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Akira nods. "... here's hoping it goes well," she says. "I mean, I trust Ryuji but I've never done this before, so..." 

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"Break a leg," Ann says. "You take things so seriously, you know? So if you just apply that to having fun, you'll get somewhere."

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That gets a smile out of Akira. "Yeah, maybe."

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Shiho grins at her. "Ryuji's easy to have fun with, and seeing you like this is gonna empty out his cute blond head."

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Akira looks away and runs two fingers through a strand of her black hair.

"I... yeah, I hope so. I should probably get going, then..."

She takes out her phone and checks the time.

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It's 09:29 now. Allowing for a half hour of travel to Shibuya, she's still got half an hour to spare.

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"Well, I've got fifteen minutes or so. We could hang a little, but I really want to be early for my date. Maybe grab something small from the shops for a gift..." 

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Ann looks Akira in the eye. "Akira, you're totally overthinking this."

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"Ryuji's going to be blown away as it is." Shiho looks away for a moment, blushing, then adds. "I would be blown away if you showed up looking like this, and I helped you do it. You don't need to be a whole fifteen minutes early, and you don't need a gift. You just need to enjoy his company."

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Listen to your girlfriends, moitié, Julie adds mentally. Your nerves are getting the better of your sense.

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Do I really even need to pile on at this point?

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Akira exhales. "I guess so, yeah. It's just... hard to feel like I'm worth anyone's time, even now."

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Yeah, dysphoria's a bitch, but are you going to let it win?

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Akira takes a breath and deliberately unslings her pack and sits again. "Just — yeah. Nerves. It's silly; I can fight for my life just fine but I can't keep my cool when someone says I matter to them..."

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"Akira. You made that bastard confess to everything in front of the whole school. It was your strength and your leadership that got us through all that. I know your family never treated you well, but..." Ann brushes a strand of her hair behind her ear. "I'd kiss you right now if it wouldn't ruin your makeup."

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Shiho blushes and nods. "I would too, honestly."

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Akira ducks her head and looks away. "I... thank you. I don't know how to really react to that but — it's good to be cared about."

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"You don't need to react to it in any particular way. I just hope that eventually it'll actually get through to you."

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Shiho looks down for a moment. "It takes time. Self-worth issues are hard." Then she looks Akira in the eye. "But I know what it's like, and I try to listen when you and Ann and Ryuji tell me I matter, so you need to try to listen when we do the same, okay?"

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"Yeah." Akira nods. 

"... thank you two for putting so much effort in. I can't describe how much it means to me to see myself in the mirror like this."

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"Glad to help," Shiho replies with a soft smile. "Seriously."

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"Seconded," Ann adds. "You deserve to feel beautiful."

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Akira settles her hands in her lap. "Um... anything else you two would like to talk about? It would help with my nerves to be distracted a bit."

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Ann gives Shiho a sidelong glance. 

"Hmmmmmmmmm..."

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Shiho flushes, looks down, then looks up at Akira with a shy grin. "I've got a headphone splitter. Wanna get together sometime soon and share music recs over dinner or something?"

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