Part 91: ParfaitUpdate 81: Parfait (Act 4, Scenes 3-4)
Content warning: Shizunes dad. At least he moves through quickly.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
It seems like I ate too much yesterday, because I wake up in the morning feeling just nauseous enough for it to be a problem. I really can't postpone going into town for shopping, though. So despite wanting to roll over and sleep it away, I force myself to get up and dress instead.
Somewhere between buying toothpaste and a few other groceries, I end up walking it off. Then, I feel hungry. After stopping for breakfast, it hits me how much time has gone by. I hadn't expected to be out this long at all. I'm not even sure if I bothered to lock my door. I should really get back.
When I get back to the dorm, I see Hideaki standing in front of my room from the entrance. I can think of few things more unexpected, and I can't help thinking I might have a heart attack just from the surprise. Fortunately, it doesn't happen. As soon as he sees me, he says hello in his usual detached way. I'm a little slow to reply to him, so he repeats the greeting, without missing a beat.
HIDEAKI: "Hello. Is something wrong?"
HISAO: I'm just surprised to see you here."
Not as surprised as I could have been, since it's impossible to mistake him for anyone else. I'd recognize those weird clothes anywhere. Come to think of it, I've really surrounded myself with distinctive-looking people lately. Hideaki's head lolls slightly to one side, a little too easily.
HIDEAKI: "Why? Is it unusual to see someone's family come to see them?"
HISAO: "Well... yeah, actually."
He visibly jerks.
So, Hideaki isn't such a robot after all. In fact, it's almost as if he's more caught off guard by the fact he even can be caught off guard, but he recovers quickly. Nevertheless, in that brief moment, he looks his age. That uncomfortable side of his seems like the more honest, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of it. Not so much, though, that I'd go out of my way to pry. Only Shizune would be that zealous. That my thoughts get so far is proof she is rubbing off on me.
HISAO: I'd think that you'd have a reason, that's all."
HIDEAKI: "There is one."
HISAO: "See? Anyway, we can talk while we're looking for her. That's why you're here, right?"
HIDEAKI: "Shizune is in the student council room. I was looking for you. We might take a trip soon, a family trip. Do you think she would want to come with us?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I don't know. She's kind of been on the warpath lately, with a lot of stuff. And once she's focused on something, she won't just drop it. ...I guess you would know that."
Hideaki looks much more at ease walking around than I did my first week.
HISAO: "So, this isn't your first time here?"
Just throwing it out there. Of course, completely ignoring the surrounding environment could just run in the family. It'd explain why Hideaki seems so distant from Shizune. I get the feeling there's more to it than just her deafness.
HIDEAKI: "No, but this is the first time I could walk around so much. It is kind of weird here. I bumped into a person who told me women are not allowed in the dorms. After I told him I am not a woman, he told me I was misleading, and then accused me of being an assassin. I was warned that he was not only invincible, but strong enough to probably destroy the building with a punch, or at least knock over the painting hanging in the hallway. By the way, that painting is actually screwed to the wall."
HISAO: "Yeah, that's the guy across the hall from me. He's okay."
HIDEAKI: I see. Oh, you left your door open. It was unlocked when I came here."
I'm a little annoyed that Hideaki knows that. The only way he could is if he had opened my door. But the feeling passes.
HISAO: It doesn't matter. I have nothing to hide, or steal."
HIDEAKI: "Your soccer ball is really nice."
HISAO: "That's one of the things that doesn't matter."
HIDEAKI: If you are a soccer player, a soccer ball is very important."
I guess it is. The thought makes me smile.
HIDEAKI: I'm here because my father bought a new phone, and he wanted to update Shizune, in case she needs to call him. I thought that you should know, too, since you're her boyfriend, aren't you?"
HISAO: "Yeah... ...Why?"
HIDEAKI: "Just in case there is something wrong, or she needs anything."
It isn't what I meant, but I'll go along.
HISAO: "Even if she did, she probably wouldn't call."
HIDEAKI: "That is how she is."
HISAO: "Well, if you know... Coming all the way here for that, though? He could have updated her via e-mail."
HIDEAKI: "He does not like using e-mails."
HISAO: "That's so old-fashioned. Don't tell me he still does business through regular mail, or something."
