NARRATOR: "A couple days later, Shizune heads off to go eat lunch by herself and doesn't come back. She must really be swamped with student council work, although I know that she probably made most of that work for herself. When I get to the student council room, I find the door unlocked. Before opening it, I hold back for a second, to see if I'll hear Misha's laughing through it. Nothing. I'd almost take that as a sign that no one's in, but Shizune wouldn't leave the door unlocked in that case."

NARRATOR: "She's at her desk, sleeping in her chair with her arms folded over her chest. What a stiff pose; if it weren't for her eyes being closed, there would be no way to tell that she was asleep. In fact, I can't even be sure that she is asleep now. Normally, I'd tap a desk to wake anyone else up, but it wouldn't work with her. I immediately start thinking of tricks I could play on her if she's sleeping. It's disappointing that my train of thought goes in those kinds of directions."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Hello. Good afternoon."

NARRATOR: "She signs one greeting with each hand. It's really confusing."

HISAO: (signing) "Hey, what were you doing? Secretly slacking off?"

NARRATOR: "Shizune smiles, but lowers her head to conceal it, and tries her best to look annoyed instead."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Don't just stand there, it makes me nervous if I'm sitting down and you're not."

NARRATOR: "I take a seeat in the nearest chair while Shizune pauses to adjust her glasses on the bridge of her nose like she's fine-tuning an instrument."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Why are you so far away?"

HISAO: (signing) "Does that make you nervous, too?"

NARRATOR: "Pursing her lips, Shizune doesn't look too amused at my taunting her."

HISAO: (signing) "I had some free time, so I thought I would drop by and see if you were still busy."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Do you want to help me?"

HISAO: (signing) "Yeah."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Too bad. I'm grateful, but it's not necessary. I just finished the last of it, and now everything that needed to be done is done."

HISAO: (signing) "So formal. Misha was just as businesslike yesterday. Are you both getting serious for official student council business?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I'm always serious. Like the student council candidates should be."

NARRATOR: "That was fast. From zero to immediately criticizing people who aren't even her colleagues yet before I've had the chance to stretch my legs."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "At least the presidents. They need initiative, then maybe they can motivate everyone else, or at least strongarm them along. But even though there's a bunch of them, they're all so wishy-washy. There's no one running for vice president. So, they all want the big prize, but none of them have the right drive for it. And then the treasurers are always so flaky, I've decided to use my power to just eliminate the position."

HISAO: (signing) "Wait a sec, please. Can you even do that? I don't think it works that way."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It is how it is."

NARRATOR: "With that, Shizune stares grimly into the distance, rubbing the frame of her glasses. That doesn't answer the question, future dictator."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I'm disappointed. They should want me out of here faster, because they want the job, or at least disagree with me having the job. If I can't mobilize a bunch of student council wannabes for either reason, all my work will have been for nothing. If they are going to be so slow about it, I'll just hold on to my office as long as possible!"

NARRATOR: "Shizune punctuates the sentence with a snap of her fingers, creating a sound as sharp as a gunshot. I wonder if she knows how loud she can do that. It's definitely an attention-grabber, so I could only see it as invaluable to a mute. She might have practiced it because of that."

HISAO: (signing) "“All of it,” huh? That's too harsh."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I always thought this is the real test. Leaving a lasting impression is important. It's why I don't build sand castles, they crumble when you leave."

HISAO: (signing) "Maybe, but if I see an especially neat one, I still think it's impressive. I'll say it's impressive. I kind of admire you. So, to me, it wasn't for nothing."

NARRATOR: "She tugs at her glasses as if she wants to take them off, smiling wryly."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Sorry. I was careless, and something selfish slipped out. I've always wanted to stand at the top. It didn't matter what it was, as long as I was the best at it, and understood it completely, and made it my own. Like when you hear a song and dream of being a musician, or see a plane and wish you could be a pilot. Have you ever had a dream like that?"

HISAO: (signing) "Yeah."

NARRATOR: "The first time I played soccer, I'd wondered if maybe I could ever get good enough to wow people. That was just a fantasy, though. As soon as I saw the gap between me and people with real talent, I put those dreams behind me. Well, with my heart the way it is, I can't play soccer any more, anyway."

