Act Two, Scene Three;
There are a few sounds that are incredibly universal no matter where you hear them. Unfortunately, one of the more annoying ones, and the one that's piercing through my mind right now is that of an alarm clock. An
alarm clock, but not my
alarm clock. I'm vaguely aware of a weight suddenly rapidly shifting itself off my shoulder as I open my eyes to the menu of the last DVD me and Minako had watched last night in an otherwise dark room. It takes a long moment before the vague sensation of simply being in a weird, almost wrong situation finds its roots. I watched the movies in Mina's room last night, and don't exactly have a television of my own in my room. The alarm shrieking, which has just stopped, isn't my alarm... I feel heat rushing right to my face as I realize that I must have unintentionally fallen asleep in Mina's room last night, despite my intention of leaving just after the last movie.
I managed to, completely unintentionally fall asleep and spend probably the entire night in a girl's room... on her bed... presumably with her right there.
This whole thing is exactly the sort of deal that can cause a lot
of trouble for everyone involved. It could spark all sorts of nasty rumors if someone manages to catch me leaving her room early in the morning, or if someone somehow managed to note my absence from my own room overnight. As panicked thoughts begin to stack one on top of another, another simple one comes right to the forefront of my mind at another simple realization a moment too late. The alarm going off a minute ago meant that, in all likelihood, Minako had turned it off.
Turning with an expression probably suited to a horror movie, I look over to my left, where Mina had been sitting next to me last night, and see her stretching for a moment. In the low-light, I can more or less just make out her silhouette as, after stretching she turns towards me... promptly practically falling onto my shoulder with a groan. I'm suddenly very aware that the shoulder she's on is already warmer than the rest of me, as well as the fact that I feel like my cheek has been resting on something fairly solid all night. My mind finally working just a little bit faster, it doesn't exactly take a genius to realize that we've probably been sleeping leaning right up against one another the whole night.
My sleepy mind finally begins to somewhat lurch into a real gear as I take a few seconds to calm myself down and just try to appraise the situation.
It's all but impossible to know if it's light or dark outside with the curtains still up and blocking any light from getting in, but craning my neck to see the alarm clock, I'm surprised to see it reading five-forty-six. With Minako, I'd always more or less assumed that she wasn't a morning person... especially with the whole fact that she'd been more or less able to turn off the alarm and fall right back to sleep on top of me without noticing a thing. The heavy sleeping may well work to my advantage in getting out of here without having to explain too much.
It's still probably pretty dark outside this early in the morning... and there really shouldn't be too terribly many people up, or at least up and outside, or looking out their windows. That's good, because it makes my chance of getting seen leaving the girls' dormitories in the morning all the lower. As soon as I get outside, I'm almost home-free so long as nobody's decided that today was a great random day to check my room for me.
Of course, I bring myself to wondering exactly what would be the shortest route from this room to the nearest exit pretty quickly. The whole layout of the building is... not exactly the most intuitive for a dormitory. Picking my brain for the best method is more just trying to optimize getting out using the same way I came in a little more quietly, and hopefully more stealthily. It is
a Sunday, so I'm more than a little hopeful that Mina's the only person on the floor with either a completely broken, or somewhat improperly set-up alarm clock. I can't think of too many people who'd be up willingly at this hour... even on a school-day with the school being so close, it seems almost excessive.
Mind working just as fast as it can so early in the morning without coffee, I quickly review the plan I've come up with one last time. Operation; please-don't-fail-and-get-me-and-Mina-into-trouble.
- Step one, extract myself from underneath Mina, which seems like it might actually be somewhat feasible without waking her up.
- Step two, grab my umbrella and shoes as I quietly get myself out of Mina's room. The umbrella part of this step is key to potential partial-success if I'm seen leaving the girl's dormitories.
- Step three, get out of the girl's dormitories, hopefully without being seen. Upon exiting the dormitories, immediately open up the umbrella and hold it over my head somewhat closely.
- Step four, walking casually, but still avoiding anyone, make it all the way back to my own dormitory. Lose the umbrella if anyone's nearby.
- Step five, back to my room. Immediately change into something casual, just in case.
Satisfied that I can do it all and hopeful that I'll able be either to completely avoid, or at least able to mitigate my chances of getting into a sticky situation, I mentally prepare myself to carry out step one.
