The Let's Play Archive

Katawa Shoujo

by Falconier111

Part 48: Equivalent Exchange

Update 43: Equivalent Exchange

I pull my door closed, ready for another day of classes.

KENJI: "Sleep well?"

Katawa Shoujo OST - Out of the Loop

Kenji's sudden arrival makes me jump, and I narrowly avoid butting heads with him. I know he has poor eyesight, but he knows who I am now. Does he still have to stand this close?

HISAO: "Oh. Yeah. Like a baby."

KENJI: "Damn, why do people say that? Have you ever heard a baby sleep? They scream. All night. Every night. Babies don't sleep well, ever."

Well, there goes my restful state. I have to remember to never use figures of speech with Kenji.

HISAO: "All right, I get your point. It was a figure of speech."

KENJI: "Yeah, sure, whatever. Where were you last night? I had a favor to ask but you weren't around."

For a split second I consider telling Kenji the truth; that I was spending time with Hanako and Lilly. Thankfully, that split second passes as soon as it came.

HISAO: "I was just out. Checking out the local area and stuff. You know, recon."

KENJI: "Good man, good. I knew you were the type to plan ahead..."

HISAO: "Anyway, what was this favor you wanted?"

KENJI: "I was going to get some take-out, but I needed change."

HISAO: "Wait, what? I gave you money last week and you still haven't paid me back!"

KENJI: "Tch, and I was starting to think you were cool."

Kenji fishes around in his pocket and produces his wallet. As he counts out the 400 yen he owes me, I can clearly see at least two 10,000 yen notes.

HISAO: "Hey, what the hell? Why are you borrowing money off me when you've got that much cash?"

Kenji hisses a little, realizing that he's been had.

KENJI: "Get off my case, man. It's bad luck to break a big note for anything less than half its value. It's the tycoon's rule. Last night's dinner is going to cost me seven years of bad luck. Seven years! Don't you think that's enough cause to help someone out? I'd get a shorter sentence if I just stole the stuff."

My common sense screams at me to say something to him, but thankfully I restrain myself. Arguing a point like this with Kenji will just lead to further and more complicated discussions.

HISAO: "Yeah, I guess you're right. Maybe you should plan these things a little better?"

KENJI: "Yeah man, I know. But I've just got so much stuff to do, it's hard. And you're never around any more so I'm on my own. We're supposed to be brothers in brotherhood, remember?"

HISAO: "Yeah yeah, I get you. Global conspiracy and such. I'll keep my ear to the ground."

Kenji draws close enough for me to get a clear whiff of his garlic-tainted breath.

KENJI: "You'd better, man. You're already spending less time here. That's the first thing they do. They'll try to split us up. Divide and conquer. Sun Tzu said that."

HISAO: "Roger that. Now, I've got to be going. I've got classes. You coming?"

KENJI: "Nah, I'm tired. I stayed up all night just to make sure nothing was going to happen after splitting that note."

HISAO: "As rational as ever, I see."

KENJI: "Whatever. Night."


Kenji scurries back into his room, and I hear him throwing his locks as I walk down the hallway.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight

MUTOU: "...that is why some people can't roll their tongue, or why their second toe is longer than their big toe."

Mutou beams a half-moon smile at us, obviously proud of his explanation of recessive genes. However, no matter how impressed he is at the science that defines who we are, the classroom seems to be reduced to a stupor. Why is it that a bad explanation can make even the most interesting thing seem worthless? I can see Mutou deflate as he realizes that nothing he's said in the past half hour has sunk in. Whispered conversations start to break the silence, and like an avalanche, the noise level in the class starts to rise. Defeated, Mutou identifies some questions from the text book and sets to clearing off the blackboard.

Almost as if expected, Hanako packs up her things and leaves as soon as people start talking and laughing among themselves. The initial shock of seeing someone play so blatantly truant has started to fade, but it doesn't stop me from wondering. Is she leaving because she doesn't want people to speak to her? Or is it just the thought of people around her shattering her peace? Before I can think about the topic any further, the lunch bells ring. I wonder if she was simply taking the opportunity to leave early. The usual clamor of students exchanging books for lunch reverberates around the room, and while Misha is distracted, I grab my lunch and head out the door.

Lilly already sits in the tea room, setting out her lunch alone.

HISAO: "So, Hanako's not here then?"

LILLY: "Oh, Hisao, how are you? I haven't met Hanako since this morning, I'm afraid."

That's right, Hanako and Lilly live next to each other. Somehow I think their morning conversations are slightly more grounded than Kenji's ramblings.

HISAO: "That's strange. She left class early, so I figured that she'd come here."

LILLY: "So she's still leaving class early..."

HISAO: "Huh? Yeah, I've seen her do it a few times."

Lilly drops her head a little, and her tone of voice is notably depressed. It's very reminiscent of someone who is used to hearing bad news."

LILLY: "I was so sure that she'd stop doing that once you two became friends. Everyone has their own pace, I suppose."

