Part 28: The (Real) BeginningUpdate 25: The (Real) Beginning
EMI: "Well well, look who's finally shown up!"
HISAO: "Yeah, yeah. Enjoy your victory while you can."
Emi grins as the nurse pokes his head out of the door.
NURSE: "Well, there you are. Come on in, Hisao."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You
In what has become a familiar routine by now, he checks my blood pressure and my heart rate.
NURSE: "A bit fast today, isn't it?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I kind of raced Emi here."
The nurse laughs.
NURSE: "That's never a good idea!"
He leans in to whisper to me in a conspiratory manner.
NURSE: "I don't know if you've heard... but Emi's a bit of a track star."
I reel back in mock surprise.
HISAO: "Really? She never mentioned it before!"
The two of us share a laugh.
NURSE: "Did she do okay today? Cold seemed to bother her?"
HISAO: "Why don't you ask her?"
He rolls his eyes in exasperation.
NURSE: "Of course I'm going to ask her too, but she'll tell me that she didn't have any problems, regardless of whether or not she did.
NURSE: So I'm asking you, because you're her friend and would probably tell me if she had trouble today."
When he puts it that way, it makes a lot more sense.
HISAO: "She seemed pretty good today, if a little more tired than usual. She was already feeling better when I dropped by yesterday, so I'm not that surprised."
The nurse nods, though I notice he tenses slightly when I mention yesterday's visit.
NURSE: "Well, that's good to hear. I figured it was just a 24-hour thing. Emi tends to recover quickly from colds and the like."
HISAO: "Hey, speaking of Emi... Are she and the track captain...? Well, you know."
A look of suspicion crosses his face.
NURSE: "Why do you ask?"
HISAO: "Well, it's just that they seem kind of close, and I was just curious, you know? And I'd never ask her, because that would be kind of embarrassing."
So far, so good. Now to really sell it.
HISAO: "Besides, I think they'd make a cute couple."
The nurse laughs.
NURSE: "Well, I don't suppose you're the first to think that. But I think I can say with some certainty that the two of them will never do anything like that."
NURSE: "Yep. Not that I could tell you, of course. Confidentiality and all that."
I love how this part of the game was hand-crafted to drive Psycho Lawnmower up the wall
HISAO: "Yeah right, you just like holding a secret over my head."
NURSE: "That too. Right. Get out of here. I'm a busy man, you know."
I roll my eyes at his last statement and head out the door, motioning to Emi to go in. The whole time, I'm trying to keep from doing a celebratory dance.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Hokabi
The two of them will never do anything like that. That's precisely the sort of thing I wanted to hear. I'm half-tempted to make some sort of a move on Emi right now, but I think the nurse would probably disapprove.
Besides, I still don't know exactly how Emi feels about me. I mean it's obvious that she cares about me as a friend, but something more than that? I can't be certain. Even so, I can't help but feel hopeful. I just need to figure out a good time to tell Emi exactly how I feel. That puzzle should keep me occupied for the rest of the day, at least.
The rooftop is completely deserted. Normally I could count on Rin to be up here before me, but she's strangely absent. I wonder if she decided to accompany Emi to the cafeteria for once. That seems pretty unlikely, but it's all I can think of right now. Part of me wants to go look for Rin, but a far larger part of me is too pleased with the way the sun feels on my skin to care. I pick idly at my lunch while I wait for Emi and Rin to show up. It does not take long for me to hear the sounds of someone coming up the stairs. I wait until the door begins to open before talking.
HISAO: "Took you long enough. Keeping me waiting for you, honestly. The two of you are... Huh?"
Well that's odd.
The only person standing in the doorway is Emi, who looks mildly confused.
EMI: "What do you mean, huh? It's me! You know, Emi! We run in the mornings."
She grins, and I feel my heart jump slightly in my chest at the sight.
HISAO: "Yes, I knew that. I'm just confused... ...Where's Rin?"
Emi's grin is replaced by a rather guilty-looking expression.
EMI: "Yeah, about that... I kind of... sort of... Gavehermycold."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
HISAO: "Oh dear. Am I at risk too?"
