Posted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 6:30 pm
The sun’s rays bathe us as the cool wind blows across the roof. Smirking still at her victory in our banter as the breeze ruffles her hair, Shizune turns to Misha and asks, [So what will you be doing after you arrive in New York?]
Putting the last bite of her dinner in her mouth, Misha puts the empty container down and starts to sign an answer, [Getting acquainted with the campus and the area, also finding a job.]
Shizune looks confused by this. [A job?]
Misha nods, continuing to sign, [Even though my scholarship will cover my tuition, room and board, I'll need some money for food and stuff.] Shizune furrows her brow slightly, but doesn't say anything further.
At first it strikes me as odd that Shizune would be surprised by the concept of Misha needing a job, but I quickly realize why. She comes from such a well to do family that she's never wanted for anything. The way she almost always paid for our lunches throughout the year and especially the way she was throwing cash around to pay for everything today shows how much she takes money for granted. It's a strange contrast to how penny pinching she was with the Student Council funds.
I ask Misha, ["Any idea what kind of job you'll get?"]
The pink haired girl shrugs, ["I'm really not sure,"] she says. ["I'd like to get something to do with sign language, but I have a feeling that won't be possible right away."]
Nodding, I answer, ["Well, since you'll be living in New York, I imagine you'll find something. It's one of the largest cities in the world."] She nods in agreement, and I continue signing, adding, ["I'm not sure what job I'll end up getting either, yet, but I'll need something as well. Maybe I could tutor local high school students."]
Misha perks up. ["That's a really good idea Hicchan~!] She grins from ear to ear. ["Maybe I can tutor for sign language~!]
I grin. ["I'll bet you could,"] I answer. ["The University might have a service to help match tutors to students, or you could just put up advertisements around campus."] Misha nods eagerly, clearly very excited.
Shizune remains still as Misha and I talk about jobs we'll get during school, looking troubled, perhaps even a touch guilty.
["What about activities?"] I ask Misha, changing the topic. ["Will you join any clubs?"] I'm conscious of our time together growing exceptionally short, and I don't want our last discussion together to go in a bad way.
["I might try and join a sign language club,"] Misha answers with a shrug, adding, ["Though I'm not sure I'll even have time for that. I may not do any activities for the first year. I need to make sure my grades stay high enough so that I can keep my scholarship."] She looks worried.
I nod in understanding as Shizune signs, [I know you can do it. You're certainly smart enough. Without Student Council to distract you, there'll be a lot more time for your studies.] That almost looked like an apology.
Misha smiles at Shizune's words, looking over at her friend. ["Thanks,"] she answers. ["I'm actually pretty nervous about this year~! I've never left Japan. I can't believe I'm trying to go to University abroad, and for my first year, too..."]
[You'll do very well,] Shizune tries to encourage her. [Just keep working hard and you'll do fine.] Our pink haired friend draws in a deep breath, still looking tense.
["But remember to relax now and again,"] I interject, worried about Shizune's message. ["Don't burn yourself out, try and pace yourself."]
[Above all, have faith in yourself,] Shizune tells her, smiling, [we certainly do.]
I nod in agreement as Misha watches us. ["Absolutely,"] I agree.
The pink-haired girl smiles all the more at our words, looking happy and a little less stressed. ["Thanks, you two,"] she says. "That means a lot to me."] We smile back at her warmly, though the look on her face tells me that she's still incredibly worried.
["So what will you two be doing when you get to Hisao's home?"] Misha asks, deflecting the conversation back to us.
[I don't know,] Shizune answers, looking to me with a hesitant, curious gaze. I hesitate, suddenly feeling like I'm on the spot.
["I...hadn't thought about it,"] I confess. ["There'll certainly be plenty for us to do. We could play games, go to the movies, visit a park or museum..."] Shizune smiles as I rattle off the obvious choices.
["That sounds like fun~!"] Misha answers, smiling once more.
["What about you?"] I ask, eager to make her the focus again, while we've still got her here. ["What will you do for the week before you go to America?"] I ask.
Misha shrugs, ["I'll need to get a lot of packing done,"] she says and signs, adding, ["also spend some time with my parents. I've barely seen them since the start of the school year, so I want to take advantage of the time before I have to go away again."]
