I start cooling down, and I don't even know how many laps I did today. I'm drenched in sweat, but I feel really, really good right now, and it's not just the usual runner's high. I let the feeling wash over me for a few laps before reluctantly going over to the bleachers to grab a drink. I don't know exactly how things are going to go with Mom tonight, but at this moment, I feel like nothing's going to stop me. Ever.
Unfortunately, I still have things to do before that, so I have to head back to the dorm. I polish off my drink, sit on the bleachers and take off my running legs. Since I don't have time for another visit to the nurse, I make sure to do a thorough check before putting the other ones on. Everything looks nice and clear, so I finish the switch, pack everything up again and start walking.
Once I get back, I take the fastest shower I can under the circumstances. Even then, by the time I get back to my room it's already four-thirty, so it's a good thing I'm fast even without my running legs. I think about packing them, because I'm pretty sure we both might need a run while we're there, and there's got to be a track somewhere near his house, doesn't there? But I'll need them for our morning run, so I'll just pack them afterwards.
I finish getting dressed, wrangle my hair, and after taking one last look at Rin's door – still locked – I power-walk through the girls' dorm. When I get outside, I break into a run down the path to the main gate. Sure enough, Hisao is already there, and he definitely
looks good. He somehow even got his hair to behave, which is almost enough to get me to forgive that sweater-vest of his. It may not be a suit, but it's still worth looking at. "Hey, Hisao!" I call out to him. "Been waiting long?"
"No, I just got here myself." I was expecting the usual teasing for being late, but he sounded serious. That's no good, because I need to keep the mood as light as I can so I don't think about this too much. I was already starting to tense up again after having to rush to get here, so I need to try and turn this around.
"The bus didn't come yet, did it? If it did, we could always run to my house," I say with a wink.
"My heart's overclocking already," Hisao says with a sigh, "so I think I'll pass."
Okay, he doesn't sound any happier, but at least he's trying.
"A little, yeah," he replies, staring up the road. Probably hoping the bus'll get here soon – that's what I'd be doing if I was him. "Like I said, this is the first time I've met the parents of a girl I was dating. I spoke with Lilly's mother briefly a couple of times, but I never even talked to Iwanako's parents."
"Yeah, I guess it's kind of a big deal, isn't it? Hajime never met Mom, either, but that was..." My voice trails off as I think about what might have happened if I had
brought Hajime home. Knowing what I know now, I'm glad I never did. Hisao really should get to be my first in something
, after all.
Fortunately, the bus comes around the side of the hill to stop me from thinking about that any more. It doesn't stop the nervous feeling that had been building already, though. By the time we get to the bottom of the hill, all the clearing of my head that I did this afternoon has been un-cleared, and I feel even worse now because there's nothing left that I can do about it. I can't stop fidgeting, I keep knocking my legs against the seat in front of us, and I feel like I can't even talk. Next to me Hisao is staring straight out the window, not saying a word either. I can see his eyes reflected in it, and all I see in them is seriousness.
I wonder if tomorrow will be easier or harder than this.
When we get off the bus, I feel like if I don't change the mood, disaster is imminent. As we walk down the street, I force my mouth to start working again. "Don't expect anything fancy, Hisao. Mom doesn't really play hostess very much, so this'll be pretty informal. I mean, at least try
"Heh, you should try doing that yourself," he says teasingly, and I elbow him in the ribs lightly. Hisao acting a little more normally takes a little weight off of me, too. "Seriously, my first time meeting my girlfriend's mother, your first time bringing your boyfriend home, and you think I'm going to be calm
? I just hope I get out in one piece."
I bite back my retort, because thinking about that is still a little sensitive for me. "Well, I get my brilliant personality from her," I say with an appropriately brilliant grin, "so as long as you can handle two of me you'll be fine!"