HISAO: "Well, I was wondering about just that today. Why exactly does she leave?"

LILLY: "I'm not entirely sure myself. I personally think it's because she doesn't want to be put in a situation where she has to answer someone."

I have a flashback of my first meeting with her, when I thought she looked like a cornered animal. Maybe I wasn't far from the truth.

HISAO: "But she seems fine with talking to you, and with me... a bit..."

LILLY: "It's a little more complex than that. I imagine that the first thing most people ask her about is her scars, and what happened. She rarely talks about it with me, but I can tell that she doesn't like to remember whatever happened back then. Leaving class and running away from discussions is her preemptive strike, if you will."

HISAO: "Huh... so then how does that explain her talking to me?"

LILLY: "You said it yourself yesterday at breakfast; you tried to ignore her scars. Once she saw that you weren't going to ask her about that, she opened herself up to you."

HISAO: "Hrm, I guess you're right. Maybe. I dunno. You know her better than I, so I'll take your word for it."

Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days

LILLY: "I wouldn't worry about that. I'm sure you'll come to know her as well as I do soon enough. I welcome the prospect of her having a new friend, and the two of you have such similar interests..."

HISAO: "Well, I hardly count reading as a team sport. It is good to have company, though."

LILLY: "That's my point. Hanako is still an average person at heart. She also wants company at times like that."

HISAO: "Huh, I see. I think. To be honest, both of you still confuse me a little."

LILLY: "That's only natural, Hisao. We've only known each other for a little while; it's unreasonable to expect you to understand us, just as we can't understand you. But that is half the fun of becoming friends, right?"

HISAO: "Yes, yes it is."

LILLY: "Although... I suppose there is the matter of us being opposite genders. Men and women do seem to confuse each other quite often."

She says this with a light giggle, finding amusement at the odd little details of life.

LILLY: "I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to start eating."

HISAO: "No, go ahead, I think I'll eat something too. I've got some books I want to drop back at the library before classes start, so I'd better get a move on."

LILLY: "You'll probably find Hanako there as well. If you do see her, can you tell her to stop by my room later tonight? I'd like to talk to her."

HISAO: "You're not coming?"

LILLY: "Unfortunately I have a class representatives' meeting later, so I'll be gone as soon as I've finished my lunch."

HISAO: "Okay then, if I don't see her in the library then I'll tell her in class. I'm sure she'll be back after lunch."

We fall silent as we start to eat, and I take a second to reflect on our conversation. I've always thought that Hanako's shyness was simply due to her being self-conscious of her scars. But that is a pretty superficial way of looking at her. Just when I thought I was able to see through the fog of Lilly and Hanako, I realize that I'm more lost than when I started. Lilly quickly finishes her lunch, acutely aware of her meeting. I don't blame her. Shizune is most likely going to be there, and I doubt she wants to give her the satisfaction of another argument.

LILLY: "I must be off. Same time tomorrow?"

HISAO: "Same time, same channel. I'd better head off too; I don't want to risk being late."

Lilly smiles gently, picks up her cane and walks out into the hall.


I turn my back on Lilly as we head in opposite directions. For some reason I find myself hoping she doesn't get into another fight with Shizune. As much as I like Lilly, Shizune and Misha have been pretty instrumental in helping me adjust, even if half of our conversations are thinly-veiled recruitment attempts. Then again, I barely know either of them. Maybe they were previously leaders of some kind of secret society, but their love for each other drove them apart... Man, I need to stop reading cheap fiction. It's rotting my brain. Either that or I've got to move away from Kenji and his bad influence. It's sad that I can't tell the two apart any more.

Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies

I slide my books down the return chute and they crash into the cart with a pleasant thud. Yuuko, however, doesn't seem as impressed as I.

YUUKO: "H-Hisao! You scared me!"

HISAO: "Sorry, I thought you would be used to that by now. Or is the literacy level here so low that nobody borrows any books?"

YUUKO: "Huh? No I think everyone here can read fine..."

HISAO: "Yeah... never mind."

There are some battles that you can never win. Trying to explain jokes is one of them. My Dad taught me that the hard way.

HISAO: "Say, Yuuko, have you seen Hanako about? She left class early but she wasn't in her usual hiding place."

YUUKO: "I think I saw her sneak in before lunch... Oh! But I'm not supposed to tell anyone that!"

HISAO: "I just told you that I saw her leave, no need to stress out..."

YUUKO: "Oh... of course. She's probably in the back."

HISAO: "Thanks. Get any new books in recently?"

YUUKO: "No, sorry. I'll let you know when we do, though."

HISAO: "Okay."

If there's one thing I know about librarians, part-time or otherwise, it's that they appreciate people that take a genuine interest in their work. I walk the now-familiar path to Hanako's reading nook, picking out a few titles along the way. Sometimes I find it hard to discover a book that will interest me among the shelves. An author's name and a two-word title don't mean much in a sea of similar words. For that reason, I sometimes re-read books that I read in the past. Better to bet on the favorite than a new runner. An unfamiliar title from a familiar author peeks out among the spines of its neighbors, so I remove it from the shelf. At least I'm not going over old material.

