NARRATOR: "The halls are quiet as the courtyard was, naturally so since everyone is in class. I knock lightly at the door of 3-3 and push open the door when Mutou calls from the other side."

HISAO: "Sorry I'm late."

NARRATOR: "Fifteen pairs of eyes turn to me."

MUTOU: "Good morning, Nakai."

NARRATOR: "Mutou seems to be somewhat confounded by my coming in late, as if I interrupted his flow or something. Judging from the rambling lectures his classes tend to be, that might be the case. I pass him the note the nurse gave me. Mutou takes it with a nod and reads it quickly. He lifts his eyebrows and gives me a kind of a stern look but doesn't say anything, just nods solemnly again. I shrug and he gestures at me to run along so I naturally do. Only two pairs of eyes remain keenly following me as I walk to my seat. I'm not surprised in the least when I feel Misha's fingernail prickle through my shirt about fifteen seconds after seating myself."

MISHA: "Psst! Where were you?"

HISAO: "None of your business."

NARRATOR: "I know this is probably the worst answer I can give as it only serves to pique their curiosity, but I have no energy to come up with elaborate cover stories right now."

NARRATOR: "However, Misha backs off. She's unexpectedly fast to give up today. ... In a minute, she's back at poking me with her finger."

MISHA: "Come on, tell us! Shicchan is very interested too!"

NARRATOR: "It was just my wishful thinking. She just talked about it with Shizune, probably devising ways to get me to spill the beans."

HISAO: "No."

NARRATOR: "She retreats to negotiate again."

MISHA: "As a member of the Student Council, it's your duty to tell us why you are skipping class! Especially if it's something fun fun fun~!"

NARRATOR: "God damn it. She just doesn't know when to stop."

HISAO: "Yeah fine. Whatever. I'll tell you. I was having a great time. I had a heart attack first thing in the morning and then hung out with the head nurse for a few hours for kicks. Best morning of my life, I gotta tell you."

NARRATOR: "I'm trying to imitate her ridiculous lilting speech while keeping my voice so low that nobody else hears me. The words come spitting out of my mouth."

MISHA: "Hicchan, you had a what? Seriously?"

HISAO: "Just drop it. You heard me."

MISHA: "But Hicchan, this is important!"

HISAO: "No, really. Leave me alone. We're in the middle of the class, too."

MISHA: "But Hicchan!"

NARRATOR: "Misha sounds concerned, or maybe panicky. I wonder if she realizes herself that it wasn't the best of ideas to be so damn intrusive. ... I let her simmer in her own juices for a while before replying. It won't translate to Shizune but I don't care."

HISAO: "Piss off, Misha. And tell Shizune to do so too."

NARRATOR: "As the words leave my mouth, I immediately regret saying them, but it's not like I can take them back any more. To my partial surprise, Misha actually shuts up though I don't bother checking if she passes the message to Shizune. Doesn't matter either way. Mutou ends his class in some generic talk about the festival two days from now."

Next Scene: No Recovery

HISAO: "Give up. I'm not going to tell."

MISHA: "Is that so~?"

HISAO: "Yeah."

NARRATOR: "She thinks about this for a moment."

MISHA: "That's stingy, Hicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "I can hear the pout in her voice, disappointed and downcast. She retreats again for a moment to negotiate with the brainy half of the dynamic duo, before returning."

MISHA: "I think we should have lunch together and discuss more about this... Shicchan says. It's our treat. Besides, you need to make up for not being there in the morning and we need help with the work~!"

NARRATOR: "The other students around us are starting to give us looks, probably because Misha is leaning so much over her desk that she's almost bumping heads with me. Her curly hair brushes my neck. It smells like shampoo and very much like whatever she puts in there to make it go like that. I think the girl in front of me is trying to eavesdrop. Hope nobody is getting the wrong idea about this, though I'm not really sure how it would be possible to get any other kind of idea. Luckily Mutou stays oblivious, or deliberately ignores Misha. So far. I can't really win this one, can I? I promised to eat with Emi too, but I can't be in two places at the same time."

HISAO: "Sorry, I can't. I promised to have lunch with someone else already."

MISHA: "Eeeh? Who? Is it a girl~?"

HISAO: "Yeah..."

NARRATOR: "Her giggle compels me to quickly follow with something so she doesn't get the wrong idea."

HISAO: "It's nothing like that! It's... a bit complicated."

NARRATOR: "Complicated... yeah, that's what my life is, despite already setting into a daily routine of school life. All things must be put into a new kind of perspective in this second life, reconsidered from the point of view of this new me. The me with a broken heart."

HISAO: "Also, I don't know if I can come to the council after all. Or at least for now. I have something else I need to focus on first."

NARRATOR: "That's right. I have to rethink my priorities. This is something that has swirled around in my head since the nurse gave me that speech. I really can't afford to pretend I don't have this condition. I'm surprised that I can think so analytically, but I'll go with the flow for now."

HISAO: "I promise I'll explain properly later, but not now, okay? Please tell Shizune I'm sorry for letting her down."

MISHA: "If you say so, Hicchan."

NARRATOR: "She sounds surprised, and serious, which I don't think I've ever heard Misha to be before. Misha luckily understands that I'm serious, a stroke of luck that I could tell what I mean so clearly even she got it. She retreats to translate our discussion to Shizune. Neither of them talk to me after that."

Next Scene: Foot and Mouth

HISAO: "Fine, I'll come with you, but get off my back for the rest of the class, okay?"

MISHA: "It's a deal, Hicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "On the way to the student council room, I can see students walking back and forth through the halls, probably in preparation of their own projects. The festival is practically here. That means there are only two possible reasons that my help is required. Either there is only a small amount of work left, and they just want a helping hand to wrap up the mundane final checks they are obligated to do. Or there is a ton of work left, and Shizune is putting on a calm face as a torrent of built-up procrastinated work threatens to kill us all."

Next Scene: No Free Lunch