Hisao rolls his eyes as we turn off the main road. As we approach my house I put my arm around Hisao's waist and give him a squeeze, as much to reassure both of us as anything. Hisao looks at me and smiles, so I think my effort paid off. I knock on the front door and say, "Hey, Mom! Open up! We're here!"
Mom comes out almost immediately – I expected that, since she was probably standing right there in the kitchen waiting to pounce – and says, "You know, people normally wait for a few minutes before they start shouting at the door."
She winks at me, and out of the corner of my eye I see Hisao looking at Mom. I expected that, too – even at her age, Mom's still a bombshell beauty like her daughter. I give his hand a squeeze to remind him I'm here, then reply, "And most mothers say hello to their daughters instead of scolding them right away."
Mom smiles at that. "Of course. Welcome home, dear. Please, come in, both of you." The three of us go into the kitchen and she closes the door behind us. With the usual teasing out of the way, Mom focuses her attention on my boyfriend. "So, you're Hisao Nakai. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. Between my daughter and your school nurse, I almost feel as though I know you already."
Hisao swallows loud enough for me to hear before saying, "It's a pleasure to meet you, too, Mrs. Ibarazaki."
"So, since Emi's been training you, have you picked up her appetite as well?"
Hisao looks a bit embarrassed, and I frown at Mom. However, he bounces back quickly. "Well, I might have, if she wasn't always stealing my food when we have lunch."
Mom laughs as I roll my eyes at him. "I can already see why you like this one, Emi," she says. "If he can run with you and
tease you like that, he's definitely boyfriend material."
"Well, yeah, but I didn't need you
to tell me that
Mom laughs again, and then leads us into the dining room. Hisao's eyes pop out again. I can see why, as it's definitely a serious spread. "Wow, you made enough to feed an army here," I comment.
"It sounds like Hisao might need it," Mom says with a giggle. "Emi, could you help me bring out the drinks?"
"Sure, Mom," I say, trying to sound carefree. As expected, she's wasting no time in wanting to talk to me.
Once we're in the kitchen, she asks, "Dear, I just want to ask you one thing: Does Hisao know about what we discussed the other night?"
I lower my head and reply, "Yeah, I talked to him about it. Actually, I've talked to him about a lot of things – even about Dad."
Mom doesn't say anything for a moment, but I can feel the weight of her eyes on me. "In that case, I won't hold anything back tonight. Is that all right with you?"
Reflexively, I almost deny it, and especially after what happened at lunch I hate myself for that a little. "Yeah, it's all right. I wouldn't have brought him here if it wasn't."
Looking back up at Mom, her expression looks a little weird. "In that case, let's not keep your boyfriend waiting." I'm not sure what to make of that, but she picks up one of the two trays on the counter and goes back to the dining room, so I follow her. As she pours our drinks, she says, "I must admit, Hisao, of all the times for Emi to invite you over, I wouldn't have expected it to be tonight."
Hisao sneaks a glance at me as he shifts uncomfortably in his seat. I nod to tell him it's okay. "Under the circumstances, I was a little surprised, too. If you feel like I might be getting in the way of something tonight..."
"Not at all," Mom says smoothly. "If Emi wants you to be here, then I won't argue. Actually, after all this time, it makes me very happy to know that she's finally found someone she feels she can trust."
Hisao relaxes, but only a little. "So am I, Mrs. Ibarazaki. I can say without hesitation that the feeling is mutual."
Mom smiles slightly. "Please, call me Meiko. If my daughter is going to treat you as part of her family already, then I think I can do the same."
I nearly spit out my milk as she says that. At first I think she's moving awfully fast, but when I stop to think about it so am I. After all, I invited Hisao to be here when I'm likely to be having a very personal conversation with my mother. I don't think it was a mistake, exactly, but if Mom starts going off in some weird direction I may decide otherwise.
Finally, Mom sits down, and we start dinner. As we eat, our conversation veers from normal to weird and back again. That has my brain going back and forth, and it makes me wonder, even though I want
Hisao here, do I really want him right
here when I talk to Mom? So, while we're cleaning up, I pull him aside, taking him out to the walkway in front of the house.