I nod, ["Will you be visiting with any of your friends at home?"]
She nods, answering unenthusiastically, ["Yeah, I'll probably see them before I fly out."] I had forgotten how she didn't really hold onto her friends from before Yamaku. Her expression falls a little, making me feel bad for picking a topic that brought her down a little again.
[How long is the flight to America?] Shizune asks, changing the topic yet again.
["Seventeen hours,"] Misha answers with a bit of a groan.
["Wow,"] I answer, amazed. ["That's almost an entire day!"]
[I hear that long flights like that aren't so bad,] Shizune replies. [Your chair turns into a bed and you have your own personal television with movies to choose from.] Misha smiles slightly, [I think they serve good food, too.]
Misha nods. ["Still...it's going to be a long flight."] She glances away from us for a moment. The cool breeze ruffles her hair as we watch, and she sighs as she looks away to the horizon. The red hues of the setting sun illuminate her face, matching the framing of her pink hair, making her especially pretty.
["Sicchan, Hicchan… I should get going,"] she finally says, after a stretch of silence.
Shizune frowns at this, her expression falling as Misha looks back at us. [Do you have to?] she asks, her hands moving quickly in desperation. [It's still early yet, we could spend a few more hours together...]
Misha smiles slightly, pausing for a moment in consideration before shaking her head. ["I wish I could, Shicchan,"] she answers, meeting Shizune's gaze. ["But I have a very early train tomorrow, it leaves before dawn."] She sighs heavily, then continues, ["It's going to be a long trip home, and I need to get some rest~!"] Of course, Misha always was one to need a lot of sleep.
Shizune frowns slightly, [So sleep on the train,] she argues. [Stay up with us tonight.]
Misha shakes her head, ["I don't want to risk missing my train by oversleeping,"] she says. ["Even going to bed now, I won't get much rest… I'm going to be so nervous about my early departure tomorrow, I'll probably be waking up all through the night to make sure I'm not sleeping in..."]
Shizune looks downcast and dejected at this, her hands hesitating. I'm taken aback by the sight, I can't recall ever seeing her so defeated. Her fingers fumble in an effort to find words as she tries to come up with some answer to try and get Misha to stay with us, even if it's just for a little while longer.
Misha interjects before my girlfriend can come up with anything, though. ["Shicchan, will you please do something for me?"] she asks.
[Anything,] Shizune quickly answers, sitting forward into a kneeling position and nodding eagerly.
Misha grins slightly, answering, ["Take out your cell phone, okay~?"] she instructs her. Shizune furrows her brow in confusion, hesitating for a moment before she does. Pulling out her smart phone, I'm not at all surprised to see it's darkened surface. I wonder if she's even turned it back on since a few weeks ago, when we were trying to cheer up Misha.
Our pink haired friend smirks at the sight of the powered down device, half nodding to herself as if she's thinking the same thing I am at the sight of it. Looking back into Shizune's eyes, she continues, ["Great~! Now, turn it on..."]
A few moments pass before Shizune's thumb moves to the power button then presses it until the device lights up in her hand. She looks to Misha with a furrowed brow, still confused. The stream of messages that pour in on her display as she does confirms my suspicion, the phone's been dark for almost a month. I catch sight of an email from Hideaki as the notices stream by, with the subject line, "Dad is PISSED!!!!!". I gulp, guessing that Lilly wasted no time in phoning home to deliver Shizune's message to the Hakamichi household.
Oblivious to my upsetting discovery, Misha smiles. ["Now,"] she says and signs, meeting Shizune's gaze as my girlfriend watches her. ["Promise me - you'll never turn it off again~! Ever~!"] I chuckle at her words, then quickly stop and count my blessings that Shizune didn't see me do that. Misha smiles all the more at the sound of my laughter, flicking a glance my way with a wink, then quickly going back to staring intently at my girlfriend.
Shizune frowns at this, looking at the hated device in her hands. Any other girl would be thrilled to own such a cutting-edge smartphone, but Shizune despises the gadget with a passion. She sighs heavily, glancing back up at Misha, hesitating with a pleading expression.
