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NARRATOR: "I see less of Misha in the following days. But I don't worry, because when I do see her, she looks a bit more like her old self each time. Once it's clear enough that I don't have to be afraid of it being my wishful thinking coloring my perceptions, I start to relax again. I wake up very early and feeling sick on Sunday. I went to sleep too early last night, too. Something's also wrong with my curtains, and they won't close completely. Because of that, I can't even attempt to go back to sleep. The sun hits me in the eyes every time. I'm sure this is probably why I woke up so early this morning as well."

NARRATOR: "Being this sick and tired is a perfect storm of frustration. I'm almost glad when there's a knock at the door. It's a familiar person holding an almost completely eaten apple in his hand. Taking one last bite, he attempts to shoot it into my trash can and misses completely, and it smashes apart on the wall two meters too high. To be fair, most of the pieces afterwards do manage to fall into the trash can, but I'm pretty sure no one is so brazen that they would be aiming to do something like this on purpose."

KENJI: "Perfect shot! Sup, roomie?"

HISAO: "I'm not your roomie, we don't live in the same room."

KENJI: "It doesn't matter."

HISAO: "It does, you should at least know the difference between living in the same building and living in the same room."

KENJI: "I need to use your room."

HISAO: "For what?"

NARRATOR: "I messed up, I should have said “absolutely not.”"

KENJI: "The Student Council keeps delivering my mail, even though I asked them to put it in my locker or something. But they keep putting it under my door, delivering my mail without me noticing it, so today, I'm lying in wait to catch them in the act... like a detective, or a safari hunter. I need to chill in your room for today and look through the little peephole or I won't be able to catch them in the act. And maybe tomorrow, too. It'll be awesome, we'll get pizza, on both days. Or should we get pizza on just one day, and something else on the other day? But what? And which day is pizza day?"

HISAO: "Not today. Never. You know, I'm in the Student Council. Why didn't you just ask me about this?"

NARRATOR: "If he had, I would have been able to find out very easily and wouldn't have to have Kenji in my room. It's win-win, except I guess this way he might be able to get a pizza out of me. I start thinking that maybe that was Kenji's intention. But... No, I doubt it. There's no way he could plan something that elaborate."

KENJI: "You know?"

HISAO: "When they deliver mail? Well, no. They just hand me my mail when I go to Student Council, usually. The point is, I could find out by asking them. Then I'd know and I could tell you. That's how people find things out, by asking."

KENJI: "Not cavemen. Aw yeah, no response to that, right? Checkmate."

HISAO: "...Use your own peephole."

KENJI: "What if they see me?"

HISAO: "They can't, that's how peepholes work. It's like a one-way glass."

KENJI: "For real? Well... No way. They'll be expecting me to be in my room, anyway. They'll sense my presence and know I'm there. They'd never expect me to actually be in the room across the hall."

HISAO: "I'm going to go to the student council room and go get your mail for you, right now."

KENJI: "Then I guess I can't let you leave."

HISAO: "That's dumb. What if I have to use the toilet?"

KENJI: "Your games won't work on me."

NARRATOR: "I sit down at my desk and start doing my homework for the weekend."

HISAO: "You know, you're going to have to leave eventually, so you can't stay here forever, or keep me here forever. I mean, this is my room to start with."

KENJI: "Yeah, I don't think I can. What time's the mail usually come?"

HISAO: "Now."

KENJI: "Why are women so slow?"

HISAO: "Why do you care so much about the mail anyway? Are you expecting something?"

KENJI: "I'm always expecting something. ...Not today, though."

HISAO: "Do you want them to send something? Do you even send mail?"

KENJI: "Nope! That's how they get you. I haven't used the mail since I was eight. Sent a letter to Lego asking them to make Dragonball Legos. They said they couldn't get the rights and gave me some coupons. Totally worth it, but after that I made sure to stay off the radar. You don't use mail, do you?"

HISAO: "I wrote to my parents last week."

KENJI: "But that's how they get you!"

HISAO: "Yes, I should have known. Maybe that's why they put that microchip in me the next day."

