Part 83: CloserUpdate 74: Closer (Act 3, Scenes 6-7)
I can't find Shizune at first, but eventually she walks into the main part of the house, sipping a glass of ice water and dangling her glasses back and forth from her free hand. She whips them on as soon as she sees me.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ease
SHIZUNE: [You didn't rescue Hideaki. That means you don't get the bonus points. If you were also being graded on style, I'd have to deduct points for a booooooring escape.]"
HISAO: [It looked like you wanted to talk to me, I didn't know I had to be stylish about it. You know, some say that the most stylish people are the ones that don't try too hard to look cool.]"
SHIZUNE: [You're really cool.]"
I wonder how is it that I can pick up on her sarcasm so easily, and how hard it might have been for her to learn the concept of sarcasm without being able to hear. I can't imagine it.
HISAO: [You seem like you're in a good mood.]"
Although I guess it isn't really a good mood. It's more that she seems very excited.
SHIZUNE: [I'm in a bad mood.]"
Setting her drink down, Shizune sits down on the couch.
SHIZUNE: [I liked her regular hairstyle so much more. It looked so pretty. It was refined and meticulous. Now she looks too sporty and tomboyish.]"
HISAO: [I wouldn't call Misha refined and meticulous. That sounds more like you. You should give it a chance. Grow your hair out and make it look like drills. Hm... actually, maybe this suits you just fine.]"
Shizune rubs the frame of her glasses roughly, looking annoyed at the implications behind what I just signed to her. That's fine, because I was totally implying that. She moves a little closer to me when I take a seat.
SHIZUNE: [I'm a tomboy?]"
HISAO: [Well, no one would call you a tomboy. ...Based on appearances.]"
Shizune glares at me, unamused. I have to fight to keep a straight face.
HISAO: [Maybe you two should trade haircuts anyway.]"
SHIZUNE: "... [You sound like my father.]"
It's true. Shizune giggles noiselessly when she sees my displeasure at the realization. Jumping to her feet, she twirls an invisible sword in her left hand while standing up militarily straight and grimacing. A terrifyingly accurate impression.
SHIZUNE: [Anyway, I don't take advice from anyone who wears a blue sweater with brown pants. Where's your sense of color coordination? Dreadful. ...But changing my haircut, that might be fun. Wouldn't it be? I want to see how everyone would react.]"
HISAO: [You must really like playing with people. Sometimes, I think, a little too much.]"
No answer. The way she fiddles with her glasses, brow furrowed, tells me that it's because she can't.
SHIZUNE: [It's fun.]"
Then, with more confidence and while pulling herself closer to me:
SHIZUNE: [It's fun to drag more and more people into my life.]"
HISAO: [Oh, I see.]"
I wonder if I'm included in that number. I want to ask, but am not even sure how I would. Shizune wags a finger preemptively, indicating that she won't be answering such a question anyway.
She reaches for her glass, but doesn't seem to realize how far she's managed to inch away from it all this time. To prevent herself from tipping over clumsily, Shizune tries to grab on to me, and ends up pulling me on top of her.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Lullaby of Open Eyes
As I lean over her, I can feel the heat coming off her body and realize how close we are. I can hear her soft breathing and the slight rustling of her clothes as she momentarily fidgets about. A blush starts to creep into her cheeks, but her eyes stare straight into mine, dark and unblinking. It's the same look from the first time I saw her, piercing and devoid of any clear emotions. Just waiting to see what will happen next, like the eyes of a cat. It makes me feel uncomfortable, being looked at in such a way. This is the first time I've been so close to her for an extended period of time, and the mood is different now. The situation now isn't the same as a passing touching of hands or her and Misha's usual games. Shizune's fingers weave together tentatively, but she makes no move to sign. The look in her eyes isn't just nothing, like I'd thought. It's more like expectation. I wonder if maybe I've been following the string of her expectations this entire time.
I feel her grabbing me by the shoulders and then gently, but firmly, pushing me off of her. I roll sideways onto the soft couch and pull myself into a sitting position less than a foot from her. The way I feel, she might as well have thrown me ten yards. When I think about it, this is perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks to sign language. Shizune said that the fact that you have to sign your words out with your hands means you have time to reflect on what you say before you say it. But on the other hand, it also means that what would normally just be an awkward silence becomes an insurmountable wall. I'd just blurt out something, anything, to try and dispel the tension I'm feeling right now if I could, but I can't. Ordinarily, I think that what would be normal would be to apologize, and maybe leave. But right now, I wonder if that is even applicable. I can't get past how guilty such an action would seem. Like I were just slinking away. Of course, it's not like I can just play it off like nothing happened, either. That would just be insulting to both of us. So, as much as I don't want to, I apologize quickly, so quickly I forget to sign it. Then I go back to my room.