["Shicchan~!] Misha frowns, moving into a kneeling position and lifting herself up in an angry motion. She starts with an angry voice and slashing motions of her hands, ["You can do emails, text, and chat on that fancy thing, and even video~!"] My girlfriend's shoulders slump slightly as Misha plows on, her whole frame sinking down as Misha berates her. ["What's the point in my trying to stay in touch with you if you're not going to make any effort~?"]
Shizune frowns sadly at this, a guilty look suddenly washing over her face. Putting down the phone, she quickly signs, [Of course, you're completely right,] she agrees, [I'm so sorry...] Looking Misha squarely in the eyes, she answers, [I promise, I'll keep the phone on, and I'll use it to stay in touch with you. Emails, text, video chat… all of it. Lots, and regularly, too.]
Misha and I both smile, each of us knowing what a huge concession that was for Shizune.
["Thank you,"] Misha answers, smiling at her friend now. Shizune smiles back, looking hesitant and nervous. With a sigh, Misha stands up. Shizune and I do the same, my girlfriend picking up her phone and pocketing it again as she does.
Misha walks over to me, smiling. ["Well, I guess this is it, Hicchan~!"] she says and signs with a somewhat forced smile, meeting my gaze. She steps forward to hug me, and I wrap my arms about her to squeeze her tightly. Turning her face away from Shizune as she presses herself to me, Misha says, "Remember your promise, Hicchan~! Take care of Shicchan for me~!"
Turning my head away from Shizune as I rest my cheek on the top of Misha's head, I answer her, "I will, I promise." I hug her tightly as I add, "Just...stay in touch with both of us, okay? I want to hear from you, too..."
"I will, I promise," Misha says as she squeezes me one last time before pulling away. I smile down at her as she steps back, my eyes starting to sting as I start to tear up. Meeting her gaze as she looks up at me, I see that her glistening eyes are already getting red. She smiles at me, taking my hands in hers as we part, squeezing as she nods at me. Then she turns to Shizune.
My girlfriend has been watching us intently, her gaze unwavering as she looks at Misha, who walks over to her. Shizune shifts nervously, a heartbroken look upon her face. [You promise you'll keep in touch, right?] she signs, her hands shaking as her eyes start to glisten a little. I've never seen her look so fragile.
Misha smiles weakly, nodding, [I will. I promise,] she signs back to her friend. The girls look at each other for a moment longer, then collapse into each other's arms, squeezing tightly. I hear Misha sob slightly as she hugs Shizune to her, my girlfriend holding her just as tightly. Neither move for some time. My heart aches at the scene.
Finally, they part. Misha's eyes and cheeks are wet with tears, and even Shizune's eyes shimmer, though she doesn't actually cry. They hold each other's arms as they gaze at each other, smiling sublimely. Finally, Shizune pulls her hands away to sign, [This isn't goodbye,] she insists. [We'll see each other again. Let's promise that now.]
Misha nods hurriedly, smiling sadly. [Absolutely, I promise,] she answers without hesitation.
[I promise too,] Shizune answers. [Within a year,] she urgently signs further.
Misha nods wordlessly and eagerly, barely managing to keep from crying any further, though she sniffles a little as she looks at Shizune.
By comparison, it looks like Shizune's holding it together pretty well. I'm not surprised, she's always been the strong one.
They hug one more time, squeezing each other tightly. Another few moments float by as I barely keep the tears from falling myself, watching the agonizing heartbreak before me. Finally, Misha steps away and bends over, gathering up her own bags from the big pile. Wordlessly we watch as she silently picks up all of her things, then silently makes her way to the door. I move to stand close by Shizune as we watch our friend walking away.
Misha opens the door and pauses, looking back. When she sees us, her face blooms into a wide smile. I smile back at her, swallowing my tears. Unable to see her face, I wonder if Shizune is smiling at her, too. I hope so. Misha then waves at us, and Shizune and I both wave back at her. My heart feels like a lead weight in my chest as I watch our friend linger.
A heartbeat later and she's gone, the door swinging closed behind her with its grating metallic creak and a loud bang.
