Part 85: RoadmapUpdate 76: Roadmap (Act 3, Scenes 9-10)
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride
For the first few days after I was back, I almost forgot that I was in the Student Council. I managed to pick up here and there that the Student Council usually gets swamped with work around the end of the break, but it didn't have to be the case. The few times when I managed to catch Shizune or Misha, they were in too much of a hurry for me to get a chance to ask if they needed help. Anytime they weren't, I'd only be able to get ahold of Misha. Shizune would say something about how there was work, but it was so little that involving either Misha or I would only bore us. After awhile, the idea of having some free time again had started to grow on me, though there were still periods when I felt like I had too much of it.
Just when I was getting used to it, though, things changed again. Now I find myself back in the student council room, arguing with Shizune about whether tissue boxes make good ballot boxes or not.
HISAO: "I'm telling you, they work just fine, as long as we get the cube-shaped ones, not the rectangular ones. Misha, can you sign that to her? I've kind of got my hands full. ...On second thought, forget it."
She is busy cutting out ballot slips, so if she were to make one errant movement she would probably send those scissors flying into someone's head. I drop the box of poster paints I'm carrying onto my little table in the student council room, and cough as a wave of dust hits me in the face. It really has been a while.
SHIZUNE: [Do you think we should change the size of the ballot slips?]"
MISHA: "What~? But Shicchan, I already cut out so many of them..."
SHIZUNE: [We can make them smaller. It will be more efficient. We just have to shrink the font. More ballots will fit in a single box that way. We'll only need half the amount of paper, then. The format for voting can be changed. It could be more like a real election; then we might be able to get away with buying less boxes. With the money left over, we can get a pizza, or maybe Chinese, or a cake, or three bowls of the new ramen bowl I want to try.]"
Shizune excitedly rubs a finger along the frame of her glasses as she ponders more ways to cut even a half-yen of spending off of our budget. Since I think she is the only one who even knows what our budget is, I'm scared to ask just how tiny is it for her to have to do this.
HISAO: "What about all the ballot slips Misha already cut out?"
SHIZUNE: [Don't worry, don't worry. I can make them into memo pads and sell them in the school store.]"
MISHA: "Shicchan, they don't look very cute, though~..."
Shizune seems to disagree. Now they're arguing, but it looks like it consists of nothing more than signing Yes, they do and No, they don't at each other until they're so tired of it they are just taking turns pointing at each other commandingly. It's strange, partly because it looks kind of ridiculous, but also because I've never seen them disagree. Then again, both of them have looked very stressed these past few days.
Shizune has been increasingly absorbed in the idea of student council elections, though they're months away. I imagine this is how politicians act when they realize a regime change is imminent and their era is over. I'm having trouble taking student council matters seriously at all, even now, as I practice my calligraphy on signs that won't go up for weeks, but I can understand why Shizune does. After all, she has been Student Council president for three years. According to her dad, she has wanted the job for even longer. I guess three years is too short a career for her to leave feeling satisfied.
HISAO: "Did the last Student Council go through this much trouble to make it a smooth transition for you?"
Shizune makes a chagrined face that tells me they weren't very helpful at all.
HISAO: "I guess you're doing all this to set a good example, then?"
MISHA: "That only comes into play if they learn anything from it, Hicchan~! If they don't, I'll be hyper mad~! If they turn out to be the flaky type, I'll definitely be hard on them~."
It doesn't sound very threatening when Misha is saying it.
HISAO: "So, you've already met them?"
MISHA: "Ahaha~. Hicchan, there are no candidates yet~!"
HISAO: "What? None?"
SHIZUNE: [Not even for Student Council president. That is why I am trying to drum up interest for the position. What do you think?]"
She proudly holds up a poster she has been working on herself. It looks very, uh, military.
HISAO: "You might be taking this a little too seriously, then."
Shizune frowns and plays with her glasses, offended.
SHIZUNE: [Is that weird?]"
