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NARRATOR: "The sound of my alarm brings me out of a dream involving pirates and some other stuff I can't really remember. I'm a little bleary-eyed, and it feels like it takes me longer than usual to get dressed and down to the track. A glance at my watch reveals that I was right, and I am in fact running a little late. The thing is..."

NARRATOR: "There's no Emi. That's odd. She should be here. She definitely should be here. I mean, I was late. I guess I wasn't the only one who had trouble getting up this morning. The thought crosses my mind that it never quite stopped raining yesterday. Did she go running anyway?"

NARRATOR: "It seems likely. Emi's a lot of things, but cautious isn't one of them. She probably figured the rain wouldn't stop, and that's why she was so adamant about running alone. Still, I would have gladly run with her, even if it was in the rain. Heck, if anything I would have been able to convince her to come in once it got really bad. That would be why she didn't want me along, of course."

NARRATOR: "I should have offered to run with her. Then I could have talked her out of the idea, or at the least known that she was okay. What if she got struck by lightning or something? I'd never forgive myself."

NARRATOR: "..."

NARRATOR: "Okay, that's probably a little stupid. Emi's a resourceful girl. I doubt even she'd stay out in a thunderstorm. I trust her judgment on that matter, at least."

NARRATOR: "Even so, I can't help wanting to know where she is. ...Well, nothing for it. I'd better stretch and run, and hope that Emi shows up with a grin and an excuse. On my cool down lap, I am forced to admit that Emi isn't showing up. Furthermore, I have no idea where she is. Anxiety gnaws at me while at the same time I wonder just why I'm so worried over her. The run helped to take my mind off it for a little while, but now that I'm finished I'm back to worrying."

NARRATOR: "It was weird not having her here. Downright unnerving. It suddenly dawns on me that I've been running to hang out with Emi as much as I've been running to stay healthy - probably more to be with Emi, now that I think of it. It's one of those things that are completely obvious yet somehow, I never realized it. She really is someone I enjoy being with. As revelations go, it's hardly world-shaking. All the same, I find myself feeling slightly shocked. When did this happen? Well, no time to think about this - though I want to ponder this new development, I have a greater desire to find out what's happened to Emi. I'll ask the nurse when I stop in to see him."

NURSE: "Well, you seem to be in good shape, Hisao."

HISAO: "That's good to hear."

NARRATOR: "I replace my shirt and stand to leave, as usual. Except instead of leaving, I ask a question."

HISAO: "Hey, where's Emi? She didn't show up this morning. Is she okay?"

NARRATOR: "While I try valiantly to conceal the anxiety in my voice, the nurse's expression suggests that I've failed miserably."

NURSE: "You mean she didn't tell you? She's sick in bed."

HISAO: "What? Sick?"

NARRATOR: "The nurse shrugs."

NURSE: "Yeah, she came to my office early this morning with a fever. To be honest I'm surprised she made it here. She was burning up when she arrived. I believe she'd planned to let you know, but she asked me to tell you - oh shoot!"

NARRATOR: "The nurse gives me a sheepish smile that seems at least partially sincere."

NURSE: "I told her I'd stop by the track to let you know in case she forgot to. Sorry about that. But we don't need to tell Emi I forgot, right?"

NARRATOR: "I return the nurse's smile with a devious one of my own."

HISAO: "Oh, of course not. This is fine blackmail material. I'll save it for whenever I need a favor from you."

NARRATOR: "The nurse laughs."

NURSE: "Well, I guess I deserve that. But you know, I've got tons of blackmail on you that you're not even aware of. So don't push your luck, okay?"

NARRATOR: "My expression earns another laugh from the nurse."

NURSE: "I'm just kidding, Hisao. But seriously - don't tell Emi I forgot, okay?"

HISAO: "Your secret is safe with me."

NURSE: "Oh good. Now go on, get out of here."

HISAO: "Wait, I've got one more question."

NURSE: "Shoot."

HISAO: "Is she going to be okay?"

NURSE: "Oh yeah, definitely. Her fever was high, but it was already starting to go down by the time she came by my office. I'll probably check up on her again at lunch to be sure, but I expect she'll be up and about by the evening no matter what I tell her."

HISAO: "Hmm, maybe I should visit her after class."

NARRATOR: "It takes me a second to realize I've spoken aloud. The nurse raises an eyebrow and gives me a searching glance for a moment."

NURSE: "Hmm... Well, it might not be a bad idea. You could let me know if she'd taken a turn for the worse, I guess. But no funny business, you got it? I know what meds you're on, after all."

NARRATOR: "I think that's a threat against my life, but I'm not sure. Either way, I assure the nurse that my intentions are chaste and exit the office. Interesting that the nurse sees me as some sort of potential suitor to Emi. Even more interesting is how pleased that makes me feel. I need a shower."

