I royally fricken goofed, guys. I told you that the next chapter would be out soon a month ago, and I'm still not fully done with Scene IV. The was intended to be a part of IV, but I decided that I needed to put SOMETHING out to remind you guys that I'm not dead. This can be considered a trailer, or an appetizer before IV is fully ready.
I cannot apologize enough for my retardation.
Scene 3.5: Preparations
I flip open my phone to check that this is the room number Rika texted me last night. Sure enough, I've made no mistake.
The two stairwells have left my forehead slightly dampened with a thin layer of sweat, but nowhere near as bad as it used to be when I took to the steps. A simple swipe with my sleeve is enough to get rid of it. My running regimen with Emi is already paying off it would seem.
The sound of my knuckles hitting the wooden door pierces the quiet of the hallway, and it echos ever so slightly through the corridor. After 30 seconds without a response, I give the door another more forceful rap. Again, my efforts go unheeded. I give the door one last knock, finally causing a shuffling from behind it. Rika's voice is muffled by a sleepy slur and the barrier between us.
"Whaddaya want, Ikuno? It's Sunday. I like to sleep in..."
Is she only just waking up? It's six o'clock in the afternoon for Pete's sake!
There's a click, and then the door swings wide open, revealing a very scarcely dressed girl. Rika's hair is frizzy and loose, making it seem even thinner than before. If my eyesight weren't so good, I'd mistake it for a mist surrounding her head.
Despite my mind's best attempts to avert my eyes from her body, the effort paradoxically makes me look. She sports a frilly black bra that sticks out in stark contrast to her white skin, highlighting her chest. My gaze shifts down slightly, and I notice her figure's surprisingly womanly curves. Despite being so thin she has a very nice shape to her, curving in at the waist and out to her hips, which are just barely as wide as her shoulders.
My mind registers this sight in an instant, then locks up. I can feel the blood rush to my face in full force, making ready to rupture my cheeks. Rika's eyes are still closed as she waits for Ikuno to say something. When she doesn't hear anything, she opens her eyes and realizes that I'm not Ikuno.
"Eeeep!" she squeals in embarrassment, slamming the door in my face. The sound snaps me out of my little trance, but the image of Rika standing in the doorway is burnt into my vision. Whether I want to forget it out of courtesy or hold onto it and keep it is still lost on me. Rika talks to me through the door, "Why are you here?!"
"We had a date today... remember?" I respond tentatively through the door. My cheeks still feel hot.
A moment of silence passes as the gears in her head begin to turn. Her next statement sounds much more awake than the others, "Oh, dammit! I slept in way too long!" The door opens up once more, but only a tiny bit so that just her head can fit into the slot. "I'm sorry," she says, her face beaming red just the same if not deeper than mine.
"Are you just waking up?"
"Yeah, I always sleep in on Sundays."
"I know that. I just never thought it was this late."
"The school week doesn't allow nearly enough sleep in my opinion. I'm just playing catch-up," she explains, her lips giving way to a smile as she does. I guess that's why I wasn't able to get a hold of her via phone this morning, but...
"Until 6:00 PM?"
Rika gives me a puzzled look, and looks back into her room with a small "Wha..." I assume she's looking at her clock, because when she turns back to me, her face has a whole new wave of blush coming on.
"I- I thought- I just-..."
"Don't worry about it, we all have our days," I say smiling, almost laughing at her stammer.
"Well, I've kinda throw a wrench into our little date plan today haven't I?"
"Hey, it's fine. I'll just wait out here for a bit while you get ready."
She scowls at that, and seems to mull something over. "I'm not gonna leave you out in the hallway, that's rude." Her eyes move away from me as she says the next part, "Listen, I'm gonna let you in. The damage is already done."
The door swings open again, but she hides herself behind it this time. My mind races for a moment, just as any teenage boy's whose naked girlfriend is inviting him into her room would.
"A-Are you sure?"
"Yes I am. But no peeking!"
She runs off into her bathroom before I come in, making sure that I'm not allowed another glimpse of her. I tentatively step through the passage, feeling more than a little awkward. I stand in her room for a moment focused on the thick silence that suddenly envelops me, as it seems both Rika and I are afraid to make any noise. Her room is strikingly similar to mine, adhering to what I assume is the Yamaku dorms' default decor. The only differences are the colors of the walls, a sky blue compared to my beige, the desktop computer at the corner of the room, and the small decals on the ceiling that somehow caught my eye. They blend in with the color of the roof, making them barely distinguishable. Shaped like five point stars, they litter the space above.
