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NARRATOR: "White. A sterile, clean white for a sterile, clean room. My eyes open, and I simply stare at the ceiling for some time. It's about as interesting at the television would be, mounted in its metal rack hanging off the ceiling ahead of the bed. Indeed, the television saw its entire use during the time my parents were here. Left on quietly as they waited for me to wake, it was about as banal as it had been the first time I'd ended up in the hospital. Earlier today an attending nurse had offered to turn off the EKG's speakers. I refused simply because the sound is so entirely normal to me now. It's almost comforting, in a way. The metronome-like regularity gives at least some feeling that time is moving, even in a place such as this. After some time of listening to its beeping while I fully awaken, though, I realize there's another sound in the room."

NARRATOR: "Concentrating all my efforts on listening, a task made rather easy by the lack of distractions, a tiny tinny melody can be heard. Light and quiet, the music sounds almost fragile as it's dwarfed by the EKG's pulses. Tilting my head just slightly to the side in an effort to see the source of the melody without dislodging any of the sensors and pipes stuck onto me, I notice a little wooden box sitting on the nightstand next to the bed. My mouth opens just slightly while I silently watch the tiny yellow metal drum slowly rotate inside, the little bumps on its surface gradually moving in and out of sight. This music box... it's the one I gave..."

NARRATOR: "The creaking of the door breaks me out of my reverie, my head and heart remaining still as my eyes turn to see who comes through. Long tan skirt... peach off-the-shoulder sweater... pale, almost porcelain skin... blue clouded eyes and long, yellow hair... All I can do is stare as Lilly slowly walks into the room, her fingers lightly running over the wall for orientation, and my mind comes to a shuddering halt."

HISAO: "L... Lilly...?"

NARRATOR: "She stops midstride, her entire body tensing."

LILLY: "Hisao? Was that you?"

NARRATOR: "Her voice is quiet and pensive, echoing her expression."

HISAO: "I thought you were..."

NARRATOR: "Lilly takes one tentative step forward, then another, as if she were holding herself back. Her control over her composure is for naught though, and she finally rushes over to where I lay as the last of her resistance falls."

Lilly hospitalclosed

NARRATOR: "I'm slightly taken aback when she grabs hold of me, hunching over as tears begin to fall from her cheeks, since only minutes ago I thought she was on the other side of the world. After a moment of hesitation, I rest my right hand on her soft shoulder."

LILLY: "Hisao! Hisao!"

NARRATOR: "Lilly's body trembles as her tears blot the dark blue sheets, her emotions flooding through her carefully maintained exterior. With her face now closer, and made easier to see for her pale skin being lit by the sunlight from the window, I notice her cheeks being redder than they should be."

HISAO: "It's okay, Lilly. I'm okay. You don't need to—"

Lilly hospital

NARRATOR: "She rights herself quickly, her crying forcefully stifled with both sadness and stubbornness remaining in her moistened eyes. Her prideful nature, always having been something to contend with, takes me off guard."

LILLY: "Stop telling me not to worry about you, Hisao! Just this once... let me cry..."

NARRATOR: "I'm caught speechless. She waits for a response, but her composure breaks again after a handful of seconds. I swallow hard to try and settle my own emotions while she weeps onto my bed, a strange mixture of relief and depression welling up. Lilly's... here. She's really here. If I couldn't feel her skin under my hand, I'd hardly believe my own eyes. My efforts weren't for nothing; my body's attempt to take away everything that was important to me once again has been foiled. But now... I don't feel as happy about it as I thought I would. Seeing her here, crying like this over me... this is the one thing I'd wanted to avoid since coming to love her, no, even since leaving the hospital."

HISAO: "I'm sorry, Lilly. It's my fault I'm here; I shouldn't have tried to push myself so far."

NARRATOR: "I give a self-deprecating snort."

HISAO: "After months of keeping myself together so nobody'd worry over me, I went and did something like this. I guess I'm pretty dumb."

NARRATOR: "With a couple of sniffs and a long breath, Lilly manages to pull herself together and calm down a little. Despite her red cheeks, moist eyes and the lines of her tears still visible, she delicately wears that weak smile she seemed to so often give."

LILLY: "You needn't blame yourself. I heard later that it happened as you were running down the road after me, right?"

HISAO: "Still..."

NARRATOR: "She wipes her eyes with the back of her hand, returning more to her old self as the rush of emotions wears off."

LILLY: "Why did you run after me, Hisao?"

NARRATOR: "I move to respond, but notice her face tightening."

LILLY: "Even after I'd said goodbye, and I'd left Yamaku Academy..."

NARRATOR: "She takes a moment to steady herself, her emotions almost bubbling up once again."

HISAO: "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry."

