then, I'll leave that to you.] Shicchan adjusts her glasses with a smile. [I know how much you enjoy explaining it.]

I grin at Shicchan as she picks up her bag again and starts off ahead of us. I rush back into my room and grab my bag. I almost~ grab Hanako's hand on my way out, but remember not to before doing it and grab the sleeping bag instead~. As the two of us head for the elevator, I say to her, "Anyway~, when someone knocks on her door, the lights in Shicchan's room activate~! That's how she knows when people are looking for her! All the doors in this wing of the building are set up that way~ for the class-1 students! And Shicchan, of course~!"

"I see," she replies, and then~ we're outside and headed for the front gate. Shicchan's only a little ahead of us, so I jog ahead to catch up. Since we're both carrying bags and Hanako isn't inclined to talk, the walk down is both quiet and still. Definitely~ appropriate for a day this hot! At least the taxi I scheduled is on time~, so we only have to wait for a couple minutes! As always~, I sit across from Shicchan, facing the rear of the cab. Hanako sits next to me, and the whole~ way~ there~ she sits quietly, tugging on the long hair on the right side of her face. I do my best to keep quiet as well, which isn't too hard since the ride is short, but isn't too easy either~ since I haven't seen Ms. Shicchan's Mother in a long time. So~! I wind up moving around restlessly and kicking the seat and bumping against Hanako until Shicchan glares at me and I stop.

When the taxi pulls up in front of Ms. Shicchan's Mother's house, while Shicchan is paying the driver I burst out of the cab. Of course, since Shicchan should~ be the one to press the intercom, all that happens is that I start shifting from foot to foot while holding my bag anyway. After a little bit, she comes over with Hanako half-hiding a couple steps behind her. I've seen her be a lot~ closer to Lilly or Hicchan when she does that. I wonder how close she'd get to me...or would I be the one she was hiding from? That would make me sad, though~.

As I'm thinking that, Shicchan snaps to bring me back before pushing the button. Right away, Ms. Shicchan's Mother answers the door. "Shicchan, Misha, welcome!"

"It's great~ to see you again, Ms. Shicchan's Mother~!" I respond.

Shicchan must have said something as well, because Ms. Shicchan's Mother looks behind me and bows. "It's good to meet you, Miss Ikezawa. My niece has told me quite a bit about you. She obviously thinks quite highly of you, so I'm sure she will be happy to meet with you."

Hanako bows, too. "Y-yes...you, too, Ms. Hakamichi."

Ms. Shizune's Mother straightens up and looks at Hanako. "Please, come in!" She takes a few steps back into the house, then calls down the hallway. "Lilly, you have guests!"

At the other end of the house, I can see Lilly making her way toward us slowly, so I call out! "Hi hi~ Lilly! We're here to cheer you up!"

Lilly turns this way with her usual smile – the one that I never know what~ it means – and says, "Ah, hello, Misha. Should I assume my cousin is here as well, then?"

"Yep, Shicchan is here! But~! There's some~body~ else~ here to see you, too!"

I gently~ nudge Hanako, and she stumbles a bit as she steps forward. I can't remember the last time I saw her nervous around Lilly – probably never! "G-good afternoon...Lilly." She says it so stiffly~, too, that if I didn't know better, I'd think they weren't even friends? That's strange, though, isn't it?

Lilly's smile wavers for a second, so I'm even less sure how she~ feels now. "My, my...I'm...glad to meet with you, Hanako. I admit I'm...surprised that you're here." Now I'm really~ getting a strange feeling, because I don't think I've ever seen Lilly be flustered like this! I'm not sure what I should do, so I busy myself by getting indoor shoes for everyone from the cabinet by the door. That quiet and still feeling returns, too, and I wish Shicchan – or anybody, really – would say something, so I could have something to do.

As expected~ of her, Ms. Shicchan's Mother is the one to break the stillness. "Thank you, Misha," she says gently, although if she wanted to thank me maybe she might have let me sign that for Shicchan instead of doing it herself? "Everyone, please come in. Dinner will be ready soon, so please relax until then."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother walks down the hall, and Hanako follows her a few paces behind. I'm about to do the same when Shicchan snaps. When I turn around, she says emphatically, [Misha, make sure you enjoy yourself today, too.]

A little confused, I ask, [What do you mean, Shicchan?]

Shicchan's face turns frustrated. [I mean you need to relax!] She slumps her shoulders, looking a little tired herself~. [I know you've been feeling down yourself lately, and I don't want to have to have another meeting like this for you.] She shifts to her gentle smile. [Besides, you're a key part of THIS meeting! I know of nobody better qualified to help Hanako and my cousin cheer up. If you're depressed, that won't be as easy. Don't worry about me; I'm sure my mother would be beyond pleased to be my interpreter for the evening.]

We've gone through this so many~ times, how I want nothing more than to be by Shicchan's side at times like this. Normally I'd be willing to say it again, but something feels different today. Maybe it's because she's given me something important to do? [All right, Shicchan, I'll try~!]

[Good!] she says, adjusting her glasses with satisfaction. [I'll go discuss things with my mother, and join the rest of you afterwards.] Shicchan's eyes twinkle~ slightly as she adds, [Tell them to be prepared!] I nod and start to leave, but turn around after a few steps so I can watch Shicchan with her mother. They seem to be getting along~, at least for now, and inside I smile. It's a sad smile, but it's a hopeful one. Not a lot~ of hope, but a little more than yesterday.

Ever since I first met Ms. Shicchan's Mother and found out she had a girlfriend, I've always thought that maybe, if Shicchan could ever truly~ accept her, then Shicchan might understand my feelings, and maybe maybe~ even accept them, too. Then Hicchan arrived, and Shicchan told me she thought he was cute and was going to try and get him on the Student Council. I was already calling him Hicchan~, and it wasn't long before I realized how those names might sound in English: "he-chan" and "she-chan". I thought that I'd sunk my own battleship~, or maybe I'd gotten tangled up in their red string~.