"What's up?" he asks.
Lowering my voice, I say, "Listen, Hisao, I think...I need to talk to Mom by myself after all." Hisao raises an eyebrow, but thankfully doesn't say anything. "This might get pretty ugly on both sides, but for once in my life I don't want to hold anything back from Mom. I don't know if I can do that if you're there, but...knowing you're...um, nearby
will help. If you don't want to stick around, I understand, since I kinda roped you into this in the first place, so just tell me."
Hisao sighs heavily. "No, it's okay. Actually, I kind of expected something like this, but I was ready either way." He puts a hand on my shoulder, and I let out a breath. "So, yeah, if you need me, I'll be right here."
I pull myself up and kiss Hisao on the cheek. "I know, and thanks," I say. "I don't want Mom holding anything back from me, either, but if things get too
ugly, we may need to beat a hasty retreat."
"I was ready for that, too," he says with a chuckle, "but to where? Back to Yamaku?"
I grin at him. "Hey, I still have some
secrets I haven't gotten around to telling you! One of them is the place we'll be going if things go sideways. I was planning to show it to you someday, but I'd kinda rather not have to do it today."
"Heh, understood. In that case, good luck."
"Thanks!" I say, opening the door to the house again. I hope I don't need luck, because I think I might have used all of mine up lately. After one last look back at Hisao, I close the door. I take a couple of deep breaths, ready for whatever course Mom takes with this. As I walk into the dining room, I see her sitting at the table, hands folded in front of her, and I think she's read the mood, so I just charge out of the starting blocks. "Okay, Mom," I say softly. "I'm ready to do this."
"I suppose I am, too," she responds. Mom turns to face me, and she looks sad for some reason. "Before you say anything, dear, there's something I want to tell you." She takes a deep breath before continuing, "I know you think I didn't appreciate what you did for me in the months after you got out of the hospital. I know that what I said the other day probably did nothing to change your mind about that, but please give me the opportunity to do so again."
And here I was, thinking I was going to be the one apologizing.
"Mom, I..." I start to say, but when I see the look on her face I stop. "Okay, go ahead."
Mom straightens up, looking directly at me. "The other day, I said I might not even be here without Goro. What I didn't say was that without you, without knowing that you could take care of yourself, I wouldn't have been able to rely on Goro, either. Knowing that was what allowed me to make sure I took care of myself
Mom looks up at the ceiling for a moment. "When we lost your father, I felt like I'd lost myself completely. I didn't want to be a burden to my parents, and I couldn't impose on Kenichi's. They lived so far away, and I didn't want to force you to move and lose your life here after...everything you'd already lost. When you got out of the hospital, I saw that you had strength that I didn't." Mom smiles sadly as she says, "To be honest, I was a little envious of that. That was your father's influence within you, and I thought because of that, we could both move on."
"By the time I was myself again, I started..." Tears start to form at the corners of Mom's eyes, so I reach out and take her hand. "I started to see the cost of that strength on you. You were closed off, and you'd stopped letting people get close to you. I could even feel you pulling away from me a little. I wanted so much for you to rely on me, but you wouldn't. For a while, it felt like I'd lost you, too, and I almost gave up entirely." I gasp slightly, but Mom squeezes my hand. "I've never told you this, but shortly after you entered Yamaku, I broke down and bought myself four bottles of sake. I don't know how he knew, but when I got home Goro was standing there in the doorway, waiting for me." Mom sighs, laughing bitterly at the same time. "That was probably the second time he saved my life."
