Part 23: Encounter, Part 6
Hey. You okay?
*pant* *pant* Wh-Where...are we?
Man, how hard a fall was that? We're in the nurse's office. Can't you tell?
Beige walls, pink curtains, white beds with solid blue covers... This was the school infirmary, no doubt about it.
Geez, did you get a concussion or something? It was right by the school gate.
The...school gate? That's where you found me?
Uh-huh. Ring any bells?
Wait... My arm's...okay?
Huh? Your arm?
(Was it a dream? No, it couldn't have been! I mean, it really hurt...and I really thought I was going to die...)
Well, you're still a little out of sorts, but I'm glad you're safe, at any rate.
I just got concerned and stopped by your house, and your mom told me you'd gone back to school. So I came by to find you and...well, I found you!
Yes, yes, there'll be time for thanks and such later on. Right now, there's something I've gotta do, so hang on a sec.
(Where are you going, Tsukasa? I wanted to ask you about Yoshie...)
School Nurse: Ah, Shishido. Glad to see you're awake.
School Nurse: You gave us both quite a scare. Mikuni was pale as a ghost when he came to get me. Lucky for you, I was working late tonight.
I'm...so sorry to have troubled you.
School Nurse: It seemed like you were. Mikuni was worried sick about you.
(So it really was just a nightmare, then? Maybe that scary story this afternoon was just too much for me...)
School Nurse: Are you feeling a little better now, at least?
School Nurse: That's good.
Letting out a sigh, I laid myself down on the bed once more. It was dead silent. The rain must have let up. The only sound I heard was the occasional cough from the nurse, who was otherwise going about her business quietly.
(Oh, wait... What about...the pen case?)
I thrust my hands into my pockets, not really expecting to find it...but...
The pen case, complete with Tsukasa's pencil "talisman" inside, was present and accounted for. Which meant that...
(...I made it to my classroom.)
Maybe it wasn't a dream after all...
Huh? Oh, Tsukasa. Welcome back... Eeegh?!
I was still trying to remember exact details about what happened when I unexpectedly felt something cold press against my cheek.
Wh-What are you...?
Oh. Thank you!
Tsukasa went out of his way to buy this just for me. It was a lovely gesture. How could I possibly refuse?
So in four hours, then.
God, I don't even want to think about that right now. Not after the day I just had...
I'd been put through hell on earth. Taking a test was the farthest thing from my mind. I was in tears, and I had no idea why. Maybe it was because I was so relieved...so glad to be alive.
School Nurse: ...
...Okay. Hey, Shishido, can you stand?
The timing's just right, so I'm going to show you something good.
Yeah. Or rather...it's something I really want you to see, if you're up to it.
S-Sure, I guess...
I just want to point out that the school nurse had to stay after work until five in the morning, and the next day is a school day, so she probably has to go straight back to work.
Video: Tsukasa and Yui
Neither of us said a thing as he led me through the empty halls. It occurred to me that when we last saw one another, I was mad at him.
Look, Shishido. We're here.
What? Isn't this just...the walkway between the buildings?
Just wait. You'll see it in a minute.
I just kept staring at him...but his eyes were fixed on the window leading out into the walkway. As I gazed opon him in profile, I felt my heart skip a beat.
(I have to apologize for what happened yesterday.)
But I just wasn't sure what to say. I'd let my feelings get the better of me, and reprimanded him for behavior that was, at least at the time, entirely reasonable. There was more to it than that, though. There was one particular reason, more than any other, that made it hard for me to think of the words to say here. He and I ran from Yoshie together. We escaped her wrath, against insurmountable odds. And what if that wasn't all just a dream...?
Bingo! Here we go!
I followed Tsukasa's pointing finger, and...
Whoa...! That's beautiful! What an absolutely stunning surprise!
It's actually the sunset I enjoy watching most from here, but the sunrise is pretty great too.
It's gorgeous. The whole town is painted orange!