The cool evening breeze blows across the empty roof as Shizune and I stand together in silent stillness, watching the closed door through which Misha just disappeared. The roof seems all the more empty and hollow, now. After lowering her hand from waving, Shizune clasps her hands before her and then stands perfectly still, her gaze unwavering from the spot where Misha just was. I watch from behind her as the wind gently tussles her hair, the last rays of sunshine bathing her in a orange-pink light. The sight of it reminds me of the evening we sat together so many months ago before I could sign, here on this very roof, passing notes back and forth.
I hesitantly reach up and touch her shoulder, meaning to get her attention so I can ask what she's thinking.
As soon as my hand makes contact with her, she spins around and presses herself against me, flinging her arms about my waist tightly as a very audible sob rips through her entire body. Shock hits me as hard as she does. It takes me a moment to recover, but then I fold her into my embrace. Her slender body shakes against me as I squeeze her tightly in my arms and kiss the top of her head. I feel my shirt growing damp where she presses her bare face against my chest, her now silent tears spilling out as she squeezes me to her. I rub my one hand over her back as she cries, running the fingers of my other hand through her hair.
I don't know how long we stand there, my arms wrapped about her as she weeps, but the sun is completely gone by the time the sobbing stops. I'm not only amazed by her completely breaking down into tears, but also how quietly she managed to do it. After that first heart wrenching sob, she managed to remain almost completely silent. Only a few times did the slightest noise slip out from her.
She stays nestled in my embrace for a while after the tears stop, holding onto me as if her life depended upon it.
Finally she pulls back. I look down at her in the pale light of the full moon. Her face is a messy mixture of dried and wet tears, her eyes red-rimmed. Still, she looks beautiful. She moves to put her glasses back on, having removed them as she spun around. Again I stop her, as I had earlier today back at the Shanghai, when our day together with Misha was just starting.
She looks up into my eyes when I restrain her hand, her gaze unusually uncertain. I sigh at the sight before me, my heart aching for the pain I can see that she bears in her heart. Even though I too miss Misha, I can't fathom what Shizune is feeling right now. They were so close and inseparable for so long, and now they've gone their separate ways.
It must be like she's lost a part of herself.
Not knowing what to say, I simply move my hands to cup her face. She stares up at me as I do, trembling at my touch and then closing her eyes. I lean in, pressing my lips to hers. A soft, almost inaudible moan escapes her as our lips touch. Our kiss is a gentle caress that she quickly turns into something more passionate. Her tongue delves deeply between my lips as she presses herself to me again, her arms sliding up my chest to then wrap around my neck as I squeeze her about her waist. I meet her intensity with my own, our tongues wrestling fiercely.
We kiss for some time. The cool breeze chills us as we hold onto each other desperately, seeking warmth and comfort in each other's arms.
Finally, Shizune pulls back from me, but only enough to look into my eyes. Wordlessly, she stares at me, her gorgeous features bathed in the light of the moon. I smile at her, and she manages to smile back, if only faintly. Once more, I marvel at the beauty of her bare, tear stained face, twice as lovely now in the pale lunar light as the evening breeze tussles her blue-black hair. She seems so vulnerable and fragile, a side of her I never thought I'd see.
Never has she been so beautiful to me.
She withdraws her hands from around my neck and puts her glasses back on, looking at me the whole time. She steps away from me, lifting her hands.
[Sleep with me,] she signs simply. Her sharp gaze never leaves mine, her red rimmed eyes are heavy with need and longing. Silently, she trembles in the cool evening breeze.
Stunned at the request, I blink in surprise at her words as my mouth falls open, hesitating as she watches at me intently. She quickly grows anxious at my lack of an answer, hastily signing further, [please...I don't want to be alone tonight.] A lump forms in my throat at her pleading look. It's so unlike her, it breaks my heart to see her so sad and needy.
[Okay,] I sign simply, nodding.
Shizune smiles all the more, her face a portrait of relief as she folds herself into my arms again. I squeeze her to me, kissing the top of her head as she snuggles into my embrace. "I love you," I whisper against her hair, knowing that she won't hear me. Nonetheless, she nestles into my arms all the more at my words, squeezing me tightly. Perhaps she felt my lips move against her and knew by instinct what I was saying, or maybe she just wanted to snuggle up against me more.
Either way, I feel closer to Shizune now than I ever have before.