But then came the fateful~ game of Risk! When Hicchan chose what Shicchan called the way of the coward, there was a glimmer. When Hicchan started "fraternizing with the enemy", there was a bigger one~. It may still have been teeny-tiny, but I held on to it with all my might~, and even allowed it to grow, even though I knew I shouldn't. I thought, without Hicchan in the way, things could still happen~!

Then something I didn't expect~ to happen happened instead – Hicchan and Lilly broke up, and Lilly was even going back to Scotland~! I thought, for sure, Shicchan would start to pull him in again, but then something even worse~ happened – she didn't! I didn't even think that was possible~, but it's because when I asked Shicchan about it, she said she wanted Hicchan to get back together with Lilly! I knew then, I was really only fooling myself. All the reasons for us not being together were just my inventions. Even someone like me~ catches on to things if I'm hit over the head by them often enough.

I'm jolted by a hand on my shoulder? Oh! I forgot~ I was still standing in the hallway. I see that Shicchan isn't in the kitchen anymore, and Ms. Shicchan's Mother is looking at me? "What is it, Ms. Shicchan's Mother?"

"I see your hearing can be as poor as my daughter's," she says with a smile as pleasant as her daughter's. "I'm quite used to repeating myself, though, so please call me Mayoi." I've really~ tried~, but it's just so~ hard~ for me to think of her as anything but Ms. Shicchan's Mother. "Is that wall very interesting, Misha?"

"Sorry~!" I say, laughing with as much cheerfulness as I can. "I was just~ thinking. I'll go sit with everyone else now!"

I try to walk away, but a gentle pressure on my shoulder stops me. I turn back, and Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi says in a half-whisper, "My daughter tells me you've been down lately, and she doesn't know how to cheer you up. I just wanted to make sure it wasn't about what happened last year."

I think extra hard about that. "I think it isn't, but I also think it kind of is?" I tell her. "I've just been thinking more about it, because another friend of mine has had the same~ thing~ happen to her recently, and I wanted to try and help~, but I'm not sure I can."

"And that's bringing back some painful memories." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi smiles sadly, looking toward the sitting room where everyone else is. "I think that applies to both of them, doesn't it?"

She's right~, too! A month isn't all that~ long ago, is it? "Lilly got her~ confession accepted first, though. Besides, Shicchan thinks they'd still be together if they talked to each other better."

"I think Lilly believes that, too." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi sighs. "They weren't together very long, were they? A few fleeting weeks, my niece called it – still plenty of time to fall in love, and to have it fall away again." She turns to look at me with a small smile. "Sometimes, though, it takes much, much longer, even when we hope it won't." I look at her for a moment, and just then~ Shicchan returns with her bags. "Well, never mind that for now. Dinner is just about ready, so I'll see you at the table."

After Shicchan shows me where we'll be sleeping, I go back and get my bag, too. When I get there, Shicchan is frowning. [So what was my mother talking to you about?]

[Just about Lilly and Hanako~,] I say. In my head, I hear Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi's voice talking about love and much~ much~ longer and I cringe. I don't know if I can handle that~! It's been a long time already~, and it's really, really hard to fall out of love with someone you see every day who keeps doing the things that made you fall in love in the first~ place~. I know that if I didn't spend so much time with Shicchan, I could probably eventually maybe get over her a little bit? But~! I can't even do that. Even if I weren't translating for her in class, there's Student Council~ too~. Why couldn't Hicchan have just joined like she wanted him to? Or maybe now that she's getting along with Lilly, and she's not the class rep, Lilly might come back! Or those two first-years could join early~! If only~ I were that lucky!

[Okay,] Shicchan says, looking concerned. [Go sit down, Misha. I'll go help Mother in the kitchen.]

I follow Shicchan out, and from the dining room I can see her talking to her mother. It's kind of like eavesdropping, but it isn't really because I don't understand some of the signs they're using. I've only been learning for three years or so, but Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi has been talking to Shicchan like this for forever~. Should I be hoping I can talk with her like that someday? I always have, but I don't know~ if that's right anymore?

When I get to the dining room, Lilly and Hanako are sitting across from each other at the table, not talking at all~. I sit next to Hanako, and Shicchan comes in and sits next to Lilly, and all through dinner it's the same~. Lilly talks to us about the random things we talk about, but Hanako just glances around between bites not saying anything~. It's really~ really~ frustrating, because I didn't really see any way I could do what I was supposed~ to do yet!

After we finish eating and the table's been cleared, we all move back to the sitting room. [I didn't expect things to be this awkward,] Shicchan says. [I don't see them talking to each other, either.]

[This was your idea, Shicchan,] Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi says with a grin, [so I know you have something planned.]

[I do,] Shicchan says warily. [I was just hoping for a more friendly atmosphere to develop first. However,] she shrugs and adjusts her glasses, [it looks like we'll just have to push things along ourselves!] She turns around and grins~. "[Let's not sit around moping~! I brought a few games~ from Yamaku, so I thought we might play something~!]"

Shicchan picks up the bag she packed from the Student Council room and puts it on the table. Hanako scoots away a little, while Lilly sighs like she does when she doesn't want to fight with Shicchan. "If you insist," Lilly says, "I'm not opposed to the idea, Perhaps, if you brought the hanafuda deck, we might play a bit."

"[Actually, cousin, I had something else in mind~!]" Shicchan pulls out a box that I quickly recognize. "[We have four of us here, after all, so I brought the mahjong tiles~!]" I see Lilly smile, and I remember Shicchan mentioning that she and Lilly used to play often with Akira and Hideaki, so maybe it's nostalgic for her? "[Do you know how to play~, Hanako?]"

Hanako nods slightly. "A l-little, but...it's been a wh-while."

"In that case, perhaps..." Lilly starts to say, but Hanako puts a hand on her arm.

"You w-want to play, right? I'd like to...try."

"Then there we are~! Mahjong it is!"

"All right, but please don't go overboard, Shizune," Lilly says with a little edge~ in her voice. "Hanako, if you need help, just ask me or Aunt Mayoi. You can be assured that neither of us would take advantage of your inexperience." Come to think of it~, the edge in her voice doesn't entirely sound like it has with Shicchan lately. It sounds more teasing~ than threatening~?