HISAO: (signing) "Do you still have dreams like that?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "No, they're unrealistic. I realized it very quickly. There is always someone better."

NARRATOR: "A nostalgic expression crosses her face. She looks oddly mature right now, as if the days of competing vigorously against others for supremacy are long behind her. Of course, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. Just last week, she wanted to see which one of us could blow the biggest bubble with a piece of gum. It could be that she was even worse when she was younger; a terrifying thought."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I liked that. That there was always someone better. When someone greater than me would appear, I'd get so excited. I'd want to challenge them. Even though in the end, they would usually turn out to be better, and I would be left in awe. There are some people who are on a different level, completely. After a while, I got jealous. I wanted something like that for myself."

HISAO: (signing) "Is that what the Student Council is, the thing just for you?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "No, no. Even though it feels like that, sometimes, that wasn't why I decided to do it. That is another story entirely. But... I like being Student Council president. Even if the work is hard and I'm always biting off more than I can chew, that is what keeps it exciting. People at the top shouldn't be able to be comfortable all the time, anyway."

HISAO: (signing) "You sound like a farmer."

NARRATOR: "Although they wouldn't suit her, Shizune would look cute in overalls and a straw hat."

HISAO: (signing) "So, if that wasn't the reason, why did you run for the job?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I didn't, but afterwards, I decided to stick with it anyway. I wanted to be the Student Council president because the old Student Council was stupid. And I want to stir people up, so that they will be able to say, “That was interesting. Today was interesting.” That kind of thing. Memorable experiences. I'm happy, because I think we succeeded. You, and Misha, and me. I have a selfish desire too, though. At first it was something I thought would only be a nice bonus, but I've gotten greedy. That is why it would make me happy if the elections go smoothly. It would be the only way that I could see that my wish was granted."

HISAO: (signing) "What is it, then?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's a secret."

NARRATOR: "Sensing that I might not be ready to let such a weak dodge slide by so easily, Shizune quickly waves down any attempt at a follow-up, embarrassment coloring her face. It's something she wants to keep to herself only because it's too silly to do otherwise. I start to feel a pang of hunger, and check my watch. It's earlier than it looks. Too early for dinner."

HISAO: (signing) "Do you have any kind of food in your desk?"

NARRATOR: "For a second, it looks like the question confuses her, but she recovers quickly."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Desks are for supplies."

HISAO: (signing) "Food is supplies."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "You should have eaten lunch."

HISAO: (signing) "I didn't think it would be a problem if I didn't. If I was working, I wouldn't have to think about it. I'd be too busy to be hungry."

NARRATOR: "She puts her hand up to her mouth in a poor attempt to conceal a laugh, and tries to hide it further by pretending to use it to push her glasses further up the bridge of her nose."

HISAO: (signing) "I guess you're not, since you already ate."

NARRATOR: "I'm not good enough to sign the appropriate words, so I settle for pointing at the stack of Chinese food containers leaning precariously out of the top of her trash can."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Those are from yesterday."

HISAO: (signing) "Then we're both hungry. Let's get something to eat. Not from the cafeteria. There wasn't anything good at lunch, so I really doubt there will be anything good left over. Order something?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Ordering out two days in a row is unnatural. Only in case of emergencies. That is my personal policy."

NARRATOR: "This is why she should think of putting some snacks in her desk, it would be an easier way of dealing with these kinds of “emergencies.” I want to tell her, but signing out how hungry I am like five times has made me too tired to be a smartass. The temptation is really great, though."

MISHA: "Hi~! Hi, hi!"

NARRATOR: "Misha's distinctive up-and-down voice sounds muffled through the door. She bursts in a second later."

MISHA: "... Hicchan~! You're here, too~!"

HISAO: "“Too?” How did you know there was already someone in here?"

MISHA: "If it opens, someone is inside~. Wahaha~! Am I interrupting~?"

NARRATOR: "Shizune shakes her head."

MISHA: "Great~! That's really great~! But~! I was sure I would be. Is this a break?"