She looks oddly happy that I'm disagreeing with her, and I think that if she weren't genuinely focused on what she was doing, she would try to argue with me just because it would be interesting to her.
SHIZUNE: [What's weird about it?]"
It looks like she will do that after all. But then, Shizune waves her hand dismissively, like she is trying to catch the words in the air and delete them. Instead, she catapults into insulting her future successors.
HISAO: "Well, one thing that's weird is that in my old school the elections would happen in about six months, since, you know, we're graduating in March. It's pretty weird to think about them so early."
SHIZUNE: [It's a little different here.]
MISHA: "Hicchan, I'll be discouraged if we don't have any replacements when I have to go~! Shicchan says. But~!, it isn't like the school will stop running without a Student Council. It will be harder for them to hand out forms, though~! Hahaha~."
Shizune isn't laughing, however. Misha's joke causes her to flinch, as if she were stung. Though Misha didn't mean for it to come out that way, her quip had a callous cruelty to it in the end.
SHIZUNE: [Hmph. I'm trying to get more people to run, but everyone is so lazy. They think they can take it easy just because there are no deadlines yet. Slackers, not taking the early game advantage. Still six months away? If they aren't making their move now, they don't deserve a vote!]"
MISHA: "Do they really think it's such an easy job that they can do everything at the last minute and just coast into the role~? Insulting~! Really~, really~! They're going to be eaten alive once they have to sit at this tiny desk and see just how much work they have to do~!"
SHIZUNE: [If this were a real election, they would be in deep trouble. I was reading about Japanese campaigning laws the other day. Only the bad ones, for some reason.]"
HISAO: "For some reason."
For a second, Shizune was talking like her father there, and it was coming out of Misha's mouth. Creepy.
HISAO: "Well, first off, shadow shogun, you can't really make that call. They'll be elected. Second, it's just a school election. It's not like running for city council, or the Diet. I don't think Japanese campaigning laws apply."
Third, although I don't want to say it, I'm nervous that Shizune is so enthusiastic about this, talking of elections and votes. According to her dad, she wasn't even elected herself. Come to think of it, I can't remember Shizune ever saying she was elected, either. Then, did she get this position by being recruited into the Student Council, and having it fall apart until she was the only one left? Somehow, I'd never considered it. I don't know what to think about that, but it wouldn't surprise me. We're only three people strong now. If the circumstances behind her becoming the Student Council president were that sad, I wonder if there will be a vote at all. Interest could just be that low; or nonexistent, really. Then all her energy would be going towards nothing.
I slap an exclamation mark on the end of the poster I'm working on. It's a little plain, so I think adding one is okay. Actually, it still might be a little too plain. I make the mark twice as large.
HISAO: "I still say you need to slow down. If this stuff isn't going to be relevant for months, maybe you're working a little too hard on it. That's what I think. You're worrying too much."
I don't know how to sign the word relevant. I try, and only end up flicking a long line of paint where I didn't intend to. There is no way I can fix that.
HISAO: "Misha, can you ask her that?"
Shizune giggles silently, clenching her teeth so that no sound actually comes out.
SHIZUNE: [Because there is a lot to worry about.]"
HISAO: "Like what?"
SHIZUNE: [Like... usually the boxes end up looking very pretty, so people take them. Have to plan for that.]"
MISHA: "Wahaha~! We should make them funny-looking this time, then, so no one will take them! How about that, Shicchan~?"
HISAO: "We can draw some weird faces on them. Or we can put a little picture of Shizune on each one saying Stealing is wrong."
SHIZUNE: [No. It's not funny! It's not the only problem, either. There is voter turnout, of course... ...And then the worst case scenario would be not having any candidates.]"
Although it seems she meant it jokingly, from the way she smiles as she signs it, that isn't how it comes out. Even Misha understands that the possibility is very real, and though she tries to salvage the mood by punctuating Shizune's statement with a laugh, it doesn't work.