So! We start playing, but our first game doesn't go all that well. Lilly tries to feed Hanako, but the two of them still don't seem to be on the same~ wavelength, so she just winds up feeding Shicchan instead. As usual, I wind up paying a lot and finish at the bottom, but I don't care~ about that. I'm more worried about Hanako, who's been getting more and more withdrawn throughout the game. When it's done, she quickly~ stands up and says, "Um...e-excuse me..."

"Are you all right, Hanako?" Lilly asks.

"I'm...f-fine. I'm just a l-little tired. I just need to...lie down f-for a bit."

"Do you want me to come with you?" Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi asks.

"N-no...I'll...be fine." Before~ anyone else can say anything, Hanako leaves the room. She doesn't seem to be panicking, at least?

Lilly starts to get up as well, but Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi says, "Perhaps we should let her rest for now. If you would permit me, I would be happy to join your game. It has been a long time since I have had the chance to play with you and Shicchan, and I would enjoy it very much."

"Ah," Lilly says, her ear still cocked in the direction of the hallway. "Yes, perhaps you're right. She...probably does need to rest for a while." Although I can tell she's troubled, she sits back down on the couch. I consider~ telling Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi to let Lilly go. However~! I also can see the small bits of Lilly and Shicchan's relationship coming back together, and I really~ don't want to be the one who gets in the way of that.

