Part 50: Shady EncounterUpdate 45: Shady Encounter
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
The summertime sun is something to be savored, but when combined with the clean country air, it's all the better. The track and field club members are horsing around on the field ahead; some are playing with a soccer ball, others are talking, and a few laugh as two of them mock-fight with each other. None of them pay me any heed as I sit alone on the grass, underneath the shade of a particularly large tree. It's a nice and peaceful moment after a dreary day of schoolwork. I played soccer pretty often before my heart attack, so I had thought it would be really nostalgic to watch them. What I'm feeling now, though, is quite distinct from that emotion.
I hear footsteps approaching from behind me, and I turn to my side to see one of my classmates taking a seat beside me. I'm taken off guard, as the two of us haven't talked much before, and I didn't think anyone would notice me here.
HISAO: "Hi. Miura, wasn't it?"
MIKI: "Just call me Miki. Surnames are too stuffy."
HISAO: "Likewise, then."
We both look back out to the field were the guys are playing. It looks like they're getting ready to have a second game, with people spreading out to their positions and the ball being carried to the center of the field. Sure enough, the whistle is blown to begin the match and they get right back into it.
HISAO: "Not going to play?"
MIKI: "Nah, just gonna rest for a bit. What about you? You kinda looked like you wanted to play when you were watching us before."
So someone did notice me after all.
HISAO: "It's kind of a long story."
Her face says that I've piqued her interest.
HISAO: "I'm in Yamaku because I've got a heart condition. I can't really play soccer any more."
MIKI: "Wanted to be a soccer player, did you?"
HISAO: "No, I only really did it for fun. My friends played it, so I played it as well. Any of those guys playing around could have been me before my accident. But I don't feel like I have any real wish to go back to that, either. It's a little hard to explain."
I'm still decently physically built from the days when I played, even if my strength's largely left me by now, and I got on well with the other club members. When I think about it, I should feel pretty bad watching people play when I can't any more. Yet I don't. Maybe it's a good thing; a sign that I've gotten over it and that I'm ready to become a new person.
HISAO: "Sorry, I'm kinda rambling."
MIKI: "It's cool. I'm actually glad to hear that. It sounds like you really have your stuff together. Some of the people that come to Yamaku are pretty messed up at first."
HISAO: "So you're a member of the track and field club, then?"
MIKI: "Yup. Been in it since I first arrived."
HISAO: "Don't suppose you're friends with Emi? Short, fast runner, no legs? I don't think there are all that many female track and field members."
MIKI: "Haha, Emi. Everyone knows about her, don't they. But nah, I tend to get on better with guys, so me and Emi don't really talk much. Anyway, what about you?"
HISAO: "Ah, well, I'm not really in any clubs. Real clubs, anyway."
MIKI: "You've been hanging around with Hanako and that blonde Amazon though, right?"
Blonde Amazon... I suppose Lilly has the height to fit that description, if nothing else. I nod in response, without making too fine a point of things.
MIKI: "Then don't worry about it. As long as you've got some friends, you don't need to join a club."
A loud whistling from the field attracts our attention. One of the players is on the ground, clutching his leg, and the others stop play to jog up to him, leaving Miki grimacing.
MIKI: "Ouch, that looks painful. That guy really has bad luck."
As she continues to look out onto the field, I can't help being reminded of her own injuries. Her left arm, ending in a stump rather than a hand, has been bandaged up for the entire time I've been in Yamaku, and her injury doesn't seem that new. She turns to talk to me again and catches me looking. Both of us sit in awkward silence as she takes her bandaged arm and holds it in her lap with other remaining hand.
HISAO: "S-sorry. I guess I'm still a bit..."
MIKI: "It's fine. Really."
Her tone is light, but neither of us says anything afterwards. Every disabled student here has their own way of dealing with their problems, and some finding their conditions troublesome is only natural. I'm included among them, after all. The injured guy from the soccer game manages to get onto his feet with some help, and ends up hobbling off the field with one arm over the shoulder of another for support. Probably just pulled a muscle if he can still manage to walk. The whistle blows again, and the game continues once more with one less man on the field.
MIKI: "Hanging out with Hanako and that blonde girl... you keep some pretty strange company."
HISAO: "How so?"
MIKI: "It's just that Hanako's kind of... I don't know."
