Author's notes: I am well aware that several attempts have been made to create a route for Misha, but (while I haven't read much of the existing ones yet) I don't think this particular concept has been tried before.
This story picks up exactly where the Bad End left off, on the same day even, so reading it after (re-)playing the route is encouraged (although not necessary of course, but all the gloom and doom at the beginning might feel slightly jarring otherwise). In keeping with the tradition of the Shizune route, the fic features a single choice that determines the ultimate fate of Hisao and the others.
A few words regarding continuity: I've been working with the assumption that the events of the "Parfait" chapter went the same way and had exactly the same results as in the good ending. While this may sound surprising, it is actually supported by numerous events later on; for instance, it is said that Misha visited Shizune in the student council room on her own volition the day before Shizune and Hisao parted ways, wanting to help her (without success, as Shizune declined her offer the same way she declined Hisao's). The tricky part of the bad ending is that, unlike the good ending, it does not skip several days after "Parfait", which is why it starts with Misha still feeling pretty down. (This is stated in the good ending as well, but followed immediately by the observation that she started looking more like her old self with each passing day after that.)
This fanfic has a soundtrack! From time to time, you'll come across paragraphs with the text "Music track: TRACK NAME" in the story. If you have the game at hand, you can use the "Extras" menu option to access the game's soundtrack, allowing you to listen to the BGM while reading for a more authentic Katawa Shoujo experience.
Have fun reading, and remember: Hisao is an unreliable narrator. What he tells us about those around him often say more about himself than about anyone else.
"Can you be yourself?"
Music track: Daylight
Shizune kept to her word.
No, I suppose that's not the right way to put it. When it comes to her, it's more like she makes a decision, and then browbeats the world into submission. No matter how hard the world may try to resist.
With this decision, I think the world put up quite a fight. After all, it's hard to ignore people you not only go to the same class with, but they sit right next to you too. Not to mention that they do not take well to being ignored.
Well, Misha didn't want to be ignored.
I knew better than that, I guess. The morning's events were still fresh in my mind; I could clearly see Shizune sitting dejectedly on the stairs, her arms hugging her legs as I walk away from her. There was no helping it; I only did what she insisted on, after all.
There was no point to arguing with her, not back then, and not in the classroom either, so I watched with a strange sense of detachment as Misha tried repeatedly to get her attention without any success whatsoever. Her signs became increasingly exaggerated, to the point that eventually half of the class was staring at her. Then a loud, irritated cough coming from Mutou's direction forced her to stop.
Shizune simply kept her eyes on the board the whole time. It was like she didn't notice, or as if she forgot about sign language altogether. I idly wondered which one of these ridiculous impressions was she trying to make; either way, she was shockingly good at it.
I also couldn't help but wonder if she was really prepared to do this for the remainder of the school year… but I guess the answer to that is fairly obvious.
She left the classroom immediately at the start of lunch break, and did not come back. This was nothing unusual; because of the amount of work involved, members of the Student Council have a lot more leeway with skipping classes – that much quickly became apparent to me during the year I've been part of it. To an outsider, the only thing that might've seemed amiss was that she went alone instead of at least dragging Misha with her.
Speaking of whom, she spent most of the afternoon classes in something of a daze. I wanted to talk to her, but had no idea of what I could say. No, scratch that. There was only a single subject that would've made sense to talk about, and that wasn't the time or the place for it.
Maybe I was avoiding that specific conversation, even. I can't give a much better explanation to why I left her sitting at her desk at the final bell, and started trudging randomly around the school building. A random walk that, of course, just had to end in front of the student council room.
I could hear the sound of shuffling paper from the inside.
I put my hand on the door. It was locked.
After staring at it for a while, I eventually made my way back to my room in the dorms.
And, well… here I am. Sitting in front of my desk, with plenty of homework and studying to do, and I'm replaying today's events over and over in my head instead. It's aggravating. I don't even know what I'm trying to find, or what I'm trying to learn from it.
I glance at the window, and notice that the sunlight sifting through the curtains already has an orange tint to it. I nervously check my watch. Damn, is it this late already…?
I shake my head, as if trying to break free of some malign hypnosis, and focus my eyes on the textbook before me. I'm reading with the speed of a dying snail, but at least it seems to work.
Minutes pass, maybe even hours. I don't want to check my watch again, out of fear that even such a small distraction would ruin my concentration.
And I'm supposed to like physics, too…
Despite all these extensive precautions, my focus is shattered to bits by a loud knock on my door before I could reach the end of the chapter. I angrily slam the book shut, estimating its weight in my hands as I pick it up. If my suspicion is right and Kenji is the one responsible, this nice, heavy textbook is going to slam right into his face.
"It isn't locked," I call out, twisting my body sideways in the chair to ready myself for a throw.
The door creaks. The book falls back from my hands to the desk.
Music track: Painful History
Misha is already showing her back to me as she says this, turning around to close the door, then makes her way through the room and sits down on my bed.
She looks inexplicably tired, almost completely drained of energy, with her shoulders drooping and her gaze on the floor. The only time I saw her so depressed was a little over a week ago on the rooftop, and that… well, involved discussing a certain topic that I hope she'd never want to bring up again. I shudder at the mere thought. The state of relative apathy I managed to keep up so well throughout the day slowly crumbles, replaced by… I'm not sure what. Is this fear?
Right. Apathy my ass. I've been dreading this discussion all day long.
The silence stretching between us would be uncomfortable in itself, but seeing her of all people so unwilling to speak is even more unsettling.
"What's the matter?" I manage to say. I feel a bit guilty because of it, since I'm obviously playing dumb.