Silence. Now it's my turn to feel awkward. Is Hideaki taking it literally, or did I hit the mark? Nah. I'm sure that what it really comes down to is that he does want to see his daughter and stay in contact with her. In the end, they are still family, after all. Even though they play at being at each other's throats.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
The door to the student council room is open, and Hideaki and I walk in on Jigoro in mid-rant. He sees us, but decides that it's not something worth stopping rambling at Shizune over. This is really shaking my faith in my previous assumption.
JIGORO: "When I was in the Student Council, our room was smaller. Colder, too. Like working out of a meat locker. Not like you spoiled kids. What a waste. Sitting here in your giant room, doing nothing."
JIGORO: "Aren't there only three of you? That makes having so many desks only seem like an unnecessary display of mindless decadence. Appalling. You must use the desks you need, and not one more. It is part of my code."
It may be odd of me to think so, but... hearing only one half of a conversation is pretty strange. Also, that's some code. Now that I've arrived, he changes the subject, and starts talking about the reason he's here.
JIGORO: "Hideaki and I are going on a trip."
JIGORO: "What are you doing? Does everyone who uses sign language mumble while they do it?"
HISAO: "No, but I'm just an amateur. It helps me think. It's kind of like force of habit."
JIGORO: "Just an amateur... unbelievable... Fine."
He turns back to Shizune just in time to catch her shaking her head from side to side.
JIGORO: "Are you sure you won't be coming along?"
She reiterates the gesture.
JIGORO: "Fine. Can you tell her to call me if she needs anything?"
HISAO: "Yes. I really think sending an e-mail would have been easier, though."
JIGORO: 'm not going to read e-mails on my phone. If she won't speak, she can call Hideaki. I suppose if I have to be reached, you would have to call me, or that other girl would have to call me. ...Hmph. Actually, all three of you can just call Hideaki."
And with that, he swiftly turns and leaves, Hideaki trailing behind him. A long trip, for something that took five minutes. Neither of them can express their feelings very well. In Shizune's case, I have to question whether she would if she could. It explains a lot, but she doesn't seem unhappy with the arrangement. Even so, I wonder if she might be.
When the door closes behind them, leaving Shizune and I by ourselves, she lets out a deep breath that seems to echo in the silence of the room.
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days
SHIZUNE: [It's totally ridiculous asking me to go on a trip. The timing couldn't be worse, it overlaps the student council elections, for one. Second, I haven't even cheered up Misha. If you consider that, it's annoying to even have anything else to think about.]"
HISAO: [Yeah, but you might be too focused on all of that stuff right now.]"
Shizune adjusts her glasses roughly.
SHIZUNE: [Completely, one hundred percent right. The minute I decided I was going to cheer up Misha, everything else went on the back burner, I suppose.]"
HISAO: [I think your dad might care about you more than he lets on.]"
SHIZUNE: [I know.]"
HISAO: [So, then, it could be a good idea]"
And then again, more firmly, as if for both of us.
SHIZUNE: [No. After coming this far, I can't take a break. A vacation would be jarring. It would be like waking up in a different life. Yesterday was like my vacation. So now we have to go all-in. I'm sorry, but it's just how I am."
I remember what Yuuko said, that she found Shizune brave, in a kind of way. I think I understand what she meant, and I have to agree. Even though it could also be called recklessness, and foolishness, and pointless stubbornness, I guess you could call it bravery too. However, I can see that there is a fundamental flaw in Shizune's thinking that I hadn't noticed until now. I'm sure that Shizune has reflected longer, and more arduously than I could, about where she messed up to create such a bad situation between her and Misha. However, as typical for her, she wouldn't let it hold her back and immediately set out to fix the problem.
This completely ignores a large part of the problem: Misha herself. Moving from critical introspection to holding Misha up as part of a goal causes the person to get lost in the shuffle. Shizune has said a lot in the past few days, but nothing about how Misha feels.
Shizune's way of thinking is abnormal. Few normal people would reject a friend, and then expect things to go back to the way they were so easily. Shizune does, because she sees life as, if I had to put it simply, capable of being segmented and compartmentalized. Misha, like anyone else, sees it as a whole experience. A long, continuous journey, where one moment of heartache can follow you forever. For Shizune, an event is an event, and few of them cross over. Life is compartmentalized around triumphs, failures, and decisions, where each one stands as its own story. It's why the thought of a vacation is jarring to her. It's why she can only appreciate people's immediate emotions. It's exactly how someone obsessed with living in the moment would think, really.