It would make sense, after all. Emi and I were in close contact the other day... So what did she and Rin do that got her ill? ... Steady on, old lad. Don't go down that road. Rin's just probably got a worse immune system than me. Emi seems shocked by my comment, like she hadn't considered that before.
EMI: "I hope not! I'll feel terrible if you get ill because of me, Hisao!"
HISAO: "Oh man, I think I feel a fever coming on..."
Emi looks horrified, and then quickly shifts into a more angry expression.
EMI: "Hisao! You stop getting sick this instant! I won't have it!"
Impulsively she seizes me by the collar.
EMI: "Are you listening to me, Hisao's immune system? Get your ass in gear!"
I give a smart salute.
HISAO: "Duly noted, ma'am."
Emi steps back and nods, satisfied.
EMI: "Good. You are not allowed to miss any of our morning runs, after all."
HISAO: "But you missed a morning run!"
Emi crosses her arms and looks at me haughtily.
EMI: "Yes, but that's a special case. It was me, and not you."
HISAO: "That's not an explanation at all."
Emi looks flabbergasted.
EMI: "You're kidding, right? That explanation makes perfect sense!"
HISAO: "No it doesn't! It's a blatant double standard!"
EMI: "I don't see what that has to do with anything."
HISAO: "Oh, fine."
Emi seems pleased by her victory.
HISAO: "Anyway, is Rin going to be okay? She's not terribly ill, right?"
Emi shakes her head.
EMI: "Nope! She'll be fine. I got her some cold medicine that should help her. Although I probably should have made sure she didn't try to take them all at once... She's done it before, you know."
Somehow, I don't find this all that surprising. I doubt Rin is one to pay attention to maximum dosages and such.
HISAO: "You should probably check in on her later, then. Just to make sure."
EMI: "I'll stop by after practice. She'll be fine until then."
I nod, figuring that line of conversation is over. The only problem is, I don't know what else to talk about.
HISAO: "So... You got any more track meets coming up?"
This is a terribly roundabout way of trying to see if she's free on the weekend. If she's free, then maybe I can ask her on a date or something. Well, assuming I can get myself to actually form the words. Emi shakes her head.
EMI: "Nah, not for another couple weeks, I think. The season's winding down."
Oh yeah. I came in right in the middle of things, didn't I? Does that mean exams are coming up soon? I should probably look into that.
HISAO: "What do you do on weekends if there's not a meet?"
An eyebrow goes up, and Emi gets a teasing look on her face.
EMI: "You're awfully inquisitive today, aren't you?"
I shrug and hope it looks casual.
HISAO: "Just making conversation. I don't know what it's like to be a track star, after all."
EMI: "Pfft, flattery."
She waves a hand idly.
EMI: "I'm not actually that good, you know. You just so happened to see me on a good day, is all."
HISAO: "You liar."
EMI: "Heh, yeah. But humility is the sign of a good athlete.
EMI: At least that's what my dad used to say."
She shrugs and tries unsuccessfully to hide the rather troubled expression her face has taken on.
HISAO: "Hey, what's up? You seem bothered by something."
Emi starts to deny it, then sighs in defeat. I wonder if she's too tired from being sick to get herself to deny it like usual. Or if she actually just trusts me enough at this point to open up.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Comfort
EMI: "Well, you remember last night?"
Do I ever. I settle for nodding, however.
EMI: "That's not the first time that's happened to me. Actually, I get them kind of..."
She pauses, as if it's suddenly occurred to her what she's doing. It's almost like she's breaking some sort of personal rule, here. But she starts up again, choosing her words carefully.
EMI: "Well, not often, but... On occasion. It's just been one of those weeks where that's what happens."
A sigh escapes her, and she looks terribly frustrated.
I reach over and give her a hug, which unlike last time doesn't seem to shock her. Instead, she seems to relax as my arms wrap around her. We stay that way for a while.
HISAO: "Hey, you know I was serious last night. You really can talk to me if stuff like this is bothering you. It's always difficult to do this sort of thing solo, you know?"
Emi smiles and breaks the embrace, but stays leaning on my shoulder.
EMI: "Thanks, Hisao. I'll be fine, I think."
I can already see her reassembling herself, getting ready to bottle it all up again. Guess that topic's closed, now.