She raises her head, golden eyes searching my own. "I don't know, Hicchan. Shicchan has been avoiding us all day, or more like… she's pretending we're not even there."
Well, at least she has the courage to cut right to the chase, the courage I still seem to lack.
"Yeah, I… noticed."
Another meaningless sentence. I really ought to get a grip already.
"You two talked to each other this morning, right? You were both late for class, did something happen? What's wrong?"
She's basically pleading now.
I really don't want to tell her about this. Why didn't Shizune talk to her, anyway? It's just too cruel. I only know them since a couple of months, but they've been together for much longer than that…
Maybe that's the reason. Maybe it would have simply been too painful. Maybe Misha wouldn't have given up as easily as I did; like Shizune, she can be really stubborn if she wants to.
And so the dirty work falls to me. Fine.
I draw a deep breath and recount the morning's events to her the best I can. I try to stick to the bare facts: what Shizune said, how I responded and so on. Not meeting her gaze probably helps to keep my voice even and neutral, even if I feel stupid for doing so.
When I finish my explanation and glance at Misha again, her expression is not what I've been expecting. Her mouth is twisted into a small, uncertain pout as her eyes regard me with incredulity. It's like I'm Mutou on one of his really bad days, trying to teach her a thing or two about Einstein's theory of relativity. In any other situation, I'd probably find it funny, or even endearing.
"I… I don't get it." She slowly shakes her head. "This isn't like Shicchan at all. Just a few a days ago, she… all the time, she was trying so hard to cheer me up… Remember when you two didn't let me leave the classroom, Hicchan~?" That sudden cheerful smile on her face feels awfully fake and strangely typical at the same time. "It was almost like in some action movie. We have you now, Misha~! There's no escape~! We'll wipe the gloom off your face right~ this~ instant~!…"
The smile disappears as quickly as it came, and we sit in silence for a while again as I try to consider what she said. Misha does have a point. The change in Shizune's behavior really was sudden and unexpected. I wonder why I realize this only now.
What was it, four days ago? Her family dropped by for an odd visit, and after they left we spent the time trying to come up with a good way to get Misha to give their friendship another chance. She seemed to be as energetic and driven as ever, not just then, but the morning after as well, when we've put that plan in motion.
We haven't seen each other for two days after that. I'm not sure why; the jury was still out on whether our plan worked or not, which may have been part of the reason. Still, while that could explain my own hesitation, giving in to anxiety like that would've been unlike her. Unless…
"Maybe… she was taking this a lot harder than she let on. In the end… it got the better of her," I offer.
It would make sense. The preparations for the student council elections showed us a typical example already, with Shizune pretending to feel fine, even though something was obviously bothering her. Both me and Misha saw hints, but she'd deny it if asked. With her best friend keeping her distance, and me downplaying my own problems in a misguided attempt to make her feel better, but only ending up pushing her away as well out of guilt… how desperate she could have felt? I have no idea.
"This really is my fault, isn't it, Hicchan?" Misha's sullen voice reaches my ears.
Oh, damn it. That's the last thing I wanted her to think. I regret opening my mouth already.
"I made Shicchan sad and upset. I did awful things behind her back. And even when you told me I shouldn't let our friendship go to waste… I believed you, but I still couldn't bounce back to normal just like that. That was too much, even for me… hahaha." She closes her eyes, as if lacking the strength to keep them open any longer. "Now I missed my chance. I really, really blew it, Hicchan."
I bolt from my seat. The sudden movement visibly startles her, but she doesn't open her eyes even when I plop down next to her on the side of the bed.
"Look, if someone is to blame here, it's me." I need to calm down. Sounding so upset won't help. "Maybe you didn't notice, but things have also been awkward between Shizune and me for a while. If she knew she could count on me, I'm sure this would have worked out. But I chose to keep my own secrets from her, and I think with that I hurt her more than I could have any other way."
Not to mention Shizune isn't all that innocent either. We thought up the perfect "cheer-up-Misha" plan, working together as equals for the first time since… likely forever, and she quit before she could see what came out of it. Of course Misha did not revert to her usual self immediately. It would've been foolish to expect that. But she did come around, little by little. Our plan worked, but by that time Shizune didn't care. She gave up. Doing something like that is so uncharacteristic of her that I get frustrated just thinking about it.
I'm not going to share this train of thought with Misha of course. I'm not that stupid.
She gives me no response; looks like what I did say apparently wasn't enough to change her mind. I'm not surprised. Like I said, both of them can be stubborn to a fault.
What to do then? Should I just say "all right" and walk off, hiding my frustration behind anger? Just like earlier today?
No way. I already regret doing that. This time, I'm not going to give up so easily. I can be stubborn too, if I want… I hope so, at least.
I reach out and put a hand on her shoulder. I can feel her flinch at my touch - not really the effect I was going for, but this is not the time for me to get cold feet. Leaning closer, I whisper into her ear.
"Listen Misha, I don't think-"
I'm suddenly thrown off balance as she jumps to her feet, almost in panic. No, one look at her features tells me it's not "almost". She's backing away now, positively frightened. But what did I do to make her-?
Right. Of course. This whole situation, the two of us sitting in my room, she being depressed… it's all too familiar, and not in a good way. What we did here over a week ago was probably one of the things that started this whole mess. No wonder she's scared to repeat the same mistake again - not that I intended to do anything of the sort, either.
I want to call out to her. I want to tell her that it's just a misunderstanding. That I only wanted to… what exactly? Comfort her…? Between the two of us, that word has acquired a twisted double entendre of sorts which freezes my thoughts in place for a moment. And then it's already too late.
As I hear the door close behind her, I grab my pillow and throw it across the room.
Never mind what I said. I am that stupid, or maybe even worse.