Likewise, Shizune can see Misha as a friend, but I doubt that she has ever thought of Misha as anything more until recently. Or questioned anything about her. Misha is Misha would be enough for her, even if to Misha it must be unbelievably stifling. Shizune is just Shizune to herself. It's likely she doesn't even think about the aftereffects of her actions in the long term, as long as they stir up other people's lives. To Misha, though, I'm sure it made her seem almost heroic. Like Yuuko admiring her bravery, and even myself. And Shizune's thoughts on that sentiment are that it was good she could touch someone's life.
But it ends there. It's easy to captivate; much harder to nurture. On to the next thing. Thinking of life in terms of almost completely isolated events has a tendency to isolate a person, too. Though she's trying to remedy it now, the point remains: There is simply no way Shizune could have avoided hurting Misha. Her emotional investment in Shizune was something Shizune couldn't account for, so she didn't. Combined with her personality, it was inevitable. Both of them have pretty much told me all of that in bits and pieces over the past couple months I've known them.
In the middle of considering their differences, an idea begins to take shape in my mind.
HISAO: [Are you working on your plan right now? This second? Your cheer-up-Misha plan.]"
SHIZUNE: [Of course. I was thinking about it the whole time I was being yelled at.]"
Flicking her glasses up the bridge of her nose with an oddly triumphant air, she taps her finger against her temple.
SHIZUNE: [It's multitasking!]"
Really? Isn't it more like you're able to concentrate on something like that because you can't hear? Well, whatever. When I ask her what she thinks of mine, it turns out we've both arrived at a similar idea.
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride
Although it makes me feel kind of uneasy, since we're talking about a human being, the first step is to corner Misha.
Oh, NOW you care.
Though the situation is a little too much like something out of a cop drama for me, it's come to this because talking to her normally is proving to be near impossible. But we do have classes together. Even the very first class of the day.
Although it takes a while for the announcement to come, the second that I hear we're going to be working in groups today, Shizune and I try to make sure Misha is in ours.
HISAO: "You know, I think Mutou assigns a suspiciously large amount of group work and self-study, don't you think so?"
MISHA: "Hm~, but it's easy, so it's ok, right~?"
HISAO: "Yeah? There's other stuff that I've been thinking about lately, that might not be okay, though."
Misha nods after each sentence, then brushes it all aside.
MISHA: thought about it, and~... I don't do enough work when I work with you and Shicchan! So, I'm going to try harder today. So~!, don't distract me, Hicchan~. I have to stay focused~."
That was an annoyingly transparent dodge. Shizune doesn't look too happy either, since Misha didn't bother to sign any of it, opting to twirl a pen in her hands instead. From the shaky way she was doing it, I'm sure it was so she wouldn't sign anything inadvertently. From the way Misha looks, distracted and uneasy, I doubt it's because she wants to keep Shizune out of the loop for any malicious reason. Although, it's still obviously a way of distancing Shizune from herself.
HISAO: "Shizune wants to talk to you."
MISHA: "... Can't it wait until later, Hicchan?"
HISAO: "Why not now?"
MISHA: "We're in the middle of class~..."
Now she's spinning a pen in each hand. I'm beginning to think her signing has turned into a kind of nervous tic for her. This isn't a good replacement, although the sight of her dual wielding is pretty impressive.
HISAO: "After class, then."
After class, I don't waste a second bringing it back up. As everyone else files out of the classroom, leaving the three of us alone, Misha takes increasingly longer glances in every direction except forward.
HISAO: "Do you want to get something to eat?"
MISHA: "Why do you and Shicchan keep asking me if I want to eat something~? ~Hicchan?"
HISAO: "Because we're all headed to the cafeteria, and we haven't eaten together in a long time. So, why not?"
MISHA: Is this about the Student Council?"
Taking Shizune's lack of a reply as admission, Misha sighs.
MISHA: "Shicchan, is that all you ever think about?"
Before Shizune can reply, she leaves. I have to say, I'm not left feeling very confident after what's just happened. Neither of us were expecting it to go smoothly, but it would have been nice. Reading my mind, Shizune curls a finger around her glasses for awhile before signing.