KENJI: "So... the rumors were true."

NARRATOR: "I'd like to know what rumor mill he got that from."

HISAO: "I was kidding. It's a joke."

KENJI: "Joke? Damn. You would joke on me? I guess this is how it feels... to have jokes cracked on. I never thought it'd happen to me. This is a serious issue. Man, I think you are not appreciating the depths of my dilemma. It's a work in many acts. Complicated acts, with many players. It's really hard, okay? After I'm done I'm gonna eat a whole fish, to celebrate. Aaaah, shit. I wanted a pizza, though. I still want pizza. Can I get fish on the pizza? Do they do that now?"

HISAO: "You're going to be paying for it. You still haven't paid me back, and I'm not hungry right now anyway."

KENJI: "Not in the mood for pizza? That's just not possible, son. It's got to be pizza, anyway. I'm in the pizza stage of my life. Before I was in an ice cream stage, but my girlfriend kept eating all the strawberry out of my Neapolitan. It'll probably happen to you, too."

NARRATOR: "It's hard to tell if he's serious half the time; I can only see his expression when he's not nose deep in my door."

HISAO: "I doubt that. Hey, you know that I do have a girlfriend, right? Not Iwanako, either. The Student Council president, actually."

KENJI: "Old news."

HISAO: "What? Seriously?"

KENJI: "I have my sources."

KENJI: "Anyway... Then it dawned on me that I'd gotten fat from all that ice cream. It was a rude awakening. Like sleeping on a beach and getting hit by a wave that destroys your sand castle. I started running. Had to lose the pounds. But maybe... I was really running away from myself."

NARRATOR: "A sudden and continuous knocking causes him to leap backwards far enough to hit the wall all the way behind him. I take the opportunity to walk over and open the door."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Good morning. What's up?"

KENJI: "I hear if you salt the doorway they can't enter uninvited."

HISAO: "I'm not going to put salt in my doorway."

KENJI: "But... you're considering it. Good."

HISAO: "Good morning. Are you here to deliver the mail?"

NARRATOR: "Nodding, Shizune waves a couple envelopes between our faces. I take them from her, freeing up her hands for conversation."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "How did you know, how did you know?"

HISAO: "You were hiding it behind your back in a really obvious way."

KENJI: "Hiding what?"

HISAO: "The mail."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's okay, I wasn't trying very hard to hide it in the first place."

HISAO: "That's not like you. You're the type of person who'd go “anything worth trying is worth trying hard.”"

KENJI: "Girls taking initiative? And what about me? I've been using that phrase for years. Where's my parade, dawg? I spit literary gold and you women just steal it and wear it out like a two-for-one sundress. You're all like the Picard to my Kirk. Or you could even be Janeway."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Not all the time. Are you making fun of me?"

NARRATOR: "Finally noticing Kenji, she gives him a wave."

HISAO: "Hey, Kenji, the Student Council president says hi."

KENJI: "Hi."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Introduce me. I have no idea what he was saying, but it looked confident."

NARRATOR: "Oh yes, no one is better at saying that kind of stuff confidently."

HISAO: "I already did. I even introduced you by title. This is Kenji, he's the guy across the hall. His room is right behind you. Anyway, do you have his mail too?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I'm only delivering your mail because it was there. I have early access! It's all about location. Consider it as a perk of being in the Student Council."

NARRATOR: "That doesn't sound very fair. She takes a lot of liberties with her position. At least they're small ones."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "This is the first time I've really been able to see your room."

NARRATOR: "It's a blatant lie, or she'd have signed it much faster. I'm sure Shizune remembers that it's not the first time."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I never got to enter your room before. It's interesting."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Why does he get to see your room and I can't? Is it a guy thing?"

HISAO: "It's not a secret club being a guy."

KENJI: "It should be. With rings. Rings with big-ass emblems. And gold!"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Are you sure? Are you really sure? I always thought that there was a secret brotherhood of men."

KENJI: "Why's she ignoring me? Let me tell her about the guy club. Also, what's up with the hand signals? Is she trying to hex me or something?"