I spend the entire second game thinking~ about that, and Hanako, and I do even worse~ than before! I need a break~, so I ask Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi if I can go outside~ for a bit. It's dark, so it should be cooler now. Before I leave, though, I decide to check on Hanako. She's not in the first couple of rooms, so I go to the spare bedroom where we're supposed to be sleeping. And! There she is~, staring out the window and looking sad – or at least her back looks sad, all hunched over and stuff? So! I decide to go over to talk to her. "Hanako, are you okay?" She doesn't answer, so I move around to her side, putting my face near hers with my best~ smile! "Hanako~?"

~~~~

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Last edited by dewelar on Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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dewelar
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Developments, Chapter 56 (Part 2)

Post by dewelar » Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:17 pm

This time, Hanako jumps up a little bit, and her mouth opens and closes. I think I hear something like "I...I..." and I get worried because I've seen this before~, and it ends with her running away somewhere. It doesn't end like that today, though. Instead, it ends with her swallowing and looking at me with un-cute rabbit eyes.

I move back a little and try to keep my voice quiet. "Are you feeling any better~, Hanako?"

Hanako looks away from me again. "I d-don't know."

I sit down in a close-but-not-too-close chair, looking down at my hands that are suddenly folded in my lap. "I'm sorry, Hanako. I guess I'm not doing a very good job of cheering you up so far."

"It's n-not your fault, Misha. I...thought I w-was ready...to talk to Lilly, but...I still can't. I d-don't know how I'm...supposed to feel n-now. I'm not sure...if I can f-feel anything anymore. I just feel...k-kind of numb. It's like my inside w-wants to be...like this." Hanako holds up her right hand to me, showing me the scars on the back of it. I've seen them before~, but she usually wouldn't show them to anyone, would she?

"Do you think we shouldn't have brought you here, then?" I ask, but Hanako just shakes her head.

For a long while, the two of us sit there silently. I should probably~ get back to the sitting room, but I also probably~ shouldn't leave Hanako alone. She's staring out the window again, and I think maybe she's thinking about something? So~ I don't say anything until she looks at me and says something herself, so quietly I can barely~ hear her. "Misha?" I look back at her. "Was y-your...first confession...l-like this?"

My mouth hangs open. I never thought Hanako would ask such a question? I've never told anyone about me and Shicchan, not even Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi, although~ she figured it out herself somehow. I've never really had anyone close enough that I thought I could~ tell them, so I don't even know if I can! Would it really be okay to tell Hanako? Maybe? I know she'd never tell anyone else, because she's not like that. Besides~, she might feel better if she knew there was someone who went something sort of like what she's going through, even if it's not exactly~ the same. Okay~! But~! "Um, are you sure you want to know about that, Hanako?"

Hanako turns away from me, and she's playing with her hair again. That's not good~. "I'm s-sorry...I sh-shouldn't have asked."

I have~ to say something now, right? Of course~ I'm nervous, but I want to be able to say I did everything~ I could to cheer up Hanako. So~! "Okay~ okay~! But, maybe somewhere else might be better? Oh~! Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi has a wonderful~ garden behind her house. We can talk there, if that's okay with you, Hanako."

"All right," Hanako says, and she stands up. I start to reach for her hand, but I don't want her to run away again, so I turn it into gesturing for her to follow me. She does, down the hall and through~ the back door into the garden. When I open the door, I can't help at stare around me, because even though I've seen it before it's still~ wonderful~! Next to me, Hanako is doing the same, her mouth slightly open like she's seeing something wonderful – which she is! The just-past-full moon is just above the line of the hedge, falling on the single cherry tree in the center of the garden, around which there are several benches. "It's b-beautiful," she gasps, trailing behind me as I walk over to the farthest bench, facing the moon.

"Hmm~ hmm~ it is, isn't it!" I sit down, and Hanako sits a few feet away from me. I smile, and try~ to start talking, but no words are coming out. I have no idea how Hanako would feel about a girl liking another girl, so...how? If I knew whether or not Lilly told her about Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi and Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi's Partner Julia, then that...oh! Lilly~! Maybe she knows about what happened in middle school~! If she told me, she must have told Hanako, right right~? Okay~! "Okay~! Before I tell you, ummm, can I ask you something first?"

"Wh-what is it?"

Okay, now, I need to say this right – I don't want to be too scary~, but I don't want to be misunderstood either~. Well, here goes~! "So..." Um. "Did...um..." Ugh, this is hard~! "Did...Lilly ever tell you about receiving confessions in middle school?"

Hanako's non-cute rabbit look is back. "Y-you mean...the ones f-from...other girls?"

Okay, not~ misunderstood, and maybe only a little~ scary? "Yep. My first confession was like that~."

Hanako looks at me blankly for a bit, then looks away for a bit, and she's quiet again? I don't really want to say anything else unless she wants~ me to, so I wait until she does. "L-Lilly...said that a l-lot of confessions...l-like that are just...a phase." She looks back at me again. "Do you think...that's what y-yours was?"

I start to answer her, but then I stop. Do I? Is it? Was it? Does it matter? I don't know? I don't think so? Maybe? "Um...well, if it is, then it's one I'm still~ in, I think? Because I still love the person who rejected me." When Hanako looks at me, I get this strange~ feeling like she knows something? It's not a harsh look, though – I should know! – so I go ahead and tell her. "The person who rejected~ me was Shicchan."

Hanako looks away from me again. "I th-thought that...you might s-say that."

"Oh..." I feel embarrassed, even if I'm not sure I should. "Is it really~ obvious?"

"I d-don't know. I've n-never heard anyone s-say anything. I only noticed this t-term, when I...when I started looking at Hisao." I see Hanako also~ turning red now. "Shizune's the only person...you ever r-really look at, even when you're not t-translating."

She's right about that, I think. Even if someone did know, we'll be graduating soon~, and then I can start again. Again. I think again, too, about her question. "You know, I don't think~ it's a phase? Because I didn't confess to Shicchan because~ she's a girl? I confessed to Shicchan because Shicchan is Shicchan~! I didn't even think~ about whether she was a boy or a girl."

Hanako looks like she's not sure whether she wants to look at me~ or not. "I'm...not sure I understand."

"I'm not sure either? But~! Where I used to go to school, everyone used to laugh at me, but Shicchan didn't. Sometimes I thought she was, but I was wrong~. She tried so~ hard to make me part of her life, that I thought 'I love her, and I want to be with her as much as I can~'."

"So...you c-confessed to her."

"Yep." I don't really like remembering this anymore~, but for the sake of what I came here to do, I push myself to keep telling the story. "Last year, after Lilly left the Student Council, it was just the two of us. I'd been thinking about Shicchan being alone in the office, and how I could be there for her, and then maybe? Even though there was no reason for me to believe it, I did anyway. I wanted it to be true, so I was okay with letting myself believe it, even though I think I knew. So~! One day, there was a moment that was as much like the moment I'd been thinking about as I could hope~. The day was really~ beautiful, and even through the window, the light was so warm~. I thought I wanted to stay like that forever, next to Shicchan."

"That sounds nice..."

"Right right~? It does~ sound like it might have been perfect, doesn't it? So, I confessed right~ there. I was rejected." I knew it would still hurt to remember it. I have to keep smiling, though. "In the end, if your feelings aren't returned, then it doesn't matter if it's the most~ perfect~ ever~. I knew it even then, I think, but I also knew that I had~ to say it, or else I'd regret it. That was what I thought~ at the time, but you know, Hanako? I think maybe I regret it anyway?" I don't think I can keep smiling anymore, though.

"Regret..." Hanako says quietly, looking back out the window. "But wh-why did you t-tell me this? Why do you...care so much?"

"Because you asked?" Hanako's eyes widen a little again, but it's not a scared wide this time, it's a surprised wide. "And because I thought it might help? Because some of what I see between you and Hicchan looks a little like me and Shicchan? Maybe~ we can help each other!"

"I'm n-not sure I understand."

"Ummm...because sometimes I think, maybe I just liked Shicchan because the way she treated me was so different~ from the way everyone else did?"

"Oh," Hanako says, looking away from me. "D-do you...think that's wrong?"

I think about that for a bit. "I don't know, Hanako. It never felt~ wrong, but maybe it is? Even after Shicchan rejected me, she was always trying to find me, always trying to be my friend. That made me happy, but also sad, and even though she never meant~ to hurt me, it did, and I think it still does? So~! I was wondering if the same thing might be going to happen to you and Hicchan."

"Is that why...you regret your c-confession?"

"I'm not sure, but maybe I only regret it because I'm always around Shicchan. But~! I've been wondering, maybe if I stayed away from Shicchan, maybe eventually my feelings would get less and less? I don't know if they'd go away, and I don't want them all~ to go away...just some of them."

"I thought the s-same thing, but now...I d-don't know."

I tilt my head because I'm surprised~. "What do you mean, Hanako?"

"After they became a c-couple, I...tried to s-stay away from Hisao and Lilly...f-for a while, anyway. That's why I planned to go with N-Naomi, to...give them space and...give myself space, too."

I'm afraid to ask the next~ question, I think. "Did it help?"

"A little," Hanako sighs. "But I think...all it did was push them d-down. When Hisao and Lilly broke up, my...feelings started to come back." Hanako's hand starts pulling at her hair again. "I liked Hisao from the...first time I t-talked to him. I just...tried to be s-something I wasn't, because I th-thought...who I was wasn't what he w-would want."

