Part 123: Bon VoyageUpdate 112: Bon Voyage (Act 2, Scenes 7-8)
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
I sweat profusely, awaiting the dreaded moment. Each tick of the clock tenses my muscles that much more, every minute making more hairs stand on end. It's coming for me, I can feel it.
Katawa Shoujo OST #19 - High Tension
That last line is bright red.
Death in the form of a single sheet of paper. I take the small pile of papers from the student in front of me and pass it backwards after plucking off the top piece. Looking to the top right of the page, I find my fears realized within that small red circle.
(Sudden Silence, Lightning Sound)
Forty-three. I hang my head and sigh in resignation. Cursing under my breath, I can feel the aura of a similar sentiment rising from the entire class. It's strange, but that fact lifts my mood by a minuscule amount. Misery loves company, I suppose. As the teacher opens his mouth, the room braces for the inevitable onslaught...
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days (Bell Sound)
...only to be saved at the last minute. We quickly move to collect our bags and leave for lunch post-haste, but the teacher delivers a parting broadside.
TEACHER: We'll be discussing the class' test scores next lesson. Needless to say, there will be quite some discussion to be had.
A collective groan resounds from the class, now reduced to shuffling out dejectedly. I push the sheet into my bag as I walk along the hallway, crumpling it in the process. It's enough that such a troublesome letter ended up on my desk yesterday, and now this.
HISAO: "I hate English..."
Katawa Shoujo OST #19 - High Tension
???: "HI SA O!"
A stern female voice gruffly calls out from behind me. I freeze on the spot, my face becoming like stone. It's as if I can feel my brain disconnecting from my body. My eyes slowly shift right, trying to catch a glimpse of the disembodied voice.
...nothing? My face begins to slip as time passes, and I decide to risk turning my head. Ever so slowly, I twist it to the
I jump into the air and drop my bag, yelling out in surprise. As I recover and regain my composure, I turn to see... I should have known.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Hokabi
EMI: "Gotcha, Hisao."
She stands there with a mischievous grin on her face, hands forward and fingers pointed inwards. She was the one who jabbed my ribs with her fingers. I look down at her with a grimace, rubbing my hair in frustration.
HISAO: "That's no way to greet someone, you know."
EMI: "You have no sense of humor."
HISAO: "I left my sense of humor in my English class. Complain to the teacher if you want it given back to me."
She pulls her best puppy-dog eyes on me as she pouts. Lilly's managed to build up my resistance to the tactic, but Emi's short stature adds enough to the effect to make me relent.
HISAO: "So, how are things? I haven't seen you around for a while."
EMI: "Same old, same old. I run so fast, nobody wants to join me on my morning runs. It's a real pain."
Her modesty never fails to amuse me.
EMI: "You know what I'm thinking, don't you Hisao?"
Wearing my emotions on my sleeve is one of my worst habits. She's seen right through me. Fortunately, I see somebody else approaching us that will give me an out.
HISAO: "Oh, hi Hanako."
I give her a welcoming wave, and try my best at looking like I haven't noticed Emi's pouting face. She gives a small wave back.
HANAKO: "H-hello, Hisao... Emi."
EMI: "Hey Hanako."
HISAO: "I'll join you and Lilly in a sec. Actually, speaking of lunchtime company, it's odd to see you without Rin, Emi."
EMI: "Ah! Rin!"
Without a second word, she forgets all about us and bolts off up the hallway. She must've forgotten she was waiting for her. Hanako and I stand speechless, only able to helplessly stand and watch this ball of seemingly boundless energy dash off.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Hokabi
EMI: "Oh yeah, Hisao..."
She suddenly stops herself just before vanishing around the corner to the rooftop staircase, spinning around to meet our bemused faces.
EMI: "I hate English too."
And with that, she disappears. All I can do is hang my head and give a long sigh, thoroughly left in the dust. As I hear a short giggle coming from behind me, I turn to see Hanako smiling at the corner my attacker rounded. I pick up my dropped bag from the floor and quickly dust it off.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
HISAO: "'Afternoon. Been busy?"
