NARRATOR: "Ah, get a grip! This is a big step, I know that... But there isn't any point to worrying so much about it, at least not this soon."

Hisao class

NARRATOR: "I follow the teacher into the classroom and look around, partially so I won't have to meet the curious gazes of my new classmates. It's pretty spacious; the ceiling is unusually high and there's lots of space left over around and in between the desks. An entire wall taken up by blackboards and the high, old fashioned windows only make it seem larger. The students' desks are just standard wooden desks with a shelf underneath for books and wooden chairs with metal frames. Simple and efficient. I stop walking in front of the classroom and face the other students. They all look normal, like students in any other school. But then, why would they be here? They're probably like me and have something wrong with them, only it's just not immediately obvious. Then, I notice one of the girls seems to be missing the thumb of her right hand."

NARRATOR: "It's a little jarring. Despite the natural tendency to listen when someone's talking about you, I tune out the teacher's speech halfway through while he introduces me to the class. I notice a flash of dark hair and see that someone is looking at me. A girl with really long, straight hair that is pretty eye-catching. As she sees me looking back at her, she covers her face with her hands as if it will make her invisible. There is one boy with a cane leaning against the lockers at the rear of the class. It's weird seeing someone so young with a cane. Another girl seems to be making some weird hand motions. Sign language? She peers at me over the rims of her glasses, then goes back to whatever she's doing. She's kind of cute. So is the cheery-looking girl with pink hair sitting next to her. She's really hard to miss; I don't know how I didn't notice her the moment I walked in..."

MUTOU: "...please welcome our newest classmate."

NARRATOR: "He claps his hands and so does everyone else, except one girl in the first row who has only one hand. I cringe a little, but hide it by bowing in thanks for this applause I did not deserve."

NARRATOR: "A collective silence tells me that I should open my mouth now."

HISAO: "So... I'm Hisao Nakai."

NARRATOR: "And after that?"

HISAO: "My hobbies are reading and soccer. I hope to get along well with everyone even though I'm a new student."

NARRATOR: "And after that? I'm being so boring. This is exactly like every self-introduction ever. I should say something more. Something more exciting. I end up saying nothing, and the teacher picks up from there. Everyone seems to be satisfied even with what little I said, though. A few girls are whispering to each other, throwing glances at me. It could've gone worse. ..."

NARRATOR: "After the applause, there is a brief silence that nobody seems to want to be responsible for breaking. The teacher soon realizes that he should probably say something. He opens up with some unintelligible noise, shuts up as he loses his momentum, and then starts introducing me. Nobody seems to be too interested. Maybe I should've said yes to the self-introduction thing. Probably realizing he doesn't know anything about me, he just ends up saying my name wrong again, and asks me to write it on the blackboard. I do that, and turn back to face the class, feeling awkward.

NARRATOR: "I listen to the teacher as he drones about getting along while letting my gaze sweep across the classroom. Everyone seems to be listening to him intently and when he's done, they clap their hands again which feels like a weird thing to do. The first row girl claps on this round, with her one hand against her other wrist that ends in a bandaged stump. It makes me feel a little bad."

MUTOU: "We're going to be doing some group work today, so that'll give you a chance to talk with everyone. Is that okay with you?"

HISAO: "Yeah, it's fine with me."

MUTOU: "That's good, you can work with Hakamichi. She is the class representative. She can explain anything you might want to know. And who else would be able to do that better, right?"

NARRATOR: "How could I know? The teacher passes out the day's assignments and announces that we will be working in groups of three. It hits me that I don't know who Hakamichi is. Slow. The teacher seems to catch my helpless expression."

MUTOU: "Oh, right. Hakamichi is right there, Shizune Hakamichi."

NARRATOR: "As he calls out her name, the cute, bubbly looking girl with bright pink hair and gold eyes waves her hand at me. I take a seat next to her, by the window."

HISAO: "Hey, I guess you're Hakamichi, right? It's nice to meet you."

MISHA: "Hahaha~!"

NARRATOR: "What? I'm caught off guard by her laughter."

MISHA: "It's nice to meet you, too! But~! I'm not Hakamichi, I'm Misha! This is Hakamichi. Shicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "Giggling, Misha points to the girl next to her, the one I saw using sign language before. It looks like she has been staring at me this whole time. She nods once nonchalantly to show that she acknowledges my presence... but only barely. She has short, yet carefully, neatly brushed hair, a pair of oval-shaped glasses balanced on the tip of a dainty nose, and dark blue eyes that seem to alternate every few seconds between analytical and slightly bored."

HISAO: "It's nice to meet you."

