|No Free Lunch|
|Previous Scene||Home Field Advantage or Slow Recovery|
NARRATOR: "Once inside the office, I look around and see that it's deserted."
HISAO: "I guess this means there isn't a lot of work left, huh? Since there's no one here, and all."
MISHA: "It's always like this, Hicchan~!"
NARRATOR: "This confirms what I have thought before but have never actually been able to confirm definitively: Shizune and Misha are the Student Council. The whole Student Council."
HISAO: "Damn. So it's true. The Student Council is really only you two."
NARRATOR: "Shizune looks as if she's stuck wondering whether to be ashamed or explode with anger, and Misha is equally divided between laughing and trying to stop her."
MISHA: "Well, then, Hicchan, you'll be happy to know that since it's just us three, we have a lot to do! A lot~! A lot~ lot~ lot~..."
HISAO: "That does not make me happy."
NARRATOR: "But it seems to make Shizune very happy."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! Just kidding!"
NARRATOR: "The work turns out to be sorting and double-checking the considerable amount of paperwork necessary for an event such as the school festival to get done. Bureaucracy is a mindboggling thing. But we manage to finish it just when the lunch bells ring."MISHA: "Okay~, now that we are done, we can relax a little! But not too much, we have lots more to do in the afternoon~!"
MISHA: "It's actually not that much work, Hicchan~. So~, we can afford to enjoy a little lunch first. Hahaha~!"
NARRATOR: "The two of them produce a small array of plastic containers seemingly out of thin air."
MISHA: "Hm~ hm~... It's chicken cutlet with tomatoes and soybean sprouts~! Doesn't it sound delicious, Hicchan? It was just made this morning, and it's still warm, so eat eat eat~!"
NARRATOR: "I take one of the containers and open it. It looks nice, and certainly smells good. The fact that I'm really hungry adds to that even more."
HISAO: "Wow, this looks great. Where did you get this?"
MISHA: "That isn't important, Hicchan! There was supposed to be a stall selling lunchboxes, but the girl who was to run it suddenly said she couldn't do it. Shicchan said, “What a waste, it was a lot of work to trick Hicchan into making this~”—"
HISAO: "Hey, what the hell..."
MISHA: "...So~! Shicchan wanted to see if she could do it, but then decided not to, right, Shicchan~?"
NARRATOR: "Shizune sulks angrily, shooting Misha a displeased look. I don't think I was supposed to hear that story."
HISAO: "This is your test food?"
MISHA: "I'm eating it too, Hicchan~! And Shicchan is, too~!"
NARRATOR: "That doesn't answer the question! Nevertheless, I split a pair of chopsticks Shizune offers me, pick up a piece of cutlet, and pop it into my mouth."
HISAO: "It's surprisingly good. I didn't expect Shizune to be such a good cook."
NARRATOR: "Shizune puts her chopsticks down to sign curtly towards Misha, who gulps down her cutlet with noticeable difficulty in order to speak for her."
MISHA: "Hicchan~! Don't talk with food in your mouth~!"
HISAO: "It's not like I enjoy doing it. Anyway, how motherly to show that kind of concern..."
MISHA: "You can't even eat right, Hicchan~! That's all it is~!"
NARRATOR: "It's a stalemate. I can't eat in order to talk to Shizune, who can't eat in order to chastise me for eating the wrong way. Misha, caught in between, is in the same situation, and looks the most disheartened by how this is going. Either way, our food is getting colder by the second, and it wasn't piping hot to start with. Wherever this was going, it dies down pretty fast once we all realize that, and we eat. After a while the bell rings, but Misha makes no attempt to tell Shizune, so I'm sure they're planning to skip classes and spend the rest of the day in here again."
MISHA: "Hicchan, do you have any plans for the festival?"
HISAO: "No, not really. After all, I've only been here a week, what could I set up in that time?"
MISHA: "Wahaha~! Hicchan, you helped us out so much, don't sell yourself short!"
MISHA: "We're serious~!"
NARRATOR: "The two of them seem to get indignant over the strangest things."
MISHA: "You're going though, right, Hicchan? You should at least see what we've ac—complished...? Everyone should be able to look at what they have done so they can fully understand their work, that's my belief~! You're no exception! Hicchan, you should definitely go~! If you don't have anything planned, then maybe we can even go together~!"
HISAO: "Do you need a hand? If there's anything you need help with, I'm fine with sticking around."
NARRATOR: "I feel much more at ease than I did earlier; my previous concerns and fears long gone. I'd forgotten about this morning's trouble entirely until now, having fun with Shizune like this. Having fun with Shizune... It seems like an unfamiliar concept to think of, but, looking back on it, I've really enjoyed the moments I've spent with Shizune and Misha these past few days, in spite of everything else. If we might be going together, then maybe I can afford to stick around a little longer. And I guess it beats class."
MISHA: "Really, Hicchan? Okay~! We can consider this you repaying us for the free lunch~! Great, this is great, really~ really~ great~! Shicchan was hoping to bring this up again later anyway! Ahahaha~! Wahahahahaha~!"
NARRATOR: "That's not a free lunch at all. Normally I would be angry, or at least slightly unsettled, but my mood has improved from earlier on, so I'll let it slide. Helping them out turns out to consist mostly of stamping forms and making what seems like ten thousand copies apiece of fifty different budget reports. It's not hard, but very boring, and according to Misha, the simplest of the tasks they deal with. I feel myself getting more and more tired, and with that, less eager to return to class. This is especially bad because the more time I spend out of class, the harder it seems to just get up and go back. These two, they're a terrible influence. Terrible role models. Not that it bothers me all that much, and I'm sure no one looks up to them, but it's the principle of the thing..."
HISAO: "Ah, that was fast. I'll be finished before this period's over, I think."
MISHA: "No, no, Hicchan, everything is done. So, you're done, too~!"
HISAO: "That doesn't make any sense, are you telling me this is all arbitrary and you've been keeping me here for the hell of it?"
MISHA: "But we have kept you long enough~! You should go back to class, Hicchan~! You can still make it for most of this period!"
HISAO: "What about you?"
MISHA: "Of course we're coming too, of course; we'll be right behind you!"
NARRATOR: "Reassured, I start heading back to class, but the period is almost halfway over, so I start thinking it would be pointless halfway there and pass the difference between this class and the next drinking juice in the hallway. I keep an eye on the door to the student council room, but it doesn't open. What's taking them so long? Are they busy wrapping up my share of the work? Well, it shouldn't take so long, unless there's more, and they just wanted me to leave. The more I think about it, the likelier it seems."
NARRATOR: "Shizune is... well, not an idiot, but clearly, she's unable to just come out with things. Maybe it's because she can't talk, so it's harder for her. She has Misha, but all in all, as easy as they make it look, there's still a difference between casual speech and sign language. I contemplate going back there to check on them, but the bell rings, and I have to go to class. They join me a few minutes later, and the thoughts I had in my mind before slip away in the routine of school life. By the time I remember, school is over for the day and I'm too tired to do anything but go home, do my homework, and then go to sleep."
Next Scene: Shanghaied