HANAKO: "You don't... like English?"
HISAO: "Hmm? Oh, uh, nah. I had a test on it a while back, and Emi caught me brooding about the results."
HANAKO: "Ah, sorry..."
She averts her gaze, guilt written onto her face. A casual observer would think she'd just accidentally reminded me of a dead relative.
HISAO: "Come on, it's not your fault. How're you doing in it?"
She looks up, though still avoids meeting my eyes.
HANAKO: "All right, I... suppose."
An awkward silence passes. They seem all too common around Hanako.
HANAKO: "Oh, Lilly asked if... you'd like to join us for lunch on the roof."
I guess I don't exactly have any pressing engagements to attend to.
HISAO: "Sure, I'll be right up."
HANAKO: "Um, I'll... go get my lunch from the cafeteria now... then."
HISAO: "Go on. You don't need my approval to leave, you know."
HANAKO: "O-okay. I'll... be going then."
She gives a skittish reply, a small nod and quickly makes off towards the cafeteria. I guess she must've forgotten to bring lunch today.
(Silence, Crowd Sounds)
As I walk through the hallways, more and more students start to come out of classrooms and pass me, going in the same direction as Hanako went. By the time I manage to make it to the stairs, I'm having to push my way past a busily chatting throng of students.
(Silence, Crowd Sounds Stop)
I finally manage to get past the last of the crowd and round the staircase, slumping slightly in relief and slowing my pace before I open the door to the roof.
HISAO: "Ah, damn!"
I momentarily avert my eyes, all but blinded by the harsh summer sun.
As I slowly regain my vision, the surroundings finally take form. Lilly, Emi and Rin sit together on the rooftop, the top of the hilltop forest around Yamaku visible past the fence around them, as if to frame the view.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
EMI: "Ah, Hisao!"
Lilly and Rin give a quick nod of acknowledgment and a deep nod of greeting respectively. I start walking towards the rather mismatched trio, and can't help marveling at the speed with which Emi devours the rest of her half-eaten banana.
HISAO: "Hey. Strange to see you three together like this."
LILLY: "It seems to have been quite the day of coincidences; Emi and Rin decided to eat on the roof just as Hanako and I decided to."
EMI: "You stole it! This spot was ours!"
HISAO: "Simmer down, you can't steal a place in the school."
I plonk myself down beside Lilly, the four of us creating a semicircle.
RIN: "I think she is right."
HISAO: "You too?"
RIN: "The butterfly is her accomplice."
HISAO: "The butter..."
As I glance around, sure enough, a small yellow butterfly floats across my field of vision.
HISAO: "So tell me, how did this butterfly help Lilly steal this spot?"
RIN: "It scouted out our conversation and told her."
I should've known better than to expect sound reasoning from Rin. Regardless, I guess it wouldn't hurt to play along.
HISAO: "You're telling me she can talk to butterflies?"
RIN: "There are people who can talk to horses, called horse whisperers. Lilly must be a butterfly whisperer."
I bury my head in my hands as Emi rounds on her strange companion. She doesn't seem to share Rin's sense of humor.
EMI: "Whisperers don't work like that."
Emi and Rin continue their banter as I turn to Lilly, who's busily finishing off her small box of curry and rice with a pair of wooden chopsticks.
HISAO: "So what brought you up here, anyway?"
LILLY: "A little fresh air every now and again doesn't hurt."
Emi breaks off from her vain attempts to introduce the concept of logic to Rin.
EMI: "That was why we came up here too!"
Something tells me it was her idea alone, and that Rin only got dragged up here on Emi's whim. Then again, the same could probably be said of Lilly and Hanako.
LILLY: "Now, now. We can share."
The creaking of the door to the roof can be heard as soon as she says the words. A moment of silence falls over us as everyone's attention focuses on the figure appearing from it.
Hanako slowly walks over to us, her eyes pinned to the ground, silently ruing the attention she's attracting. She tenses, just barely, when her eyes meet Rin's. I can't help raising an eyebrow as she walks over to us and sits next to me, doing her utmost to avoid looking up even as she brings her cafeteria bread to her mouth.