"Hanako," I start to say, but I really can't say anything. After all, I already knew~ I wasn't what Shicchan would want, but maybe it's the same thing anyway? I remember wishing for Hanako that it wouldn't turn out the same, and now it did.

"M-maybe," Hanako starts again, "he wasn't what I th-thought he was, either. Maybe I...m-made him something he wasn't, in my head. We l-liked...a lot of the s-same things, especially books." Suddenly, Hanako's words are pouring~ out, something I've never heard her do. I don't think I even thought she could? "We always t-talked about what we were reading, and...and he was smiling. But did it...remind Hisao too much of...being in the h-hospital?" Hanako's voice is even more wavery than usual, like maybe she's trying not to cry? I'm not really sure. "But we p-played chess together! I c-cooked for him, and he s-smiled...and...and h-he...he gave me my f-first...my first kiss...I thought...I thought..."

"Hanako," I start again, but stop again. Maybe she really is like me? When I was rejected, I had nobody to open up to. I don't think she does now either~, because she's not talking to Lilly, and did I push her into doing it somehow? I don't know if that's what she wanted, but she's doing it, and I'm the one who's here. So~!

Ummm...

What do I do? It feels really~ weird not to be the one talking to the other person. I'm always talking for two people when I'm with Shicchan. I have to listen, too~, and watch, but I'm always having to talk twice. I even just caught myself doing it now~, although it's good practice, I guess? But I don't really get to just~ listen very often, because even though I'm here, Shicchan is still~ the only one who talks to me. It's nice for a change, but it means I'm not sure how it works sometimes, like now.

Shicchan says she always listens~ to herself before she talks to me. She says that every word is more important to a deaf person, because you think more before you say them. Even though she says that~, I don't always say things exactly~ how she does, which I'm not supposed to do? But I'm Shicchan's friend~ first, so I say things how I think they should be said, or how I think she'd say them if she didn't think~ so hard. But that means I'm thinking about what I'm~ saying more, too, which I didn't really used to do. I thought Hanako was like that, too, because she didn't talk very much? But I guess~ she's not, always!

We've both been quiet way~ too long now, so I really need to say something, I think. "Maybe the two of us can help each other~ get over the first person we liked, then?"

Hanako's face darkens enough that I can even see it out here, and she says something else~ I never expected. "Hisao w-wasn't...the first boy I liked." My eyes go wide~! She looks at me, and I want to say something, but before~ I can, Hanako says, "You told me...about Shizune, so I n-need to...tell you this in return."

"Are you sure you want to tell me about this, Hanako?"

Hanako swallows, nods, then starts to talk softly. "Not long b-before the accident, a family moved into the house n-next to ours. They had a boy named Takeaki, who was a y-year...older than I was. We became friends quickly, and w-we always...played together. I knew...I liked him, and I thought...I'd m-marry him someday, like in the stories I...used to read. The only thing left...was to tell him I l-liked him." Hanako lowers her head, and she gets even quieter. "I never got the chance."

"Awwww, Hanako..." I start, but she~ keeps going.

"When I f-finally came back to school, e-everything had...changed. I w-was still in the same school as all my f-friends, but they called me n-names...just like everyone else did. A c-couple weeks after coming back, during one of the breaks, a g-girl took the hat I was wearing, that I...n-needed to keep the sun off. She and some others...were throwing it around, and when I tried to g-get it back, a c-couple of them...h-held me back...and p-pulled on my hair. Just then, I s-saw...Takeaki w-walking by. I h-hadn't seen him since...I'd come back. He...l-looked over, and I smiled because...I thought he'd come over and s-stop them." Hanako lifts her face again, and tears are coming out of her eyes. "He didn't...he...h-he just...w-...just w-...w-watched...and then...and then he s-started...laughing..."

Hanako's words break down into sobbing. I knew that she'd been bullied a lot~, because of her file, but of course there wasn't this kind of detail there. Of course, the same is true of my own file~, so even Shicchan doesn't know everything about what happened to me before Yamaku. That was another thing I used to wonder about~ if I told her someday, if she might accept me. I'm not that pitiful any more, I don't think. Maybe sometimes, but not as often.

I reach out a hand~ to Hanako's shoulder. She doesn't flinch, or back away, so~ I move a little closer. She still doesn't move – she just sits there, hunched over like she was earlier, shaking from the sobs. I wonder~ how much of it is the memory, and how much of it is what happened with Hisao?

Just then~ I hear the door open, and look over to see Shicchan standing there. [I was wondering where you two were. Is Hanako all right?]

I can't see her face very well, but I can tell from the way she moves that she's concerned. I'm sure~ she can tell that Hanako is crying. Although I don't want to, I take my hand off Hanako's shoulder so I can talk. [I think she still needs a little time, Shicchan.]

[I thought as much. I don't know how much longer I can appease my cousin, so please come back inside soon. Besides, my mother said she had something she wanted to tell us. I'm not sure what she's up to, but she made it seem important.]

[Okay. Tell them we'll be in soon~!] I definitely~ don't want to leave Hanako alone now.

[I will.] Shicchan says before going back inside. I continue to keep an eye~ on Hanako, waiting for her to calm down. I've been there when she was panicking, and I always knew I could depend on Shicchan to keep us both~ calm. I'm not very good at calm, so I think the best thing I can do is just be~ here. It's nice~ out here anyway, so I can sit, and watch, and listen. After a bit, Hanako starts to get quieter. After a bit more, she finally~ lifts her head up. I think she's surprised when she sees I'm still here? "Are you feeling any better, Hanako?"

"A l-little. I'm...kind of tired, though."

"Oh. I guess we should probably go back inside now, then? Shicchan said that Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi wants to talk to us about something~."

Hanako nods, stands up, and stretches herself out a bit. I'm still not really sure~ what happened between her and Hicchan exactly, but I really hope she has an easier time getting over him than I've had. One thing I do~ know is that she'll have an easier time finding someone than I will.

The two of us walk inside, and Shicchan greets us with her pleasant smile. [Welcome back. Everything okay with you two?]

[I'll tell you about it later~, Shicchan. What's your mother going to talk to us about?]

Shicchan deflates a little. [She hasn't told me, but she said she'd tell us once we were all together again.]

As if she saw what Shicchan was saying, Ms. Shizune's Mother Mayoi comes into the sitting room right~ then~ with a tray and a pitcher of barley tea. She sets it down and pours a glass for each of us in turn, and I notice again~ that Hanako isn't sitting with Lilly. I feel a little sad about that, but then Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi starts talking in a way that makes me wonder if she noticed? "For an occasion that I had heard was supposed to be cheerful, there seems to be a lot of sad faces here. I realize that my daughter sometimes finds this sort of thing difficult, so I wonder if she might be willing to allow me to help."

Shicchan narrows her eyes and looks curiously~ at her mother. "[What do you have in mind, Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi?]"

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi half-smiles and half-frowns? "There's a story that I think might be relevant to everything. Shicchan's heard it before, of course, but perhaps not all of it now." Shicchan frowns with her arms crossed, looking impatient. "I thought perhaps, since I've heard quite a bit lately about all of your circumstances, you might wish to know a little about my own." Shicchan looks dubious~ at the announcement, but doesn't move. "I do enjoy telling it, after all, but I don't think I've ever done so at such an appropriate time and place. All I ask is that you all try not to fall asleep before I finish."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi looks right~ at~ Shicchan. Hanako looks a little embarrassed, but Shicchan definitely~ looks offended! [If I fall asleep, you'll know why,] she replies, and Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi sighs.

"Don't worry, Shicchan, I'll do my best to keep it to the pertinent points." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi finishes her barley tea and sits up straight~."When I was young, my parents – Shicchan's and Lilly's grandparents – moved quite often. Japan had recovered from the Pacific War, so many companies were sending employees overseas to establish a presence in Western countries. Father's company was one of these, and when he was chosen to travel he chose to take his family along, including Hiro and me. From the time I had my fourth birthday until I entered high school, we never lived anywhere for longer than eighteen months. We spent time in the United States, England, Germany and Norway, but it was our last stop that affected me most.

"I was fourteen when we arrived in the city of Montréal, Québec. It was a beautiful place, and there was something about it that I thought suited me. Here was a place that was so different from its neighbors that even its language was different, and there was a part of it that wanted to be separate from them. Yet, enough of it wanted to remain part of that group – that family – that it could never quite bring itself to leave. I felt like I'd found my place.

"My brother had been sent back to Japan to attend high school, so I knew the same would be true for me. Nevertheless, I fought with everything I had to be allowed to go to school in Montréal. My parents would not hear of it, so while their next home would be Italy, mine was an all-girls high school in Tokyo." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi smiles a little. "My parents might regret that choice now, since it was there that I learned of my attraction to people of my own gender. At the time, I allowed myself to be convinced that it would not last, because everyone else said that was the way it was. So, when high school ended, I was relieved that nothing...serious had happened.