MIKI: "No, it's not really that. It's just... she's got some issues, I think. I can't really put it in a nice way. Not that I don't think she's a nice person, though. She's perfectly nice. Just... hard to deal with."
It sounds like Miki, or at least some other people in the class, have tried to get closer to Hanako in the past. And that it didn't go well. I think her judgment is rather harsh, given that everyone, not just those in Yamaku, have their own issues. Then again, I haven't known Hanako for that long, so it wouldn't surprise me if there was some stuff I didn't know about.
HISAO: "I'll just take it as it comes. She's a nice person, and I think that should be all that matters."
Miki's eyes narrow a little, and her smile spreads.
MIKI: "You really like her, don't you?"
Miki certainly doesn't mince words."
Why would we bother denying it? Other than typical teenager shyness, but as weve seen, Hisaos a lot more self-aware and controlled than most teenagers.
HISAO: "To be completely honest... yeah, I do. I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell anyone."
MIKI: "Hey, whoa, you can trust me. No problems there. To be honest, I think it's kind of cute. If you want to go for it, don't let me stop you."
She may say that, but she was just talking about Hanako having issues. Still, I want to hold myself to the words I said. Hanako's problems don't matter; I'll deal with anything that comes up, because I want to help her. If there's even the smallest possibility that I can pull Hanako out of her depression and seclusion, then I should work towards that, no matter what. If she needs a prince, then I will be that prince. As I think about the possibility of a relationship, I can see Miki grinning at me while watching my face. I'm no doubt blushing, and looking away from her only makes her laugh.
The other choice has her say that boys and girls dont need to be in a relationship to be friends, and Hisao silently agrees. It doesnt change anything going forward.
Miki gives off a different vibe from the other girls. Talking to her feels more like talking to a guy than a woman. Her saying she prefers male company doesn't help to dispel that notion, either. Glancing at my watch shows that lunch break is ending in only a few minutes. Time to start heading back to class.
HISAO: "Lunch is about to end. Want to head back?"
MIKI: "Yeah, we'd better."
I pick myself up off the grass and dust myself off, offering a hand to Miki to help her up as well. She takes it and easily pulls herself up, showing the muscles moving in her toned bare arms in the process.
HISAO: "Come to think of it, why aren't you wearing the normal girls' blouse?"
MIKI: "Eh, it's too hot and constricting. The boys' uniform is better, anyway."
She throws her arms around a bit to emphasize her point, which has the side effect of showing off one particular part of her body that would be especially constricted by the blouse. The two of us start the walk back to the main building through the gardens, talking as we go.
MIKI: "It sounds like you're settling in well. That's a relief. It was pretty surprising to get a transfer student at this point in the year, considering the exams are coming up."
HISAO: "Don't remind me..."
MIKI: "Haha, don't worry about them. Just cram it and you'll be fine."
HISAO: "That doesn't sound like good advice."
She claps my shoulder a couple of times as she grins. I don't think she takes school very seriously.
MIKI: "You seem like a smart guy, and Mutou's taken to you well already. You're like a hand in a glove."
HISAO: "Now to work out whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. I still don't know what to make of this school. I've been here a few weeks already, but I still feel dazed at times."
MIKI: "You'll get used to it, just give it some time. It's only a high school, just like any other."
She makes it sound so simple, but I've never thought about it that way. To me, Yamaku symbolized a marked shift in my life. I was no longer normal; I was different, and was to be educated with other different people. And yet, I'm walking back to class and talking casually with a classmate during lunch, after watching some others play a soccer game - all perfectly normal. Maybe she has a point. Maybe I should just look at Hanako in the same way. Everyone has their own issues; this is hardly something unique to Yamaku. After all, it's only a high school, just like any other.
As we continue to talk, I find myself smiling. Miki and I are very different people in almost every way, but it feels good to have gotten to know another classmate a bit better.
KS has several Yamanaku students who never show up in the narrative but have names and disabilities; for instance, if you go back to the image where Hisao first meets Mutous class, the big kid drooling in the corner is Taro Arai (monoplegia) and the girl with her head down is Suzu Suzuki (narcolepsy). Miki Miura is one of the few border cases, a character who shows up in the background of Emis route as one of her competitors but only talks to you in Hanakos route. While the finished game doesnt focus on her, Lillys writer drafted up an unofficial route for her, a story from her perspective in script form with endings that placed her either with Hisao or Suzu. Its worth checking out if you want more Katawa Shoujo.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
A light breeze blows the scent of early summer around my head while I wait for Lilly. Small white clouds litter the sky, breaking up the monotony of the blue.
