VI. Half a Step to Best Friends

(muffled rock music from the stage. Setsuna listens.)
Setsuna:           We’re on after the next one, huh…?
Kazusa:            Yeah.
Setsuna:           I wonder if there are a lot of people here.
Kazusa:            We’ll see.
Setsuna:           I guess I’ll do some deep breathing… Oh, or maybe some vocal exercises? (sings) Are you pretending to…
Kazusa:            Hey…
Setsuna:           Hm?
Kazusa:            Are you… still angry?
Setsuna:           About what?
Kazusa:            This morning. You said that I was unfair, and frustrating.
Setsuna:           Why do you ask now? We’ve been talking normally since then.
Kazusa:            Oh, well, I thought you might just be forcing it while Kitahara was around.
Setsuna:           I don’t act differently around you and Haruki-kun, Touma-san. I guess with all that’s happened you might not trust me on that, but…
Kazusa:            H-huh.


Setsuna:           But I can tell that you behave differently around him. Frantically switching on that tough act, like “As if I would ever be interested in someone like you!” “You’re so annoying!”
Kazusa:            You are still mad, Ogiso. Guess I won’t apologize after all.
Setsuna:           Huh? Were you going to apologize? But you haven’t done anything wrong.
Kazusa:            If you don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, then quit accusing me like that. Do you know how badly I’ve been freaking out?
Setsuna:           Touma-san, you…
Kazusa:            What?
Setsuna:           You’re not at all like the image of yourself that you project. You’re a really adorable girl.
Kazusa:            H-hey, what the hell are you saying?!
Setsuna:           You’re tender, and easily hurt, and considerate. But you’re also cool and pretty. I can’t help being jealous.
Kazusa:            Cut it out with the character sketch. I can’t tell if you’re praising me or disparaging me, but either way, it’s making my back feel itchy.


Setsuna:           Ah, sorry. I’m sorry. Back to the question at hand, it’s not bothering me at all. Actually, I feel like I’m at fault for stirring up the whole thing.
Kazusa:            I’m… a little worried about you, honestly, but that’ll do.
Setsuna:           I see… Thank you.
Kazusa:            Yeah. So, let’s go ahead and end this conversation here.
Setsuna:           Hey, why don’t we finish with a handshake? As a sign that we’ve made up.
Kazusa:            A handshake? Why now?
Setsuna:           We’ve never done it before, have we?
Kazusa:            Well, yeah, we’re friends. We don’t have to do something that formal.
Setsuna:           Not just as friends. As rivals, too.
Kazusa:            As band members, right?


Setsuna:           Hmm… In any case, this is a handshake of reconciliation, and a declaration of war.
Kazusa:            Sheesh. You do just apply your own subjective impressions to literally everything, Ogiso.
Setsuna:           Hey, Touma-san. Let’s become closer with each other than we have been so far. And let’s clash with each other more, too.
Kazusa:            Ogiso…
Setsuna:           Is that… too much?
Kazusa:            Am I… am I really enough?
Setsuna:           Thank you! I love you, Touma-san! I really, really love you.
Kazusa:            It’s a good thing I’m a girl. If I were a guy, I’d have fallen for you just now.
Setsuna:           (giggles) Thank you. Now, our handshake.
(they shake hands.)


Kazusa:            I know my fingertips are all hard and callused. Not very girly.
Setsuna:           No, that’s not true. This is a magician’s hand, that plays such amazing piano.
Kazusa:            You think so? Thanks.
Setsuna:           Let’s agree to stop being like stubborn elementary schoolers. And, this time, let’s make our middle school love happen.
Kazusa:            What is middle school love, exactly?
Setsuna:           Getting excited together chatting about boys, shrieking over it, sobbing over our feelings that aren’t making it through…
Kazusa:            Feelings that aren’t… making it.
Setsuna:           Listen, Touma-san.
Kazusa:            Hm?
Setsuna:           I’m going to sing. The song with the words that Haruki-kun assembled, and the melody that you set them to.


Setsuna:           (to herself:) (I’ll feel what Haruki-kun felt, as he thought of you.)
Kazusa:            Ogiso, you…
Setsuna:           What?
Kazusa:            You’re such an incredible person. And such an unfair one, too.
Setsuna:           What! What’s that all about? I don’t think I said anything that serious or bad just now…
Kazusa:            I mean that sense of yours, that allows you to say that a big embarrassing line like that is “nothing that serious.”
Setsuna:           Huh? I don’t know…
Kazusa:            You have everything that I don’t have. You can do everything that I can’t do.
Setsuna:           Having it pointed out like that is even more embarrassing…
Kazusa:            You think…?
Setsuna:           All right! While we’re at it with embarrassing things, today, you can call me “Setsuna.”
Kazusa:            Ah…
Setsuna:           Well… Maybe it’s too early for me to call you “Kazusa”…


Kazusa:            Yeah, I’m… I’m sorry. I can’t do that now.
Setsuna:           Why? I thought we made up. I thought we’d become close friends.
Kazusa:            As I am now, I don’t feel equal to you, Ogiso. I haven’t one-upped you in a single thing yet.
Setsuna:           Don’t say that…
Kazusa:            But… all right. Some day. Some day, the day when I can call you that will come. And… maybe it’s not all that far in the future.
Setsuna:           Huh?
Kazusa:            That’s what I think.
Setsuna:           Touma-san…
Kazusa:            God, I can’t believe myself. Making me say something this cheesy… I really don’t know how to handle you, Ogiso.


Setsuna:           Thank you. Thank you so much!
(she squeezes Kazusa tightly.)
Kazusa:            That hurts, Ogiso. Come on, let go already.
Setsuna:           No. Just a little more.
Kazusa:            Honestly…
Setsuna:           Your hands are warm, Touma-san. Delicate, and soft, but strong… and so cool.
Kazusa:            Ogiso…
(Haruki bursts in in a panic, rock music blaring from behind him.)
Haruki:             Hey! It’s getting crazy in the seating out there. (he shuts the door, muffling the music.) Some people are already watching on foot!
Kazusa:            Ah.
Setsuna:           Haruki-kun.
Haruki:             O-okay, calm down! Don’t get nervous, you two! All right! Do you have your handkerchiefs? Have you gone to the bathroom?
(pause. Neither girl reacts.)
How can you be so relaxed? We’re on after the next one. We need to prepare ourselves mentally… I know! Let’s take some deep breaths together.
Kazusa:            (continuing to speak calmly) Hey, Ogiso. You really okay with this?
Setsuna:           This is what’s best. I’m sure you understand, Touma-san.
Kazusa:            How am I supposed to know?


Haruki:             What? About what?
Kazusa:            Beats me.
Setsuna:           What, indeed?
(Kazusa laughs.)
Setsuna:           Touma-san! You shouldn’t laugh! (she laughs as well.)
Kazusa:            You’re laughing too, Ogiso.
(both laugh.)
Haruki:             You know… I feel like you two have been ignoring me since last night.
Kazusa:            (to herself:) (Yes, we can do it, Ogiso. Some day, we can become close friends. I know the day will come. But… but, if we do become true, best friends, if that happens, where will my other feelings go? Where will your other feelings go, Ogiso?)


(Haruki opens the door. Music comes through clearly again.)
Haruki:             All right, let’s get going. It’s almost time for us to perform!
Setsuna:           Yes. Let’s go, Touma-san.
Kazusa:            Yeah. Let’s go. (to herself:) (Together, for now.)

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