NARRATOR: "The lunch bell sounds, and I bring myself out of the stupor I slipped into during the morning's classes. My lack of sleep last night, coupled with the increased pace of this morning's run, has left me a little exhausted. Despite that, I find myself skipping stairs up to the roof. There's a thrill of excitement now, in addition to the pleasure one gets from eating lunch with one's friends. True, both Emi and Rin are still my friends, but Emi has become more than that now. Rin is back in her usual spot on the roof, almost as if she'd never been absent."

Rin roof boredom

HISAO: "Feeling better, I take it?"

NARRATOR: "A raised eyebrow is my reward for speaking."

RIN: "Better than what?"

HISAO: "Er, better than you felt yesterday."

NARRATOR: "Rin gives my question some serious thought."

RIN: "I'm not sure. I think I might have felt rather good for some of yesterday, but it's all fuzzy."

HISAO: "Too much cold medicine?"

RIN: "Well, I was asleep. And that usually is pretty good. But I can't remember what it feels like to be asleep, because I'm not conscious for it. It's a real problem. Then again, if I knew how good it felt I might not sleep any more. But this way I keep trying so I guess that's how I can keep from being overtired."

HISAO: "An eternal mystery to keep you sleeping at night?"

RIN: "Maybe mystery's the wrong word. Intangibility might be the proper way to describe it."

HISAO: "I see."

NARRATOR: "No, I don't see at all. I have no idea what she's talking about, but that's okay, since I rarely do."

RIN: "Do you remember what sleeping feels like? Like yesterday, do you remember what you felt like sleeping yesterday?"

HISAO: "Well, I actually didn't get a lot of sleep yesterday."

RIN: "Hmm. Maybe that's because you remember subconsciously."

HISAO: "Actually, I think I was worrying about Emi."

RIN: "Doesn't Emi worry enough about herself?"

NARRATOR: "I hadn't considered that, but it gives me pause."

HISAO: "True, but would she ask for help if she needed it?"

NARRATOR: "Rin frowns, and I raise an eyebrow. Will I get a proper answer?"

RIN: "Probably not. Is there something she should be asking for help with?"

HISAO: "Her leg, for starters."

NARRATOR: "This seems to catch Rin's interest."

RIN: "Leg?"

HISAO: "It's hurt, but she won't see the nurse about it."

NARRATOR: "Rin shakes her head in disapproval."

RIN: "You have to make her. Like she makes me go to class. For her own good. Otherwise she could lose her legs again, and that's just too weird. Losing things twice. Especially if you don't find them again to begin with. Unless prosthetics are the same as finding something. But that's a different kind of lost, isn't it?"

HISAO: "I think so."

RIN: "Hmm. I wonder..."

EMI: "Wonder what?"

NARRATOR: "Emi seems to have snuck up on Rin and I, though Rin doesn't seem especially surprised. Which is itself unsurprising, I suppose. Rin manages to sit herself upright quite expertly, throwing her upper body forward and using her momentum to right herself."

HISAO: "Your leg. How's it feel?"

NARRATOR: "That earns me a frown and a bit of a glare."

EMI: "It's okay, I think. Not worth worrying about."

HISAO: "Tell that to the nurse. He's quite insistent that you visit him, you know."

NARRATOR: "Emi pouts like I've just told her she's been grounded."

EMI: "He worries too much. It's not a big deal, just a little soreness."

NARRATOR: "I try to resist rolling my eyes in exasperation."

HISAO: "If it's nothing, then you should have no problem seeing him, right?"

NARRATOR: "Emi narrows her eyes suspiciously."

EMI: "Did he put you up to this?"

HISAO: "Well, maybe. A little. But that's not the point. I would have reminded you to see him anyway. It would be terrible to see you really hurt and not doing anything about it. That would make it worse, and I don't really want to see you hurt, you know? Call me crazy, but I kinda would prefer to see you happy and healthy."

NARRATOR: "With each statement, Emi's frown fades a little more, until eventually she's grinning, albeit a little shyly."

EMI: "Well, if you're going to put it that way, then I guess I'll have to see him. Otherwise you'll keep worrying, and then I'll never hear the end of it, right?"

HISAO: "That's right. I'll keep bugging you about it, and that might put a damper on our dates. “How's the food, Hisao?” “Talk to the nurse, Emi.” “How was your day, Hisao?” “Talk to the nurse, Emi.” “Hisao, I think I'm ready to go all the w—” “Talk to the nurse, Emi.” See? It doesn't work that well."

NARRATOR: "Emi giggles at my high-pitched rendition of her own voice and gives me an affectionate shove."

EMI: "My voice isn't that high, jerk."

RIN: "I thought it was pretty accurate."

NARRATOR: "Emi and I stare at Rin for a while before I burst into laughter. Emi crosses her arms and huffs, mock-offended."

EMI: "You're both jerks."

HISAO: "Such vile calumnies from you, young woman. I'm stunned that you would call me, of all people, a jerk. Honestly, I just... I don't know what to think."

NARRATOR: "Emi sticks her tongue out at me."

EMI: "You ass. So Rin, how's the art club these days?"

NARRATOR: "Rin, seemingly as surprised by this sudden change of topic as I am, takes a minute to think before answering."

RIN: "I believe it is okay. Although Nomiya keeps telling me to work harder. But I don't think he understands my methods."

EMI: "He always struck me as slightly creepy."

NARRATOR: "Rin ponders this statement for a while."

RIN: "I've never really noticed. But I don't pay much attention to him most days, so maybe that's why."

HISAO: "How often do you meet?"

EMI: "Thinking of joining, Hisao?"

HISAO: "What? Nah, I've already decided to join a club."

EMI: "Really? Which one?"

HISAO: "Well, it's not really much of a club, to be honest..."