HISAO: "So how do you and Emi know each other, anyways?"
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
LILLY: "Emi's somewhat well known around the school for her athletic ability. She's the fastest member of the track and field club by some margin, even beating Miki Miura at the track meet last week."
Miki Miura... ah, that tanned girl from the front of my class. Considering her height and toned body, being able to beat her is quite an accomplishment. Looking over to Emi, it's very clear she's well aware of this fact as she beams proudly.
EMI: "So, Hisao. What was your score in English?"
HISAO: "No comment."
She puffs her cheeks and pouts, but it doesn't take long for her to bounce back.
EMI: "All right, if I tell you mine, you have to tell me yours. Deal?"
HISAO: "Fine, fine."
EMI: "Okay, on the count of three, we both say our results. One... Two... Three!"
I beam a mischievous grin.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
EMI: "Ah! Evil! Evil, evil, evil, evil!"
HISAO: "You said it, not me. Still, the fact that you managed an even lower score than me is kind of amazing."
She looks and sounds like a small terrier growling at an intruder. I can't say it's the most threatening sight I've seen.
LILLY: "Either way, scoring higher than thirty-two isn't something to boast about, much less scoring below it. For any subject."
HISAO: "Yes, Lilly."
EMI: "Sorry, Lilly."
LILLY: "I could help you with your English, if you'd like. It would be my pleasure to"
EMI: "No, no, that's fine. But I appreciate the thought. Really."
Lilly looks slightly deflated, her hopes of imparting her knowledge dashed. Judging from the badly hidden laughter of the rest of us, neither she nor Emi seem to have garnered too much pity.
(Sudden Silence, Heartbeat)
As I sit happily laughing though, I feel my voice suddenly cut off as my chest clenches. I sit in silence for a few seconds, all my concentration forced on my heartbeat.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Cold Iron (Heartbeats Continue)
It's only a small pain, but the ache feels like it's growing. Breathe deeply... breathe deeply... I glance upward to try and keep at least some of my attention on my surroundings, to see Emi suddenly freezing when she notices the expression of pain on my face out of the corner of her eye.
EMI: "Hey, Hisao... are you okay?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I'm... fine..."
I look back down and redouble my efforts to try and stay calm, clenching my fists to try and dull the pain. It takes a short time, but the pain, thankfully, begins to fade.
When I look back up, there's only silence and pensive faces to be seen. I guess I'd better explain myself.
HISAO: "Arrhythmia. I'm fine, it's... just a heart flutter."
LILLY: "Are you sure? Should we get the nurse?"
Taking her cue, Hanako quickly picks herself up and begins to dash to the door.
HISAO: "Hanako, stop. Lilly, I'm fine."
RIN: "You look like a wet, wrinkled tomato."
As I bring my hand to my forehead, I can feel the beads of sweat gathered on it and dab them off with my cuff.
HISAO: "Thanks. I told you, I'm fine. I'm just kind of... fragile, I guess."
The entire atmosphere's changed from one of gaiety to downcast faces, the situation being too awkward for anyone to know exactly how to react. And of course, the whole thing is thanks to me. It just had to happen now, around others.
LILLY: "Oh, Emi?"
She looks up, a box of juice halfway to her mouth.
LILLY: "I haven't told you of my score yet, have I?"
EMI: "Yeah, well. You're half-foreign, so your score doesn't count anyway."
Lifting an eyebrow, I inquisitively turn to Lilly.
HISAO: "What was your test result, anyway?"
She gives a cheeky grin.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Concord (Lillys Theme)
LILLY: "One hundred percent. Perfect score."
No way. All I can do is hang my mouth open in wonder. Considering those tests are insane even for some native speakers, I can only imagine she's gone and done something like committing to mind part of the dictionary. A gift for rote memorization, maybe.
EMI: "See! Only someone part-foreign could get a score that good."
Lilly and I grin at Emi's expense, her reaction identical to mine when I'd first tripped on that little landmine. Lilly's foreign ancestry does raise a point, though.
