Part 118: Promise of TimeUpdate 107: Promise of Time (Act 1 (Lilly))
Once more with even more feeling. Lillys route is so similar to Hanakos I can cover all the differences in one update. Go back to Update 36 and keep reading to the choice early in Update 39.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
There's got to be something to do that can kill the time...
>Go for a walk into town.
>Go to the library.
We need the exercise, I think.
=>Go for a walk into town.
Following Hanako to the library seems a bit intrusive. There was a reason she left the classroom, after all. And that aside, I do want to catch up with Lilly. At the very least, I'd like to thank her for looking out for me despite her other, obviously taxing, duties. I guess I'll walk around town. With any luck, I should be able to find Lilly. The exercise'll do me some good, as well.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Afternoon
Walking through the school courtyard to the gate, I give a small nod to a couple of passing classmates, the gesture being returned in kind. Even from here, the shouts of the sports club members can be heard. From the sheer volume of the din, the track must be packed right now. I remember what Lilly said yesterday about being dropped right into the middle of a busy time for the school. While I'm trying to get my bearings and catch up on study that I've missed, everyone else is doing normal school activities. The feeling of being a foreigner still hasn't dissipated. At least, not yet.
Well, I guess not everything's bad. This is a private school, and that much is easily noticed when walking around outside. Not only are the school grounds huge, but the buildings themselves are immaculate and quite divorced from the dime-a-dozen concrete blocks of public schools. There's also the fact that there's a much stronger feeling of community here, or at least a friendlier atmosphere. At my old school, it was generally accepted that people would keep to their little clique and be done with it.
Eventually I reach the gate, and begin to walk down the road and into town.
Well, that was fairly productive. Having seen a fair portion of town, even including the houses perched on the hills around the outskirts, I decide to take a walk around the park before heading back. Living in the city all my life, the total lack of smartly-dressed businessmen and fashionably-dressed girls strikes me as incredibly unusual. All that's to be seen are the odd elderly person shuffling along the sidewalk and assorted busily chatting pairs of middle-aged women outside of small storefronts. Walking along the road to the park quickly distracts me from them, though, making me realize that I perhaps pushed myself further than I should have done to see as much as I could. As my breath begins to wheeze and my chest tightens more and more, I give up on the prospect of soldiering on.
(Silence, Nature Sounds)
After a quick glance around the park as I enter, I take a seat on a wobbly old bench that I notice near a couple of vending machines. For minutes on end I sit with my head bent over, forcing myself to take deep breaths. I feel more like an old man than a teenager who should be in the prime of his life. The stay in hospital, the surgery and the medications must be taking their toll on me. Dammit. Eventually, my breathing returns to normal and the muscles in my chest loosen, not without a fair measure of relief. I guess this means the end of my little sojourn though, in any case. There's a café on the far corner, so I'll stop by to quench my thirst before heading back.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
A little bell above the door signals my arrival to an empty counter. For a few moments I stand there waiting, my eyes every now and again drifting from one end of the counter to the other searching for a service bell. Eventually a door some ways behind the counter opens, the person emerging from it taking me by complete surprise.
HISAO: "Yu... Yuuko? Hi, I had no idea you worked here."
I really have no idea how to address her either, given that she is technically school staff as well as, apparently, a waitress.
YUUKO: "Ah, yes, um..."
She quickly paces up to the counter, before flinging her upper half downwards in an overacted bow.
YUUKO: "Welcome to the Shanghai! May I take your order?"
Straight down to business, I see.
HISAO: "I don't know... well, some coffee, please?"
YUUKO: "Yes, certainly. I'll make it right away and bring it to you when it's done."
HISAO: "Uh, thanks."
Yuuko's formality takes me aback. She seems to take her job very seriously. Obeying her instructions, I turn around and quickly glance around for a free table. Considering the café seems to be empty, this is a simple task to accomplish. As I walk towards a table adjacent to the window, I notice a flash of yellow around one of the table dividers.
