Part 43: QuietUpdate 39: Quiet
Head back to the bottom of Update 14, when Muto takes Hisao out into the hall to talk to him. Look for the line that starts with something about this, then jump back to this update.
Mutou stands in the hallway, scratching his head as he works out what he is trying to say. Not knowing what is going on, I wait silently.
MUTOU: "So, tell me, how are things?"
I expected Mutou to be a little vague, but this is pushing the limits.
MUTOU: "You know. Things. You've had a week to settle in now, so how are things?"
HISAO: "Er, fine I guess."
MUTOU: "I see. And how is your... condition?"
The pause before condition seemed a little unnecessary.
HISAO: "Haven't had any problems so far."
A brief shimmer of relief passes across Mutou's face.
MUTOU: "Good, that's good. The school nurse was a little concerned that you might have been pushing yourself a bit too hard. He asked me to keep an eye on you when he couldn't."
HISAO: "That makes sense..."
MUTOU: "I'd ask that you don't blow us off so freely. As much as we try to give you the level of education that you would get at a normal school, you have to realize that you have limits. Our goal is to make sure that you know where those limits are, and how to maximize your potential within them. Do you follow me?"
HISAO: "I guess. I mean, I don't plan on doing anything stupid."
MUTOU: "Well, that's a start, I guess."
Next, go to the top of Update 15. Stop after Hisao calls Hanako a fast reader and I start talking about how the Support scene works.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
But why would Lilly leave her to her own devices? It seems to be quite out of the ordinary, going by Hanako's reaction. ... ...Ah, that's right. I think Lilly mentioned something about going into town today before Rin bumped into us. The thought of that walk makes me look outside.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight (Muted)
The clouds slowly drift by.
The bright sun and occasional people wandering around and enjoying the afternoon make me yearn to get out of school, or at least do something other than sit here. Giving in to one of my worst vices, procrastination, I decide that history is a subject best studied on a Sunday. Or a Monday. Or on any day other than this one. I give a grunt as I lever myself out of my seat, briefly debating with myself whether or not to hang out with Kenji. He doesn't strike me as the enjoying the nice weather outside with others kind of person, really. I guess I'll catch up with him later.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
Changing tacks, I briefly entertain the idea of talking with Hanako, but by the time I look at her seat, it's vacant. She must've left for the library.
There's got to be something to do that can kill the time...
>Go for a walk into town.
>Go to the library.
Lilly and Hanako are so joined at the hip that this choice is the only thing that separates their routes. If we wanted to go with Lilly, wed head out into town, but, we dont.
=>Go to the library.
Hanakos route is now locked in.
The library seems as good a place as any to go. Hanako looked as if she was taken pretty off-guard by Lilly leaving, so she might want someone to talk to.
Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I make my way out of the classroom. I walk down the hallway to the library, past a multitude of closed doors. Through each one the sound of furious rehearsal can be heard. Rock music blares out of one door, almost as loud as a concert. I guess that's one of the advantages of a private school; there are actually enough rooms to go around at a time like this. And, when I think about it, the grounds and buildings of the school are kept in pretty good condition. That can't be too cheap. I've heard that this place has some pretty serious benefactors.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
The walls of the library only partially insulate the noise of the festival preparations, but they're the only sounds to be heard. Not a soul stirs here, with everyone apparently enjoying the weather outside or working on festival events. Yuuko isn't here either. Maybe she doesn't work on Saturdays. I quietly walk through the library, now fairly familiar with its layout. I head to the back, where Hanako's private little corner is.
I run my hand along the spines of the books on the way through, feeling the individual texture of each as I glance across the titles. I used to do this all the time at the library at the hospital. Some things never change, I guess. Like the smell of a library. No matter how much care you take, the paper in books is always going to degrade with time. Probably, no matter which library you go into, anywhere in the world, it must have that same, musty smell.
I find something that looks light enough to read without any major thought involved then look for Hanako in the reading area.
Once again, she is sitting on a beanbag with her back to a bookshelf. Reading the same book she'd had in the classroom, she's slowly making her way through the pages. Unlike last time I saw her here, I quietly take a seat in a beanbag. The noise is enough to catch her attention, but not startle her. This delicate routine that must be followed each and every time I try to talk to her almost feels like hunting game.