HISAO: "I thought so, too, but it turns out everything student council related is over, for now. Is that why you're here?"

MISHA: "Wahaha~! Yeah~! That's right, Hicchan!"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Sorry to disappoint you. We were just discussing whether or not to order out for dinner."

MISHA: "That sounds fun~."

HISAO: "Shizune isn't being very fun about it, though. She says that she can't order food two days in a row. Are you hungry, too? Because if you are, we could outvote her."

MISHA: "Hm~ hm~, that sounds fun, Hicchan! And, I am a little hungry..."

HISAO: "I thought you would say it sounds like mutiny."

NARRATOR: "Shizune pinches the frame of her glasses, clearly thinking that it does seem like mutiny, but being outvoted by a clean 2-to-1 margin, there is nothing she can do. Misha already has her phone out. It's awfully garish."

MISHA: "Shicchan, you promised we would have a student council thing, just for us, right~? Right, right~! This can be it~!"

NARRATOR: "Shizune only shakes her head. The last party she will be able to attend as Yamaku's Student Council president is too special to her to put that label on our spur-of-the-moment early dinner. Even though I'm sure the real thing will be just like this: a meal like any other, with the three of us. After we finish eating and clean up, I say goodbye to them and head to my dorm. Although I don't feel particularly tired, I think I'll just go straight to sleep tonight. If I were back home, my mom would nag me not to go to bed right after eating, but what she doesn't know won't hurt her."

NARRATOR: "I take a look at the clock as soon as I get in, and realize that it's a lot later than I'd thought. It also feels a bit silly checking the clock when I have a phone and a wristwatch. I take off my watch and hold it in one hand, while holding my phone in the other. It makes me feel powerful, and stupid. I try unsuccessfully to go to sleep, and am glad when someone interrupts me by knocking on my door after only a few minutes. I figure that it couldn't be anyone but Kenji, which is why I'm surprised when it ends up being Misha."

MISHA: "Hi, Hicchan~! You don't look happy to see me~..."

HISAO: "No, I'm just kind of surprised. Did Shizune remember something that she wants me to do after all? It's late, but... whatever. I guess it's good that I didn't change."

MISHA: "Nope~. I just thought I'd follow you back, Hicchan~!"

HISAO: "For fun?"

NARRATOR: "No, of course not. It's because she wants to talk. It must be about something important, and something she doesn't want Shizune to know about."

HISAO: "Do you want to come in?"

MISHA: "Yeah~, thanks, Hicchan!"

NARRATOR: "She walks in and immediately takes a seat in the chair. The natural thing to do, but I'd expected her to sit on the bed."

MISHA: "Hicchan..."

NARRATOR: "Misha frowns harshly, arms folded over her chest. It's like she's trying to play a grim interrogator. All that's missing is the mustache and the dangling, flickering lightbulb on a string."

MISHA: "Did you make Shicchan sad?"

HISAO: "What do you mean?"

MISHA: "When I went to the office today, Shicchan couldn't hear me coming. That's why~, when I opened the door, I saw a really confusing expression on her face. Shicchan looked happy and sad, and~ I wanted to know why."

HISAO: "Well, it wasn't because of me. I didn't even see it. I think she's depressed that she won't be Student Council president any more in a few months."

MISHA: "Hm~... When I asked Shicchan about it, she said that it was okay~!"

HISAO: "That's meaningless. Shizune would say that, but it's ridiculous to think that she would let it go that easily."

HISAO: "I mean, there are times when she'll want to fight me over the last apple, or chocolate milk, or whatever. And that is stuff that doesn't even matter."

MISHA: "Chocolate milk is important."

HISAO: "Okay, it is. Don't get mad. But not as much as Student Council is to her. She wouldn't just wave it off so easily."

MISHA: "Wahaha~. You're right~."

NARRATOR: "I thought that this was supposed to be an interrogation, but it appears Misha has already forgotten about it."

MISHA: "But~! I don't want Shicchan to lie to me to make me feel better. Hahaha~! Most people don't know how serious Shicchan is and think she's just putting on a show. I'm happy that you understand her, Hicchan."