HISAO: "No, stay out of this. I'll have to translate anything you say to her, and I'm not sure if I could even handle it. And she'll probably misunderstand it, and then you'll probably misunderstand the reply, and I'll have to translate your rebuttal."

KENJI: "Rebuttal? Why would I rebutt? I like my butt."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "What is he saying?"

HISAO: "He says he has no rebuttal."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Rebuttal to what? I haven't even begun to challenge him yet."

NARRATOR: "I don't like the way she put that. So, it appears that she wants to. But about what? It doesn't matter, since it wouldn't end well."

HISAO: "Don't pick fights where there are none."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I've never met your friends. Why can't I? It looks like he's... being passionate."

NARRATOR: "I suppose with the way he's flailing around it would be stupid to expect Shizune to think otherwise. Anyway, I'd better change the subject. Not that it would be likely to work on her, but I'm sure that she has to have come here for a reason, other than just to drop my mail off. If it was something that tiny she wouldn't have even bothered knocking."

HISAO: "You didn't come here just to give me my mail or chat up my friends, did you?"

NARRATOR: "Shizune snaps her fingers in mock frustration. It's as cringe-inducingly loud as ever."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "You're right. Let's go somewhere again."

HISAO: "Do you have somewhere in mind already?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "You're right again. Let's go to the usual place."

NARRATOR: "She whips out a bag of neatly wrapped containers from just outside of the doorframe. I'm guessing they're filled with food, and this time, it doesn't look store-bought. Setting it down between her feet, she continues."

KENJI: "Is that for me?"
(at the same time)
SHIZUNE: (signing) "This was the real surprise. See?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I have to have something over everyone at the very end."

NARRATOR: "I agree, in the way people normally do when someone makes a statement in front of them that tells more than they meant to tell."

KENJI: "Well, fine, if you're both going to ignore me, I'm out of here. So cruel. You'll regret this!"

Shizu roof

NARRATOR: "Not long afterwards, we find ourselves on the school roof. Is it normally deserted at this time, on a nice day like this, on the weekend? No, of course not. I can only think that it's because of Shizune. Not that clearing out a roof would require anything more than posting a sign on the door. The empty plastic containers Shizune had packed our meal in lie next to me. It was another quiet meal, since holding chopsticks prevents us from saying much to each other. While it's not blowing hard enough to be a problem, the wind is a little strong today. It blows the plastic bag loose from under the empty containers, so it whips around for a bit before rolling over my legs and getting caught on the tip of Shizune's shoe. Immediately, she grabs it and starts signing, not looking happy that I'm laughing at her, even though she's trying not to let out a laugh herself. With the bag in the way, however, she has to eventually sit on it to continue."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Very funny. How was it?"

HISAO: (signing) "The food? It tasted familiar."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "That means it was bad."

HISAO: (signing) "No, no. I remember eating this exact meal before, when you made it."

NARRATOR: "Not exactly the same. The fried shrimp was new."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's the only thing I know how to make, but I should have improved."

HISAO: (signing) "How many times have you made it before?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "This is the second time."

HISAO: (signing) "Making this particular meal?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Cooking. Next time, it's your turn to try it."

NARRATOR: "The way she keeps tugging on the corner of the bag is bothering me. I think I know why she's doing it."

HISAO: (signing) "Is it really bugging you that much?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I want to pack them up properly."

HISAO: (signing) "It's okay, I'll get them."

NARRATOR: "As I'm picking them up, I realize she must have brought a lot of food to be able to fill all these containers. I didn't even eat much. Shizune must have some metabolism in order to pack all that away. Even though I've only been up for a second, it's long enough to stupidly trip over my own feet. Barely managing to break my fall, I end up landing on my elbows and knees right next to Shizune's lap. As I pull myself back up, hand gingerly held on my chest, all I can think about is how my knees hurt and how this fall could have killed me. I feel nauseous. Shizune gives a helpful push on my shoulder to help me upright, though I notice her eyeing me oddly. Unfortunately, even a light shove is enough to take me by surprise."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Are you okay?"

