NARRATOR: "Knock knock."

NARRATOR: "Who's there?"

NARRATOR: "Knock knock."

NARRATOR: "That's not how the joke goes at all."

NARRATOR: "Knock knock."

NARRATOR: "I already said who's there! More importantly, what time is it? Even more importantly, what day...? I am suddenly catapulted into wakefulness by both the fact that the knocking still hasn't stopped and the fact that it's noon. On a school day. Now fully awake, I can remember why I was napping. Better not give that excuse to Mutou. “Sorry I wasn't in class, I was experimenting sexually with my girlfriend and it tired me out.” Yeah, that'll go over well."

NARRATOR: "I wonder how long this knocking is going to continue. Guess I ought to answer the door. I'm strangely unsurprised to see Kenji on the other side. Though it appears that Kenji is surprised to see me."

KENJI: "What the hell are you doing here, man?"

HISAO: "Well, I was sleeping."

NARRATOR: "Kenji nods in understanding."

KENJI: "Knocked out. I see. I told you to be careful around that Ibarazaki chick, man. This is the sort of thing that happens when you aren't cautious."

NARRATOR: "He makes an attempt to look at the back of my head."

KENJI: "Did she hit you with something? Or was it a drug?"

HISAO: "Stop trying to touch me."

NARRATOR: "Kenji produces a flashlight and shines it in my eyes."

KENJI: "You got a concussion? I wasn't knocked out! Maybe you just don't remember."

NARRATOR: "This conversation isn't going anywhere."

HISAO: "No, I just had a tiring morning and fell asleep."

KENJI: "Whatever, man. If you want to be in denial about this, I guess I can't stop you. But you gotta watch out for that girl, man. She's not safe."

HISAO: "What?"

KENJI: "She's not safe to be around; she's one of their most sinister agents! If you're not careful, there's no telling what could happen! She's brought down stronger men than you, you know!"

HISAO: "What the hell are you talking about? She's not an agent of anything, and she didn't knock me out, okay? I also highly doubt that she's brought down anyone at all."

NARRATOR: "Kenji looks almost offended. I have no idea why."

KENJI: "You don't believe me? That's cold, man. Real cold. I'm just trying to look out for you. That's what friends do, you know."

NARRATOR: "We're friends? I had no idea. Then again, I wonder if Kenji knows what being a friend even entails. I feel something like pity for him, standing there before me. Maybe he does think he's looking out for me."

HISAO: "I know, I know. I'm sorry about that. Thanks for the warning."

NARRATOR: "I hold out my hand as a sign of peace. Kenji shakes it gingerly, like my hand could possibly be on fire. There's an awkward silence for a few seconds before Kenji remembers that he's still shaking my hand."

KENJI: "Anyway, I need a favor. What kind of favor? I'm out of money... No you aren't. You've got money kept in your desk drawer under a black notebook. For emergencies."

HISAO: "Did you ransack my room?"

KENJI: "That's not important. I don't need money, anyway."

NARRATOR: "He adopts a very serious tone."

KENJI: "I'm about to undertake a major op. It'll blow the whole conspiracy wide open if I'm right. But it's dangerous, so I need you to do something for me in case I don't come back."

HISAO: "Uh, sure man. Anything."

NARRATOR: "What the hell is he planning on doing? Should I be telling someone about this?"

KENJI: "If I go missing, wait three days and then mail my journal off to the newspapers. It's hidden in my room under a false bottom in one of my desk drawers."

HISAO: "How do I get into your room? I don't have a key."

NARRATOR: "Kenji looks at me like I'm crazy."

KENJI: "So pick the lock. You know how to do that, right? It's an important skill to learn at a young age!"

HISAO: "Uh, yeah, of course I know how. I'll be sure to uh, do that for you. If you go missing."

NARRATOR: "I don't think I want to read Kenji's journal. Either way, Kenji seems pretty happy that I've agreed to do this thing for him."

KENJI: "Great, man. Great. I'll see you around, I got stuff to do."

NARRATOR: "And he's gone, dashing down the hallway. He made it seem so final. I hope I don't have to carry out his final wishes. Shaking my head, I close my door and walk back to my bed. Guess I should go to class, if only to catch the last half of the day. But I've come this far without going to class today... And I did want to read more of that Hawking book Mutou lent me... I'm sure he'll understand."

NARRATOR: "Knock knock."

NARRATOR: "This time the noise jerks my attention away from my book. An experience not unlike being woken up."