Sure enough, no more than a glance is needed to ascertain that it's a certain Satou at the table. That said, I don't recognize the suited figure across the table from her. Blonde, fair-skinned and only a little shorter, he... she? I think she, must be a relative. Since the two are all but silent as the suited figure takes a swig from a cup of coffee, I decide to greet Lilly. Some part of my coming here was in order to meet her, after all.
HISAO: "Hi, Lilly."
HISAO: "Yeah. Nice to see you again."
The suited girl looks up, noting my uniform with a relaxed smile.
AKIRA: "Know each other?"
HISAO: "I... guess."
It's as good an approximation of our relationship as I can think of.
LILLY: "Hmm... care to take a seat?"
She says this to the air beside me, but the message is clear enough and I take a seat beside her.
LILLY: "I suppose some introductions might be in order. Hisao, this is Akira Satou, my older sister. Akira, this is Hisao Nakai, another Yamaku student."
Looks like my guess was correct. The newly-introduced Akira gives a nod, which I return. What I don't return, however, is the almost analytical gaze with which she looks me over. As she does so, Yuuko walks up to the table and carefully places the coffee on the table before bowing and taking her leave. Gently bringing my hand to the side of the cup, I realize that it's already at just the right temperature to drink. After taking a sip, the flavor turns out to be just as good as the temperature. Yuuko seems a lot better at this than being a librarian. I take a good, long drink before relaxing into the seat. It takes mere seconds for Akira's examination to come to an end. Apparently becoming quickly bored with the activity, she turns to her sister.
AKIRA: "So, how's school recently?"
It seems Akira is entirely unconcerned with someone she doesn't know at all listening to everything they say. Not that I mind. Leaving them to their chatting, I sit back and continue drinking the pleasantly aromatic coffee.
AKIRA: "Sounds like it's pretty busy for ya, then."
LILLY: "At least I'm not cooking your meals after school anymore."
As they talk, I slowly realize that I'm entirely unable to gauge Lilly's emotions through her eyes; as I would for any other person. It becomes slightly unsettling as I subconsciously focus on that fact.
AKIRA: "Whoa, so cold. Weren't ya just cooking for yourself anyway? I only ever got leftovers."
LILLY: "That's not the point... are you managing to feed yourself, at least?"
AKIRA: "I can cook without blowing myself up, you know. Mostly."
AKIRA: "Hahaha! It's fine, it's fine. I needed to learn sometime anyway."
YUUKO: "Ah, Lilly?"
Everyone present is momentarily distracted by Yuuko, who places a cup of tea on the table for Lilly. Taking the moment to glance at her watch, Akira levers herself off her seat and gives me a quick nod.
AKIRA: "Well, I'd better be off. It was nice talking to ya, Lilly."
LILLY: "Akira, do you have to..."
Lilly looks genuinely mournful at her sister suddenly leaving. It does seem like she might have the wrong idea.
AKIRA: "Sorry, I need to get back to work. They'll be on my neck again if I don't make it back quickly."
So informal... Akira's trim and tidy appearance would give anyone the wrong impression of her.
LILLY: "Bye, Akira..."
AKIRA: "C'mon, don't look so down. I'll be around again soon. Seeyas."
With that, she waltzes out of the Shanghai with her hand held high.
Lilly still looks pretty depressed, so I try to make some small talk in an effort to take her mind off it.
HISAO: "She seems nice."
LILLY: "We used to live together, but now that I live at school we hardly ever see each other."
Despite Lilly having been quite affable, I still don't really know much about her. In hindsight, it's surprising just how much she's extracted from me, really.
HISAO: "You used to live together? Was it somewhere around here?"
LILLY: "It was pretty far south, so the trip into Yamaku was fairly long. With her working hours getting longer and Yamaku being so far away, there was little choice in the end but to move into the dormitories."
Well, that explains the chatter about cooking. Evidently regaining her composure, she livens back up... at least, in part.
LILLY: "I take it you're better rested, now?"
LILLY: "You sound less exhausted than you did when you first came in."
To be able to pick out my breathing like that... she must have pretty good ears.
HISAO: "Yeah. Ended up walking all over town, despite only planning on taking a short walk down here."