EMI: "Oh, you joined the tea club?"

HISAO: "No, I uh... joined the science club... I think."

NARRATOR: "Emi looks highly confused."

EMI: "We have a science club?"

HISAO: "Er, not really. It's just me."

EMI: "Hisao, that's not a club. That's sitting in your room reading books."

HISAO: "No, I mean it's just me and Mutou. I'm just the only student so far."

EMI: "Mutou? Really?"

NARRATOR: "A thought strikes her."

EMI: "Oh, is that what you were talking about yesterday? Your meeting with Mutou?"

HISAO: "Yeah, that was our first meeting, I guess."

NARRATOR: "Emi giggles."

EMI: "Nerd."

HISAO: "Hey, I can't help being clever."

EMI: "You know, I could have used your help years ago. You should've had your heart attack earlier in life, Hisao."

NARRATOR: "I laugh, and then realize this is probably one of the very rare times I've laughed about my heart attack."

HISAO: "Hindsight..."

EMI: "Yeah..."

NARRATOR: "The ringing of the bell ends our conversation."

HISAO: "Hmm, guess we'd better go."

EMI: "Yeah, I guess so. Come on Rin, you too."

NARRATOR: "Rin has apparently begun to doze off, so Emi gives her a sharp bump."

RIN: "I almost had it."

EMI: "Sorry, but you need to go to class."

RIN: "I disagree, but maybe if I nap in class I'll get it this time. Changing location is sometimes helpful for that kind of thing."

NARRATOR: "Neither Emi or I bother asking what “it” is. As we arrive at my classroom, Emi gives me a quick kiss and heads down the hallway, Rin in tow. I turn to enter the classroom, to be met by the duo of Shizune and Misha."

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "Misha seems to be fighting a losing battle to keep from breaking into a fit of giggles while she translates Shizune's latest rant."

MISHA: "While we are pleased, nay thrilled, to see how well you've managed to make new friends and forge relationships - and with such a cutie too, Hicchan~..."

NARRATOR: "I think that last part was probably Misha."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "We nevertheless feel compelled to politely remind you that public displays of affection are strictly forbidden - really? That's disappointing, Shicchan - by section eight of the code of conduct laid out in the student handbook."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "In this case, however, ignorance of the law may be your excuse, as we are feeling lenient..."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "...and the paperwork required to punish the both of you would only add to the already mountainous volume of work which confronts us, the sole members of the Student Council - and besides, you two are adorable together~!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Therefore consider this a formal warning, and please refrain from such displays in the future. At least when Shizune can see you, Hicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "This whole spiel is so patently ridiculous that I can't help but reply in the same pompous manner."

HISAO: "Well, I for one feel enlightened. I apologize profusely for my rash actions and will strive to contain my baser impulses which, I fear, impel me toward such inappropriate displays of public affection. It is hardly my wish to burden an already overworked Student Council with such petty matters, and will do my best to make your lives easier in this matter in the future. At least, when Shizune's watching."

NARRATOR: "This last line is delivered with a wink to Misha, who finally loses control of her laughter."

MISHA: "Wahaha~! Well said, Hicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "Chuckling a little myself, we enter the classroom. Class is uneventful, and after the final bell rings, I find myself alone with Mutou again."

MUTOU: "So, it looks like we've all assembled for the second meeting of the Science Club. Or is it the first? What do you think, should we count yesterday as a meeting?"

HISAO: "Well, we did form the club yesterday, didn't we? That seems like club business, so we can safely call yesterday a meeting."

NARRATOR: "Mutou smiles in his usual stilted and awkward way. I wonder if the muscles in his face are just not shaped correctly to let him smile naturally."

MUTOU: "You really do have a knack for this, I think. Logical thought processes, that is."

HISAO: "I guess so?"

MUTOU: "A scientist speaks with authority, Hisao. The answer here is “Yes, I do.” When the world wants to know how it works, we tell it. Even if all we've got is a decent hypothesis. But we must sound certain anyway, because we're the authorities on the subject, right?"

NARRATOR: "He chuckles, to go along with his awkward smile at his awkward joke. I'm doing my best not to grimace, but I don't think I'm being too successful."

MUTOU: "That's entirely false, of course. We know a lot, sure, but nobody's an expert on how the world works, if only because nobody can be sure. With no certainty, there are no experts. But we like to pretend, sometimes."

HISAO: "There's some things we can be certain of, right?"

MUTOU: "Yes... but no. We know gravity's there, for example."

NARRATOR: "To illustrate, Mutou picks up a pencil and drops it."

MUTOU: "See? Still there. But it's good to check every once in a while. That's why you'll still see researchers mucking about with gravity. We're pretty sure we know how it works, but there's always a chance that something isn't how we think it is. So you check, and check, and check. That's science in a nutshell, Hisao."

NARRATOR: "The whole time I've listened feeling rather spellbound. Mutou seems to really be passionate about this stuff... I think. It's hard to tell, sometimes. How the world works... How humans work. How the universe works. All these questions to be answered. And, depending on what I go into, maybe I could even figure out a way to fix my heart. That said, I don't think that's a real priority for me. Besides, as we start discussing the book he gave me yesterday, I find myself more and more interested in that than my heart condition. Before we even realize it, an hour's gone by."

MUTOU: "Well, let's call this meeting over for now, okay? We'll have another meeting... tomorrow, or uh... the day after."

NARRATOR: "He considers this for a moment."

MUTOU: "Call it the day after. I've got a lot of grading to do."

HISAO: "Okay. See you then."

NARRATOR: "As I exit the classroom, I realize that I don't really have anything to do tonight. Emi and I didn't make plans, so... I guess I'll go to the library. It beats doing homework in my room, anyway."

Next Scene: Up, Down, and Up Again