Mm. Looks like you're back in good spirits again.
This is...the place that you were talking about, isn't it?
Oh...yeah, it is.
You've been keeping this spot from me all this time, so...why now? Why are you showing it to me today?
...No reason, huh...?
I could think of a reason. But I didn't say anything. It just seemed...kind of farfetched to me. And if I were misinterpreting him, I'd be very embarrassed.
(He couldn't possibly...could he...?)
My face felt kind of warm. I placed the sweaty cafe au lait can on my cheek and sighed softly.
What? I-It is?!
You aren't still feeling faint, are you?
No, no, nothing like that. It's just...yeah, it's the sun. Just the way the light's playing off my skin, that's all.
Boys can be so dense sometimes.
...Thank you. That's what I like about you, Tsukasa.
Hee hee. Also...I'm sorry.
Oh, yeah! I think I remember something like that...
What do you mean "something like that"? I was really bothered by it, you know!
Heh. You girls obsess over the littlest things sometimes. Me, I didn't think anything of it.
The day got brighter bit by bit, and I just stood there, silently trying to piece together all the jumbled thoughts rattling around in my head. I was running away from Yoshie, and Tsukasa was with me. Then I was saved by that old woman.
(It really was just a dream, huh?)
As the bright rays of the run washed over me, I felt new life and new hope welling up from within...and I finally came to terms with those horrid events. Most likely, I got the pen case without incident...but then, on my way back, something hit my head and knocked me out. That would be just my luck.
Stay right there. Just like that.
I didn't know what he was planning to do...but he was staring right at me. It felt kind of like he was staring into my soul. And then...
Slowly, Tsukasa drew his face toward mine.
(Is... Is he...?)
(No way. Is he really going to...?)
Or maybe I just didn't want to look.
But the next sensation I felt wasn't quite the one I was expecting.
Shishido, what happened here?
He'd grabbed my arm for some reason, and was staring down at it intently.
(Wh-What the hell? What is he doing?!)
Turns out he was just concerned by the strange bruise I had apparently received, which had momentarily become visible when I raised my arms. It was right around my elbow.
Looks like it hurts.
It doesn't hurt at all, actually. But...
Never mind. It's nothing.
Giving a wry smile, I gently pulled my arm from his grip.
Before we go home, I have a favor to ask you.
What is it?
Music: The Time For Girls
Yeah. Just for a little. Or is that asking too much?
We only joined fingertips, but for the first time, it really felt like I was connected to another person's heart. I remember feeling so happy...
Video: Tsukasa and Yui ends here.
Hey...Ms. Yui? Ms. Yui!
Ms. Yui, plase!
I knew I'd heard that voice before. But who was it? Was I just dreaming...again? I still felt like I was holding Tsukasa's hand, though...
Ms. Yui! Your hand! Your hand!
Good, you're awake!
Huh...? What? Mochida?!
That's right. It's Satoshi Mochida.
I was still dazed. I had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that one of my students, Satoshi Mochida, was here...and he looked concerned.
What? Oh, my!
I finally realized what he was talking about. I was holding Mochida's hand in my own, and squeezing it awfully tightly.
Excuse me, please! I'm so sorry!
It's no problem. Though I have to say, you have a really strong grip, Ms. Yui.
Do I, now? In the past, I was renowned far and wide for being a weak and dainty young beauty, you know!
Umm... How, exactly, do I...respond to that?
Well, you could say something nice...
...Wait a minute. Why are you here, Mochida?
Well that's... I told you earlier, didn't I?
*sigh* I guess I shouldn't be surprised you don't remember anything.
What...am I supposed to remember, exactly?
Music: Culture Festival! (A)
Have you seriously forgotten all of that?
Completely. Eheh. Heh...
Don't laugh! Geez...
Mochida sighed and pointed at the table.
...Wait, did you...come all this way just to deliver those?
Yeah. And when I did, you were in a pretty bad way. So I made you some porridge.