Of course, even the best made plans can be pretty easily shattered when you forget some crucial little piece. Like the fact that many alarms have easy-to-hit 'sleep' buttons and harder to hit on/off buttons so that you're forced to get up when the annoying little devices blare out whatever they're programmed to in order to wake you up. And that these 'sleep' buttons only give you from five to ten minutes before the alarms go off again... making the motion of getting Mina off me carefully pretty much immediately disappearing as a possibility as she immediately begins to murmur and stir.
Mina's confusion as I rapidly try to disengage from pushing her off of me gently, and the ensuing tiny bit of a tangle that we get into in her haste for turning off the alarm and mine for not accidentally coming off as a complete creep is pretty justifiable. The words that she's mumbling tiredly, again reinforcing my idea of her not being a morning person sound vaguely like curses that could make sailors blush... although maybe I'm mishearing her. Still, it seems like this time I don't have quite the same amount of luck in Minako wanting to just go right back to sleep as she sleepily seems to be looking in my vague direction for a long, long moment. I'm glad that I don't think she can see the blush that's crept right back into my face.
"Hisao...?" The question is bleary as Mina rubs her eyes sleepily.
"Er... Yeah." I admit, surprised by Mina's rather simple reaction to it.
"Haaaaa." She starts out, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, even with the tiredness of her voice I can practically make out the invisible grin on her face by her tone when she continues. "You did
fall asleep. Knew it." The only real accentuation to the statement is a long yawn before she shakes her head, causing her hair to go about a little wildly for a moment as she tries to wake herself up. I'm a little surprised for her whole... lack of concern about the situation. She turns around for a moment, looking at the clock and grumbling something inaudibly before getting up and turning on the lights. Just as I begin to consider pointing out the situation to her, I'm floored by the fact that she simply opens the door and leaves. My jaw drops, and my mind screeches to what I feel is an almost audible halt at the fact.
I'm not exactly sure if Mina simply doesn't care, or if she's just tired enough to really not have put two and two together quite yet. Now that she's awake though, the whole situation is even weirder seeming. Within just a minute, which is just long enough to pick my jaw up from the floor, Minako comes back into the room, almost silently. Just as I'm about to ask her what she was thinking, she brings a finger to her lips.
"Nobody's in the halls. You're clear." She says softly, letting loose another jaw-cracking yawn as she grins slightly at my confusion. "Set the alarm for early, since you looked almost asleep. Now... I wanna get back to sleep. Unless you really wanted to stay." I feel my ears and cheeks heat right up as I look away while Mina says the last bit with a giggle, apparently all set from the get-go to tease me. Figuring that time is of the essence though, I immediately stand up and bow ever-so-slightly in relief at her scoping out the hallways for me and setting the alarm for an ungodly hour.
"Thanks, Mina. I'll uh... head out." Minako shrugs tiredly, grabbing one of the blankets from the floor and wrapping herself in it, mumbling some sort of a tired affirmative. Frizzy hair, half-lidded eyes, and slouching posture. . . I can't help but feel more than a little guilty about being the reason for her lack of sleep and abrupt awakening this morning, far, far too early. "Thanks for watching out for me... saving me since I was too lazy yesterday."
The dazzling, if tired smile that I get back in response is the tiniest bit confusing; as is the sudden warm embrace, even through a blanket. The response, more or less mumbled into my shoulder and into her blanket is a little better reflecting of what I'd expect from Mina in the mornings. "Yer w'lcme." With that, she totters over to her bed tiredly, eyeing the alarm evilly to make sure that it's in fact off rather than merely sleeping, and flops down into it. I can't help but watch, a little amused, even knowing that my definitely 'safe' timer is becoming less and less accurate with each passing second. Minako seems equally as aware of the fact as she opens an eye, grins a bit and makes a shooing motion with her hand. "See ya later, Hisao."
With that, I finally make my far-too-belated departure. Slipping my shoes on, grabbing my umbrella and flicking the light-switch off as I leave the room. I'm fairly certain that I hear a barely-mumbled 'thanks' for the last action.
After being accosted in the hallway by Kenji, the only real 'hitch' in my getting back to my room unhindered and assuring him that I hadn't been brainwashed, I'd decided to follow in Mina's footsteps and get a few more hours of sleep in. Today though, it seems like my absolutely abysmally lazy streak won't continue. Tossing and turning for a while, I might've managed another hour or two with the sun coming up and the thought of the homework just a few feet away laying undone. Begrudgingly, I finally pull myself up to just get it out of the way... no shortage of yawning while my mind wanders to thoughts of breakfast; despite the fact that I really shouldn't need to eat for the next few days after last night.