Sighing, I let myself fall backwards into bed. I wish I could just go to sleep right now, but I feel wide awake.
I sit up when I hear the door closing and open my eyes to see Shizune sitting in the chair in front of me.
She asks a question that goes right over my head, due to my surprise. It's not a feeling I'm good at concealing, and I don't think it's what she intended. Whatever she was saying, she backs off, and doesn't attempt to sign again for a while.
SHIZUNE: [This is the first time I've been in your room.]"
Shizune tents her fingers and puts on an exaggerated attempt to make herself look embarrassed and modest at the thought. I can't appreciate the joke, just the fact that she's here has me feeling a bit scattered.
HISAO: [Very funny. It isn't even my room. It's your guest room.]"
SHIZUNE: [You still looked startled when I came in.]"
The way she says it so factually stings me.
HISAO: [A lot of things make me nervous. You're one of them.]"
HISAO: [Because you're overeager to always get people involved in... whatever you're doing. Whether it's joining the Student Council, or even taking a break. Whether they want to or not.]"
SHIZUNE: "... ... ... ..."
SHIZUNE: "... ..."
She signs almost at a crawl, her hands pausing mid-sentence far too much, causing the words to dissipate formlessly before I can even begin to try to understand them. I try not to let on that this is the case. It seems to work, but she looks a little sad, and I regret that I have nothing to say to snap her from the strangely wistful and distant expression she is wearing. All I can do is wait for her to come out of it.
SHIZUNE: [You are right. I want to drag everyone into my life. But, lately, I'm no longer sure if it's the right thing to do.]"
HISAO: [I enjoyed you taking me to your favorite restaurant the other night.]"
SHIZUNE: [It's not like that was my favorite restaurant... I have others I like. I might even be able to rank them by number.]"
SHIZUNE: [This chair is so hard. I want to sit on the bed.]"
Motioning to her to go ahead, I wait for her to get off the chair and take her place when she does. Though I didn't intend for it to be, she finds it amusing.
SHIZUNE: [Close your eyes.]"
SHIZUNE: [It's a surprise.]"
I decide to humor her and close them. I can feel her leaning over me, and suddenly, something soft and moist touches my lips. My body tenses up in surprise. Fortunately, not as awkward a reaction as I could have made. It was just a quick peck, and I almost think that's the end of it, but then she kisses me again, more deeply this time. Her hands slide onto my shoulders, up to my neck, and then back down again. Then across my shoulders and down my arms. I can feel the weight of her body on my legs, and the eroticism of the situation isn't lost on me. At this point, I'm ready to try and open my eyes just a crack, but as if expecting it, she puts her fingers on my eyelids.
Seconds later, something ties my hands together at the wrists, and I panic, not knowing what to make of this. My first thought is to ask Shizune what she's thinking. Even though she can't hear me, I'm sure she gets the gist of it. She won't let go of my hands, tracing her fingers over them, from the lines of my palms, over my knuckles, and to my wrists.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Letting My Heart Speak
HISAO: "Hey, what are you doing? What's this?"
Or course, with my hands tied behind my back, I might as well be gagged. A part of me can't help but think that this is what she intended.
As if reading my thoughts, a mischievous expression lights up her face, but her blushing doesn't fade. In fact, it only deepens when our eyes meet. Embarrassed, she leans deeper into our partial embrace, hiding her face by burying it in my shoulder and neck. Her hair is soft and tickles me, and I let out a laugh knowing that she won't hear me; won't be offended.
Grilled shrimp again, go figure. Maybe it IS random. Anyway, the two awkwardly have sex on the chair; neither of them really knows what theyre doing, which doesnt stop them. Shizune seems substantially more into it than Hisao is, but his internal monologue confirms hes having a good time, too. At no point do their clothes come off. Theoretically, I could post all the images here, since they both just looks sweaty, but, well, I think we can leave it mostly implied.