LILLY: "Hisao? Are you here?"
Lilly's voice lilts on the breeze as if they were one and the same thing. I stop gazing into the sky to examine Lilly.
With a peach off-the-shoulder sweater and tan ankle-length skirt, in addition to tan sandals, she's quite a nice sight.
HISAO: "Yeah, I'm over here, Lilly. Near the gate. Were you able to sneak away from Hanako?"
LILLY: "Yes. It's not uncommon for me to go out during weekends, so I don't think she noticed anything suspicious. That, and... she has someone she sees."
Lilly purses her lips, as if she maybe shouldn't have continued. I find it a little hard to believe.
HISAO: "Hanako's seeing someone? Really?"
LILLY: "No, it's just... she sees a therapist every so often on weekends."
HISAO: "Oh. Well. That does make a lot of sense."
Lilly rubs her arm uncomfortably, and after one look at her troubled expression, I quickly move to change the topic away from Hanako.
HISAO: "I was just wondering... you can get around the city on your own?"
Lilly sighs at my consternation surrounding the topic of her blindness. I'm my own worst enemy, sometimes.
LILLY: "I can, yes. It's easier when I'm out with a friend or my sister, though."
I wonder how Lilly gets along with her sister. Being an only child, it's hard to imagine what having a sibling would be like, so it makes me a little envious of her.
HISAO: "Right. Well then, the bus arrives in a few minutes, so we should probably get a move on."
LILLY: "Indeed; it's a long wait if we miss this one."
With that, we set off for the bus stop on the hill. It's only a small distance from the school gate, so it's very convenient.
HISAO: "It's a nice view from here. Coming from the city, I never really got to see scenery like this, let alone on a daily basis."
LILLY: "This area is nice for me as well. It's tranquil, and away from the noises and smells of the city."
Lilly's head perks up in a trademark gesture of hers, signifying that she's caught a sound.
LILLY: "Oh, here comes the bus..."
I look down the road to see the bus trundling up the hill. Her hearing's quite a useful tool. The bus only takes a short while to reach the bus stop, forcing its way up the road, and within a minute we are on our way to the city.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ease
Walking around the city, I feel a distinct nostalgia. The smells, the traffic, the tall buildings everywhere... It's a lot like my native city, save for the raised walkways. It feels a little weird; walking around a city as casually as I would in a park, but with cars rushing around underneath me. As I'm busily pondering the engineering marvel that is the raised walkway, I get a surprise.
It takes a moment for me to realize that Lilly has wrapped her arm around mine, extending her cane in front of her with her other hand. For a moment I'm startled, but I manage to keep enough of a lid on it for Lilly not to notice. While it's not the first time that Lilly's relied on me for guidance, she'd only held onto my sleeve's cuff before. It's logical that it would be easier for her to navigate a crowded and complex area such as the city while securely linked, but I'm far from being as used to this kind of contact as Lilly is. Finally realizing the growing silence between us as Lilly waits for me to get moving, I quickly kick my brain into gear.
HISAO: "You know, it was quite a surprise that Hanako likes to sing. Have you ever heard her do that before?"
LILLY: "I have indeed. We've been to karaoke sessions several times, along with my sister. I can't say I take to the activity much, but the other two like it."
Maybe Hanako doing karaoke is more fitting than I initially thought. Just her and those she knows, all alone in a little room. It would give her a rare chance to let her guard down, with nobody else there to judge her.
HISAO: "Maybe it would be nice to bring her into town for a karaoke birthday party, if she likes doing it."
LILLY: "Hmm. I'm not sure she would deal very well with the excitement."
I move to protest, but her face shows that she's mulling the proposal over some more. It takes quite some time for her to come to a conclusion.
LILLY: "Then again, the best thing we can do for Hanako at this point is to try to create some pleasant birthday memories. Continually treating her as if she's abnormal won't help."
HISAO: "I think you're right; if she has something to remember apart from loss, then maybe she'll come around."