"I think it was also the time I realized...well, he made sure I knew, without any doubt, that I had reasons to keep going. Maybe it took someone on the outside to see it, but he could tell that sooner or later, you'd come out from behind those walls you'd built around yourself." Mom smiles through her tears, and now there's nothing left of the feelings I had a little while ago. "Sure enough, he was right. Seeing you with Hisao today, it's obvious how you feel about each other. More than anything else, that makes me feel like all the struggles we've been through to get here have been worthwhile. I'm very, very proud of you, Emi – of everything you've done for me, and of everything you've become. No matter how much I might tease you, always remember that."
Something inside me feels both great and lousy after I hear that. "You know, Mom, I've wanted to hear that for seven years. I mean, I always kinda knew you felt that way, but this is the first time you've said something like that out loud. It's just..." I stop talking for a second and laugh bitterly. "It's just that your timing stinks. I was coming here because I wanted to apologize
for what I said the other day, because..."
I suddenly feel like Rin, because the words I want to say aren't coming out right for some reason. At least Mom's not being impatient or finishing my sentences thinking she knows what I'm going to say. I take another deep breath, and get a handle on my mouth again. "...because I feel like I'd gotten stuck like I was after the accident. I always talk about wanting to live in the moment, but maybe...maybe that's
the moment I was living in all this time instead of the one I'm in, you know? It just took until now to figure it out. But, see, that's the problem
! As soon as I start living in the moment I'm supposed
to be living in, I start thinking about what's going to happen to you!" I can feel my mouth starting to take off, and I can't stop it. "I mean, I'm not even sure about me
and I've been trying to figure out my own future and what's going to happen to me and Hisao and college and life but I don't know how much of that I can do
because I might need to help you and—"
"Emi," Mom says quietly, with that half-smile on her face, the maddening one that says she knows something I don't. "It's all right. I'll be fine, so don't worry about me."
"Mom, how can you say
that?! I can't help but be worried about you! How are you going to keep this house? You're not going to be able to afford it once I leave, or if I don't then when I'm of age next year! I'm—"
"Dear," she replies, gently but with a slight strain in her voice. "I'm glad you're thinking about that kind of thing, and I'm very happy that you've always been worried about me, through every moment of these last seven years. Just believe me when I say that I'm going to be all right."
"But how can
I? Everything you just said is why I need to make sure
! I'm not leaving this house until you give me a good reason why I should think you'll be fine on your own!"
Mom sighs, sounding exhausted. "Because, Emi," she says quietly. "I won't be on my own."
"But..." I start, but then my brain engages and stops my mouth. "Wh-what do you mean you won't be on your own? If I'm not here, then..."
"Emi," Mom says sternly, and my mouth snaps shut. She only does this when it's important
, and I know better than to not listen. "I didn't want to tell you this yet, because I wasn't sure how you'd take it. I know how much you loved your father, and..."
"Hang on, what's Dad got to do with this?"
Mom half-smiles and says, "You could say he's got everything to do with it. Before I say anything else, I want to confirm something."
"It's okay, Mom. That's what I was saying earlier – Hisao knows about the accident, about Dad, and..." I take a deep breath before finishing that thought. "...and if there's anything he doesn't know about me, that's fine, too. I don't want to run away from things anymore, whether it's with you or with him."
Suddenly, Mom breaks out in a satisfied smile, like someone lifted a huge weight off of her. Well, I guess that's what I just did. "If that's true, then I shouldn't worry about telling you this after all. In fact, why don't you go ahead and invite Hisao back in? I think he might be interested to hear this, too."
Now Mom really
has me confused, but also curious. "Okay," I say, getting up and walking quickly over to open the door. Like the gentleman he is, Hisao is still standing out by the street, so I walk out to him. "Hisao, you can come inside now."
Seeing my expression, Hisao raises an eyebrow. "Are you sure it's safe?" he asks, I think at least partially as a joke.
"No, I'm not," I say honestly, "but she said there's something she wants to tell me, and wants you to hear, too."
"I see. Under the circumstances I can't exactly say no, can I?"