SHIZUNE: [What is wrong with both of you? I was just making a joke. There actually is some interest this year. If there wasn't, would I be doing all this work? I'm not stupid. When the elections are over, I'll buy everyone dinner. I'm already planning it.]"
HISAO: "Even the new Student Council?"
SHIZUNE: [No, they can buy their own celebration dinner. It will only be for the current Student Council. I'll be happy once I'm through having to do these thankless jobs all the time.]"
MISHA: "A dinner just for us~? Yay~! It's like a little party, Shicchan~!"
Though her cheerfulness is obviously forced, I say nothing. For the rest of the period, which fortunately isn't very long, we work in silence.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
After classes, I find the student council room locked. It's strange, because Shizune was so busy earlier that I would expect her to continue working after school. It would be what she would normally do. Maybe she listened to my suggestion and decided to take a break. I'm hoping it's that simple. Feeling a little uneasy, I take a brief stroll around the school. It's only half-conscious; I can't remember when I started moving my feet, but I've already covered enough of the campus that I'm starting to feel tired. Not that that means anything, now. Just a short stroll around the school grounds, and I'm already winded. Really pathetic.
Before I know it, I'm back in front of the student council office. There's someone else, too, this time.
MISHA: "Hi, Hicchan~!"
HISAO: "It's locked."
Seeing a can of lemonade in her hand, I reflexively start looking for a vending machine nearby. I'm so thirsty.
MISHA: "I know that, Hicchan~! Shicchan is somewhere else, I guess~!"
MISHA: "Ahahaha~. We aren't stuck together, Hicchan~."
Misha takes a long drink from her lemonade, eventually just tipping it over and pouring the rest into her mouth. I feel like I am being mocked.
MISHA: "Do you want one, Hicchan~?"
HISAO: "No, it's okay. I can't take someone else's drink, it's rude. Besides, you're making fun of me, aren't you? I just saw you inhale all of that."
MISHA: "I have another one in my bag~! I was prepared, see~, see~? I'm just like Shicchan~!"
HISAO: "She's a little too prepared. It's good some of that is rubbing off on you, anyway. After what, two years?"
The way she stares at me as I drink it is a little disconcerting, but I'm too grateful to care much about it.
HISAO: "You and Shizune always end up treating me to something. It's starting to embarrass me."
MISHA: "Really~, Hicchan? Ahaha~. Buy me lunch sometime, then, okay~? Then~!, we'll be even. Well, it's funny you should say that. I was going to ask you if you wanted to eat in town... Yeah~ yeah~! I'm really hungry today, Hicchan! Thanks!"
...Yesterday. I was going to ask her yesterday. Misha cuts me off before I can finish the sentence, and I can't find an opening to correct her as she dashes enthusiastically around me, laughing, her arms flapping excitedly at her sides.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
I already have my wallet with me, so I start walking towards town with Misha trailing behind me, playing idly with her hands and loudly wondering to herself where we should go eat. At least, I think so. She could be asking me.
HISAO: "Do you have anywhere specific where you want to go?"
MISHA: "Hmmm~. I want to go to the teahouse, they have a really big parfait there."
HISAO: "I saw you eat a parfait there last time, it looked really big."
MISHA: "No no no~! This one is really, really~ big! It's also really expensive~!"
HISAO: "Really, really~ expensive?"
MISHA: "Hahaha~! A little~..."
HISAO: "Jeez. Well, you and Shizune paid for my food a bunch of times, so it's fine."
MISHA: "Hicchan, I don't think I ever did that~. Are you sure it wasn't just Shicchan?"
HISAO: "Are you really arguing against a free meal? Don't worry about it."
We go to the Shanghai, and are seated by a waitress who is surprisingly not Yuuko. Misha is very eager to eat that parfait, because she shouts her order as soon as she walks through the door. When it arrives, I can see that it is both very big and very expensive-looking.
