HISAO: "Thank goodness."
NARRATOR: "Emi's practice should be finishing up soon. I throw on some casual clothes and head for the track. Somehow I get the feeling we won't be doing anything fancy for dinner. Emi doesn't strike me as a very fancy sort of person. Still, I suppose there's a lot I have yet to know about Emi. Despite our newfound closeness, I still feel like I don't know her as well as I should. Ah well, I have lots of time to fix that. To be honest, I'm looking forward to getting to know her more. I'm so caught up in my own thoughts that I hardly register that I'm already at the track."
NARRATOR: "Emi is nowhere to be found. I don't even see any signs of the track team. This could be embarrassing. I turn to head toward the girl's dormitory when I hear a shout."
EMI: "Hey, Hisao!"
NARRATOR: "I turn around to see Emi making a beeline for me with a gym bag slung over her shoulder. She's changed into some decidedly more casual clothing; a pair of shorts and an olive green top. Her running blades have been replaced by more realistic-looking legs that probably wouldn't fool anyone. Emi doesn't seem to care about that, a fact which makes me smile."
EMI: "Hey, you came! I mean I figured you would, but still..."
NARRATOR: "I suddenly find myself wrapped in a rather affectionate hug, and it proves to be impossible for me to keep what must be the world's largest grin off my face."
HISAO: "Well, of course I came! I'd be crazy not to, right?"
NARRATOR: "Emi ponders for a moment."
EMI: "You know, that's true. I mean I'm pretty amazing, after all."
NARRATOR: "I shrug in response."
HISAO: "I certainly think so."
NARRATOR: "It's an offhand remark, which is why I'm surprised to see that it seems to have caught Emi by surprise. She blushes and smiles warmly at me before planting a kiss on my lips. Now it's my turn to be surprised. Emi steps back, resting her weight on her back heel, looking pleased with herself. My brain fumbles for an appropriate response."
HISAO: "... I should compliment you more often."
NARRATOR: "Emi laughs and gives me a playful shove."
NARRATOR: "I throw an arm around Emi's shoulders and am pleased when she immediately leans into me as if it were the most natural thing in the world."
HISAO: "So, where to?"
EMI: "I'm not actually sure. Where do people go on dates around here, anyway?"
NARRATOR: "That's a damned good question."
HISAO: "I've got no idea. Why don't we just head down to the Aura-Mart and grab something portable?"
NARRATOR: "Emi's face brightens at this idea."
EMI: "A picnic! I think you're on to something, Hisao."
NARRATOR: "Emi snakes her arm around my waist, and we begin to head for the front gate. I'm entirely unsure of what I'm meant to do in this situation, but at least Emi seems to be equally clueless. Despite the relaxing feeling of being with Emi, I still can't help feeling a little tense. What if I do something wrong? I'd hate to make an ass out of myself."
NARRATOR: "The trip to the Aura-Mart is accompanied by Emi's chatter about how practice went. I keep quiet for the most part, merely enjoying the warmth of being around Emi. We get a few odd looks from passersby, but I don't mind. We wind up buying some bread and instant noodles, realizing too late that we cannot actually cook the latter in the park."
EMI: "Oh well. I'll make it for lunch or something."
HISAO: "That'll work."
NARRATOR: "The park is located after a brief loss of direction that I blame entirely on Emi. She, of course, blames me. We find a spot beneath a tree and sit down. I lean back against the trunk, Emi sits across from me."
HISAO: "I guess we should have brought a blanket or something to sit on, huh?"
NARRATOR: "Emi shrugs."
EMI: "I don't mind."
HISAO: "Neither do I."
NARRATOR: "Emi tosses me a package of bread and we dig in. Curry bread. Interesting. I guess I wasn't really paying attention to what I grabbed in the store."
EMI: "Hey, Hisao. You look like your bread's a little spicy."
NARRATOR: "I shake my head, trying in vain to keep an image of manliness."
HISAO: "Nah, it's hardly spicy at all."
EMI: "I see, I see. That must be why your face has gotten so red."
HISAO: "Yes, exactly. The lack of spice has uh... gotten my blood up. Because of the disappointment."
NARRATOR: "Emi laughs and swallows the last of her bread."
EMI: "Well, if you can't handle it, I'll be glad to take it off of your hands."
HISAO: "Hey, just because you wolfed down yours so quickly doesn't mean I'm just going to give you mine."
NARRATOR: "Emi mock-pouts, causing me to nearly choke on my bread with laughter."
EMI: "Aw, come on Hisao! Aren't you supposed to be concerned with making sure I've got enough to eat now? We're dating, you know! Though..."