"No, that probably wouldn't be a good idea," I say with a nervous smile. Returning to the house, we come back into the dining room and sit down across from Mom. "Okay, Mom," I say, looking her straight in the eyes. "So what's this thing you want to tell us?"
"I hope you'll forgive an old woman's foolishness," Mom starts, which is usually a good sign. She looks back and forth between us, then sighs, "Both of you. Since the accident, I've never seen Emi put as much faith in anyone as she has in you, Hisao." She smiles wryly as she adds, "Not even me. For the second time today, I'm going to have faith in her decision."
I'm still lost, and even Hisao's eyes look like they're going in circles. "I don't know if I'm worthy of all that," he says carefully, "but I'll do my best to live up to it."
"That's a very good answer, Hisao," Mom adds with a light laugh. I don't know what she's thinking, but right now everything seems to be going pretty well, so even I'm not stupid enough to open my mouth. "So, here it is. Emi, I don't know if I'll ever really get over your father's death, but I know that it's well past time for me to move forward with my life. I probably should have done it sooner, but after the mistake I'd made before, I couldn't bring myself to do it until I knew you were moving forward, too." Mom looks directly at Hisao and says, "I have to thank you for the part you played in helping her do that."
"I'm...not sure how much credit I can take for that," Hisao says with a super-serious look on his face. "I really only know how much Emi has done for me, which is a lot. I can only hope I've been good for her, too."
I reach out my hand and squeeze Hisao's, a grin on my own face. "You can go ahead and thank him, Mom. I may never hear the end of it, though."
At my wink, Mom suddenly laughs. "You know, if I didn't think it would insult you, I'd mention how much what you just said reminds me of myself." Remembering how she compared Hisao to Dad, I can't help but groan again, lowering my head until it hits the table. "So, since you've found someone that's gotten you moving forward, then you shouldn't mind if I say that the same thing has happened to me." I lift my head when she says that, and my eyes go wide. My heart starts picking up steam, and I hope like crazy that I know what she's going to say next.
Okay, universe...if I'm right, I owe you ten times over what I already do.
So, make me right, you got it?!
"Actually," Mom continues, getting up and walking toward the hallway, "I really shouldn't say that I found him, so much as he's been around all along, and it just took us a while to figure things out."
This isn't a trick, right, universe? You're not going to snatch the rug out from under me now, right?
Mom leaves the room for a moment, and I hear the sound of a drawer opening and closing. The anticipation gets to me, and I stand up, my eyes glued to the doorway. When she comes back, I can't help but notice something on her finger that wasn't there before. "You see, Goro and I are going to get married."
Even though my legs aren't made for jumping, I don't think I touch the floor before throwing my arms around my mother and hugging the stuffing out of her like I haven't done in ages. Through my tears of joy, I shout what strike me as the most appropriate words: "IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME!" I feel Mom hugging me back, and I try to dial back the decibels as I say right next to her ear, "Do you know how long I've been waiting for you two to get together?"
Mom pulls back slightly to look at me. "Waiting? For..."
I smile through my tears. "Come on, Mom – how long has he been a part of our lives now? I already kinda think of him as part of the family. I mean, some of the things we talk about aren't exactly the kind of things a father and daughter talk about, and I probably won't ever really think of him as "Dad" or anything, but I already know you two love each other. So, yeah, waiting! Now marry him already!"
Mom pulls away and throws her hands up in defeat. "Okay, I will!" I suddenly find myself laughing, and then Mom is too, and she hugs me even tighter than before. "Thank you so much, Emi. You don't know how happy this makes me."
Into the middle of all this, I hear a voice from behind me. "Um...excuse me..." says Hisao, sounding lost again. I'd almost forgotten he was here. "Are you talking about...Nurse
"Yes, Hisao," Mom says as she catches her breath. "I'm talking about Goro Kaneshiro, Yamaku's head nurse."
Hisao laughs nervously a little. "Um, I...guess I need to congratulate you, then."