"What are these star things on the ceiling?" I ask, hoping to cut through the quiet of the room.
"Just turn off the lights," Rika responds.
Her lightswitch is in the same place as my dorm, right above the nightstand. I move to turn it off, but the surface of said nightstand causes me a short hesitation as I notice Rika's medication. There are at least two or three more orange bottles than my own collection and many hold the larger kind of pills that you're able to cut in half. She has a small pill calendar, and each day is filled to the brink.
The sound of the shower springing to life comes through the wall with the sound of water rushing through the pipes. I stare at the wall as if I can see Rika behind it. With the way she carries herself, you'd almost think that there was nothing wrong with her other than her pale complexion. I wonder if she ever even thinks about her heart, as it's never come up since the night of the festival. Even then, after having chest pains that put her on the ground, she dismissed it. In contrast, my own heart is still constantly in the back of my mind.
I do my best to break away from the thought, remembering why I'm over next to the nightstand in the first place. With a click, the lights go out and nothing changes at first. My eyes slowly adjust to the darkness, revealing the bright points on the ceiling, glowing a faint green. The decals glow in the dark.
While I've never seen anyone decorate their room with these, I can't say that it comes as a surprise. Rika's mind practically lives in the stars it seems. That's a contradiction though because she always seems to be in the moment as well. What is she? A dreamer or is she more contemporary?
There are a lot of things she seems to be at the same time. She's shy, yet she wears her heart on her sleeve. She's modest, yet has an ego. The one thing that I can say for sure is that she's impulsive.
She does what she feels like she should do, illustrated by our tree climbing escapade, her wit, and the first kiss we shared.
My thoughts always go back to that kiss, but now I know why. I'm uncomfortable with it because Rika never thought it through, it was just an "in the moment" thing. There was no chance for the two of us to truly bond beforehand. Some say that the beginning is the most important part of a relationship, and we never really had that beginning. She's funny, smart, and easy to be around, but so far the relationship still feels slightly hollow to me. I still don't know her that well.
Maybe the same thoughts are running through her head. Maybe she feels like she made a mistake when she acted on that particular impulse. If she does, she's obviously making an effort to right the wrong.
We have a common goal then. Two heads are better than one.
Realizing I've been standing in the dark and staring at glowing pieces of plastic for five whole minutes, I flip the lights back on, and my body falls onto Rika's bed with a soft thump. The sound of the shower is like white noise, with an occasional excess splash as the user steps out of the stream. A familiar scent rises from the bed as I relax.
The smell automatically brings a smile to my face. I don't know why watermelon suits Rika so well, or why I love it so much. I breathe a deep breath through my nose, taking it in.
I hope she puts on some of that perfume before we leave.
The flowing water in the pipes comes to a stop as Rika finishes her shower. I can the hear wet footsteps through the door and the rustling of a towel as she dries herself off.
"Alright, pervert, I'm going to come out and grab some clothes. Look away!" Rika calls.
"Fine!" I comply, shoving my head into her pillow to show her that I'm not peeking.
"Go ahead!" I yell into the pillow.
I hear the door open, rushed footsteps, drawers opening, drawers closing, more rushed footsteps, and the door closing once more.
"All good!" Rika calls, but I already had my head out of the pillow after the door closed.
The girl gets ready quickly, needing only a total of ten minutes to slip into her clothes, put her hair into her trademark braid, brush her teeth, and all the rest of the usual morning routine stuff.
She emerges from the bathroom with a shroud of steam around her. Her outfit consists of skinny jeans, a belt, a baggy white t-shirt, and a long sleeved light blue cardigan. Her hair is still wet from the shower as she pulls me up from the bed and embraces me, leaving a small spot on both of our tops.
"I'm sorry for taking so long," she mutters to me.
"It's only been 20 minutes."
"I still shouldn't be waking up at 6:00 PM."
"Well you're here now. Are we ready to go?" I ask, breaking away from the hug.
"Yes," she says, but before we can make it out the door, she changes her mind, "Hold up! One more thing!"
She runs back into the bathroom and I hear the small spritz of a perfume bottle being used.