NARRATOR: "Emi looks troubled all of a sudden."
EMI: "I can't say I feel any different."
HISAO: "Hmm? What do you mean by that?"
EMI: "What makes this a date? It's just what we would have done anyway, really. But this should feel different because before when we had lunch we were friends, and now we're a level above friends."
HISAO: "You sound like Rin."
NARRATOR: "Laughter escapes, and Emi grins."
EMI: "Well, she might've put the thought into my mind. We've talked about that sort of thing before."
HISAO: "Really? About me?"
EMI: "Not really. Just... stuff, really. Rin thinks that the change of a label from “friend” to “girlfriend” seems arbitrary most of the time. Like there's no difference between the two."
HISAO: "I can think of at least one, you know. You don't tend to kiss your friends quite as much."
NARRATOR: "For the second time that day, Emi blushes slightly and giggles."
EMI: "I suppose you're right."
HISAO: "Exactly. I'm always right about things like this."
NARRATOR: "Emi rolls her eyes and chuckles."
EMI: "Guess you're pretty smart, huh?"
NARRATOR: "I nod in agreement."
HISAO: "Yep. Even Mutou thinks so. He thinks I should go into some scientific study after graduation."
NARRATOR: "Emi raises an eyebrow."
EMI: "Oh really?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I'm thinking I actually might do just that."
NARRATOR: "Really, the more I consider the idea, the more it appeals to me. I make a mental note to look into it a little more closely."
HISAO: "So what are you thinking of doing after graduation? Still planning on running?"
NARRATOR: "Emi shrugs, seeming almost a bit hesitant."
EMI: "I dunno. If I'm good enough and I can find a team, I guess?"
HISAO: "You mean you aren't sure?"
EMI: "I haven't... really thought about it, to be honest."
HISAO: "Really? You probably should, you know. Graduation isn't that far off."
NARRATOR: "Emi fidgets a little nervously."
EMI: "Yeah, well... it's far enough, right? Besides, I've got other things to think about."
NARRATOR: "There's a mischievous flash behind Emi's eyes, and I suddenly find myself gloriously pinned against the tree."
EMI: "Like making sure this is a real date, right? I mean if we don't kiss then it's not a date at all, right?"
HISAO: "I suppose s— mmmph." with vpunch
NARRATOR: "Strawberries and curry. Not the best combination, but I don't think I mind."
NARRATOR: "Emi sits back on my legs and grins again."
EMI: "There. Science would approve, right?"
NARRATOR: "I have the oddest mental image of Mutou nodding seriously and making a mark on some checklist. I can't help laughing at the idea."
EMI: "Well I'll admit, this is the first time I've ever witnessed a kiss met with laughter before. Should I feel offended?"
HISAO: "Heh, no, no. I'm sure science approves."
NARRATOR: "Emi beams at me, and I find it increasingly difficult to keep my brain functioning properly."
EMI: "Oh good!"
NARRATOR: "It is at this point I notice that Emi has stolen the remainder of my curry bread while I was otherwise occupied with images of teachers wielding clipboards."
NARRATOR: "Emi tries to look innocent, but considering she's just crammed the last bits of my bread into her mouth it does not appear to be working."
EMI: "Mmph? F'orry, couln't refisft."
NARRATOR: "A shrug from my companion is all I get in response."
HISAO: "You used your feminine wiles on me!"
NARRATOR: "I wasn't that hungry anyway, but I still feel that the point needs to be made. Emi seems confused by the phrase “feminine wiles,” but the understanding dawns on her features after a moment's thought."
EMI: "Wasn't anything of the sort! You were laughing! Feminine wiles don't involve laughing!"
NARRATOR: "I guess I can't argue with this."
HISAO: "That doesn't change your thievery."
NARRATOR: "Emi laughs at my injured tone and gives me a playful shove."
EMI: "Fine, you can have the instant noodles."
HISAO: "Are you kidding? That stuff's terrible! If anything, you should definitely eat it as punishment!"
NARRATOR: "Another laugh from the girl sitting on my legs. ...Both of which have fallen asleep by now. I twitch one leg to try waking it up, which has the unintended effect of unbalancing Emi, who falls to the side with a startled “Eep!”"
HISAO: "Whoops! Sorry about that. Legs fell asleep on me."
NARRATOR: "Emi remains on the ground, giggling. I stand up a little shakily, feeling the nerves in my legs return to normal. My eyes wander over the scenery before fixing on the figure of Emi, who has yet to get up."
NARRATOR: "Her hair is splayed out around her head, her arms are spread, and laughter is bubbling up through her mouth. Everything about Emi seems condensed into this one image. Her energy, her spirit, her childish giggling."
