Note: This scene marks the start of Saturday in Act 1.
NARRATOR: "The students roll into class for the Saturday morning session, each and every one of them sporting the tired eyes of people that have worked through the night. With only a day left to prepare, I suppose it's not so surprising. Thankfully, we only have to suffer through classes until the lunch break, and then our time is our own."
NARRATOR: "Mutou lurches into class in a tired stagger. I suppose students aren't the only people here that enjoy their late Friday nights. Without saying a word, he scrawls some page and question numbers on the board and slumps down at his desk. It's completely atypical behavior for him, but it appears that no one in the class is going to call him out on it."
NARRATOR: "Wordlessly, the students shuffle their textbooks into position and get to work. Not wanting to break the trend, I do the same. Fatigue has made the class antisocial; not a peep is heard among the ruffling papers. That can partly be attributed to the two empty seats beside me. For some reason Misha and Shizune aren't present; probably doing council work for the festival. It's very quiet without Misha present. I wonder if she was born as rowdy as she is, or if she is “making up” for Shizune's lack of voice."
MUTOU: "Nakai, can I speak to you for a moment?"
NARRATOR: "I'm so engrossed in thinking about Misha that I don't even notice Mutou approaching my desk."
HISAO: "Sure... what's this about?"
MUTOU: "It's probably better if we speak outside the classroom..."
NARRATOR: "Something about this doesn't sound too good, but I stand up and follow him out into the hallway."
NARRATOR: "Mutou stands in the hallway, scratching his head as he works out what he is trying to say. Not knowing what's going on, I wait silently."
MUTOU: "I heard from the school's head nurse that you had an incident the other day."
NARRATOR: "Ah. So it's about that."
HISAO: "Well, kind of, but it's not anything to be worried about."
MUTOU: "Yes, yes it is. Anything that can endanger your health is something to be worried about. We try our best here to prepare you for life here. Part of that involves knowing your limits, and how to work around them. It would be remiss of me if I didn't speak up about this."
HISAO: "All right, I get it. I'm sorry."
NARRATOR: "Mutou closes his eyes in frustration, and I realize that this probably wasn't the best thing to say."
MUTOU: "Something tells me that you're not sorry. Pretend as much as you want, but this isn't a normal school. A lot of people have put in a lot of time, effort, and money to make sure that you, and every other student here, can have the same level of education as your peers. For you to abuse that by throwing out advice, especially medical advice, is plain selfish."
NARRATOR: "I'm not quite sure if this is actually how he feels, or if it is some act that he's practiced many times to guilt-trip students into doing the “right” thing. Either way, it's working."
HISAO: "I understand. This is all new to me, and I apologize. I know my limits now, and I'll be sticking to them."NARRATOR: "Mutou appears to lighten up a little, satisfied that his message has been received."
NARRATOR: "Mutou stands in the hallway, scratching his head as he works out what he is trying to say. Not knowing what is going on, I wait silently."
MUTOU: "So, tell me, how are things?"
NARRATOR: "I expected Mutou to be a little vague, but this is pushing the limits."
MUTOU: "You know. Things. You've had a week to settle in now, so how are things?"
HISAO: "Er, fine I guess."
MUTOU: "I see. And how is your... condition?"
NARRATOR: "The pause before “condition” seemed a little unnecessary."
HISAO: "Haven't had any problems so far."
NARRATOR: "A brief shimmer of relief passes across Mutou's face."
MUTOU: "Good, that's good. The school nurse was a little concerned that you might have been pushing yourself a bit too hard. He asked me to keep an eye on you when he couldn't."
HISAO: "That makes sense..."
MUTOU: "I'd ask that you don't blow us off so freely. As much as we try to give you the level of education that you would get at a normal school, you have to realize that you have limits. Our goal is to make sure that you know where those limits are, and how to maximize your potential within them. Do you follow me?"
HISAO: "I guess. I mean, I don't plan on doing anything stupid."MUTOU: "Well, that's a start, I guess."
MUTOU: "So then, onto my next question; how are you finding your studies? I understand you were laid up for a while. We're not too far ahead, are we?"
HISAO: "I don't really think so. I tried to keep up when I was in the hospital, so it hasn't been too hard."
