Suga was still in the living room when Shiori finally retired to her bedroom. She was sure he was still reading that pink note, over and over and over again, as if something might change if he just kept willing it to. Even he wasn’t confident in his own abilities, and Shiori was already planning on what she would do when they came to take the museum.
Yet, even as she accepted defeat, the note from earlier was still propped up on her nightstand. So, when she turned her head, she was forced to read it over and over again.
‘Please don’t be angry with me.
I have so much I want to say.’
What did he want to say? Why wouldn’t he just say it? Shiori groaned as she covered her face with her hands, trying her best to hide.
“Why won’t you just say it?”
She could just picture him scribbling away in response. Perhaps his next note would have been a sweet, innocent ‘I don’t know how’ or ‘I’m scared of what you’ll think.’ But the more she thought about it, the sillier it all seemed. It would be something cold, probably something short, like ‘Let me think’ or ‘Don’t worry about it.’
Shiori groaned again and scrubbed her face.
And what if he had actually spoken? Her stomach felt just about as knotted as her mind was, and she didn’t think it was all because of the burnt fish. She wished she could go back, relive it, and try again. She wouldn’t have left the table. She would’ve read his notes and responded. There had to be a better way. Something just had to give, and it would have to give fast. Both Shiori and Suga would leave the museum, or… well, she wasn’t quite sure, but if nothing else, Suga would be staying in the museum.
The key was with Suga. He would have to prove that he could be a great host and proprietor, and he would have to interview. Had he ever been in an interview? How did he even get the museum in the first place?
Shiori couldn’t help imagining a silent Suga, alone and having to face life without the basic ability to speak along with the silent, decaying mansion. It was as if they needed each other, really. There probably wasn’t a better match in the world than Suga and the mansion.
Again, a twist in her stomach.
“Of course they’d put him here when no one gave a crap about this place… Why would they need ‘good customer service’ when they had no customers?”
Shiori’s head ached, and she found herself going back and forth between just leaving all together or at least staying to see Suga through. Her heart tugged her closer to the latter, but her mind said run. The problem wasn’t so much his manners, though those could be worked on a bit more, too, but the fact he still wasn’t willing to speak.
No matter how polite his notes were, it was still intimidating to speak to someone who could only write back, especially when you knew he could speak. He just didn’t want to, and that was the most frustrating part.
How could Shiori get him to speak to a bunch of strangers when she couldn’t even get him to speak to her?
Then, she heard it. It was more or less a grunt, but it was a noise, something that usually wasn’t present in the mansion unless she was making it.
Her hands fell from her face, and her eyes immediately went to the door of her room. Was there someone else there, or was it…
Shiori sat up without further thought and rushed out the door, down the hall, and back in the living room where she found Suga, still sitting on the couch. He was hunched over, right shoulder furiously jerking. He had to be writing something. Then he would grunt, his body would freeze, and he’d go right back at it.
Shiori, as silent as she could manage, crept up behind him. Even sitting down, her head barely reached above his. She could scarcely remember as children when she had been just a few inches taller, back when he needed her around to protect him. She physically winced as her heart ached and thrummed in her chest. She pressed a hand, hard against it, hoping Suga hadn’t heard.
Thankfully, he didn’t turn around. So, she took another step forward, then on tip toes, rose up enough to just barely catch the top of a very thorough, haphazardly scratched up letter, addressed to the ‘Mayor and His Committee.’
Shiori didn’t hold back the ‘hmph’ that came up in response.
Suga froze in his writing, then slowly angled his body to face her, hand still poised over the paper.
She crossed her arms, and pursed her lips before asking,
“What are you doing?”
It wasn’t until she asked that question that he took his hand away from the letter and began to dig in his pockets for what she knew was a memo pad. She huffed, then launched herself over the couch, much to the surprise of Suga who even let out a loud grunt.
Her mission was simple: Grab the letter, grab his pen, and make him speak.
Though simple in theory, Suga wouldn’t let that slide without a fight. With surprise on her side, she did manage to grab the letter, simultaneously landing in Suga’s lap, all legs and arms as she struggled to belly slide away. He gripped her by her waist and reached up to grip the other side of the letter. Curse his lanky arms.
She would yank, he would yank. She would yank, he would yank, both crying out in fits of rage and desperation. Ultimately, the paper was the one to give in, ripping until both assailants had an equal piece in their grasps. It was then Suga released Shiori, allowing her to squirm away until she was on the other end of the couch.
Even as she panted and dabbed sweat from her forehead, she was still able to read Suga’s pleas for compassion and understanding. As much as she loved Suga’s kind, gentle nature, it burned her deeply to see him catering to such people.
She shot him a sidelong glance, just quick enough to catch his lip puckered up, and his eyes locked on the ripped, crumbled page in his lap. He might have cried at any moment had he not caught Shiori’s gaze. He pursed his lips, and once again dug out his memo pad. He was going to give her a strong talking-to… or writing-to… or something, but she wasn’t going to have that.
She shook her head.
“Oh no. If you want to talk to me. You’re going to actually do it… you know. Talk.”
Suga’s gaze shot back up to her. He looked surprised and a little betrayed. He took the crumpled note in his hand and shook it at her, as if to ask,
‘Then what the hell was this?’
She sighed and crossed her arms again, that motion growing a bit too comfortable in the past couple of days.
“Do you think they’re going to take your letter seriously?”
He gave her a stern head bob.
“Really? Even though their main problem is that you don’t speak? If you want to beg, at least use your words… prove to them that you can.”
His head shook in response this time, eyes narrowed and lips tucked into a thin line. He was just being stubborn.
Shiori flashed him a smile.
“Fine. If you don’t talk. I don’t talk, and until you do… I won’t be reading, either.”
Suga mimicked her pose, crossing his arms and smiling. If it had been any other time, Shiori might have laughed. If nothing else, she would be making him speak before she left.
He would use his voice.