Afterwards, I listen to the sound of my heartbeat slowing down until it reaches its normal rhythm. I listen to the sound of Shizune's breathing as it does the same. Her glasses are slightly askew, and this is the first time she isn't messing around with them in some way. I want to straighten them for her, but the second I try, I'm reminded that I can't. Shizune seems to have forgotten it as well.
Instead of getting up, she presses herself against me in the chair to extend her reach. It's almost as if this is the only position she can think to untie my hands from. That is what I think as I feel her unbinding my wrists.
However, she doesn't get off me. Her fingers gently stroke against mine, occasionally bending inwards to run over my palms. It's funny, but I feel more connected to Shizune through this simple act than before.
I didnt notice this until someone pointed it out to me long after playing the route: as her primary method of communication, Shizunes hands play the same social role as most peoples mouths including the way theyre silent in a romantic context.
Shes kissing him.
Shizune stays pressed against me like this for some time. It's a little uncomfortable, but it makes me feel happy, as if I could stay like this for hours.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
The days since then have passed so quickly that time seemed to slip through my fingers like water. Every time I've tried to talk with Shizune, she has been out running errands or with Misha. I feel as if she's avoiding me. I'm not surprised. Of course it bothers me, but I think the way she's acting seems pretty natural. Then again, it's not like I've been through this before.
Whenever I can't find Shizune, I end up running into Misha, and when I do I ask her to help me with my signing. However, she always ends up squirming out of it. We're leaving after today, so I'm determined not to let her escape this time. Once we head back to school, we're probably going to have to start grinding through more student council affairs in preparation for school restarting. I want to brush up on my signing as much as possible by then, even if it's a day's worth.
HISAO: "Come on, it's pretty much just having a couple sign language conversations! You do that all the time. Actually, you're doing it right now."
MISHA: "Wahaha~, really, Hicchan? That's funny!"
Misha temporarily stops her unconscious signing in order to wave her hands in front of her face in denial, but then quickly resumes gesturing everything the both of us are saying to no one in particular.
MISHA: "Hicchan, you're so persistent. Suddenly being interested in sign language again... could it be that Hicchan wants to make a career out of it? That's not fair, that was my idea first~! You should be careful, Hicchan. Times change too quickly~... By the time I decided I wanted to be a sign language interpreter, they had cell phones that people could type out whole paragraphs on. Amazing~! Not very good for me, though!"
As if she knows that another deferral isn't going to cut it this time, Misha changes her tune pretty quickly to a more apologetic one.
MISHA: "I'm sorry, Hicchan, I'm just so~ tired~! Especially lately, even though being with Shicchan is fun, she has way more energy than me! Teaching on top of that would be too~ tiring; I don't have that much stamina! Sorry~!"
She doesn't seem very tired, shouting the statement with her usual cheer and vigor. I know it's wrong of me to keep pestering her like this, though.
MISHA: "Actually~, Shicchan and I were planning on going shopping today! It's our last chance to pick up some souvenirs."
HISAO: "Souvenirs, huh? I almost forgot that I was on vacation. I understand what you're saying. Teaching doesn't seem so easy. Hideaki asked me to teach him how to sign and I was unbelievably lost the whole time. Well, I wonder how it'll work out for you when you become a sign language teacher. You can't get tired too easily doing that."
MISHA: "Yeah, right, right~! I hope not! Hicchan, now I'm kind of worried. But~, souvenirs! So~!, some other time, Hicchan. Aha hahaha~. Do you want us to get you something, too?"
Just because I understand doesn't mean I don't want her to teach me. I suppose I can't press her any further now, though. Even I'm bothered by how selfish it would seem to do so. I give up.
HISAO: "No. Don't get me anything. I'm serious, don't surprise me with a funny shirt or something, okay?"
I don't like the sound of that. Slipping on her shoes, she yells goodbye to the otherwise empty house and opens the door to leave, letting a cool breath of fresh air into the hallway. A tuft of dark hair peeking from the door frame tells me Shizune is waiting for her outside.
HISAO: "Good morning."
Misha translates for me from beyond the doorway, and Shizune turns around to give me a small wave. Even though it's different from her usual offhand greetings in the smallest ways, there is an unmistakable hesitation there. It leaves me with a vaguely empty and distant feeling.
MISHA: "Hicchan, you're up early~! Am I interrupting a conversation?"
HISAO: "I was trying to get Misha to teach me how to talk to you, but I guess I was being impatient, and it can wait. You two were planning on going shopping today, anyway."