"After graduation, my parents granted my request to study at LaSalle College in Montréal. By that time, I'm sure they were happy to have me out of their hair for a while, to the point that they were willing to pay for all my expenses. During my first year, I met my first real love, Genevieve. My time with her taught me that what I thought was true in high school was beautifully, wonderfully wrong. Perhaps it was because I was no longer among the people who told me that, or perhaps it was simply that I was no longer a child. Whatever the reason, it was the first time in my life that I could truly say I was happy."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi takes a deep breath, and her smile fades a little~. "Unfortunately, it didn't last, because a short time later we were forced to separate. Just before my second year at LaSalle was to begin, my family summoned me back to Japan." I look over at Lilly, who winces~ at those words. "My respected older brother had met a certain young woman while helping to set up a branch office in Scotland, and had returned home with her to ask our parents' permission to marry her. At first, our parents would not even consider the arrangement, as they had no intention of allowing their heir to marry a foreigner." Lilly really~ starts to look angry now, but she's still quiet.

"At that time, I wanted nothing to do with the family's company. However, Hiro was my beloved older brother, and from what he'd told me I knew very well how deeply his feelings for Sorcha ran. I also knew that Genevieve would never be accepted by my family, and that despite our estrangement there was a part of me that still wanted their approval, that still wanted our family to remain together. So, if I couldn't achieve the happiness I wanted, perhaps I could help my brother achieve his. I told my father that if he would allow Hiro and Sorcha's marriage, I would accept whatever choice he made for me."

I only knew a little bit of this story, but this part makes me very~ sad. Lilly's face has gone from angry to solemn, and even Hanako looks surprised~. Shicchan hasn't changed her pose a bit, although her face is a little softer. I wish she would look that way more often~, because she looks much prettier when she's not being harsh.

After a short pause, Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi continues her story. "That must have been enough to convince my father, because shortly thereafter, they granted their permission. Now, however, I was the favored child, and was to be the heir to our family legacy. Hiro would be cut out of the business, and in turn I was presented to a friend of my father's, Atsushi Hakamichi, as a candidate to marry his son, Jigoro. He was considered somewhat unreliable as an heir, so it was hoped that this marriage would rein him in and thereby solidify our respective companies' business relationship.

"Jigoro was...colorful, to say the least, and that part of him hasn't changed to this day. When I met him, I could feel a certain magnetism about him, a strong desire to carve out a place for himself in the world. I admired that about him, perhaps because it reminded me somewhat of myself. I decided, if I was going to marry a man, this was the kind of man it would be. However, it didn't quite work out the way either of our families intended."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi laughs, and it's a pure~ laugh. "I was content with that, at least for a while. Once we began our family, I'd hoped that our lives would at least be peaceful. Sadly, that was not the case. If anything, it made things worse, because the family became central to our conflict." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi looks at Shicchan~, and my eyes follow hers. Even though I'd been signing the whole~ time, Shicchan had now turned her back to the rest of us. I start to get up~, but Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi grabs my wrist. When I look at her, she just shakes her head~, and I sit back down. I look at Shicchan, and I wonder if she's doing this because of embarrassment for her mother, or for herself?

"A few years ago, I was back in Montréal to meet with a client when I ran into Genevieve by chance. She told me that some of our classmates from LaSalle were having an impromptu reunion at a nearby restaurant and invited me to join them. I almost didn't go because I thought it would be awkward, but I needed a break so I went after all. If nothing else, I thought I'd be able to catch up with Genevieve, but instead I found myself talking with someone else all night, a woman by the name of Julia Michaud." By now, I've stopped signing, because I've never~ heard this story! So~ I put all my attention into listening.

"Julia had been in the fashion design program a year ahead of me, and I remember seeing her around campus, but had never talked to her. She always had a lot of energy, and a lot of admirers, so I'd never bothered to try. That night was different, and over the course of my stay in Montréal we met several more times. Over the course of those meetings, we fell in love with each other."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi looks at Shicchan, and I don't know what~ kind of expression she's wearing. It looks like a whole bunch~ of different emotions are pushing each other off her face one by one, and when they're done she's left with that sad smile again. "The rest of the story I'll keep short for now. My father had already decided that my elevation was a mistake, and that perhaps the MacPhersons might be more valuable allies. Hiro was sent back to Inverness to build up our presence there, and that has had a great impact on that part of the Satou family." Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi looks sympathetically in Lilly's direction. "As for Julia and me, that was the end of a long road for me, and for Jigoro. Despite his wounded pride, he was gracious enough to allow me to keep the Hakamichi name for the sake of my business, and for that he has my gratitude. And yes, I do still love him. I need no other reason than the family we have together to say so."

For the first time I can remember~, I see a tear in Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi's eye. "It's as I've always said, love doesn't die so easily. That's what I told my parents when they opposed my brother, and that's what I've told my family. No matter where we are, whether we're together or not I will always love them. I know that all of you, including my daughter, still love those who might not love you in quite the way you'd want. It's true that the form of love in all our lives may have changed, is still changing, and will likely keep changing, but love itself is still there."

I look over at Shicchan, whose back is still turned, and murmur her name. Then I realize...does that mean Shicchan also has someone she loved~? I turn to ask Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi, but she's still~ talking. "But more than that, you should never give up on finding the love that is what you want it to be, and always will be. It may take longer than you'd like, but if you keep yourself open, it will happen – or, at least, I'd like to think so."

Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi looks at each of us in turn before nodding to me. I get up and stand in front of Shicchan, who looks as depressed as I've ever seen her. [Your mother~ is done talking now, Shicchan.] She doesn't even respond to me, she just turns around and looks at Lilly and Hanako, who are still silent, then back at her mother, who starts signing as she talks again.

"Well, I've probably said enough for tonight. If I've made any of you uncomfortable, I'm sorry. I'll leave you all to enjoy the rest of the night." Then, Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi turns and walks away.

Immediately after that, I get ready to ask Shicchan about everything~, but as I should have expected, she changes the subject even before I bring it up! [Have you noticed, Misha? Hanako hasn't spoken directly to Lilly all evening.]

Not only a different subject, but the most~ important~ one of the night! I can't say anything else now. [I did notice, Shicchan. Do you think she's feeling self-conscious because we're here?]

Shicchan glances at Hanako and frowns. [That's a possibility. Perhaps we should leave them alone for a while so that the two of them can have some time to themselves.] She smiles a mixed-looking smile. [After all, our purpose today was to cheer up Lilly, and then Hanako, and the best path to that goal is for them to work things out with each other.] She gets up, her arms moving more crisply, like they should~. [Why don't you let my mother know we'll be staying in a different room for tonight? I'll go tell Lilly.]

[Okay, Shicchan~!] I watch her go over to Lilly, and they start talking. Meanwhile~, I carry out my task! "Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi?"

She turns, her eyes laughing in a kind~ way, and says, "So it's gotten even longer, has it? Misha, while I don't mind that too much, since it's nice to be reminded of whose mother I am, I think I'd still prefer that you just call me Mayoi."

I keep trying, but it's hard~. "Okay, um, Ms. Mayoi!"

"Well, that's at least a little better. What is it?"

"Shicchan asked me to let you know we want to stay in a separate~ room from Lilly and Hanako tonight! I think they need some time to talk, because I haven't seen them do it all~ night."

Ms. Mayoi nods, looking wise~. "It's been so long since I've spent this much time with my daughter that I'd forgotten tonight had been arranged for someone else's benefit." Ms. Mayoi sighs, but at least~ it's not all that sad. "Then why don't the two of you stay in my workroom? I won't be using it tonight, and I trust you not to take too many liberties with things in there."

"Okay~, I'll tell Shicchan. Thanks for everything again, Ms. Mayoi~!" I finish with a little bow, then head back toward the sitting room. Shicchan is already on her way out, and after I bid a quick goodnight~ to Lilly and Hanako I tell her the situation. We gather our things, and Shicchan leads the way to the workroom~.

Almost as soon as we get to Ms. Mayoi's workroom, I can see Shicchan's eyelids starting to droop~. It's been a long day, after all~, so it's no surprise. Still, even after how she looked after Ms. Mayoi's story, there's a smile on Shicchan's face, and I think~ I know why. Despite what everyone thinks of her, I know she feels the best when she's helping other people. Even if things don't work out for her in the end, which happens more often than she'd like, she still feels satisfaction from making the effort. If only~ I knew how to point her in the right direction, so that the effort didn't go to nothing, I might really~ make her happy.

I know, though, that it won't make her fall in love with me, even if I also~ know that I'm just going to keep falling in love with her~. I really need to try to be okay with that, even if it's just until we graduate. Maybe even especially~ because of that? Because someday, maybe I can be like Ms. Mayoi, and find someone like Ms. Mayoi's Partner Julia, too.

Yeah~! Someday~!