HISAO: "So hey, given any more thought to that career survey?"
EMI: "Can't say I have. I don't tend to plan very far ahead, you know. Although I suppose I could at least start looking into college, huh?"
HISAO: "I suppose, unless you were serious about that pirate thing. Last I checked, pirates didn't have much need for universities. Unless there's like, a pirate university out there somewhere."
Emi giggles and starts to look a little like her old self, but there's a new element to her expression.
Impish. That's how I'd describe it. Emi looks impish, looking up at me with her head nestled into my shoulder.
EMI: "Would you come with me if I ran off to be a pirate?"
HISAO: "Of course I would! Who in their right mind would pass up the opportunity to be pirates with you?"
EMI: "Well, when you put it that way, I'm not sure."
She giggles again. I notice that my heart seems to have sped up. It's probably due to Emi's proximity to me. That hint of strawberries, again. I can't help but grin as I gaze down at her. She's happy again.
EMI: "Hey, Hisao."
EMI: "If you're going to kiss me, you should probably do it soon. I think the lunch bell is about to ring."
My thoughts grind to a sudden halt. I'm pretty sure my mouth is hanging open in shock. All I can manage is a strangled Huh? This amuses Emi even more.
EMI: "You were thinking about it, weren't you?"
She sits up, bringing her face level with mine.
EMI: "I'd probably enjoy it, you know? You're a really... ...Well."
She briefly composes herself, looking like she's about to say something important.
EMI: "If you hadn't figured it out by now, I think I've developed a bit of a crush on you. You're going to have to do something about that."
This time her grin short circuits several important thought processes. At some point I turned toward her, and at another point her arms moved to around my neck. At yet another, my arms wrapped around her waist. I'll be damned if I could tell precisely when that happened. Because at the moment, there's only a voice in the back of my head yelling at me to kiss her. I look into Emi's eyes.
There it is. The thing I saw yesterday on the bed. It's there again. It suddenly strikes me that she's worried that I'll reject her.
What a silly worry for her to have.
If you can listen to music right now, click the next link and listen to it for the rest of the update. Trust me.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Romance in Andante II
Her lips taste faintly of strawberries. She leans into the kiss, and her arms tighten around the back of my head, making sure that I don't pull away. Not that there was any danger of that.
There's a churning feeling in my gut. The world falls away. There's just me, and her, and this bench.
My arms tighten, drawing her waist closer, entranced by the feel of her. I inhale her scent, my mind trying desperately to memorize everything about how she tastes, how she smells, how she feels.
The ringing of the bell snaps us both back to reality, and we break the kiss. Emi's cheeks are slightly flushed, and she seems to be catching her breath. In her defense, so am I. We stand there for a few moments, trying to wrap our heads around what we've just done. Emi is the first to break the silence.
EMI: "... Wanna grab dinner after I'm done with practice?"
HISAO: "What a coincidence. I was about to ask you the same thing."
Well, actually I suppose it was going to be some kind of proper date on the weekend or something. But the thought was there, I think. Emi gives me a playful shove.
EMI: "Yeah right. You were still in shock from how incredibly awesome I am at kissing."
We begin to head down the stairs back to our respective classrooms.
HISAO: "Hey, I didn't see you talking immediately afterwards either."
EMI: "That I didn't. See you after practice, Hisao."
Her sprite flashes forward and fades off to the right.
She leans in quickly and gives me a quick kiss in the middle of the hallway, sending me into another brief state of mental freefall. As I head into my classroom, a giggling Misha greets me.
MISHA: "Why Hicchan, you romantic, you~! Did you confess on the rooftop? Did you~?"
HISAO: "Er, actually I think it was the other way around."
This sends Misha into a fresh fit of laughter.
MISHA: "Young love is so unpredictable, isn't it~?"
This being Misha, I suppose I should have expected her to tease me over this.
HISAO: "I guess..."
Before I can really respond, Mutou's entered the room and Misha skips off to her seat, giggling all the while. I suspect that I'll get a lot of that sort of conversation now, especially seeing as how Emi kissed me right in the middle of the hall. But somehow, I don't care about that.
For the first time since arriving here, my heart feels light.
END OF ACT 2