HISAO: "Is that the same book as before?"
HANAKO: "Y-yes... I'm almost finished..."
I wonder if I should...
HISAO: "Do you mind if I borrow it when you're finished?"
My mouth is faster than my mind, it seems.
HANAKO: "S-sure... you m-may not like it but..."
HISAO: "I'm sure it can't be that bad. After all, you've stuck with it, haven't you?"
HANAKO: "I-I guess."
I settle into my beanbag and set about reading my own book that had been buried in my bag. It's a light novel about pirates. To be honest I'm barely skimming over the words, having chosen the book merely because it belongs to a different genre than I usually read. Finding it hard to muster enough enthusiasm to finish the book, and noting that I've inadvertently distracted Hanako quite a bit, I decide to try and make conversation.
HISAO: "So, I see Lilly left without you?"
She nods before taking her eyes off her book. She must have been really into it after all.
HANAKO: "Lilly said she had to go and... meet someone..."
HANAKO: "A-Akira. Her sister..."
HISAO: "Sister? I haven't heard her talk about her family..."
HANAKO: "She... she and Akira used to live together."
HISAO: "I thought all the students lived in the dorms?"
HANAKO: "T-they... I mean we... don't have to."
HISAO: "But it's easier, right? I mean, there's food here and you're close to school... I don't think I've ever been to class on time so often in my life."
Her badly hidden smile proves quite rewarding. In the back of my mind I know I have a bit of homework to catch up on, but it's quite comfortable in here. No one can find me and force me into working for their pet project, either. Though now that I'm thinking about the festival, another question comes up...
HISAO: "Hey, Hanako, what are you doing for the festival?"
For a split second I think that Hanako is about to throw her book in the air from shock.
HISAO: "I was just asking what you're doing for the festival tomorrow. Anything planned?"
HANAKO: "I... I don't know."
Hanako answers in the way that people do when they don't want you to ask any more questions. I take it large crowds and loud music aren't really her thing.
HISAO: "Oh, okay."
Change the subject, change the subject...
HISAO: "So, what's Lilly's sister like?"
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
HANAKO: "She... she's nice. She's pretty like Lilly, but she dresses... business-like..."
HANAKO: "She... she's always wearing a suit..."
HISAO: "Ah, I see. And that makes her less pretty somehow?"
Hanako gives an embarrassed shake of her head.
HANAKO: "N-no... just... different."
I'll admit it, this has got me intrigued. To hear Hanako talk about someone other than Lilly is a first, and to be complimentary about it too... But as I try to picture this mystery sister, all I can think of is Lilly in a suit. And I can't imagine that not being attractive. Not at all.
HISAO: "Well, one day you'll have to introduce me to her."
Our brief conversation ends as abruptly as it started, and we both return to our novels.
The passage of time is marked only by the gradual movement of the patch of light cast through the window. Slowly, the noises from the various rehearsals in the building fade out and die as students start to get hungry and tired. Just thinking about that makes my stomach start to turn knots around itself. I think it's time to head back.
HISAO: "Do you think Lilly would be back by now? I think I might head back to my dorm. I'm pretty tired from this week."
And not a word of that is a lie. Moving to a new school as it ramps up for a major event has been taxing, to say the least. I can feel myself nodding off as I read my book.
HANAKO: "O-okay. I... I might stay here a little longer."
Looking at Hanako's book, I can see that she is only a few pages away from completing it. For a moment I consider hanging around until she finishes, but once again my stomach turns, emitting a gurgling sound.
HISAO: "Sure thing. Well I'm going to head off before it gets dark. I'll see you around, okay?"
HANAKO: "O-okay. See you, Hisao."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
HANAKO: "T-thank you. F-for hanging out with me."
I can see how hard it was for her to get that simple sentence out of her mouth. It leaves me hanging for a moment.
So. There is someone in this school who is even lonelier than me. Maybe lonely is a wrong word, I haven't been lacking company for this first week, but I've still managed to feel somewhat alone and detached. Maybe lonely is a wrong word for Hanako too, she has Lilly after all, doesn't she?
I realize I've been standing there far too long without answering, and pull off a flawless, not too exaggerated smile.