HISAO: "Ah, that's right. You leave tomorrow for Scotland, don't you?"
LILLY: "That's correct. Emi heard some rumors about it; it seems word's spreading quickly, considering I only told a friend in my class a couple of days ago."
EMI: "It must be so nice to go halfway around the world on a holiday. Hey, could you buy me something while you're there?"
HISAO: "Don't be too shy now."
Lilly gives a lighthearted giggle, evidently fully expecting Emi's bluntness. The rest of the lunch continues much the same as before, the jauntiness from before my heart flutter thankfully returning in full.
As everyone files off with the appropriate farewells, only Lilly and I are left.
HISAO: "Hey, Lilly?"
She packs the last of her things into her bag and clips it shut, before perking her head up slightly.
HISAO: "Um... thanks for breaking the silence back there. I kind of wanted to stop it, but didn't really know how to."
As much as I'd like to sound less morose about it, the letter from yesterday, screwing up a test so badly in class, and now my heart make things very hard indeed. She gives an indulgent smile and nods. I hope she hasn't picked up on it, but knowing her, it's unlikely that she hasn't.
LILLY: "Emi's strong, but only human. We do worry about you, Hisao."
HISAO: "Hold on, why would I worry you?"
Her smiling face collapses, becoming uncomfortably serious.
LILLY: "Hisao, we are not ignorant of your situation. Unli..."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Aria De lEtoile
She suddenly cuts herself short, unsure of whether she should say what she intends to. I give a weak smile and rest my hand on her shoulder.
HISAO: "Don't. It's enough that I worry about it. I don't want you all to shoulder my burden."
HISAO: "If you all worry about it, I have to worry about your worrying. If... that makes sense. I'm fine, okay?"
For a moment she looks to be lost in thought, carefully pondering how to react.
LILLY: "Hisao, do you have any paper left from your food's packaging?"
HISAO: "I... think so? I'll just check."
I rummage around in my bag for the leftovers from lunch, eventually finding a paper square from my sandwich's package. My eyebrow raised and my expression rather quizzical, I gently place the square into Lilly's hand. Without another word, she brings her fingers around it to feel out its edges.
LILLY: "This should be large enough..."
With both of us seated on the roof, the minutes to the lesson ticking away, she proceeds to lay the item on the ground and begin her work in earnest. Wrapped in silence, I watch her fingers move about on the small square with amazing dexterity. A small fold here, a larger fold there, her fingertips keep a slow but sure pace. Looking up, her expression is calm and placid. The fact her face is pointed well above the sheet in front of her makes the sight of her work all the more curious.
Her shoulder slump a bit after finishing one final fold, her work apparently done. It's only when she holds the item up in her hands that I realize what it is.
A small origami crane. Light brown thanks to the packaging used, the result looks quite delicate and precise.
HISAO: "You can do origami?"
LILLY: "I taught myself how to do it when I was younger. It improved my dexterity a bit."
A little baffled, I carefully take the small bird from her pale cupped hands as if it would break from the slightest breath. It seems to be folded quite well, and holds its shape easily. We both grab our bags and head out the door, Lilly extending her cane as she does so. I hold Lilly's handiwork up to my face for further inspection while we walk down the hallway, her hand running along the silver handrails for orientation. If she taught herself origami to improve her dexterity, with the use of her hands meaning so much to her given her condition... ah, so that's it. I smile as I realize the bird's meaning. Everyone here has had to find their own ways of dealing with their conditions. You aren't alone here when you have problems.
HISAO: "Thanks, Lilly. I appreciate this."
She gives a sweet smile and a nod, not using words where none need be used, in her typical manner.
LILLY: "All I ask is that you take care of yourself, Hisao."
HISAO: "Don't worry, I will."
And with that, we part ways.