NARRATOR: "Mutou taps his chin and raises an eyebrow as he absorbs this information."
MUTOU: "Is that so... I suppose there are still students out there that realize the importance of learning..."
NARRATOR: "I wouldn't go that far, I was only trying to keep myself occupied in my little life-support prison."
HISAO: "Well, yeah. You've got to keep up with these things, right?"
MUTOU: "That's exactly it. One wrong move in this world and you're left behind, right?"
HISAO: "Er, right. Wouldn't want that to happen."
MUTOU: "No, no you wouldn't. Every week there's a new scientific discovery. Most of them mean nothing to the layperson, but any one of them could be the key to the Next Big Thing."
HISAO: "I'll keep that in mind..."
NARRATOR: "It's obvious that Mutou's Serious Talk is over, and he's gone back to his standard, slightly scatterbrained approach to life. I think, in hindsight, that I prefer him this way. He's slightly more predictable in his unpredictability."
MUTOU: "Well then, I think that's all I really had to say. Let's get back inside, shall we?"
NARRATOR: "My relief at that suggestion is insurmountable."
HISAO: "Sure. You're the boss, right?"
NARRATOR: "Mutou pauses for a moment."
MUTOU: "I don't think any of my students have ever said that to me before."
NARRATOR: "For an instant I consider replying to this, but something deep within me tells me to shut my mouth and get back into the classroom. A few of the students jump at the sound of the door, rapidly trying to pretend that they are working on the questions on the board. Some don't even bother, their heads slumped on the desk as they nap. Thankfully, it would appear that Mutou does not even notice them. He returns to his desk and retrieves a scientific journal from one of the drawers. I guess I got to him there."
NARRATOR: "The class returns to the near-silence that Mutou and I left it in before our chat. Mixed feelings of tiredness and anticipation buzz around the room. Everyone here is either waiting for a chance to rest or the chance to get their last-minute preparations underway. The clock on the wall slowly ticks the remaining class time away, until finally the bells cry out, ending the torment."
MUTOU: "Before you all leave, I expect the answers for those problems by Monday."
NARRATOR: "The class sighs as one, instantly regretting slacking off, but still acutely aware of the more pressing issues at hand. The classroom empties in a blink as everyone rushes to their last-minute festival preparations. I stay behind and try to quickly finish the questions so I don't have to bother with it over the rest of the weekend, with the festival and all tomorrow. Apart from me, Hanako is the only one left, obviously waiting for Lilly. It's weird that Lilly comes all the way to our classroom to pick her up. I expect that moving around is at least nominally harder for her than it is for Hanako. But it's none of my business, and I naturally don't ask about it from Hanako."
NARRATOR: "Despite the relative proximity of our seats, neither tries to strike up a conversation about that or anything else either, so an oppressive silence falls upon the classroom. Time passes in silence. It's probably just fifteen minutes or so but it feels longer. I turn pages of my notebook. Hanako turns pages of the novel she's reading. My pencil lead splinters against the paper just when I was about to finish a paragraph. The sounds of my irritated sigh and subsequent fumbling around for a sharpener feel like they're breaking the mood in the classroom. Hanako keeps her eyes firmly away from my direction. Before long, Lilly's tall figure appears in the doorway."
NARRATOR: "Her name is all it takes to make Hanako jump up from her desk and run to Lilly. They talk quietly for a moment, but it isn't long before Lilly leaves down the hall and Hanako idles back into the classroom, taking her seat once again. I watch Hanako out of the corner of my eye out of sheer curiosity at the idea that the two would be separated. For a couple of minutes, she does nothing but sit with her chin in her hand, staring at the desk dejectedly. The boredom evidently becomes too much for her though, her slender frame reaching into her bag and pulling out a small book. Come to think of it, that isn't the one I saw her reading at the library. She must be quite a fast reader to get through them at this rate."
Next Scene: Sip (Part 2)
Next Scene: An Aesthetics
NARRATOR: "After about ten minutes of restlessly shuffling in her seat and trying to read, Hanako closes her book and leaves too. As should I, since the assignment is all but finished and there is nothing else to do in the classroom. Not really feeling energetic, I just go straight to my room and read for the rest of the day."
Next Scene: Don't Panic