X.


Maki said, "There's a system.  Aces rule.  Kings deal it.  Queens take it.  Jacks are safe if they stay in line."

"I thought it was dangerous to have lunch with me," said Hiro.  Around them, the canteen was loud with shouted voices and the dull plastic sounds of activity.

Maki said, "Are you listening to me?"

"I stopped listening.  It's more complicated than that, anyway."  He couldn't picture Rika sitting here with him.  When the Aces ate in the canteen, they ate together.

"How's your tooth?" said Maki.

"I didn't know you knew about that."

"Then you're stupid."  Their knees brushed, under the table.

"You're the one who's been here since junior high school."

"My teeth are fine," said Maki.
 


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