To be honest, I don't know what annoys me more - the fact that I could die at any moment, or the fact that everyone knows that. I guess I'll just take each day as it comes. As the unexpected present in my hand reminds me, I'm not alone here. Even though I may be like this, I'm not alone. If they worry, if anyone worries, I'll smile. I'll smile enough for all their worries to go away.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
The moment the bell rings out, a collective sigh of relief comes from everyone. Much of the morning's been taken up by a droning lecture on stoichiometry, a topic entirely unbefitting of the insufferable heat permeating the classroom.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
Knowing that attempting to teach anything more would be an exercise in futility, Mutou gives up and begins clearing the teaching materials from his desk for the day.
As meaningless banter starts filling the classroom, I notice Hanako getting up and coming to my desk. She's been a lot less withdrawn lately, something which gives me a small measure of satisfaction.
HANAKO: "Hello, Hisao."
HISAO: "Hey. Want to go pick up Lilly, then? It's close to the time when she'd need to get going if she's going to make the flight."
HANAKO: "Um... about that... She said she might be held up a bit by her classmates."
I suppose that makes sense. Her class usually gets off a little earlier than ours, so Lilly would normally have just come to our classroom. Her class must be sending her off.
HISAO: "Well, never mind. We can wait outside her classroom for once, right?"
She gives a small giggle before nodding, the two of us taking our things and leaving for 3-2's classroom.
When we reach our destination, I stop in idle amusement at the scene inside. One of the shorter girls from the class has Lilly wrapped in an enthusiastic hug, her head no higher than Lilly's chin. Her other friends, of which there are several, are gathered around her as well. Lilly simply smiles kindly and hugs her back. I guess Lilly must be pretty popular. Compared to Shizune's harsh but fair dictatorship of 3-3, Lilly seems more like a mother figure for 3-2, to say nothing of her height and looks. Kenji's pointedly cool demeanor as he packs up his things at his seat in the back corner of the classroom is expected. He's no doubt far from a fan of the fuss being made about Lilly's leaving. Looking beside me and seeing Hanako following my gaze, I decide to finally enter the room.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies (Crowd Sounds)
HISAO: "'Afternoon, Lilly. It's just me and Hanako."
Hanako withers noticeably when exposed to the din being made around Lilly. Try as she might, I doubt she'll ever completely get over her social anxiety.
Lilly manages to work out our position reasonably well, her classmate detaching herself without a second word. A look of slight exasperation is written on Lilly's face, though I can't say I blame her.
LILLY: "Hello Hisao, Hanako. Do we have much time before the flight leaves?"
I give a quick glance at my watch. Taking the trip to the airport into account, there's a good ten, maybe fifteen minutes left while still allowing for contingencies.
HISAO: "Yeah, we still have a few minutes to kill. I wouldn't worry about missing it yet."
CLASSMATE: "Ah, is this Hanako?"
Uh oh. I think we've just inadvertently become entangled in Lilly's social web. The girl is probably part of the legally-blind faction of the class like Kenji, given her almost windowpane-like spectacles. Her short, roughly-cut hair gives her a look that fits her excitable expression.
HANAKO: "H-hello... um..."
She takes Hanako's hand and pulls it up and down enthusiastically. I really don't get how girls can be so social to someone they only know as the friend of a friend. While Hanako exchanges nervous greetings, I look around the room for my short and overdressed next-door neighbor. Try as I might, he seems to have slipped out of the classroom without anyone noticing. For a moment I try to think of possible career paths that could reasonably benefit from his single skill, before putting my mind to more pertinent matters. Lilly seems pleased, if somewhat guarded, about the enthusiasm Hanako's suddenly excited from those around her. She might not see it, but Hanako's much less panicked about the affair than I'd anticipated.
Shuffling my way through the gaggle of classmates, I eventually manage to reach her.
HISAO: "Don't worry, Hanako's fine."
LILLY: "Thank you. I thought she might be overwhelmed by them."
CLASSMATE: "Don't worry, we'll be gentle!"
Both of us grimace in unison. Hanako's nervous grin stays plastered on her face as another couple of girls moves in to meet her. It's kind of amazing that even just a month ago she'd never have been able to cope with a situation such as this. Even when I first met her, the two of us completely alone, she sprinted from the library.