As expected, Hanako sits on her beanbag, buried deep in a copy of “Dance Dance Dance.”

HISAO: "Hi Hanako. How's it going?"

I fight back the urge to ask why she left class early. If Lilly's suspicions were right, then asking her about that could have the opposite effect. Best to leave it for the time being. Sometimes the best way to get an answer from someone is to never ask the question.

HANAKO: "Hello, H-Hisao. I'm fine."

Something seems off, and after a couple of seconds, I realize what it is. Hanako's smiling. She looks as if she's pleased to see me. It's a nice change from the usual, instinctively frightened reaction, and something I hope I can see more of as we get to know each other better.

HISAO: "Good to hear. How's that book? I've heard it's a trip."

HANAKO: "I-it's good... I think. I've only j-just started it, so I d-don't really know."

HISAO: "Fair enough. Let me know how it goes; I may borrow it once you're done."

HANAKO: "S-sure."

There's a good fifteen minutes left in lunch. Not enough to really get into a book, but too much to stand around doing nothing. And Hanako's already returned to her reading, so I doubt I'll get much conversation from her. Oh well, I'd better make myself comfortable. I slouch into a beanbag and crack open my book. The familiar style of the author leaps out at me from the very first line. As the sentences turn into paragraphs, I start to relax a little. But no matter how I try, I can't seem to get myself into the atmosphere of the book. This is partly due to the lack of time, but the more distracting factor is Hanako.


Every ten or so seconds she peers over the top of her book, but when our eyes meet she quickly ducks behind the covers. I guess she did want to talk about something after all.

HISAO: "What's up? You look like a prairie dog on lookout."

HANAKO: "N-... it's nothing."

HISAO: "I've told you before, “nothing” means “something” when you say it like that."

Hanako squirms a little in her beanbag, hoping that by changing her position she'll find the words she's looking for.

HANAKO: "I... I was in an accident."

HISAO: "Accident? Just now? Are you all right?"

Hanako shakes her head, her hair flowing around her shoulders in wisps of amethyst on a background of pale and dark flesh.

HANAKO: "N-no. When I was y-younger."

Katawa Shoujo OST - Painful History

Realization crashes into me like a semi.

HANAKO: "When I... when I was..."

HISAO: "It's all right Hanako, you don't have to tell me anything if you don't want to..."

Again she shakes her head.

HANAKO: "N-no. I want... I have to tell you."

HANAKO: "When I was young... I was in a fire. M-my house b-burned down, and I nearly... I nearly didn't make it."

HANAKO: "A-after that... I was alone..."

Hanako's eyes glisten in the dim light of the library, and I reach out to grasp her hand.

HISAO: "It's okay, Hanako. You don't have to keep going."

HANAKO: "B-but... I have to..."

HISAO: "Why? What brought this on?"

HANAKO: "L-Last night Lilly t-told me about your heart... A-and I... I didn't think it was f-fair."

HISAO: "Fair?"

HANAKO: "T-that I knew about you b-but you didn't know about me..."

I squeeze Hanako's hand a little.

HISAO: "Don't be silly. But yes, I have a heart condition."

I lean a little closer to Hanako.

HISAO: "What I didn't tell Lilly is that I had my first attack when a girl confessed to me."

I smile a little to break the tension.

HANAKO: "R-really?"

HISAO: "Really. I haven't heard from her for a while though, so I guess it's all over."

I know it's all over. There's no other way to interpret what happened the last time I saw her. In some ways, not having heard from her again has helped me move on from that period of my life.

HISAO: "So now, we both know a little more about each other. But you don't have to talk about things if you don't want to."

Katawa Shoujo OST - Painful History (Muffled)

In fact, I feel a little bad even thinking about that whole incident. I can almost smell the hospital's disinfectant burning the back of my sinuses again. I imagine Hanako is going through the same thing now.

When I was in the hospital I went to the burn ward once, and only once. I was bored, so I went for a walk through all of the wards. I went through oncology and thought I could take it, but when I got to the burn ward I turned around and went back to my bed. To think that Hanako would have spent months in a place like that, smelling nothing but corrupted skin, strong disinfectant and sterilized air. The really bad cases were kept in isolated pods that no foreign objects could enter. That would have meant no reading. I would have gone insane if I didn't have my books in the hospital. And she said she was alone... Did her parents die? I'll have to ask Lilly about it. I can imagine myself saying something dumb unintentionally.


HANAKO: "T-thank you, Hisao. I... I haven't told many people about this."

HISAO: "To be honest, I haven't told many people about my... circumstances either."

HANAKO: "T-then I won't tell a-anyone either."

HISAO: "Deal."

I change my grip on Hanako's hand into a handshake as the warning bells chime through the window.

HISAO: "Well then, we'd better head back to class then, eh?"

HANAKO: "S-sure."