LILLY: "Sorry?"

HISAO: "For the times when I wasn't there when you needed me. Until now, I thought you just being there would be enough. I only needed you by my side to make any day feel better. Even if my body may be like this, I want to help you, Lilly; to be there when you need someone."

LILLY: "But you always were there, Hisao..."

HISAO: "Why did you want to go to Scotland, Lilly?"

LILLY: "Why...? I told you before: because Akira was going, and because of my family's summons to their home."

HISAO: "Why didn't you say that you wanted to go?"

LILLY: "I—"

HISAO: "I'm not stubborn often, but this one time I think I need to be. I want you to stay here, Lilly. I want you to stay where everyone you know lives, and where all your dreams and ambitions were made. If you choose to stay, I'll never leave your side. I won't let you lose another person. When I had my heart attack, I was snatched away from everyone and everywhere I knew. You showed me a new life after I came to Yamaku. I'd lost my past, but you showed me a future. It's true that I haven't always been there for you. I'm unreliable, sometimes I lied, and I thought I'd come to understand you when I hadn't even understood myself. Be that as it may, I want to give you a future as well. I want to be there for you, to share both your burdens and your happiness, just like I promised back in Hokkaido. I want you to trust me. I know I had problems coming to put my trust in you, after losing so many people I'd known after my heart attack, but that's how I know that being unable to trust others can feel awful. That's why I can't watch you just throw everything away like this. I never want you to go through what I did. I would do anything to stop that."

LILLY: "You can be quite steadfast when you want to be, can't you?"

HISAO: "As I said, it isn't often."

NARRATOR: "My weak smile drops, though, as the IV in my arm digs in a little. It's a harsh reminder of my tether to my condition. Lilly's face tenses as I let out a small gasp of pain, immediately making me wish I'd stifled it better. All I can do is sigh in defeat."

HISAO: "I tried to not let anyone worry over me for the entire time since I left the hospital, but I can't even stop the one person I love most from crying over me. Even if I might finally be able to put my feelings into words, I feel pretty useless with a body like this. Every time I tried to reach towards something, it was just snatched away, and even now things only turned out for the better due to luck. I guess that's something else I should apologize for. All I can ever do is make you worry. Even now, there's very little chance I'll live anywhere near a full life."

NARRATOR: "The feeling of Lilly's warm, soft hand moving over my left cheek makes me lift my head up, her smile gentle and warm as she touches me."

LILLY: "I think that is something very natural for you to say. You were always so sincere and self-conscious. You were also reserved and mild-mannered, and patient to a fault with Hanako, yet curious about everything and everyone. When I said I missed you while I was with my family, I wasn't lying or exaggerating. The thought of you was never far from my mind, and helped me through that time. That's why I was so confused about what to do when my family summoned me. Even after I thought I had made my decision, you tried your hardest to challenge me about it. I didn't confess to you out of pity or believing you were somehow different from what you are. I confessed because I never want to lose you, and want you to always be a part of my life, no matter what might change. You are a very beautiful person, Hisao. Your heart changes none of that, so please, don't apologize for yourself any more."

NARRATOR: "For a long time, silence reigns in the room. I'm not really sure what this newly born feeling inside of me is, but it pales into insignificance as I wordlessly gaze at Lilly's smiling face, warm and gentle as it has always been. It's only as her thumb crosses my cheek, wiping away a single drop of moisture, that I realize this is all I've ever wanted. For what feels like the first time, I give an earnest, wide smile. As Lilly feels it against her palm, she returns the gesture. More time passes before either of us says a word, neither of us needing speech to communicate our feelings to each other."

HISAO: "I know I can't promise you that I'll always be around, or that we'll be together forever."

NARRATOR: "With some difficulty I slowly lift my hand, placing it on her pale shoulder."

HISAO: "But... I think I can at least take you to next year's Tanabata festival, to make up for making you miss this year's."

NARRATOR: "Lilly's expression is one of surprise, though I can't say I blame her."

LILLY: "You... remembered that?"

HISAO: "I've got a pretty good memory. Sometimes."

NARRATOR: "She raises her head a little and takes her hand from my cheek, giving a small, amused giggle. I smile absentmindedly at how earnest it is, almost girlish in its lightness. Still smiling warmly, she collects herself and stands upright with a hand resting on my chest. It feels like I'm seeing her for the first time, the sun from the window glowing behind her just as it did when I first walked into that room where she was drinking tea."

LILLY: "Very well then. Shall we make it a promise between the both of us to go to next year's Tanabata together?"

NARRATOR: "Even if she can't see me doing so, I nod approvingly."

HISAO: "I promise."

LILLY: "I promise."

Next Scene: Forwards, with Gusto!

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