MISHA: "Aren't you going to order anything, Hicchan~? If you're hungry, we can share."
HISAO: "Nah. I don't like parfaits. I don't like pralin.
MISHA: "You can pick it out~!"
HISAO: "You can't just pick out pralin; don't be silly."
Even if I could, Misha is mashing her food together to the point where it is no longer possible. It also looks kind of gross. I wonder if that many flavors can even blend together well. Can she really taste anything in that goop? She is acting like it's delicious, anyway.
MISHA: "Mm~. Parfaits are the best~, I have sensitive teeth, so ice cream is a no-no~. Cake is too soft, though, and if there is too much icing, I get bored. Parfait is interesting. How many cafés have parfaits here~? I think, ten! I've tried them all, I like this one the best. It has a little flan~!"
HISAO: "You sound like you're some kind of dessert expert."
MISHA: "Not just dessert~! I want to eat all kinds of delicious things~. Someday, I'll have enough money to buy a two kilogram Matsusaka beef steak~!"
HISAO: "That's like over a hundred thousand yen... I guess this kind of decadent food is kind of your hobby then, huh?"
A hobby isn't something that should take months to learn about someone. I've been very rude, in retrospect. Also, that is one pricey hobby.
MISHA: "I guess so~! ...Decadent~?"
Misha giggles, raising her hand to her face. It looks like some ice cream accidentally got on her nose. She doesn't notice it. I can't stop noticing it. I wish she would wipe it off. I'm about to tell her about it, but she suddenly says,
MISHA: "I don't know what that means."
HISAO: "Oh. I guess that's a bad word, anyway. It has implications. Epicurean is better. It means, someone who enjoys eating nice food. That's the adjective, though. So, epicure is the word for it."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! Hicchan, you're too wordy."
MISHA: "Hahaha~. I think that is what Shicchan likes about you."
HISAO: "Because I'm wordy? I need to buy some thesauruses, then."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! No, not like that, Hicchan~!"
I decide to order some coffee after all, but it takes a while to get the waitress to notice, and I think actually getting my coffee will take about as long. The tea shop is filling up. No surprise, as we've already been here for almost an hour while she was chipping at that dessert. I order my coffee to go, but Misha orders one as well, so it seems that we're going to be here longer than I thought.
HISAO: "I really wish it was that easy. It's hard to talk to her lately."
MISHA: "Shicchan's been busy because of the elections~!"
HISAO: "I know we can't have fun all the time. It's just that there's a lot I want to say to her, I think. I always screw up when the time comes, though. And I don't even have the time now. Because of the elections. They're not for a while, though."
MISHA: "Hicchan, do you think that Shicchan is avoiding you?"
Misha sounds angry. That's to be expected, but I don't feel that way at all.
MISHA: "Is that so~..."
The dreamy way in which she says it makes me think that Misha is disappointed with my answer. In that case, it could be how she feels. I'm uneasy asking such a question, but I trust Misha would answer it honestly. Otherwise, I wouldn't even dream of it.
HISAO: "Do you?"
MISHA: "No, of course not, Hicchan~! But~! ...It's frustrating, sometimes~. Shicchan has so much energy, and is always trying to make people feel as excited about things as she is~. But it's like Shicchan doesn't know how to handle things when everyone gets really hyped up. Or~! I think that she wants to make sure nothing goes wrong. When I want to help out, Shicchan always pushes me away. It's frustrating. I'm just overthinking it, probably~! Right~?"
Misha takes a big gulp from her cup of coffee, then sticks her tongue out.
MISHA: "Ow~! Hot~ hot~ hot~... thought it would have cooled down by now~!"
HISAO: "Has it really been that long?"
I check my watch. It hasn't been very long at all, but looking outside, the sun is already starting to set.
HISAO: "Not really. Huh, it got dark out pretty quickly today, though, so I could understand why you might think that."
At my words, Misha looks outside and yawns almost immediately. She looks sleepy. That's funny, because...