Mom's grin gets bigger, and she separates from me and surprises Hisao by hugging him, too. "Thank you, Hisao," she says after letting him go.
Hisao starts getting a little red himself, causing me to start laughing again. "See, Mom? I told you he was a blusher!"
"So you did," Mom says as she finally starts wiping her face with her handkerchief. "Hisao, I'd like to ask you to please not tell anyone at Yamaku about this. I don't want this to cause any problems for Emi, so we weren't planning on telling anyone until after she graduates."
"Especially Hakamichi," I add. "I just know she'd find some way to make my life difficult over this."
Hisao gives me a sour look, then turns to Mom and says, "Don't worry, I won't say anything. That reminds me, we really should be getting back to Yamaku soon."
Mom glances at the clock. "Oh, dear, you're right, it is starting to get late. I don't think you'll miss curfew, but if you're worried you're welcome to sleep on the couch here."
As she says that, I realize that I haven't even told her our plans for tomorrow. This
could be where things get ugly. "Um...actually, we need to get back to school and...er...finishpackingforatriptoTokyo."
Mom blinks a couple of times before saying, "Tokyo? Emi, why didn't you tell me about this?"
"Actually, I invited her," Hisao says. "After all, since Emi brought me here to meet you, I really should bring her to meet my parents."
Mom thinks for a moment, then gets a devilish look in her eye. I mentally prepare for the worst. "Oh, I see
. In that case, Emi, how soon will I be getting grandchildren?"
"Ugh," I say, "it'll be a long, long
"Hold on, grandch—" Hisao starts to say, but then I see Mom wink at him, and he stops for a second. "Um, we...really should
wait until we're done with school, after all," Hisao says, now knowingly adding fuel to the fire, "but you know, we don't have
to. How many do you think you'll want?"
"Oh, at least
half a dozen! You really should get started quickly, then, right?"
"Ohhh, I get it now," I say with a grin, trying to stop this conversation before my head explodes. "You're trying to get a whole year's worth of embarrassing me into one night, right? You just wait until we get back...and you!" I push Hisao playfully, and he almost falls out of his chair laughing. "You're supposed to be on my side here! Maybe we should double your routine tomorrow!"
"All right, all right!" Hisao says, unfortunately ducking away from me before I can inflict any further punishment. "Sorry, Mrs. Iba...Meiko, but I think we'd better get out of here while I'm still in one piece!"
Mom, who's still laughing herself, says, "In that case, Hisao, good luck! Take care on your way back, Emi," she calls after me as I'm pushing him out the door.
"We will! Good night, Mom!" I don't look back to see if she's watching, but I have a feeling she is, because it's what she does. Hisao and I are in high spirits as we make our way to the bus stop, teasing each other until we arrive. Still, there's something nagging at the back of my mind. For whatever reason, I can't quite grab a hold of everything that just happened, and my head is trying to deal with it all at once. Like, now that I've started to let people get close again, all the worrying I should have been doing is catching up with me. It feels like when I push myself a little too hard, and I can't quite catch my breath. It...doesn't feel quite right
Hey, universe? Can you...slow down, just a little? Just for a while?
It's only after we've been on the bus for a few minutes that Hisao's voice pulls me back. "Hey, Emi, are you all right?"
"Um...Hisao? I...I'm not sure if I'm all right or not." Hisao looks at me with concern, and for once it doesn't bother me. "If it's okay with you, can I stay with you tonight? I just need to go back to my room and get some stuff, so..."
Hisao reaches across and puts his arm around my shoulders. "Yeah, of course." I lean into him, trying try to let the tension slip, but the ride just isn't long enough to do the trick. When the bus stops I jump to my feet and scramble off. Hisao quickly follows, asking, "You want me to walk you back to your dorm?"
"Nah, I'll be fine," I say, nudging him with my shoulder as we walk up the path. "I've done my share of walking this way at night, after all."
