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[02:49] <Sachiko> Record scratch noise as we rewind to several days before the fateful calling card-
[02:49] <Sachiko> The music room of Lion Hall tended to be in high demand. The school's band and the music clubs wrestled for control and time, but every now and then due to a quirk of scheduling the room would be blissfully empty. It'd take someone who knew how the clubs worked to predict this of course… luckily Sachiko was one such person.-
[02:49] <Sachiko> And so as the light was beginning to fade from the sky, the sounds of furious, fabulous sounds of Chopin's Fantaisie Impromptu drifted out into the otherwise silent hallway, occasionally punctuated by truly vicious cursing as Sachiko butchered a passage. But the pause was only ever momentary before she began again, growing slightly more confident each time.
[02:55] <Minaplo> Sachiko's next run would go especially well for the day's attempts. The flow was building, and Sachiko rode it, barely keeping control and yet still, definitely, in control. There would be the slight but unmistakeable sound of the door sliding open. "Um-?"
[03:07] <Sachiko> And the streak would be immediately broken as her right hand lost its place in the middle of a complicated phrase. The grand piano left its player facing away from the door, but her posture went rigid as she removed her hands from the keys.-
[03:07] <Sachiko> "WHAT?" Sachiko snarled, rounding on whatever music club twerp had seen fit to interrupt her.
[03:12] <Minaplo> Ms. Smithson stood in the doorway. She was trying to shut the door, but it was clearly jammed. Sachiko's shouting conveniently obscured Smithson's mumbled "Mother-pusbucket!" as she tugged on the door.
[03:12] <Minaplo> "Don't snap at me!" Said Smithson sharply. "I wasn't trying to interrupt you!"
[03:15] <Sachiko> Sachiko wasn't made of stone, and she certainly wasn't immune to the gut level horror of accidentally shouting at an authority figure. "Oh- I thought you were-… sorry, Miss Smithson."
[03:15] <Minaplo> "You thought I was some music club punk here to keen at you for groping Zebra-sama without permission?"
[03:16] <Sachiko> "… yeah, specific turns of phrase aside."
[03:22] <Minaplo> "Hah, sorry. I was hoping to slip in without causing any fuss. But I always forget if it's this door that sticks or the one down the hall." She pushed the door upward and pulled at the same time; it suddenly came loose, slamming Smithson's hand between door and jamb.
[03:22] <Minaplo> "Fuuuuuuuuuush." She yowled. "Dumb piece of crap door-"
[03:22] <Minaplo> Smithson paused, eyed Sachiko sheepishly, and pulled her hand free. She rubbed it ruefully. "You didn't see anything."
[03:23] <Sachiko> Sachiko mimed zipping her lip.
[03:24] <Minaplo> "Good." Said Smithson.
[03:24] <Minaplo> "I can see you're getting better, though."
[03:27] <Sachiko> "Slowly," she shrugged. "Too slowly."-
[03:28] <Sachiko> "My old teacher was a big nerd for the Romantic composers, so I tend to default to them when I practice. Chopin, Liszt, that sort of thing. Helps that the compositions are all a nightmare to play well."
[03:30] <Minaplo> "The ten-times-Earth-Gravity approach to music, huh?"
[03:31] <Sachiko> "That's the logic."
[03:34] <Minaplo> "I can admire that." Said Smithson. "They don't sound half-bad, either, although not really to my taste."
[03:35] <Sachiko> "Not really mine either, most days," she said with a smile. "So what's yours then?"
[03:47] <Minaplo> "Good question, hard to answer. In terms of music I can enjoy for its own sake? I love showtunes and artsy, indie stuff, but if you go by volume I spend most of my working days listening to J-Pop, and then washing it down on the way home with anime pump up jams."
[04:06] <Sachiko> "A pretty decent variety."
[04:24] <Minaplo> "Yeah, I like to think so." Said Smithson. "Music's never been a massive thing for me, but everyone likes a bit of music."
[04:25] <Sachiko> "Uh huh," she nodded. "Saw you on the Presidential Wall at Blue Finn."
[04:27] <Minaplo> "Haha! Yeah, Caolán told me." Said Smithson, grinning. "What'd you think?"
[04:55] <Sachiko> "It was a nice photo. You looked like you were having fun, and that's always cool."
[04:56] <Minaplo> "Ahaha. Thanks. Yeah, I definitely was." Said Suzanne. "Don't get me wrong, I was extremely busy as student president, but… On the other hand, I was getting good grades, I was student president, and I was living the dream, eighteen years old in Japan. Life was good."
[05:03] <Sachiko> "Do you mind if I ask where you're from originally?" Sachiko asked. By this point she'd pivoted around to face Smithson properly.
[05:08] <Minaplo> "Yeah, it's hard to tell, isn't it? My accent's pretty much flawless." Said Suzanne. It was true- her accent was indistinguishable from a native accent. It wasn't even the kind of polished Tokyo accent that most fluent foreigners spoke. For whatever reason, the accent made Sachiko think of Nagoya and Hakone.
[05:08] <Minaplo> "Guess."
[05:11] <Sachiko> Sachiko squinted, her lip twisted in thought. "Britain? I want to say United Kingdom but that's too general."
[05:18] <Minaplo> Suzanne snorted. "Haha. Brexit."