NARRATOR: "The lunch bell rings, and I find myself disinclined to make my way up to the roof. After all, I'm betting Rin knows where Emi is, and if that's the case then I doubt she'd bother going up there. More to the point, I doubt we'd have any sort of scintillating conversation if she did. Chances are she'd prefer to be alone up there anyway, so I don't accidentally ruin her train of thought or something. Unfortunately, I don't really feel like heading to the cafeteria either. Guess I'll go to the library instead. I need a new book to read anyway, having finished my other one yesterday before bed. Maybe I can find more by the same author."

NARRATOR: "I love libraries. They smell like dust and paper and ink. All these stories and facts and opinions crowded together in one place makes the air come alive with potential. I'm not sure how to navigate Yamaku's library yet, having mostly stuck to books I brought with me, so I search for the librarian to ask for help. ... Hmm. I suppose she's not arou—"

YUUKO: "...can't believe it."

NARRATOR: "Yuuko, looking rather distracted, suddenly emerges from one of the aisles."

HISAO: "Er, excuse me."

YUUKO: "Oh, can I help you?"

HISAO: "Actually, I was looking for a book..."

YUUKO: "So am I! “Advanced Cryptography.” We just got it in, and now it's gone missing. I really, really wanted to read that one!"

HISAO: "Cryptography?"

YUUKO: "Yeah, my... er, that is... This guy I knew. Know. Um. Not sure how to describe it..."

HISAO: "Skip to the end."

YUUKO: "He got me interested in cryptography only now the book's gone, and I think it's been stolen!"

HISAO: "Sounds pretty terrible."

YUUKO: "Yeah, especially because now I have to search the whole library for it! Even though it's probably not even here!"

HISAO: "You seem... busy."

YUUKO: "A little."

NARRATOR: "She dashes off down another aisle, and I resign myself to finding my own damn book. Hmm, plenty of choices. Oh come on, how did I get lost? These aren't even printed books! They're all in Braille. I guess that makes sense in a school like this, but honestly, it's a little annoying."

LILLY: "I'm sorry, is someone there?"

NARRATOR: "A lilting voice drifts out from behind one of the cubicles set up for research. As I approach, I see that Lilly's been reading a book while I've been stomping about the aisles."

HISAO: "Oh no, I should be apologizing. I didn't mean to make so much noise."

LILLY: "My, is that you Hisao? I've not heard from you in quite some time. I was beginning to think you'd forgotten all about me."

HISAO: "Er, sorry."

NARRATOR: "Lilly laughs in that refined manner of hers and shakes her head."

LILLY: "I'm only teasing you, Hisao. From what I hear, you've been busy. Morning runs with Emi Ibarazaki and lunch on the rooftop, if I'm not mistaken."

HISAO: "Heh, yeah. Guess word gets around pretty quickly."

LILLY: "That and I can't coax poor Hanako on the roof any more. You three are always up there, claiming the spot for yourselves."

NARRATOR: "She chides me gently, though it's pretty clear she's just teasing me again. Still, I feel an odd need to apologize."

HISAO: "Sorry, we could eat lunch somewhere else if it's a real problem—"

LILLY: "Oh no, I wouldn't worry about it. Hanako and I have other things to do at lunch, too. Such as read in the library, as you can see."

HISAO: "Oh, Hanako's here too? I didn't see her."

NARRATOR: "Lilly smiles, a bit enigmatically."

LILLY: "Oh, she's around somewhere. But I'm surprised, Hisao. You're in here, instead of up there. What brings you to the library?"

HISAO: "Well, Emi's ill, so there's no lunch on the rooftop to keep me occupied..."

NARRATOR: "Lilly raises an eyebrow at my statement before giving another chuckle."

LILLY: "My, poor Rin must feel left out."

HISAO: "It's not like that!"

LILLY: "Ah, but I'm sure it isn't. Emi tends to be the life of whatever group she's in. It's a shame to hear she's fallen ill. Will she be okay?"

NARRATOR: "Somehow I get the feeling that Lilly's just inquiring out of politeness, but I respond anyway."

HISAO: "The nurse thinks so. I'm going to swing by and see how she's doing after school myself."

NARRATOR: "Another raised eyebrow."

LILLY: "My, what a noble gentleman you are, Hisao."

HISAO: "It's nothing, really. Just checking up on my friend, after all."

LILLY: "Ah, so it's just friends, is it? How disappointing."

NARRATOR: "I blush, glad that Lilly can't see it. But somehow she knows that I've been flustered by her comment anyway, and laughs."

LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hisao. I'm teasing you again. Please do tell Emi that I hope she feels better, won't you?"

NARRATOR: "A glance at my watch reveals that I'm very nearly out of time to find my book."

HISAO: "Of course. Hey, I've got to find a book before lunch is over, so I'd better get moving. See you later."

NARRATOR: "That was probably not the best phrase to use. Lilly, however, takes my gaffe in stride."

LILLY: "Until we meet again, Hisao."

NARRATOR: "I never do find the book I was looking for, but I walk out with something else instead. My stomach growls slightly, letting me know that I should have had something for lunch. Oh well. I'll grab something before I visit Emi later."

Next Scene: Dropping By

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