Jun 23, 2021 8:56 PM
esther and ivy meet the Stage
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"Nothing too onerous - I just need you to keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn't do something she might regret. You know how failed actors can get, always the drama queens!"

She steps closer to Zero, advancing in jerky strides toward him that make the room feel very small indeed.

"We can compare notes after shows, and I'll even give you a little tutoring! You replaced one of my favorite prop wranglers. You've got big shoes to fill, but I know you'll rise to the occasion."

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He once again finds himself backed up against the wall as Nana approaches. The room does feel very small, feeling enhanced by the boxes that line the walls.

"Tutoring? What do I need tutoring in?"

"And keep an eye on her? I couldn't tell S what to do if I tried."

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She laughs a little hysterically. "Oh Zero, you know that you have a part to play just as much as any actress! Your cues are sloppy and you're clearly not reading the script ahead judging by your dashing around. I can help! You're going to be perfect. I just know it."

She's very close now, and she pats him on the head in what she probably believes is a reassuring way. "I'm sure you'll figure out your own ways of keeping her under control. Every puppet has its strings, and you will be my little puppeteer."

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"I... okay? I can try but I don't really know why you want me for this, and separately I'm not sure that I should try and change S this way, and no, I can't read the script ahead of time, no one has given me a script."

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"Oh, how terrible! I'll make sure you get a copy before next time. I've got extras." She seems genuinely shocked, but recovers quickly.

"In any case, you may go now!"

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“Wait, am I supposed to meet you again sometime or something?”

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"We'll be in touch!"

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He nods once and then walks out the door, shutting it behind him before she can say anything more confusing to him. The image of the tiny storage closet and her unsettlingly cheery demeanor linger in his mind as he walks down the hall. She’ll be in touch? But how? And what was that line about him being a puppeteer? 

He sighs. He’s clearly gotten himself involved in something far too complicated.

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She's going to recover this loop, and hopefully with minimal murder required! She's so excited that she has a minion, now. Maybe she'll leave her thank-you banana muffins...

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He walks back to the showers -- God, was he just holding his towel that entire time? -- and prepares himself for whatever S is going to say to him.

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She's already drying off by the time that he gets to the showers. "Nice of you to join us. Where'd you go?"

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“Just thought I forgot something back in the dorms.”

He slips into the shower as quickly as he can to avoid any more questions.

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She shrugs. "Be less forgetful next time. I was wondering where you had gotten off to."

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He can ignore the snark for now. He’s still occupied in thoughts of the meeting. 

“Yeah, I’ll try!”

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As she reaches their room, she finds a yellow cardboard box with a sticky note on top bearing Zero's name in bubbly handwriting. There are hand-drawn flowers at the corners of the note.

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He pushes past her, grabbing the box before she can. Cute note. Could this be what Nana meant about staying in touch?

He hopes it isn’t anything dangerous. 

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Just dangerously delicious banana muffins!

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Oh, it’s just muffins. That’s … nice? They do smell really good. 

He turns to S, “Looks like Nana might have left us a gift?”

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Why would she leave Zero a gift. This is very suspicious.

"Gift seems to be for you, not us. Is it suspiciously in-character for her name? She's got a shtick."

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“Yeah, looks like banana muffins? And yeah, dunno why it’s only addressed to me. You can totally have some if you want.”

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She looks curiously at Zero, as if she's trying to strip his subterfuge with her gaze. "Are you sure you don't know the reason?"

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“Yeah!”

He will try his best to keep eye contact for the exact right amount of time.

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She's not satisfied with this explanation. There's something in his eyes that's struggling to get out, and she wants it. She'll give him some space but possibly she will withhold morning pastries.

For now, she relents and flops down onto her bed, towel-wrapped hair breaching containment, and stares at the ceiling. "This school is so weird."

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"It really is, huh. Not at all like I expected, really."

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"You don't say." Her voice is muffled by the very long nightdress she is pulling on.

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