If we bought her something nice that she could see every day then maybe she'd be able to take her mind off her past and remember that she has friends. And in any case, I think Hanako can handle something like this. In the time I've spent beside her, I've learned that she isn't quite as frightfully fragile as I first thought she was.
HISAO: "So, shall we be off? I'm not really sure about the layout of this area."
LILLY: "Very well. I might like to suggest having something to eat, first."
HISAO: "I haven't either, so that sounds like a good plan."
LILLY: "Make sure you choose a nice place, Hisao."
She gives a teasing smile, one that makes me smile reflexively in response even if she can't see that.
HISAO: "I'll make very sure I do, don't worry about that."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
Once inside, I order two slices of pie and accompanying cups of tea and take them back to our table. I'd pegged this café as the type to appeal to Lilly; small and quiet, but well-kept and somewhat upscale. Going by the dainty smile she wears, I... don't really know if I chose right. It's very, very rare to not see her smiling, after all. Nevertheless, I take a seat near her at one of the corner tables and lay down our small meals. Lilly gingerly brings her head over the slice of pie placed in front of her, delicately taking in the aroma.
LILLY: "Lemon pie, is it? Thank you, Hisao."
HISAO: "No problem. The tea's just next to it, so be careful not to knock it over."
She nods appreciatively, but judging from the slightly weak smile she has, the warning wasn't really necessary. I suppose the sound must have tipped her off to its position. We both tuck into our food without further ado, both of us remaining largely silent as we do so. Lilly isn't the type to appreciate discussion while eating, and I can't say I like it either.
Eventually we finish both our meals, and the last of our teacups follows in short order. Lilly's the first to break the silence.
LILLY: "That was very nice. I must say you've chosen quite well, Hisao."
HISAO: "This is the first time I've really had much of a look around the city, so all I could really do is choose somewhere that looked nice. Uh... damn. Sorry."
I feel really bad for inadvertently bringing up the subject of sight around Lilly, but she doesn't appear to mind much. Quite the opposite; she almost looks amused by my awkward attempt at an apology.
LILLY: "You are thoughtful, Hisao, but sometimes I fear that it gets the better of you. There is no need to change your speech on my account."
Lilly truly is pretty comfortable in dealing with her condition. I still hasten to change the subject, as I can't really say that I share her confidence in the matter.
HISAO: "Have you lived here for very long? It seems like you have this place pretty much sorted out."
She quickly waves her hand in front of her face to dismiss the notion.
LILLY: "It's nothing like that. I've attended Yamaku since the start of high school, but I didn't walk around the city very much because Akira, my sister, picked me up and dropped me off."
HISAO: "Oh, right. You mentioned not living in the dormitories until recently."
It's quite a surprise. I'd just assumed she'd been living here since entering Yamaku at the least, which would give her a few years here.
LILLY: "I've lived with my family for most of my life, then I was just together with my sister. With my family having moved to Inverness long before, and Akira working longer hours, I ended up having to move."
HISAO: "Inverness? Isn't that somewhere in Scotland?"
LILLY: "Oh, did I not tell you? My family currently lives in Scotland, the birthplace of my mother. My father's side is mainly Japanese, though."
Huh. The question of what gave Lilly her looks did cross my mind every now and again, but I'd never thought to ask. That answers that, then.
HISAO: "To be honest, I'd never have guessed. Considering you have no accent, I'm guessing you were born here?"
LILLY: "Full marks. I am thankful for my heritage though, as without it I'd likely have not been taught English so early in my life. And what of you, Hisao?"
HISAO: "What about me?"
She gives a moment's thought. She probably should have thought of what to ask me before switching the topic.
LILLY: "I'll go with... what are your plans for the future?"
HISAO: "To be honest, I haven't thought much about that recently. After my accident and subsequent months in hospital, enjoying my life here with you and Hanako has been enough for me."
In fact, I don't think I've thought at all about a future for some time now. It seems almost futile.
LILLY: "This is your last year of school. After this, you will have to fend for yourself one way or the other."
HISAO: "It's not like I don't know that, I just haven't put much thought into it since then..."
She opens her mouth to continue, but gives a small sigh instead. She seems to have realized that she really doesn't know enough about my situation to go too deeply into this.
LILLY: "Well, we all have our own pace. I just hope you'll take any chance you see."
HISAO: "...I understand. I'll think about it."