HISAO: "Are you sleepy? You were wide awake like, just two seconds ago."
MISHA: "I feel tired when it gets dark, Hicchan~."
HISAO: "Just like that? Are you a bird?"
I pick up my own coffee and have a sip. It's not very hot at all, but very tasty. I down it as quickly as possible, because now I want to get back to my dorm room as well. Misha tries to emulate me, but it's still too hot for her. While I wait for her to finish, I start to wonder what she meant back then about Shizune liking something about me. Suddenly, I'm very curious, but dragging that back up now feels like an unnecessary action. I try to weigh the option again, but am interrupted by Misha slamming her empty cardboard cup down on the table with a loud pop.
She lets out a short laugh, seeming very pleased with herself. Kind of like a toddler. I wonder if she had that drill-shaped haircut when she was little, too. Or was it something more like her current look? It would make more sense.
HISAO: "I guess we should head back then. I can't see the waitress. Try not to fall asleep while I pay for the sundae, okay?"
MISHA: "Not a sundae; It's a parfait, Hicchan. Wahaha~."
HISAO: "You have ice cream on your nose."
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days
In class the next afternoon, I'm two problems into a math logic worksheet when a folded up piece of paper hits me in the head. I'm sure I know whom it's from, but I quickly look around the classroom anyway, just in case.
No one in this classroom is good at acting casual. I can tell that everyone saw who threw it at me, and looking at the culprit herself it was obviously Shizune. She isn't even trying to be coy about it. The countryside is so different. At my old school I would have no idea who it was right now. Opening up the note, it says:
Misha is absent! Help me out today after school!
HISAO: "I don't understand what's with the note, why can't you just use sign language?"
A large part of how I learned sign language was by copying Misha's style of signing her words as she speaks, so I end up blurting the sentence out loud as I sign it to Shizune. A slight laugh goes around the room. How awkward.
HISAO: [I'll help if I don't have to do a lot.]"
SHIZUNE: [That's silly, obviously if Misha is absent you have to help as much as two people.]"
I don't know if that really means anything. After all, Misha was complaining yesterday mostly about how Shizune wouldn't let her help her. I don't do much as-is, either. After pretending to think it over for a bit, I write her a note back telling her I will. I'm actually happy that she asked me, because I've been meaning to talk to her for a while. It's a good opportunity, but I feel I should at least make it look like I'm putting up some resistance to the idea. I go back to my worksheet and immediately get stuck on the third problem. After trying to work around it, I casually toss my own note over to Shizune. It says:
Why is Misha absent? And what's the answer to question 3?
SHIZUNE: [She told me that she was sick and her stomach hurt. Misha gets stomachaches a lot, but I wish she'd picked a better time for it this week. Use sign language.]"
I'd think she has a stomachache because of the way she sucked down a parfait larger than her head the other day. If she gets them quite often, though, either it's a coincidence or she has a habit of eating things that can put her in debilitating pain. I notice the teacher staring at us disapprovingly. I don't blame him. We're talking in class, and with sign language, in quite a visible and distracting way. I try clearing my throat to back out of our conversation, but Shizune doesn't get the hint. Well, obviously. Before I try to get the message across again with my hands, however, I can see Shizune notices what's up, she just doesn't care.
SHIZUNE: [Do you still want to know the answer to question 3? I will tell you, but you have to give me the answer for question 25.]"
HISAO: [Hey, I was just thinking about how a teacher who didn't know sign language could think we were abusing it and using it to cheat, if he were to assume the worst. I can't believe you're actually doing that! And, I'm not up to 25.]"
SHIZUNE: [You wanted to know what the answer to 3 was; you asked first. Hypocrite.]"
HISAO: [You're the Student Council president, you can't cheat.]"
I don't have time for this, and I think I'm trying the teacher's patience to the breaking point. I'd like to continue taking potshots at her while working on the math problems in front of me, but it would require at least two extra hands. Shizune is a bit more creative, and gets around this limitation by using long, semi-broken strings of simpler words. I take a couple mental notes in between being dizzied by a couple of particularly long equations.
