Bit of a jolt in tone here as we move into Phil’s section. He wrote this part first, before I’d gotten anywhere with my pages.

However, the aid-with-strings-attached seen here is a useful contrast with the charity of the last scene, and we kinda needed to put the scene here because the next scene will show E-Merl and Rachel returning home, after a little time jump.

Taro’s fauxpology is probably pretty familiar to anyone who’s dealt with a kid who’s old enough to have been taught the motions to go through but not old enough to get the point of empathy. But of course, Taro’s really too old to be hiding behind that excuse. There are those people who never learn empathy.