~~~~

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Last edited by dewelar on Thu Apr 16, 2015 9:16 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) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by bhtooefr » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:53 pm

Holy fuck is Misha's internal monologue annoying. I thought she was 17, not 11... I want to stab myself in the eyes with a fork after reading that. :lol:
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by brythain » Sat Jan 24, 2015 12:18 am

This is, I think, your finest wahahahahahour... :lol:

"Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi" is just~ perfect. You have Misha better than I've ever~ experienced. Bravo!~

Really, this two-parter chapter could~ end up being what Developments is best known for!~ Although you might not think that's a compliment, it is!~ :D
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
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by Solistor » Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:13 am

A fine way to end a day of being sick. Thank you kindly for the new chapter. :)

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:50 am

Is it just me or was anyone else suspecting this was potentially leading to a Misha x Hanako shipping?

Not that that wouldn't bad, exactly. I could see it happening...

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by Solistor » Sat Jan 24, 2015 5:05 am

HoneyBakedHam wrote:Is it just me or was anyone else suspecting this was potentially leading to a Misha x Hanako shipping?

Not that that wouldn't bad, exactly. I could see it happening...
I felt it too; it'd be kind of cute if Misha and Hanako were able to move on from their respective heartaches with each other.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by bhtooefr » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:54 am

I called that 2.5 months ago: http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?p=218189#p218189

;)

In any case, I think it would end horribly, their respective personalities are not well-matched, and I could see them dragging each other down despite their best efforts.

That doesn't mean that I couldn't see them trying, though, and the groundwork does feel like it's being laid.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by Blasphemy » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:27 am

I don't really see how you get Misha x Hanako shipping out of this chapter. If anything I felt like dewelar tried to get the two a bit closer without already treading some yuri direction.

Of course Misha does love girls and they just grew a bit closer, but really, give me some solid indications that there really is something flowering, otherwise you may just ship every possible combination from the get-go.