NARRATOR: "I nod, but we don't return to sitting beside each other. Naturally, being alone with Shizune is going to involve a lot of silence, but I only start to notice it now. The typical sign of awkwardness. Again, she's the one to break the ice."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I was expecting you to try something dirty."

HISAO: "..."

NARRATOR: "And now the mood is back to awkward."

HISAO: (signing) "How's Misha?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Misha seems happier now, back to her old self. I thought this would be a good way to celebrate, and to thank you for helping her."

NARRATOR: "Her hand stumbles for a bit on the last word."

HISAO: (signing) "You think too much like a businesswoman."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I can't help it, it's how I've been taught to do things. It makes me happy that you're asking about Misha. It would be more accurate to say “back to her real self.” She would only be back to her old self to you. The Misha you know is completely different from the one I think of, when I think of the first time we met. Even though I think she looks better cheerful and smiling, that isn't how she typically is. I wonder if it's true for you, too?"

NARRATOR: "I don't answer."

HISAO: (signing) "Well, if Misha is happy, then it doesn't matter, if it worked out in the end. Your plan worked. You knew her just as well as you said. You knew everything she would say. If your idea was just that I'd speak for you, though, doesn't that just make me your puppet? I didn't do anything, then."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Not true. It was your idea first. I was wrong. I have a way of seeing things that is very flawed, now that I've thought about it. I'm sure you know. Sometimes, I treat everything like a competition between myself and everyone else. Even when it doesn't make sense to."

NARRATOR: "Sometimes?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I know very well how easy it is to ignore someone if they can only communicate with you through sign. I should have asked for help. But I was so sure I could do it on my own. It was actually a brave thing you did. Even if you won't take credit for it. Aside from that, you've really become kind of admirable lately."

NARRATOR: "It's strange having her compliment me while her facial expression hasn't changed in the slightest."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "But! “People don't change so easily.” According to you. Am I right?"

NARRATOR: "She winks, clearly enjoying herself very much."

HISAO: (signing) "Does Misha tell you everything?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Almost everything."

HISAO: (signing) "I guess you're going to tell me that I'm wrong about that, aren't you?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Yes and no. I'm the one who told Misha that before anyone else. But she took it too far, and changed the meaning. It's not easy, but she acts like that makes it impossible. It's possible, if you go little by little. I'm considering trying to be less competitive."

HISAO: (signing) "I thought you enjoyed that, though."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Maybe just a little. That's why I specifically used “less.”"

NARRATOR: "She leans against the fence. I have things I want to say to her, but it doesn't seem like the right time for it, somehow. It's a feeling I have. I can tell she isn't done just yet."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "A lot of people think I try too hard. Well... I've always thought that I try to try just enough."

NARRATOR: "The sound the fence makes as she pushes against it, and the delicate clink of her sleeve buttons scraping against the links, are oddly soothing. So is the breeze gently picking up behind me. I can hear people below us. Shizune's eyes dart below us as well, and I wonder if she still thinks about what she might be missing out on. The attention-grabbing way she tends to snap her fingers proves she has an understanding of how other people perceive sound. It must be odd, being able to understand that much, but unable to experience it yourself. She starts walking slowly around the perimeter of the roof, still scraping her buttons against the fence. It isn't rhythmic at all, though not for a lack of trying. I sort of zone out in thought while she does, and am rudely snapped out of it when she circles around completely and taps me on the shoulder."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Do you remember what we were talking about?"

HISAO: (signing) "When? Now? Of course, it just happened."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's been almost ten minutes. When I first saw you, you seemed like you were very attached to the idea of feeling sorry for yourself."

NARRATOR: "That stings, even if it is true."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Sorry, sorry. It made me want to cheer you up at first sight. I was scared it would be for nothing, though. I couldn't help thinking it would be hard to change your mind. But you did. I thought that was very surprising, and also that you might be kind of easily influenced. Still, I was surprised. It made me reconsider a lot of things. Like... that maybe everything was worth it in the end."

HISAO: (signing) "Everything?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "—That's why I like you."

HISAO: (signing) "I see."

NARRATOR: "It's nice to finally know."

Next Scene: Succession

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