Right before the bell rings, she caps her pen and triumphantly slams it on her desk with an ear-popping crack that makes the whole room jump, quickly forgotten because everyone would rather go to lunch than question its origin. After a couple brief stretches, she gets up and hovers around my left shoulder.
SHIZUNE: [Are you still not done? I was going to ask if you wanted me to hand in yours too, while I was up.]"
HISAO: [Someone distracted me. I had to beg the teacher to give me nine minutes between now and the end of passing to finish it. It's not easy to solve this one-handed while having a conversation, by the way.]"
He wasn't happy with the request, wanting to get out of here as much as I do. Since I'm only one problem away from finishing, it looks like Shizune doesn't really believe me.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
The second that I'm done handing it in, I find myself being dragged to the student council room. It's eerily and annoyingly clean. I can't find what I was working on yesterday.
HISAO: [Where is everything?]"
SHIZUNE: [I did some cleaning.]"
HISAO: [That doesn't tell me anything. See, it's like you forgot where you even put the stuff you put away. Oh well, If I can't find it, I guess I'll just go home.]"
SHIZUNE: [It's in the drawer right there.]"
Shizune sulks as I pull out the posters I was working on, and then shuffle them around a little, since she stacked them by color. It's not that I'm taunting her; I just have my own system, although I doubt she would believe me if I were to tell her.
HISAO: [I like it when things are a little messy. It's more natural. And a time saver. It's all right where I left it, and I don't have to go looking through shelves just to find what I was working on yesterday.]"
HISAO: [That's not true. I'm not lazy, you just always go too far.]"
I quickly glance at her desk. A memo pad neatly placed at one corner, behind it a small desk calendar with each box filled with notes in a neat, but microscopic handwriting. On the right, three boxes of pens, in blue, black, and red.
HISAO: [Look, you even put the pens back in their original box at the end of each day, all color-coded and everything. I don't think that can even be called being a neat freak.]"
SHIZUNE: [What do you do with them, throw them in a mug on your desk?]"
HISAO: [Hey, I think that's being organized enough.]"
SHIZUNE: [You're so disorganized, you can't even comb your hair down properly.]"
HISAO: [That hurts...]"
It's not like I don't try; it just won't stay flat. I pick up a box of pens and quickly pop it open to see if she also puts them in so that they're all facing the same direction. She understands what I'm thinking, and doesn't look very amused.
(Crashing Sound Effect)
It turns out that the box wasn't closed properly on the bottom, and as soon as I pick it up, they immediately pour out of it like a waterfall.
HISAO: [My fault. I'll get them, don't worry.]"
I bend down to pick up the pens, forgetting that with her attention focused on them, she couldn't have possibly seen me signing to her. Shizune's head bumps into my chest; not very hard, but it unbalances me enough to make me fall over. I laugh it off, and expect her to do the same. When she stiffens and backs away from me instead, a feeling of dread begins to creep over me. That is a weird reaction. I start to think about why she would have such a strange reaction. It's pretty obvious: she just bumped headfirst into someone with a heart condition.
Shizune would know I have one, maybe thanks to the records her student council duties give her access to. Or at the very least, she would know I have something severe enough to need monitoring. So she is treating me like I'm made of glass. For her, it's the natural way to react. I haven't forgotten how she freaked out when Emi knocked into me on my first day here. Why would it be any different for her? I'm sure she is remembering that, right now. I can see it on her face. She looks angry at herself. It would be a good opportunity to bring up that time when she saw my pills. Even though I don't want to drag that back up, it would be a good idea to. It would clear the air.
Still, I'm afraid, and end up saying nothing. Partly because as I imagine having to draw her attention from the floor, and then having to sign what kind of a cripple I am to her one gesture at a time, the idea begins to seem more and more depressing.