Now to the chapter, absolutely loved it. A very strong Misha PoV opener that felt completely in-character with how I see her. My favorite remark of hers is probably "I don't think I can keep smiling anymore, though." Nice job on the momentarily rather awkward group-dynamic between these four girls (well and Mayoi). Am looking forward to the talk Hanako and Lilly are going to have; I can already smell the discomfort and feels!

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Sat Jan 24, 2015 10:35 am

Blasphemy wrote:I don't really see how you get Misha x Hanako shipping out of this chapter. If anything I felt like dewelar tried to get the two a bit closer without already treading some yuri direction.
I got Misha x Hanako shipping out of this -- friendshipping, that is. :wink: But I don't see the two being bedbugs together anytime soon.

Also, I love how depressively cute [for the lack of a better term] Misha's internal thoughts were. It fits her character perfectly~!

And like Blasphemy said, nice job on conveying the awkwardness...
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Sat Jan 24, 2015 11:33 am

When two are hurting, sometimes they will be comforted in...some unusual ways. I could see it as Hanako thinking she and Misha are feeling the same pain and should comfort one another, possibly leading to some desperate loving from someone (even if they are both girls).

It wouldn't be a terrible matchup, really. In fact, when you think about it, they're the same coin (just different faces). Hanako is the internally depressed and lonely one that is shy and has trouble being social. Misha is very sociable and has no problem speaking to people, but doesn't convey how she really feels. Like Hanako is really quiet but you know she's hurting, and is honest about it, while Misha is loud and is better at masking the same pain she has in common, but puts up a facade, making her a liar to her own feelings.

If you got the two together, I feel that it'd make a happy medium and they'd overcome each other's challenges together.

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by dewelar » Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:00 pm

Thanks to all for the kind words thus far! As evidenced by how long it took (twice as long as any other chapter I've written thus far), this was a very hard chapter to write. I wound up having to keep off the boards entirely for a while, so to all those who have come back and will come back yet after said absence I am very grateful.
bhtooefr wrote:Holy fuck is Misha's internal monologue annoying. I thought she was 17, not 11... I want to stab myself in the eyes with a fork after reading that. :lol:
*laughs* You know, of all the characters, I interpreted Misha's internal monologue the closest to her actual in-game dialogue. I have reasons for this, but yeah, that means I do think Misha sounds like she's eleven at times, just as she has times when she's unexpectedly insightful (but with the voice of an eleven-year-old).
brythain wrote:This is, I think, your finest wahahahahahour... :lol:

"Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi" is just~ perfect. You have Misha better than I've ever~ experienced. Bravo!~
Well, credit where credit is due: your advice did help, too.
Really, this two-parter chapter could~ end up being what Developments is best known for!~ Although you might not think that's a compliment, it is!~ :D
Huh. I must say I didn't expect anyone to say that. Even so, I think we'll have to see if it overtakes the Rin chapter as far as the attention it draws :) .
Solistor wrote:A fine way to end a day of being sick. Thank you kindly for the new chapter. :)
You're most welcome - hope you're feeling better!
Several people wrote:about Misha and Hanako
I've thought for a while that these two could be good friends under the right circumstances. As for more the possibility of them being more than that, I won't comment just now, but I've expressed my thoughts on that elsewhere on these boards :) .
Blasphemy wrote:I don't really see how you get Misha x Hanako shipping out of this chapter. If anything I felt like dewelar tried to get the two a bit closer without already treading some yuri direction.
*nods* I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of yuri-for-the-sake-of-yuri, which has ruined more than one fanfic for me that was otherwise perfectly cromulent.
Now to the chapter, absolutely loved it. A very strong Misha PoV opener that felt completely in-character with how I see her. My favorite remark of hers is probably "I don't think I can keep smiling anymore, though." Nice job on the momentarily rather awkward group-dynamic between these four girls (well and Mayoi). Am looking forward to the talk Hanako and Lilly are going to have; I can already smell the discomfort and feels!
Thanks very much! And yes, this particular conversation is going to be the focus of at least the beginning of Ch.57. I have no idea how long it will take to write, but hopefully not as long as this one did.
Oscar Wildecat wrote:Also, I love how depressively cute [for the lack of a better term] Misha's internal thoughts were. It fits her character perfectly~!
Heh, I like that phrase. It's pretty much Misha in a nutshell, right right~? :wink:
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:45 pm

You know I always thought of the ~ as a way to signify Misha's overly "genki" behaviour, her almost unnatural happiness.
That's why seeing it interior monologue - especially when she is in a sombre mood like here:
For a long while, the two of us sit there silently. I should probably~ get back to the sitting room, but I also probably~ shouldn't leave Hanako alone. She's staring out the window again, and I think maybe she's thinking about something? So~ I don't say anything until she looks at me and says something herself, so quietly I can barely~ hear her.
is a little strange…
"Ms. Shicchan's Mother Mayoi" is very Misha, though :-)
I'll tell Lilly know.
I've mentioned before that I'm not a big fan of yuri-for-the-sake-of-yuri, which has ruined more than one fanfic for me that was otherwise perfectly cromulent.
I'm not sure if that is a word. Google doesn't know it, and UD is a bi unclear about what it means, except that it seems to be a Simpsons reference.

Great chapter again - especially the first part.
Hearing Misha relate the story Mayoi tells was a bit… Well, peripatetic… for lack of a better word^^°
I probably would have eritten that as a flashbackin some way, but I realize that that would have clashed with the rest of this story's style.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:51 pm

Cromulent is a perfectly cromulent word.

(It is a Simpsons reference, and it's a neologism coined by The Simpsons. Wiktionary has a passable definition: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cromulent)
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Re: Developments (Post-Lilly Neutral End) - Ch.56 posted 1/2

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Sun Jan 25, 2015 1:52 pm

It wouldn't necessarily be yuri-for-the-sake-of-yuri. It'd be more along the lines of knowing the same pain, so they become close friends because they can relate. And in doing so, Hanako and Misha start to feel like they don't want the other to ever be hurt again and want to love them forever. Kinda Brokeback Mountain-y, but this is usually how the lesbian love in stuff like this goes. But I still think it'd be a great pairing, Hanako and Misha.

If I wanted yuri action, I'd go read a Miki x Suzu fanfic.

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