HISAO: "Who's there?"

EMI: "Me! Aren't you glad?"

NARRATOR: "The voice is muffled through the door, but unmistakably Emi's. I hop up and open the door, smiling broadly."

HISAO: "Hey! Nice to see you again!"

NARRATOR: "Emi grins back, staring up at me from her wheelchair."

EMI: "Yeah, you would have seen me earlier, but the damned elevator wasn't working. Had to wait for them to fix it. You'd think they could keep it in better order, but nooo..."

NARRATOR: "I chuckle a bit at her vexed expression and invite her in. She wheels in easily, and with my help she hops onto my bed."

EMI: "There. Much more comfortable than that stupid chair."

NARRATOR: "A sigh of contentment hangs in the air, and for a minute we both just stare at one another. It's at that point that I notice the circles under Emi's eyes. They're not that dark, but they definitely weren't there before. Before I can ask about them, Emi fixes me with a mischievous stare."

EMI: "So, I couldn't help but notice you weren't at lunch today. In fact, I don't think I saw you at all. What happened, hmmm?"

HISAO: "Fell asleep. I actually didn't wake up until lunch, and only then because Kenji woke me up."

EMI: "What had you so tired, hmm?"

HISAO: "Strenuous workout this morning. Slightly uncomfortable, too."

NARRATOR: "Emi coughs, a half-laughing, half-embarrassed noise."

EMI: "Remind me not to do that again."

HISAO: "No problem. It wasn't exactly great for me either, to be honest. We'll just avoid that from now on. Are you, er, still sore?"

NARRATOR: "Emi stares at me in disbelief."

HISAO: "What? It's a legitimate question!"

EMI: "Of all the questions I never thought I'd be asked, that's one of them."

HISAO: "Well, I didn't ever expect to have to ask it, so we're even."

NARRATOR: "Emi laughs at this."

EMI: "I guess so, huh? Well, since you asked, yes. I'm still a little sore. We're never doing that again."

HISAO: "No arguments from here."

NARRATOR: "A yawn escapes her, and I raise an eyebrow."

HISAO: "Tired?"

NARRATOR: "Emi nods sleepily."

EMI: "Haven't slept well."

NARRATOR: "Not sleeping well? I can tell that she didn't mean to tell me this either, because she gives a little start like she's just been caught lying and hastens to add,"

EMI: "It's not a big deal, though."

HISAO: "What's the trouble?"

NARRATOR: "Emi shrugs and refuses to elaborate."

HISAO: "Stressed over exams?"

NARRATOR: "Another shrug, but after a pause, Emi nods hesitantly."

EMI: "Er, yeah, I guess. Actually, that's why I stopped by."

NARRATOR: "She begins to look more and more miserable. Not so you'd notice, of course; but her eyes are on her lap, she's fidgeting and her voice is quiet."

EMI: "We uh, we need to stop hanging out so much."

HISAO: "Huh? Why?"

NARRATOR: "Emi takes a deep breath, like she's been practicing this."

EMI: "Because you're too much fun to be around. And I can't concentrate when you're near me. With exams coming up soon, I just... can't have that distraction. Otherwise my grades will be pretty lousy, I'm afraid."

HISAO: "I could help you study..."

NARRATOR: "She smiles at me, clearly unhappy with the situation."

EMI: "I'd love it if you could, but we wouldn't actually study, would we? I mean even now, I'm trying to have a conversation with you but I kinda just want to, uh... Not converse."

HISAO: "Ah. Overwhelmed by my rugged manliness. I understand."

NARRATOR: "That earns me a grin, at least. Emi shakes her head."

EMI: "Idiot. You're full of yourself."

HISAO: "Well, I am pretty irresistible."

EMI: "Er, more or less. I guess. So that's the situation, Hisao. I have too much fun around you, and if I'm going to go into exams prepared, I need to be alone."

HISAO: "Hey, that's okay."

NARRATOR: "It really seems to have been bothering her. Besides, it's only a couple of weeks. And we'll still see each other in the mornings, and at lunch."

HISAO: "We can just hang out at school, no problem. And after exams, we'll go on a date to celebrate their being over, okay?"

NARRATOR: "Emi grins, pleased by this proposal."

EMI: "Yeah, sure! That sounds great!"

NARRATOR: "As if to signal the end of the conversation, she leans in and kisses me. The rest of the night is not spent worrying about exams."

Next Scene: Detached