[05:18] <Minaplo> "Heritage-wise, I'm kind of all over the place, but I was born and mostly raised in Australia. My paternal grandfather was Irish, my paternal grandmother French. My maternal grandfather was German, but my maternal grandmother was Japanese."
[05:19] <Sachiko> "Wow, you're not kidding."
[05:23] <Minaplo> "Uh-huh." Said Suzanne.
[05:23] <Minaplo> "I'm actually cheating a little bit when it comes to Japanese. My parents- you might remember that my dad kind of had a playboy phase back in the day?- met at Sophia Academy, and they ended up together. My mother's half Japanese, and spent a good chunk of her life in Japan, so I was raised bilingual." She said. "It really doesn't show, though. The thing is, the decided to get married and live together, but my dad hated Europe and my mother hated Japan, so we ended up in Australia."
[05:31] <Sachiko> That got a pretty hearty laugh out of Sachiko. "Well I'm glad they found a suitable compromise. Too bad for you it was Australia."
[05:33] <Minaplo> Suzanne reached over and flicked Sachiko between the eyes.
[05:36] <Sachiko> "Unprofessional corporal punishment!" Sachiko shouted through her laughter. "There will be a complaint!"
[05:37] <Minaplo> "No complaints from pants-wearing delinquents who WHAT their teacher!"
[05:38] <Sachiko> She gave a dramatic sigh. "I suppose you've got me there."
[05:41] <Minaplo> "Hmph."
[05:41] <Minaplo> Suzanne settled back in her chair and grinned. "Wanna bet there's an old provision on corporal punishment that Caolán hasn't found yet?"
[05:42] <Sachiko> "Oh, it's basically guaranteed."
[05:44] <Minaplo> "We really need to work on that." Said Suzanne with a sigh. A part of her suddenly seemed to wake up.
[05:44] <Minaplo> "Oh, geez. Here I am, interrupting your practice."
[05:52] <Sachiko> She gave a quick dismissive wave. "I would've kept hammering at that until I had to go home and would've gotten nowhere. A break is good, I'm just stubborn."
[05:54] <Minaplo> "Well in that case, maybe I should interrupt you more regularly."
[05:55] <Sachiko> "Just wait until I screw up next time and we'll be fine."
[05:55] <Minaplo> "Haha. I'll do my best." Said Suzanne.
[05:55] <Minaplo> "When is hometime for you?"
[06:00] <Sachiko> She checked her watch and frowned. "… a lot earlier than this. Guess time got away from me after I found the music room was free."
[06:00] <Minaplo> "Ha. I thought so." Said Suzanne. "I'm almost done here anyway. Give me fifteen and I'll take you home."
[06:01] <Sachiko> "Really? You don't need to-"
[06:01] <Minaplo> "Aware."
[06:03] <Sachiko> "Fine. Ok," Sachiko said, clearly forcing down the instinctual arguments.-
[06:03] <Sachiko> "Thanks."
[06:04] <Minaplo> "No problem." Said Suzanne cheerfully. "So long as you don't mind me stopping by the supermarket on the way home."
[06:05] <Sachiko> "Fine by me."
[06:53] <Minaplo> And so about twenty minutes later they were off in Suzanne's new, comfortable car. Suzanne chatted idly throughout the ride over the sound of an absolute medley of anime pump up jams, stopping on the way home only to buy some pork, ripe strawberries and student-friendly cheap pasta. She snacked on the berries on the way home as she talked. She kept her eyes on the road, except for when she passed Sophia students on the way; she glanced at them for a few seconds as they passed.
[06:53] <Minaplo> The car was warm, not in the thick, velvety way the air was at the moment, but the kind of warm you get after drinking a hot drink in winter, or climbing into bed and pulling the blankets up tight around your neck. Suzanne's chatting was almost like a lullaby in itself…
[06:53] <Minaplo> Such as it was, by the time they arrived at 5 Soejima, Sachiko was likely half asleep.
[06:53] <Minaplo> "There you go." Said Suzanne. "Safe and sound. Have a good night, huh?"
[07:26] <Sachiko> "Thanks, Ms Smithson," she said. She really had seemed to relax over the course of the trip, and she was smiling when it came time to leave. "You too."-
[07:26] <Sachiko> She swung one leg out the door and then paused, giving Smithson a curious look over her shoulder. "… was this just you being nice?"
[07:27] <Minaplo> "Funny question. Am I not usually nice? I'd prefer it if you told me I was acting like an asshole."
[07:27] <Sachiko> "Not what I meant. Just… I don't know, teachers don't normally drive me home."
[07:28] <Minaplo> "So you're saying I'm an extra nice teacher?" She preened. "Hooray!"
[07:29] <Sachiko> She rolled her eyes. "Be that way, then. I'll see you tomorrow."
[07:30] <Minaplo> "Bye, Sachiko. I'm pretty sure I finish around the time you do tomorrow! I'll come see you and give you another lift!" Said Suzanne cheerfully.
[07:31] <Sachiko> For a minute it looked like Sachiko was preparing to flip the bird, but she remembered it was her teacher in time to convert the motion to slamming the door behind her.
[07:33] <Minaplo> Suzanne waved happily as Sachiko walked inside.
[07:33] <Minaplo>
[07:33] <Minaplo> Yet if Sachiko paused for just a second and looked back at just the right moment, she'd see Ms. Smithson's shoulders sag a little as she drove away, the day's accumulated fatigue coming down all at once.
[07:33] <Minaplo> The Empress Arcana Deepens…

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