Having Misha there, I forget to sign my words as I say them. Unfortunately, since Shizune moved to fill the doorway, Misha is behind her. This brief misalignment in our positions means that what I'm saying is totally lost on her.
SHIZUNE: [I don't understand you at all.]"
There are things I want to say that I can't put in a way she would understand, and there are entire conversations that she could have that would go right over my head. I want to tell her now that it won't be that way for much longer. Instead, I just say never mind and tell them to have a good time, then wave them off.
It seems like everyone is out for the day, so I sit down on the biggest and most comfortable-looking chair in the living room with a book. Not a sign language book, but one of the novels I checked out of the library my first week. That was so long ago. I should really start chipping at that pile of books I borrowed, or at least return them.
Sixteen pages in, Jigoro walks into the room, a stack of papers in one hand and his sword twirling idly like a baton in the other, casually shaking water from a recent shower from his hair. Upon being seen doing something so ungentlemanly, he freezes like a deer in the headlights, and slowly moves on to smoldering with powerful but baseless fury as he sits down on the couch a few feet away. This is only the third time I've met him and I'm already starting to feel nauseous on reaction. I guess in a way this could be considered a kind of charisma. I haven't even said anything and he already seems less than pleased. It's likely a bad idea to provoke him, and just talking to him may count as provoking him. However, I can't help thinking of the alternative situations that could play out. Let's say I don't open my mouth at all and walk away, maybe to go read in my room or outside. That would definitely go down as an unforgivable insult. He would probably tell me to hold it and destroy me. Either way, not too polite on my part.
HISAO: "What are you reading?"
JIGORO: "The draft for my autobiography. It is the story of a man who wakes up to find an uninvited guest in his living room, sitting in his chair and reading shallow literary dreck."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
I've barely started reading the book, I don't even have an opinion on it yet. I can already see how this conversation is going to play out, so I might as well try to steer it in a different direction.
HISAO: "Where's Hideaki?"
JIGORO: "You even ask questions rudely. Disgraceful. That aside, why would you even ask me such a stupid question? How would I know? Am I my son's keeper?"
Well, you are his dad, and it seems like he does live here, so... But, I guess I can't say that, tempting as it is. I give up. I already tried to make small talk with him and failed. It's like trying to talk to a brick wall that also hates you. That is my cue to leave and sift through my wallet to see if I have enough money to go to a movie.
As I'm about to stand, I have second thoughts. I'm too tired to go through trying to smooth over my problematic situations by trying to continuously walk away from them. t's hypocritical of me to get upset at Misha for trying to defer things when I even run from my own girlfriend. When Jigoro attempts to stop me, I'm almost glad, even though I no longer have any intention to leave.
He says it with plenty of authority but nothing else, as if it's just a particularly commanding afterthought. Only a very powerful or very arrogant person can tell someone to hold on in such a manner. I'm sort of impressed.
JIGORO: "You are in the Student Council with Shizune, aren't you? What is your job there?"
HISAO: "I don't think there are specific roles, other than president. Shizune is always trying to round people up to help out here and there. Usually we might get like, one person to pitch in, but otherwise the three of us do whatever needs to be done."
It's crossed my mind a couple times, around when I first met her, that Shizune's disquietingly analytical stare might be because of her deafness, but it turns out it's a trait shared by everyone else in her family.
JIGORO: "And that is okay with you?"
HISAO: "Why wouldn't it be?"
JIGORO: "You, Shizune, and that pink-haired girl? Is that really your entire Student Council? With a Student Council that small, they wouldn't even bother to hold elections. I am going to take a guess and say that you didn't join the Student Council, Shizune drafted you into it. You said you do not know exactly what your title is. That makes sense. I suppose if you weren't even elected, you couldn't be expected to know. After all, if you are not elected, you aren't really anything. No one is going to respect a Student Council like that. An unelected body of three people trying to scrounge up the equivalent of temp workers? It must be a sorry school if three kids having a tea party can handle every issue."
HISAO: "What's how small it is have to do with anything? If the Student Council gets things done, isn't that enough? It's not just a game, either. Maybe you should actually come to the school one day. If you get there on the right days, you might even be able to see what Shizune is able to accomplish."
JIGORO: "Do you think that I have so much free time, that I can afford to waltz over to your boondocks and watch my daughter's feats of self-aggrandizement? I have never been more disgusted in my life."