Reminded of my thirst from the walk, I lean forward to take a sip. Without further ado, Lilly starts on her cup of strong-smelling tea. I guess I'd better get going back to Yamaku. There's only so long I can stall studying for, and I want to get a good night's sleep before the festival. Standing from my seat, I take the coffee-stained cup from the table.
LILLY: "You're leaving?"
HISAO: "Yeah. You going to head back as well? It's getting kind of late."
For a moment she pauses, before lifting her face over her teacup as if she was looking at me.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Concord (Lillys Theme)
LILLY: "Yuuko, could we have one more coffee please?"
YUUKO: "Okay, I'll bring it right away!"
HISAO: "That's... not subtle."
She gives a short giggle at my frank assessment of her maneuver. It's surprisingly childish and carefree, given her otherwise collected appearance. In the end, though, I have little reason to refuse. To be honest I can hardly say no, all things considered. Giving a manufactured sigh, I take a seat opposite her.
HISAO: "Wanting company, then?"
LILLY: "Hmm... I'd say that it's more that I was wondering..."
I see she's in questioning mode, again. She does seem to be unusually interested in me, or at least curious.
LILLY: "Do you have any siblings?"
Not exactly an unexpected tangent.
HISAO: "No, only child. To be honest, the idea of having someone that close makes me a bit envious."
I raise an eyebrow, which of course goes unseen. The short silence communicates the question well enough.
LILLY: "It's just that others have said the same thing before. It's a difficult subject to try and think about objectively, given that I've always had someone like that."
I can mostly understand what Lilly means, given that it would be hard to place oneself outside of a situation they've been in all their life. She and her sister must have a pretty close relationship. Taking pains to interrupt us as little as possible, Yuuko dutifully comes over and places a cup on the table. Lilly thanks her as I sit back, taking in this vexing girl in front of me. Despite always seeming to be on her guard and in control of herself when talking to others, she has an almost childlike curiosity about other people. That said, those rare moments she seems to slightly lower her guard are the most insightful into how she thinks.
Reaching forward for my drink, I realize something I probably should've noticed earlier. ...I think I'm starting to become kind of curious about her.
(Silence, Crickets and Cicadas)
Despite making a good pace, it's already nightfall by the time I reach the large iron gates in front of the school. While it's nice to have plenty of time to wander around by virtue of living right next to the school, I can't help but get the feeling that very few students actually take the opportunity. Compared to the number of students I see milling around on-campus during free time, it's startlingly rare to see anyone around town. Given the large number of accommodations and facilities that the school offers, many of them might simply not see any point in venturing outside, let alone people such as Hanako and Kenji. It makes me wonder if students like Shizune, Misha, and Lilly are the exception for this school, rather than the norm.
(Silence, Crickets and Cicadas Stop)
As I wander back to my dorm room, I continue to compare my old school with Yamaku. As I do so, I begin to be surprised that I managed to get even this used to everything that's happened to me.
Back to Update 39. Find the part where I bring up Dont Panic (just after Hanako says good night) and keep reading; Lilly and Hanako dont get separate Kenji dialogue is. They even share the first half of their festival scene. The point of divergence isnt particularly obvious, especially starting from Hanakos route. Go down to near the end of that update, after Hisao gets his soup from Lilly. Ive included the first part of the paragraph where things split up for reference.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ease (Crowd Sounds)
It seems the teacher's mission paid off: there are now over a dozen students helping, and much of the unpacking has been done. Despite most of them seeming quite relaxed as they work, Lilly still appears to be somewhat stressed.
(Silence, Crowd Sounds Continue)
Right. I know what I'll do. Even if it's just one person, I'll make the festival more enjoyable for her. As I place the bowl on the counter, I call out to Lilly.
LILLY: "Ah, Hisao. You brought it back?"
HISAO: "Yeah, here."
I slide it into her hands, and she takes it over to someone who is apparently on cleaning duty. Considering that I didn't see them here before, it's probably a penalty for their tardiness.
HISAO: "Hey, Lilly?"
She perks up and returns to the counter as she hears my voice again, realizing that I'm still here.