HISAO: "You're welcome. Good night, Hanako."
I leave her to finish her book and head back to the dorms and the promise of food...
And now to Dont Panic, our final Act 1 encounter with Kenji. Skip down to the part where he starts talking about building forts, finish the line, then jump back here.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop
HISAO: "I don't know. I'm pretty hungry so I thought I'd get some food first and then check out the attractions. Your class project seemed pretty cool, and I gave a hand with it so I want to see at least that one and chat with Lilly I guess. Speaking of that, don't you have any obligation for the project?"
KENJI: "Are you out of your mind? That blind broad is up to no good; I can feel it in my spleen, man. Her presence is like a dark shadow that's in the way of my great vision. As expected of blind people."
HISAO: "What. Besides, I thought that you were also..."
He holds up his hand to interrupt me.
KENJI: "Only legally. Metaphorically, I can see farther than any man before me has seen."
Kenji looks stoically into the metaphorical distance to emphasize his statement, thrusting his chin forward to look manlier. Actually it's just the corridor wall two meters away but it's all the same.
KENJI: "I can see the future of mankind, and it's a dark one unless the threat of women is stifled. They are everywhere."
He fingers his scarf nervously, faster and faster like he is trying to start a fire, then slowly begins to calm down once the panic attack finishes running its course.
KENJI: "I'm going to have to find some place to hide in, a safe haven. And then knock the lights out of myself so that I don't have to experience this horrible day. I have the perfect thing for that. I must prepare now. Don't go to the festival."
KENJI: "Later, dude."
The door slowly closes with a low creak and I don't know how to feel about what Kenji just said.
That last bit of text is shared between all versions of this scene, but it doesnt feel right telling you to skip back to the old update and then back here a few lines later. This whole section reads the same whether you went Hanako or Lilly, but thats the last bit of shared text. From here on out, everything we read is unique to Hanakos route.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
After buying a plastic plate of takoyaki from a stall belonging to the class next to ours, I take a seat in the school gardens and watch people pass as I tentatively nibble away at the rather bland-tasting item. I guess I shouldn't complain. It's better than nothing and didn't cost much. As I look out towards the school, watching the people coming and going proves a surprisingly entertaining way of passing the time as I eat.
(Chattering Crowd Effect)
Little children accompanied by parents or grandparents scamper about in the din from event to event; one hand dragging their company and the other bearing an oversized, colorful snack. I can't help but notice the age range among the people here is skewed towards the elderly, something that I'd also noticed when I was walking around town. This must be one of those towns where the only people left are those that lived here their whole lives and ardently refuse to leave, and those wanting to live out the rest of their days in one of the increasingly few tranquil places. I guess that also goes a way to explaining how conservative Yamaku's school culture seems to be.
Not that I mind one bit. I kind of like how calm Yamaku and its surroundings are. The heat, though, is another matter entirely. Sitting in one place for so long has focused my mind on how annoyingly humid it's getting, now that the hottest part of the day is here. I'd better get moving if I Gah! The sound of the carillon bells takes me completely by surprise as I stand up, a reaction shared by a few of the people strolling around as well. The PA system crackles to life after the tolling bells end. Its age shows as the principal makes a barely intelligible announcement over it, officially opening the festival that's very much in full swing.
It's quite amusing to contrast the pleasant smiles of the older folk against the alternatively pained and bored grimaces of their younger charges. The students, on the other hand, seem to pay it little heed. Nevertheless, as the address finally ends, all are united in polite - if not overly enthusiastic - applause, and then get back to business. Slipping a hand in my pocket to look as relaxed as possible, I casually glance around for something to do.
...It's somewhat difficult to see very far with all the people around. I decide to fall back on a tried and trusted rule: go where everyone else seems to be gathering. Right now, that's the school courtyard and surroundings. Throwing the used plate into a trash can, I make my way towards the school building.
Seeing the number of stalls around the perimeter of the school building surprises me. Quite a few of the classes must have opted to have multiple stalls. In deciding which to visit first, I catch sight of a familiar banner with a blue patterned border and red text. Lilly's stall is as good a place to start as any. I'm curious as to how it's going, after all of the work she and her class have been doing for it.
Love the Coke logo on the umbrella above the stall.