NARRATOR: "The urge to lay down on the grass with her rises swiftly from the back of my mind to the forefront of my thoughts, and indeed I am convinced that I would love nothing more than to do just that. Unfortunately the sun has set, and it is probably time for us to get back to the dormitories. While Emi may be happy to stay out here all night, I don't think I have that ability. Besides, homework soon beckons. It wouldn't make sense to start thinking about things like university and then slack off, would it? I extend a hand to Emi to help her up."
HISAO: "We should probably get going."
NARRATOR: "Emi makes a sour face."
EMI: "You're right."
NARRATOR: "She grabs my proffered hand, and I pull her to her feet and into a hug. This time I'm the one who kisses her, unable to resist having Emi against me."
HISAO: "Seems a shame to leave, you know."
EMI: "Yeah, it does. But if we don't get back to the school soon, we'll probably get into trouble."
NARRATOR: "Emi pokes me in the ribs playfully."
EMI: "And you need to do your homework, I'm sure."
HISAO: "Sadly, you're absolutely right."
NARRATOR: "I throw my arm around her shoulders, and we make the trek back to the school, accompanied by occasional bouts of laughter as our conversation jumps from subject to subject. Everything from running, to school, to the peculiar way that one of the cafeteria workers smells. All too soon we find ourselves outside of the girls' dormitory building."
EMI: "Well, I guess I'll be going, then."
HISAO: "I guess so, huh?"
NARRATOR: "Emi grins at me again with that mischievous look."
EMI: "Are you going to be able to survive without me?"
NARRATOR: "I laugh."
HISAO: "I'm sure I'll manage."
EMI: "How terrible! Aren't you supposed to say something like “I'll be counting the seconds you are away?”"
HISAO: "Nah, I don't think so."
NARRATOR: "Emi pulls me down into a quick goodbye kiss and steps back, looking unexpectedly shy."
EMI: "Thanks for dinner. I really had fun. Honestly, I did."
HISAO: "So did I. I think we shall have to do it again, sometime."
NARRATOR: "Emi laughs at my deadpan delivery and nods."
EMI: "See you bright and early tomorrow morning, right? You've gotta run off that bread, after all."
HISAO: "Of course. Despite the fact that you ate most of it."
EMI: "Yes, despite that. See you later, Hisao!"
NARRATOR: "As Emi turns to head inside, I notice something weird. Something so weird that I'm surprised I didn't notice it earlier. She's limping slightly, favoring the left leg."
HISAO: "Hey, Emi!"
HISAO: "Is your leg okay?"
NARRATOR: "Emi looks confused, or at least fakes confusion."
EMI: "What are you talking about?"
HISAO: "Your right leg. You're limping."
NARRATOR: "There's the briefest flash of concern on Emi's face. Either she didn't want me to know, or she didn't think I'd notice - or, I prefer to think, she just didn't realize it."
EMI: "Oh, that."
NARRATOR: "She shrugs casually."
EMI: "Must've gotten knocked a little out of alignment during the picnic. No idea what would have caused that, of course."
NARRATOR: "I think back to being pinned under the tree."
HISAO: "Ah. You should have told me! We could have stopped and fixed it, you know."
NARRATOR: "Emi waves a hand airily."
EMI: "Nah, it's not that big of a deal. Don't worry about it, okay Hisao? It's fine."
NARRATOR: "Why do I get the feeling that she's convincing herself as well as me?"
HISAO: "Are you absolutely sure? You don't want to go ahead and adjust it before heading up the stairs? You could get hurt if you don't, right?"
EMI: "I said it was fine, Hisao. Seriously, don't worry about it. I've got some experience in these matters, after all."
HISAO: "Yeah, I suppose so."
NARRATOR: "Emi grins reassuringly."EMI: "Honestly, Hisao, I appreciate the concern but I really am okay."
NARRATOR: "Well, she's probably fine. I imagine she'd say something if it was really a problem. Heck, she'd probably get annoyed if I kept bringing it up."
EMI: "Now really, I need to get going. Your attempts to keep me around are doomed to fail!"
HISAO: "Heh, of course. Just prolonging the goodbye, I suppose."
NARRATOR: "Another grin lights up Emi's face."
EMI: "Goodnight, Hisao."
NARRATOR: "As she limps inside, I find myself hoping she's okay despite her assurances that she's fine. I think I can call this a successful first date. Hell, any day that ends with Emi pinning me under a tree to kiss me can't be bad, can it? I head back to my room, mentally thank the gods that Kenji doesn't ambush me in the hallway, and get started on my homework."
Next Scene: Invisible Rock