HISAO: "Want to go see some more of the festival?"
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy (Crowd Sounds Continue)
She puffs her cheeks disapprovingly. It looks kind of cute, and in complete contradiction to her usually reserved nature. It takes a few seconds for me to get what she's taking issue with. Whoops.
HISAO: "Ah... um, I didn't mean to..."
Lilly giggles at me, exposing her teasing for what it is.
LILLY: "You're still not used to the school, are you?"
She got me.
LILLY: "Still... I kind of need to stay with our stall. It's taken until just now to even get everything unpacked."
I guess her reluctance shouldn't overly surprise me, considering how much work she's put into this.
HISAO: "Everything seems to be running fine now, though. Besides, you've got extra help on hand, anyway."
A boy in the middle of cooking some soba noodles turns towards us, grinning.
STUDENT: "Go on Lils, you've earned yourself a break. We can hold down the fort, for now."
LILLY: "If you say it's okay, then I suppose so... But, if you need any help"
STUDENT: "Then we'll call you. Go on, we'll be fine."
Lilly finally gives up her resistance as he waves a spatula at her. She feels her way around the back of the stall, and picks up her cane on the way. I guess the first thing we should do is look for Hanako. Lilly seems kind of worried about her, and I doubt she'd be the kind of person to enjoy milling about in crowds like this, all alone.
HISAO: "So, I guess we should search for Hanako. Where to, first?"
The both of us go quiet for a moment to think.
HISAO: "Maybe she's in her dorm room?"
LILLY: "I doubt it. She doesn't keep too many things in there, so she'd have nothing to do. ...Ah! The library?"
As good a place as any to search for an avid reader, I suppose.
HISAO: "The library it is. We'll check there first, then.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy (Muffled Crowd Sounds)
Aside from the muffled sounds of the crowd seeping in from outside, the inside of the school seems almost deserted. In order to make sure everyone had enough room, I guess all the events were organized to be held outside, on school grounds. They're definitely quite large, by any other school's standards.
LILLY: "It's nice and quiet in here, isn't it?"
HISAO: "Yeah. Much nicer than the hustle and bustle outside."
We take our time and slowly walk through the first floor of the school, eventually reaching the stairs to the second floor. I can't help but notice how Lilly anticipates every door and obstacle, her cane remaining still and her hand skating along the hallway railings.
HISAO: "You really know the school well, don't you?"
She smiles and nods straight ahead.
LILLY: "I've been here for a few years now, so I know where everything is. The dorms still trip me up though, sometimes. I haven't been there as long, and they're not as well laid-out as the main building. If I'm remembering right, they used to be unused buildings before being renovated and used as dormitories."
That explains why the male and female dorms looked different from the outside, and why their rooms seem kind of unusual for sleeping quarters. I'd assumed she'd been living in the dormitories since she began attending the school, but now I'm reminded of what she said yesterday.
HISAO: "That's right, you mentioned that before. I'd assumed that most of the students here lived in the dormitories once they enrolled. A lot of them seem to, in any case."
Lilly's expression becomes somewhat harder to read, my questioning evidently touching on a delicate point.
LILLY: "Well... How should I say... Everyone... has their reasons."
Something tells me that one of those with reasons is Hanako, hence her tiptoeing around the answer. My own predicament is yet another such case. I guess it's a choice everyone here would have to make for themselves... or, in my instance, have made for them.
HISAO: "It can't be helped, I suppose. At least Yamaku itself seems like a nice place."
LILLY: "It's good to hear you say that. I'd thought you were coming to dislike it."
HISAO: "What about you, though?"
My reversal of Lilly's statement takes her by surprise.
LILLY: "I've been here for a while, so..."
HISAO: "It's not that. You just seemed pretty depressed about Akira."
HISAO: "What's with that look?"
LILLY: "Akira's taken. Sorry, Hisao."
Lilly never sees how fast my palm meets my face at her sly accusation.
HISAO: "Hey, I was worried about you. That's no way to respond to concern."
While she gives an amused grin, we round the corner of the hallway and enter the library.