Stepping up to it, I begin to see why the class took so long to organize everything. Easily twice as wide as many of the other stalls and with equipment for cooking strewn everywhere, it's closer to an outdoor restaurant than a festival event. As a student in front of me takes a bowl of noodles and leaves, I walk up to the counter. The girl behind it seems quite exasperated, and asks me to wait a moment before she disappears underneath the counter. Seizing the moment, I take a quick glance around.
Steam seems to be rising from everywhere, as pots and pans simmer away. The most blind of the students are unpacking ingredients while being helped by someone who is probably the teacher of 3-2. It doesn't take long to notice Lilly among them, talking with the teacher as she quickly counts out the boxes and packets with her fingers. From her expression and the fact that both she and the teacher seem to be in a state of mild confusion, it appears that there's been some problem in coordination. Before I can stare any longer, the girl behind the counter pops up again, only to look back and ask where the spare change box is. Lilly pauses for a moment, before she and the girl switch places at the counter and the teacher quickly walks off somewhere.
LILLY: "Sorry about that, we're having a few problems. What would you like?"
It takes me a second to remember what I'd come here for. My eyes quickly dart to the side to read the menu sitting on the counter.
HISAO: "Oh, uh, I guess some... miso soup?"
LILLY: "Ah, is that Hisao?"
HISAO: "Yep. Looks like you're pretty busy."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ease
Her face all but confirms it as she drops her waitress facade.
LILLY: "Somewhere along the line, our order got mixed up. We're trying to fix it now, but it looks like we only have half of what we needed."
HISAO: "Wouldn't serving smaller portions cover over the problem?"
LILLY: "It seems like that's what we'll have to do, though I wish we didn't. The fact that a good half of our class is gone doesn't help, either."
I glance behind her to see how many people are actually operating the stall. It couldn't be over about eight.
HISAO: "I take it that's why your teacher left?"
LILLY: "That's right. She's going to try and round up a few more of our classmates to help."
Hearing the sound of footsteps behind me, I stealthily glance backwards to see an elderly couple taking a place in the line. I guess I'd better stop loitering around and chatting.
HISAO: "Here's the money for the soup."
LILLY: "Soup... oh, right, coming right up."
Lilly turns and calls for a bowl of miso soup as I hand over the money for it. Taking the coins in her palm, I can't help but notice how efficiently she counts them out with her long, pale fingers. Eventually satisfied that I've handed over correct change, she puts it into a small metal tray. It isn't long before the soup is made and carefully handed to her, after which she turns and subsequently passes it to me.
HISAO: "Thanks. I'll come back to drop off the bowl."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hisao. Oh, there is one other thing. Have you seen Hanako?"
HISAO: "Hanako... no, not today. Why?"
She gives a small sigh of abject disappointment.
LILLY: "It's okay. I was just wondering what she was doing for the festival. You'll come back when you're done, then?"
HISAO: "Sure. I'll keep an eye out for Hanako, too."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hisao."
I walk off from the stall and find a seat, carefully cradling the steaming wooden bowl in both hands. Compared to the dumplings from before, this is quite nice. A little cool compared to what it probably should be, perhaps, but the flavor is enough to cover for that reasonably well. As I drink, I can't help but feel somewhat guilty for not being as involved in the festival as the others. It can't really be helped, considering I was dropped into the school only a week ago, but it still weighs heavily on my mind. That, and the fact that a few students don't really seem to be enjoying the festival as much as the visitors. Eventually I finish my bowl and leave for the stall, to drop it off. Considering that there seems to be no line at all, I take my time walking up.
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. Lilly doesnt look impressed at all, and I can't really blame her. On top of her issues with her stall, she still seems to be worried about Hanako. I can't really help her with the former, so I guess the only way I can help is by trying to take her mind off our shy mutual friend. Placing the bowl back on the counter, I call out to Lilly.
HISAO: "Hey, Lilly, don't worry about Hanako. I'll go find her and hang out with her, okay?"
I can see Lilly's relief plainly written across her face.
LILLY: "Thanks Hisao. And if you see anyone from my class, can you tell them to come back here please?"
HISAO: "Will do. Have a good one. And make sure you take a break, okay?"
LILLY: "I will if I can. See you later, Hisao."