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "She immediately looks at Misha, who smiles and makes a few quick gestures with her hands. Hakamichi nods and makes a few gestures of her own. I start to wonder if the teacher was messing with me, saying things like "you'll be able to talk to people" and "who better to explain things to you.""

MISHA: "I can see you're a little confused, right?, right? But, I understand why you would think I was Shicchan! Shicchan is deaf, so I'm the person who translates things back and forth for her. I'm like an interpreter~! She says it's nice to meet you, too!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "You're the new student, aren't you? Well, Shicchan, of course he is! If he wasn't, he would have been standing up there for no reason, right? Right~!"

MISHA: "He seems like a very interesting person, doesn't he~!"

NARRATOR: "Misha looks at me with a weird expression, then continues."

MISHA: "We don't know much about him, but maybe we'll find out later."

NARRATOR: "Maybe I should've introduced myself after all. Anything would've given a better first impression than the teacher's drone and fumbling with my name."

MISHA: "We knew there was going to be a new student, but we didn't know you would be here today. So soon! Hicchan, right?"

NARRATOR: "Hicchan...?"

MISHA: "Yup~! It fits, doesn't it?"

NARRATOR: "Did I say it out loud? It's just a surprise. I've never liked that nickname."

HISAO: "I don't really see how."

MISHA: "It fits~! You look just like I imagined!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Hahahaha~! Yeah, you look just like a Hicchan!"

HISAO: "I wonder why everyone seems to think so..."

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "Hakamichi taps her fingers on the desk to get Misha's attention. They gesture back and forth to each other excitedly, their hands a blur. Misha seems a little overwhelmed."

MISHA: "Ahaha~! Er, sorry about that! Shicchan wants you to know that she's the class rep, so if there is anything you need to know, you can feel free to ask her."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Do you like the school so far? We can show you around a little if you haven't had the time to walk around and... familiarize? yourself with it!"

NARRATOR: "Misha stumbles with the hard word a bit, making it stick out in her otherwise fluid translation."

HISAO: "Thanks, that would be pretty helpful. Yeah, I just kind of came straight to class today."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Hahaha~! That's no good! You should always try to learn as much as you can about where you're going before you go there. Not just with school, either~! Always! Even if it's a trip to the convenience store! Really, Shicchan? Hahaha~!"

NARRATOR: "Learn about where you're going? I guess I didn't bother to do that, or just didn't care enough to do so. I didn't look forward to this, even if I committed myself to go along with it half-assedly, but anyway. I don't say anything, and Misha signs something that ends in a shrug. What was that? It seems like it was about me. I feel like slumping over in my seat. Both of them are smiling, but that shrug hit me unexpectedly deeply."

MISHA: "You look down, are you okay?"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Don't take it the wrong way, please~! I hate it when people are afraid to ask questions! That's how people learn things, by asking~! Asking for help is perfectly normal, as much as needing help! Stop looking like you just failed a test! Wahahaha~!"

HISAO: "All right."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Ah, and another thing, you don't have to call Shicchan something so formal like 'Hakamichi' or 'class rep' all the time! Just call her Shicchan~!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Ahaha~! Okay, maybe that's too casual. Maybe 'Shizune' would be more appropriate?"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Yup, yup~! 'Shizune' is fine!"

HISAO: "Heh. Okay, that would be a lot easier for me."

NARRATOR: "I feel a lot more at ease. Both of them seem so friendly, so I feel like an idiot for being so apprehensive earlier. Especially about Shizune, who I assumed wold be all business. Well, she still seems like that. Just less so, I guess."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Huh? Oh, right, we haven't even touched the assignment! We should start work now, or Shicchan will get mad."

HISAO: "The assignment is also kind of long, so we should start now if we want to finish it before the end of class."

MISHA: "Wahaha~! That too!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "Shizune glares at the two of us impatiently. I don't need to know sign language to understand that."

HISAO: "Okay, okay, I get the message."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "After class, we can take a walk around the grounds together. It's a nice day today! Okay~?"

NARRATOR: "The assignment is actually very challenging to get through, combining aspects of being both difficult and unnecessarily long. Still, we finish it a few minutes earlier than anyone else in the class, despite our late start. Shizune and Misha are really capable. They're quite different, though. The class rep is as calm and professional as she looks, while Misha is a lot more playful and girlish. Not to mention a little more easily distracted. To be honest, the two of them did most of the work. I feel guilty about that. The clock tower bells ring, signaling the end of the period. Time for lunch. Without knowing what else to do, I follow Misha, who is beckoning me into the hallway and down the stairs."

Next Scene: In the Nursery