As we do so, it isn't hard to spot Hanako, considering that the room is completely devoid of anyone else. Given that there are no staff around, I guess there's no need to heed the usual library rules. I call out to her.
HISAO: "Hey, Hanako."
LILLY: "Hanako is here?"
As she hears our voices, Hanako's head flicks up from behind a book, probably the same one she'd been reading on Friday.
HANAKO: "Hisao... Lilly?"
HISAO: "Just thought we'd drop by. Lilly just managed to escape from the noodle stall, with a little help."
LILLY: "That wasn't really an escape..."
Hanako gives a small giggle, briefly surprising both of us.
HANAKO: "I just thought that... Lilly might not be enjoying the festival."
HISAO: "Well, now we can enjoy it together, right?"
The two nod happily before we set out of the library and towards the festivities.
(Silence, Crickets and Cicadas)
I hand over some change to the girl behind the counter, and take the two styrofoam cups of tea. I try to accentuate my bow a bit to cover for the fact that she's quite obviously deaf. Come to think of it, I probably should have asked for help instead of leaving those two in the gardens while I bought drinks. Trying to juggle the two cups of hot tea (for them) and a can of coffee (for myself, out of a vending machine) isn't exactly easy.
With some careful maneuvering, though, I manage to keep everything stable and upright as I walk over to the bench where Lilly and Hanako are sitting and chatting. It's actually quite a nice place. Lit only by moonlight, it's tucked away some distance from the main events. Compared to how hot it had been during the day, this spot is also pleasantly cool by now. Not that it matters all that much. Most of the visitors have moved to areas that are either closer to the fireworks, or higher on the hill in order to view the display apparently planned.
LILLY: "Welcome back, Hisao."
Her ears are good. I'm not exactly close and even Hanako hadn't noticed me.
HISAO: "Here you go. Sorry it's instant, but that's all they had left by now."
Hanako gingerly takes a cup from my right hand, and I gently place the other into Lilly's outstretched hands.
LILLY: "Did you enjoy the festival then, Hisao?"
HISAO: "Yeah, it was pretty fun."
An honest answer. Much of the food may have been somewhat subpar, but it was a lot of fun in the end, especially with Hanako and Lilly. In fact, I think those two may have enjoyed themselves even more than I did. With both Lilly and I around, much of Hanako's withdrawn nature around others died down enough for her to enjoy herself.
The screen flashes into a scene transition. It keeps flashing irregularly through the rest of the scene.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Aria De lEtoile (Fireworks)
As we sit drinking, the whistle of the first firework rings out before it explodes into a vibrant shower of blue against the night sky, heralding the beginning of the end for the festival. Enthusiastic shouts can be heard from the crowds scattered around the school grounds celebrating them.
For minutes on end, Hanako and I watch the fireworks overhead as Lilly blissfully listens to them with her eyes shut. Red, green, yellow, star-shaped, circular and patterned, and all manner of shapes and colors fill the air, one after the other, and dance across the sky. No place near where I lived put on such lavish displays. Festivals like this were a thing of the past in such a metropolitan area. To be seeing such a sight with these two... it's probably the happiest I've been in a long while.
LILLY: "So... that's it. The festival's finally ending."
She gives a delicate, wistful sigh.
LILLY: "As much as I might complain about all the stuff we have to do, it's still sad that we'll have graduated before the next Yamaku festival."
I walk forwards and stand beside Lilly, gently resting a hand on her shoulder.
HISAO: "Don't worry. We still have Tanabata later in the year, right?"
LILLY: "You're right. It would be nice to go there when it comes."
Minutes of silence pass, with only the blasts of the fireworks to be heard. Seeing these two reminds me of those words of advice Lilly had given me as we walked into town together. Cherish the opportunity to make new friends, huh?
HISAO: "Hey, Lilly?"
She turns her head slightly to show that she's listening, Hanako's gaze still firmly fixed on the technicolor fireworks bursting overhead.
HISAO: "You mind if I join you two for tea every now and again?"
The smile on her face is more than enough to see her answer.
LILLY: "It would be a pleasure, Hisao."
END OF ACT 1