HISAO: "What you're saying is they might as well not have a Student Council, but the fact remains there is one. And Shizune got elected to it, and for her it isn't a meaningless position. In fact, she works very hard for it."
JIGORO: "You sound like someone who voted for her."
HISAO: "No, I wasn't there for that."
JIGORO: "Ha. You didn't even vote for her. Well, besides that - why don't you ask Hideaki about this? Shizune has wanted to be a high school Student Council president since middle school. She would have him read all her practice speeches, wasting his time. For what reason?"
This whole time, he hasn't even looked up from thumbing through his manuscript. It's getting increasingly frustrating.
HISAO: "Because it isn't a game; we don't run the school, but it's not like we're just playing at it and not taking it seriously."
I wonder if it is so wrong to not be a purist.
JIGORO: "I have been to your school. Really... The students there..."
I can already think of about a million things he might say, and I'm preparing for my heart to sink on hearing any of them. It's funny, they are probably things I've thought before.
JIGORO: "They don't even have cleaning duty."
That was not what I expected at all. He's also wrong.
HISAO: "They do. I should know, I get to skip out on it since I'm in the Student Council."
The concept of being wrong confuses Jigoro. I should take this opportunity to go on the attack. It's really odd that I am thinking this way about a simple conversation.
HISAO: "It sounds like the last time you were there was really some time ago. If you can leisurely write some memoirs, you can talk to Shizune now and then. Don't you think that she has stuff she is proud of? That's how young people are. We have things to be proud of. If you're writing an autobiography, you should get that."
Such an opportunity, and I blew it. I don't know how I was expecting him to react. Maybe introspectively, but Jigoro only grows angrier by the second. Yet as he does, he also seems calmer, in a way. More sure of himself and in control.
JIGORO: "Who do you think you are to assume that my life is so easy? You haven't even read my biography, yet you are able to tell me how I should handle all my affairs, including dealing with my own daughter. You could never understand. Even if I were to get up from this couch, walk over to you right now, and punch you in the forehead with brass knuckles with a condensed edition of my life story on them, leaving my biography imprinted in your face, you would not understand. For twelve years, Shizune did not even talk to me, even though I hired multiple tutors and interpreters of all sorts for her to try and get her to become normal. It isn't as simple as you think it is.
JIGORO: "If she does not want to bother with me, then fine. I assume that is normal. When was the last time you talked to your parents?"
It has been a while, and I feel ashamed. More so that he caught me than at how easily I could have dropped my parents a phone call or sent them an e-mail, or even a letter, and haven't. This knowledge only makes me feel more ashamed.
JIGORO: "I thought so."
HISAO: "If I wanted to see my parents, I couldn't. This is different. You aren't that far from her, it's one train ride away!"
JIGORO: "That is enough. No means no. You are very persistent. If only it was about something that mattered. I can't see what you may have learned from my daughter aside from that and how to backtalk people. Is that it?"
The answer is yes. I wasn't this persistent or argumentative before meeting Shizune and Misha. After all, prior to meeting them, I'd just experienced a small death. It's a mystery as to why I refused to join the Student Council in the first place. It took monumental effort just to introduce myself on my first day there. I might have rolled over for anyone and any cause. It might have just been chance that Student Council appealed to me so little that I would fight it. Possibly it was from trying to get away from their nagging so much that I was able to get my energy back. It's a cute idea.
I think again about why I'm still here. Arguing with Jigoro is pointless, yet I think I almost looked forward to it. And he is right, I cannot understand him. Even if I did, he wouldn't care. I'm a louse that crawls on a whale: wholly insignificant. He has a confidence that I don't have. Shizune does, and it could be that the reason why I am here now, in an almost-shouting match with her father, is because some of that bravery has rubbed off onto me. However, I don't have anything to keep it going.
Still, I hate him. I don't know what I can do. A few months ago, I think I would have punched him and let the consequences play out as they may. But now, I can't risk it. If he were to hit me back, he'd likely kill me. So in the end, the only thing I can do is look at Jigoro in silence, knowing that I have no reply, and hate him, and feel completely at a loss. Oddly, he takes it as defiance.
JIGORO: "Hmph. Fine, then. Have fun with that."
Picking up his sword and using it to pull himself to his feet, he turns and casually saunters out of the room. I want to throw my book after him, but I'm happy to finally be alone, even if I'm not in the mood to read any longer.