Pff... Hahaha! Monet did, did he?
I stroked Monet's neck and he lied down contentedly on my futon. Such a pretty kitty! I was getting kind of wrapped up in petting him, as I often did. I almost forgot Mochida was there...until he let out a huge sigh.
Oh, was it open?
Yeah. And you're lucky I was the one to discover that. You really need to be more careful.
Duly noted. Thanks. Heheh...
...? Did I say something funny?
No. You just sound like my mother.
Yikes. I don't think I like the implications there.
Mochida looked at me and let out another sigh. My poor sense of humor must have been getting to him.
*sigh* Well, you sure seem a lot better now than you were when I got here, so that's something.
Mm. I feel better, too.
You slept like a rock, Ms. Yui.
That's right. I woke up this morning feeling dizzy and chillded. I called in sick, put out food for Monet...and I don't remember a thing after that.
...The convenience store?
Yeah. I found cold packs and snacks. Let's see... Here, look. The time on the receipt. It was this morning.
Wow, you're right!
How can you possibly not remember going to the store?
Well, I don't...think I did.
...I wouldn't be surprised.
Don't try to hide behind that laugh!
Sorry, sorry! Were you taking care of me this whole time, Mochida?
Wow, I'm really sorry you had to stay this late.
I couldn't believe Mochida had been with me this whole time. I felt both guilty and grateful. And I definitely gained a new respect for him.
There's still a little porridge left, if you get hungry.
And I bought these, too.
...? You went to the supermarket?
There wasn't anything in the fridge when I checked, so I figured I might as well.
Inside was a bottle of orange juice, some bananas, canned peaches, apples and other assorted fruits.
Music: Relief (A)
Vitamins. When you're as sick as you were, your body needs all the help it can get to fight back. Think of it like medicine.
That much fruit couldn't have come cheap, especially for a high-schooler. I considered offering to pay him back, but decided against it. I knew he wouldn't take my money, and besides... I really appreciated the fact that he'd gone to all this trouble for me. I'd return the favor another time. If it ever seemed like he was going to be staying late after school, maybe I'd buy him dinner. Or I could help him with preparations for the school festival.
Oh... Will you be okay? Do you know your way back? If you'd like, I can take you at least part of the way.
It's fine. Just go back to sleep, Ms. Yui. You're not better just yet. And besides, it isn't safe for a woman to walk alone at night.
Aww, you're such a sweetie. Seeing how much you care just makes my heart skip a beat!
Huh? ...Wh-Why not?
Mochida and I joked like this a lot. Usually, it made him blush and get adorably embarrassed. But not today. Today he just grinned sheepishly, with a mischievous glint in his eyes. I didn't quite get it. What was his angle?
Aahh! H-How did you...?!
You kept calling his name in your sleep. "Tsukasa, Tsukasa!" you cried, lost in some sort of wonderful dream.
So...who is he?
That crafty Mochida had turned the tables on me. And how embarrassing to know that I'd been calling Tsukasa's name!
I hesitated to answer for a moment, but then figured, what the hell...why not?
Judging by your actions earlier, you must have been seriously head over heels for him.
Well, when I got here, you thought I was Tsukasa. It was unbelievable!
W-Wait... What are you saying?!
Hahaha! Ms. Yui, your face is beet red.
That's...just my fever, I swear!
Oh, come on! What ever happened to respecting your elders? You shouldn't mess with adults!
Hahaha! But you're in rare form today. We never get to see you like this.
I wasn't sure he was ever going to give me the full story of all the embarrassing things I'd done in my fevered daze. And maybe it was better he didn't. Either way, I was in his debt, so he could tease me all he wanted...just this once.
Thanks for everything. It's dark out, so please be careful on your way home.
No worries! And Ms. Yui, you be sure to eat right and get better a.s.a.p., you hear me?
Of course. I'll kick this in no time.
Fight the good fight!
Mm? Come here, Monet. You sleep with Mommy tonight. Hee hee.