HISAO: "So, got everything you need?"
LILLY: "It's all packed. I just have to go by my room to pick it up on the way, and Hanako and I need to change."
HISAO: "I guess we'd better get going, then. Hanako?"
Hanako's head flicks up towards us in a flash, her face rather unmistakably appreciating the chance to extricate herself from the small group gathered around her.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Afternoon
The long taxi ride to the airport is surprisingly pleasant, despite the three of us being rather squashed together to fit in the small back seat. On the other hand, maybe despite isn't the right word. Lilly pays the fare to the driver as we file out, Hanako's eyes flittering left and right. Thankfully there aren't too many people around, most of them being inside the main building rather than milling around outside.
It isn't hard to spot Akira and Hideaki leaning against a fence while talking to pass the time. A large black travel bag, complete with wheels and travel handle, leans against the fence alongside them. Hideaki's the first to notice us, pointing us out to Akira who gives an overenthusiastic wave.
AKIRA: "Hey! He~y!"
I grab Lilly's travel bag for her as we go to meet the two, earning a nod of appreciation.
AKIRA: "I've got all my stuff here, you got yours? Plane ticket as well?"
LILLY: "Don't worry, I have everything. You?"
AKIRA: "Yep. All ready to go."
HIDEAKI: "Not without some problems along the way, I might add."
The snide remark has his head roughly dragged around by a very firmly clamped-on hand.
AKIRA: "Haha yeah, I kinda sorta forgot it was in my trousers' pocket. Trousers that I'd put in the wash..."
LILLY: "Oh no..."
AKIRA: "Don't worry, don't worry. Did you know you can print out tickets if you order online nowadays? It's really cool."
Hideaki's pained expression says that this wasn't a solution found quickly. It could have been worse, I guess.
LILLY: "We'd better start off then. Check-in would be ready by now."
AKIRA: "Yeah, you're right."
There's a certain amount of wistfulness in both their voices. To say nothing of the people left behind, meeting their family again after all these years would be big for them.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Lullaby of Open Eyes
Hanako wraps Lilly in a gentle hug to say goodbye, one which is warmly reciprocated. Lilly and I share a brief hug afterward, each of us saying our goodbyes. Beside us, Akira and Hideaki break off from a small hug and a word or two between them. It would probably look quite nice if not for the almost comical height difference between the two. Lilly takes a hold of her sister's arm once all that needs to be said in farewells is said, the two walking past the huge glass doors.
LILLY: "Goodbye Hisao, Hanako!"
AKIRA: "Seeya! Don't do anything stupid, Shortie!"
We wave at them until they disappear from sight in the throng of people moving about inside. And then... we're alone.
HISAO: "Well... that's that."
I turn to see Hideaki already beginning to walk off.
He throws a hand into the air, in a manner I'd expect of Akira. In the end, it's just Hanako and I left standing outside. I rest my hand on her shoulder. She absentmindedly gazes towards the front doors of the building, as if she might catch a glimpse of either of the two before they disappear.
HISAO: "Don't worry, the time'll pass fast."
She hesitates for a moment, but eventually nods. With the scorching heat of the summer sun beaming down on us, we make our way to the nearby bus stop.
It's strange, really. Just when I'd begun to see Lilly differently, she leaves on what almost feels like a pilgrimage to the past. In a way, though, that's just what I've been doing since coming to Yamaku. As much as I may reflect on everything that's happened to me, I really am hardly unique. Everyone has their own circumstances and separate paths to get where they are now. Yet I still can't really work out how I should proceed. My life may have practically been reset, and I still can't find anything that satisfactorily fills the hole I still feel in myself.
Maybe Lilly's leaving will be a good thing for me. Without her to lean on, I'll need to do more for myself. I'll have to be there for Hanako as well. It feels strange to have so much changing so quickly after my months in that hospital that seemed to exist so separately from reality, but that's all the more reason for me to keep focused. I can't let any opportunity slip out of my fingers in my attempt to rebuild my life.
END OF ACT 2