SHIZUNE: [I know what you're thinking, but no, it's not that I think we should give her some space now. I told you I wouldn't give up so easily.]"
HISAO: [Yeah, well, now I'm starting to wonder if it's not too soon.]"
SHIZUNE: [Cold feet? Well, I'm not going to. That would be giving up on her. There's a fine line between helping someone and smothering them. But I just want Misha to pull herself together and stop acting so weird. I know she can do it. Even if she wants to try, people don't change overnight. If they could, the world would be a much easier place.]"
HISAO: [Okay, you win. Then I guess this is the part where we split up and look for her.]"
Though I'm the only one who is really supposed to find her.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Afternoon
SHIZUNE: [If I run into her first, I'll call your cell phone."
Smiling, Shizune takes out her cell phone, turning it on to prepare. I notice that she has an extremely high number of unread messages, and looking at her expression, so does she. Twirling it around by the strap a couple of times, she grimaces.
SHIZUNE: [I don't like using this thing. Why can't I just snap my fingers?]"
HISAO: [And then what? I'm not a dog. And it doesn't travel as far as a phone signal. You're having a lot of fun with this, aren't you?]"
Shaking her head from side to side, she continues.
SHIZUNE: [It's obvious where she will go. You can't look for her on the school grounds, she would want to go as far away as she can. Check the tea shop? It's usually empty this early; Misha loves to go there if she feels like skipping class, and she loves the parfaits they have there."
You really know a lot about her. But she would overthink it, and turn it into something that would seem a lot more backhanded than it actually is, so I choose to just nod and leave instead, until I feel her holding on to my sleeve.
I say instinctively, forgetting that she can't hear me.
SHIZUNE: [It feels nice that I don't have to do it all by myself any more, because I can trust you. I'm really happy.]"
It makes me happy to hear it. I can't think of a way to respond, and end up only nodding again.
Heading outside, I catch a glimpse of pink hair behind some other girl's head, and as I head that way, I realize that this isn't the way you go if you want to leave school. It's the way to the student council room. If I wanted to avoid Shizune, I wouldn't head there. It's strange that Misha would be going in that direction, then. Maybe she wants to talk things over with Shizune. In which case, I have to wonder if letting things play out naturally would be such a bad idea after all, especially if it seems to be going in a good direction. Suddenly, Misha stops and spins around, catching me by surprise.
MISHA: "Surprise~, Hicchan~! Were you looking for me? I had a feeling~!"
I was going to say Hey, I was just looking for you, but I suppose that's no good now. She isn't even finished with her sentence before she blows past me, heading for the exit. I have to admit that Misha is infuriatingly sharper than I'd expected. Also, surprisingly fast. Although it's more physical activity than I think I should be getting, I manage to catch up with her halfway to the gate.
HISAO: "You're really being the rudest woman in the world right now. Can you just stop trying to run away for one second? I want to talk to you."
Misha turns on her heel, looking mildly amused, and raises her hands as if to tell me to go on. Now that I've got her attention, though, it's hard to think of the right thing to say.
HISAO: "Where are you going now?"
MISHA: "The Shanghai~."
HISAO: "Can I go with you, then?"
Waiting for her to answer feels like an eternity. It's almost as if I can hear my wristwatch ticking off the individual seconds.
MISHA: "Okay, then, Hicchan."
I get the sense that she only agreed because she doesn't want to argue any more today.
When we get there, a couple comes in after us, causing Misha to jump slightly at the noise. Seeing that it isn't Shizune, she relaxes again, smiling almost as usual to order a parfait from Yuuko, and sliding into the nearest booth.
HISAO: "You ran off too fast. You could have at least waited to see what she was going to say."
Misha's angry reaction tells me it could be that she was afraid of what Shizune might say.
MISHA: "Why are you both doing this, Hicchan?"
HISAO: "Because Shizune still wants to be your friend. I guess that for her it's kinda like launching a nuclear missile from a submarine, you need two keys to do it."
HISAO: "What else can she do, though?"
She isn't automatically signing whatever she hears or says any more, and I'm sure that is the reason Shizune's been having so much trouble with her.
HISAO: If she tried to just talk it over, you wouldn't listen."