HISAO: "It's obvious. Especially with how she talked about it today."

NARRATOR: "Misha leans in closer with interest, resting her head on her palms."

MISHA: "Really~? What did she say?"

NARRATOR: "They are close enough that I don't think much of how she is prying."

HISAO: "Why she joined the Student Council. Sort of. She started, but then decided that some stuff should just stay classified. And signed, “It's a secret.” So, I guess that's what she told me: it's a secret."

MISHA: "Well~, if someone tells you that they have a secret, you can sort of call that a secret by itself, Hicchan~!"

HISAO: "Just like how, according to you, luck is a skill?"

MISHA: "It can be! Wahaha~!"

HISAO: "Be careful, not so loud."

MISHA: "Why, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "You're going to wake up half the people in the building, and on top of that, dorms aren't co-ed."

MISHA: "Hicchan, are you thinking something dirty?"

HISAO: "Stop being weird."

MISHA: "Ahahaha~. If you are, it's okay, I think."

NARRATOR: "Hearing that makes me realize how easy it's been for me to talk to Misha all this time, that I would be able to go this long without feeling the need to be on guard. This is the first time I have."

MISHA: "I feel sad, Hicchan. It's funny, the happier Shicchan gets, the more depressed I feel. Even though I should be happy for Shicchan. I still am... But~, I can't talk about my problems with her."

HISAO: "Why not?"

MISHA: "Just like Shicchan can't talk about her problems to me. It's the same thing, Hicchan. If we have that kind of problem, then I'm not sure any more what I should do. I wonder... if I'm a bad friend."

NARRATOR: "Misha gets up and quickly drops herself on the bed, until we're sitting only a few inches apart. Just a couple seconds later, she pushes her head forward, and gives me a light kiss. It misses my lips, more due to bad aim on her part than because of me."

HISAO: "What are you doing?"

NARRATOR: "Although it's just a formality. I'd be stupid to not know what she is getting at, it's just that it seems so unlikely that I'm hoping there will be some way I won't have to deal with it. Now she decides to be shy, and giggles, embarrassed."

MISHA: "..."

MISHA: "Do you like me, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "Yeah."

NARRATOR: "Her head is buried in my chest. It feels like she's talking into my scar. She might be able to feel it brushing against her cheek. I'd tried too hard to hide it from both of them before. It seems like such a dumb thing to have worried so much about, in retrospect."

MISHA: "Please comfort me, Hicchan. Just for today."

NARRATOR: "As much as I pretend to protest, I've allowed things to come to this point. Even though I knew so far ahead of when she actually came out with it that this was what she was getting at. At the very least, I was okay with this outcome. If I needed any more proof, it's simple: I still haven't turned her away. I could have at any point, and it was wrong of me not to do it sooner, but now, not doing so is something beyond simple carelessness."

NARRATOR: "Misha takes my silence as agreement, and squeezes herself against me tightly, as if she is trying to get into my clothes. My arms are enveloped by the softness of her skin and the warmth of her body. I roll over on reflex, and end up on top of her. She looks at me, as if expecting me to take the lead, and closes her eyes nervously the second I return her gaze. I guess I have no choice, and I clumsily begin trying to undress her, something I've never done before."

Adult Content Scene

NARRATOR: "After all, I've only had sex once before, and I was restrained to a chair. This time, I'm in control, like I'd wished then. But it's really kind of scary, now that I am. I start by unbuttoning her blouse, and slipping it off of her shoulders. Her figure is curvier than I expected, and complements her cute face. Her bra unhooks in the back, and I have trouble getting it off, partly because Misha seems ashamed of her breasts, and halfheartedly tries to cover them before I've even undone it. When I unlatch her skirt and start pulling down her panties, she offers more moments of weak, fake resistance. It's just a formality."

NARRATOR: "I realize now that formalities are very important to Misha. It's why she always greets everyone so happily, even when she probably isn't happy to see them. Her eyes are open now, and I run my hand up the inside of her thigh, almost laughing when she shudders and nearly crushes it when she tightens her legs. A genuine reaction, and a cute one. Shizune was better at hiding her inexperience, even though she was just as embarrassed."