"I didn't mean that...I just meant, you know, for the company."
I smile despite myself. "It's fine, Hisao. I think I need to move around a little, you know? Besides, I'll be lying next to you before you know it."
"Looking forward to it," he replies, a little uncertainly. I hurry along back to the girls' dorm, and when I get to my room, I notice that Rin's door is still closed. I check, and it's unlocked, so she's at least back. I look over at Misaki's door, which is also closed, and a quick check of the common room tells me she's not there. It's just one more thing keeping me from settling down, but there's nothing I can do right now, so I make a mental note to call Misaki in the morning. I go into my room, grab my bag and my running legs and head for Hisao's room at top speed.
As usual during summer break, security is easily avoidable, so I arrive without any trouble. After a quick but passionate greeting, I set my bag down on the floor. Hisao looks a little uneasy himself, so I ask, "Something on your mind, Hisao?"
"Yeah, kind of," he replies. "Are you really sure you're ready for all this? Meeting my parents, my friends, and the girl who put me in the hospital?"
I stop for a moment to think about that. In a weird way, knowing Hisao is still unsure himself is kinda comforting. I take a deep breath before answering. "Yeah, I think I'm probably ready, at least as much as you were for tonight's dinner. I know I was flaking a little before, and, yeah, having all that in front of me is probably part of it. But you know what else?" I wrap my arms around Hisao's neck. "We faced tonight together, and I'm ready to face tomorrow together, too." Hisao smiles, and we kiss again. Then I add, "But after this, let's try not to spring this kind of thing on each other out of the blue, okay?"
"Agreed," Hisao says, pulling away from me to start unbuttoning his sweater-vest. "I don't think I really have much in the way of skeletons in my closet anymore. If I did, my mother will probably put them on full display about five seconds after we walk in the door."
I laugh a little at that. "You know, Hisao, the more I hear about your Mom, the more I think I'm going to like her."
Hisao finishes undressing and lies down. "Yeah, I think she'll like you, too, at least once she gets over the whole "you're taking my Hisao away" thing."
"Oh, so she's one of those
, too, huh?" I say, rolling my eyes. As I remove my legs, I gesture toward the light. "You gonna turn that off?"
"Good idea," he says, rolling over and stretching his arm out to do so. "After all, we might not have the energy to do it after..."
I interrupt him before he finishes that thought. "Um...actually, Hisao, I think we should probably...um...abstain tonight."
Turning to me, he says, "You're not still mad about me wanting to see Iwanako, are you?"
I wave my hand in dismissal of the very suggestion. "Pffft, not at all. Trust me, Hisao, if I was still mad at you, you'd know it. For one thing, I wouldn't be here right now."
Hisao sinks down into his pillow, looking dejected. "Yeah, that's true. So, what did
bring on this sudden bout of chastity?"
I can feel him trying to pout at me as I slide into bed next to him. I'm very
sympathetic, but I do have a good reason. "With both of us feeling a little off, I don't want to take any chances. The last thing I need when I'm about to face your parents is to be meeting them at the hospital instead of your house."
Hisao's expression immediately switches to an apologetic one. "Yeah, I guess you have a point." He lies down, obviously frustrated, but probably not as much as I am. I can live with that, though, at least for tonight. What I can't
live with is not feeling his warmth, so once he settles down I scoot over and nestle up against him, one arm across his chest. I feel him flinch a little as he says, "So, you're going to torture me now?" I stick my tongue out at him, and he surprises me by snatching it with his lips, turning it into a very, very
tempting good-night kiss.
If this were any other time...
When we pull apart, I bury my face in his shoulder. "Jerk," I say with a giggle.
"Good night, Emi," he replies teasingly.
"Mmmmm...good night, Hisao," I tease right back. I lay there for a while, listening to his breathing, and to his heart. As I drift off to sleep, I can't help but think that if there was ever a moment I wanted to live in, and keep on living in forever, it might just be this one.