Misha's guilty expression tells me I've hit the mark.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Nocturne
HISAO: "Do you really hate Shizune that much?"
MISHA: "No, Hicchan. I told you that."
She answers without even flinching, idly playing with a spoon.
HISAO: "Yeah, I know. I'm sure she knows it too, but I wonder if it might be easier if you did. The only thing she's really thought about for the last week is how to make you happy. Since Shizune is still attached to you. Yesterday, though, she thought that maybe it would be easiest for you if you just hated her. Since you didn't tell her you hate her, Shizune thinks that you can both still be friends. She's like that, only thinking in extremes."
Her parfait is starting to melt, the ingredients coming together in tiny rivers that remind me of the growing roots of a tree being shown through time-lapse photography.
MISHA: "That's stupid. Shicchan isn't that stupid, Hicchan. Don't be ridiculous~."
HISAO: It's got nothing to do with intelligence. Smart people can do stupid things. And anyway, isn't it true? I was terrified last week when we talked, but at the end, I was relieved because it sounded like things might go back to normal. I wasn't expecting you two to have a fight right after."
MISHA: It wasn't a fight, Hicchan. It was just me yelling at her."
I've noticed that Misha's voice never really changes in tone, just volume. It's so low with guilt that I can hardly believe it came from her.
HISAO: "Either way, I was happy, because I thought you and her could still be friends. Since she needs you."
MISHA: "Hm~. No she doesn't, Hicchan."
HISAO: "So? How do you know that? There's a lot of things Shizune doesn't..."
Vocalize? Say? Talk about? I'm afraid if I say the wrong thing, it'll ruin the mood. I get to finally have a conversation with her and don't want to screw it up. I wonder if this is the first time she's had an honest conversation with me.
HISAO: "Just because she didn't tell you doesn't mean she doesn't like you."
MISHA: "That doesn't make sense..."
HISAO: "Yes, it does. Otherwise, she would argue back."
HISAO: "You don't think so? She picks fights with everyone, so why not you? Obviously, because you're her friend, and she values you. And Shizune is hurt, too. She's just awful at showing her feelings. Usually does it the wrong way, too. But she still likes you."
MISHA: "Hicchan, do you remember when I said I didn't want to hate Shicchan, or upset her? The truth is~, I ended up doing both. Now it's like there's, like, an awkwardness between us. It's hard to explain."
HISAO: "Both of you are so stubborn. You were talking about how you didn't want to drift apart from Shizune, but then you're going to let it happen. And Shizune is just as bad. She wants to be your friend, but respects you too much to be as aggressive as she'd be with anyone else."
And I'm sure that Misha interprets Shizune giving her space as a lack of caring.
MISHA: I screwed up already, Hicchan. It'll happen again~, I'm sure. When I think about it that way, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. It feels like either way, I'll end up making things worse. Then, it might be better if I didn't do anything at all, right~?"
HISAO: "Don't be ridiculous. Why would you even think that way in the first place? Be more positive."
t should be easy for you, I want to say, but that would be presumptuous.
MISHA: "Hicchan~, I never knew you were so optimistic. I never expected it."
MISHA: "You always act so gloomy when I try and surprise you."
HISAO: "No, this is a recent thing. Really. I just hate it when people give up easily now."
MISHA: "Haha~. Now, huh~...?"
HISAO: It makes me mad when people give up. I used to think that giving up was kind of like running away, since that's how people always describe it, but now that I think about it, it's usually more like throwing something away. When you run away from something, you can think of it as still being there. So, I was in the hospital, and I didn't just want to run away from my problems, I wanted to never think about them again."
Misha eats a spoonful of her gray ice cream goo. Did she only just remember it was there now, or could it be she likes it that way?
HISAO: "Anyway, my point is, you can't do that. People are too sentimental to just throw their memories out like that. It's impossible. Shizune can't think of life in terms of anything but winning and losing; don't you think she wishes she didn't have to remember the parts where she loses? You can't pick and choose, though. That's like wanting to live in a bubble. The worst part is, your way of thinking is so wasteful. It's making you so pessimistic you're afraid of everything. Come on."
I grab her hand as I wave Yuuko over with the other to pay for our food.
MISHA: "Where are we going now?"
HISAO: "Back to school before lunch is over, but I want to check out a few places before then."