HISAO: "Are you ready?"

NARRATOR: "She nods without looking at me. As I push myself into her, I can feel her becoming rigid with nervousness, which I start to feel as well when I meet a resistance inside her. I feel so tense that every time I move, it feels painfully mechanical. I wonder if I should go more quickly, like Shizune did. But Shizune is pretty forward. It's a different situation now, one I regret getting myself into. I start pushing in slowly, and Misha winces in pain."

MISHA: "Please do it quickly... Ow..."

NARRATOR: "I stop."

MISHA: "No, it's okay."

NARRATOR: "And then I push myself even deeper into her, to the hilt, feeling Misha's hands clasp my arms, and then reach higher, as if she is trying to climb them. Grabbing at my shoulders, she pulls herself against me, joining us more tightly together, and I can't do anything but push back."

MISHA: "Ah~... aaah..."

NARRATOR: "Hearing her moans, I speed up and find a rhythm. Her hands grip each other around my back, and I feel her elbows digging into the space under my ribs as I piston into her. The blood pounds in my ears like the beating of a drum, until I can barely hear her."

MISHA: "Hnn~... This is my first time with a man. It's weird."

NARRATOR: "I wish she would stop talking. Her voice is so quiet and breathy that I have trouble understanding her, but the tone of sadness permeating it is unmistakable, and only makes me feel guiltier. I'm supposed to be comforting her, but it's entirely physical, and if Misha is being reassured in any way by this, she isn't showing it. That makes me question whether my decision was the right one. I'm really starting to doubt it. Despite that, her soft cooing in my ear makes me keep going, as does the hot, slick tightness around my member. Eventually, her leg twisting around mine, she tenses up in orgasm, her smooth neck rubbing across my cheek. It takes her a minute to separate herself from me. It gives me an opportunity to see her body fully, her pink skin blushing bright red and dabbed with sweat. I feel cold."

MISHA: "...Hicchan?"

NARRATOR: "I can't hear anything but the ticking of the clock, and the sound of my own breathing."

MISHA: "...Never mind, Hicchan."

NARRATOR: "I search around for Misha's hand with my own, and caress it. How light and delicate it seems, even as it grabs me so tightly around my wrist. The feeling is familiar."

Next Scene: Look Aside

NARRATOR: "Before I can answer, she pushes her whole weight against me, and it unbalances me enough to send us both onto the bed. If I don't answer quickly, then the situation will only become more precarious. I know that I should have never let things get as tangled as they already are. So, even though it isn't the most tactful way to refuse her, I push her off of me. Misha falls backwards onto the sheets, so softly that it seems like she barely fell at all. Eyes closed, she stays like that for a while, before getting up with a hollow laugh."

MISHA: "You're right, Hicchan. I'm sorry."

NARRATOR: "I'm not sure how I feel. Regretful, slightly, even though I've grown to hate regret. Sad, for a multitude of reasons. I'm also a little angry, both at her and at myself. And in a way, it even seems like I'm not really feeling at all."

HISAO: "Don't be."

MISHA: "No, Hicchan. It's okay~. I am, really, really~. But... just asking was enough for me, I think. I'm happier that you said no."

HISAO: "Is that right? Well, that's good."

MISHA: "Yeah~, it is. Thanks, Hicchan."

NARRATOR: "She pulls herself up and leans against the wall. I'm assuming she is. My head hurts so much that I don't bother opening my eyes. I lie on my bed, listening to the rustle of my hair brushing against the sheets and the grass waving in the wind outside. I guess that I should say more to reassure her, but I wonder if that would really help. Maybe it would be better to say nothing. I just don't know, although I think that in this situation, there's no one right thing I can do."

MISHA: "Goodnight, Hicchan."

NARRATOR: "With that, she leaves, the door clicking shut behind her like a guilty whisper. Maybe it's because I'm eager to put today behind me, but after Misha is gone, I find it much easier to fall asleep. I do so almost instantly."

Next Scene: Look Ahead