Applying myself to my schoolwork, it's actually done a bit quicker than I'd anticipated. Glancing at my watch as I lean back in my chair, I can't help but wonder at the fact that most of my day seems to be pretty much 'done' by eleven in the morning. Leaning back in my chair I stretch myself out as I begin letting my mind wander just a little bit, finally freed from the rigorous logic of physics and math.
My mind immediately finds itself focusing on the most obvious thing, the fact that I'd accidentally fallen asleep in Mina's room. The fact that she'd apparently hardly minded setting things up so that I hadn't really been in danger of getting into any trouble, despite the simple fact that it'd probably be just as easy for her to have woken me up with a few chastising remarks. Hell, it would've been easier, and more like her to have woken me up laughing just a little bit at me for being a 'casual' movie-watcher. I find myself more or less automatically in my little 'stash' of pre-made food and drink as I muse over the fact, popping open the top to a can of coffee as I entertain my thoughts.
little bit could be pretty easily explained by Mina simply deciding to be nice, because we're friends. Watching out for me, and for her while still letting me be comfortable, it could pretty easily just be a really nice gesture on her part.
I can't help as my ears turn red at a few of the other parts though. Like the fact that she'd been sleeping against me for at least a little while before I'd woken up, and even after the alarm had gone off the first time. But that
could be just as easily explained, right? After all, lots of people move around a bit when they sleep. Moving right back to the same position you were in after slamming your alarm off the first time in the morning was absolutely natural too. I can remember more than a few times that I've actually hit the sleep button on my own alarm more than two or three times before I could finally drag myself into consciousness, Mina being more or less still asleep after just once wasn't a big deal.
Even the words and actions after she'd woken up and 'scouted' outside of her room could probably be explained by her still being sleepy. She definitely looked the part of someone who was still fighting it, and she went right back to bed afterwards, almost underscoring it. Jokingly saying that I could stay was right up Mina's alleyway for trying to get a rise out of me, and the warm embrace could probably be explained by the sleepiness, right? There's a nagging voice somewhere in the back of my mind, trying to tell me that people wouldn't say things like that unless they really might not mind it potentially being taken seriously. But the more logical voice, reinforced by the coffee and intent on getting rid of the awkward feeling that the nagging voice is causing, points out that Mina's almost always more than happy to push my buttons to get a rise out of me.
Doing my best to immediately banish a few of the remaining thoughts, feeling a little more fortified now that I've had some coffee, I go back to my homework to double-check a few of the problems. By eleven-thirty, I'm absolutely confident that my work is all as good as it's going to get, and decide to grab some lunch. Despite having had enough pizza yesterday to easily justify missing breakfast, I've got a feeling that skipping out on two meals afterwards would probably be pushing it just a little bit. Peeking outside, and seeing a bit of sunshine for the first time in almost two days, I can't help but sigh in relief as I don't feel the need to grab my umbrella on my way out to the cafeteria.
I can't even feign surprise as soon as I get outside my dorm at seeing Mina exiting the girl's dorm, probably with exactly the same intent. It's almost impossible-seeming, the fact that she's managed to get herself all the way 'put back together' since just a few hours ago. Her hair's back to being relatively straight and out of the way, just a few curls instead of a pretty frizzy mess, in the school's uniform, save her usual scarf back in place around her neck. She's got a bright smile as soon as she sees me, and waves as she walks over to join me.
"Reading my mind now... lunch after skipping breakfast, right?" I ask, getting a nod from Mina as she seems to be pushing towards the gate instead of the cafeteria. She's managing to more or less push me in the same direction, which gets a look of confusion.
"Right! But, I was figuring in town." She says, getting me to realize that I'm being half-dragged along to lunch with her.
Falling right back into my usual habits with her, I find myself wondering out loud. "The town hired you to bring more business in from the school, didn't they?" I ask with a little bit of wonder, as if coming to a profound realization. Mina punches me in the shoulder at that, getting me to chuckle at her response.
"Actually, I was planning on treating you to lunch since you paid for the pizza yesterday. Figured that cafeteria food would probably be pretty bad repayment for pizza." She says, getting me to tilt my head just a little as I look over at her. It'd taken a few minutes of back and forth yesterday to convince her that I could cover the cost of the pizza without too much of a problem... but I suppose that she still wants to pay me back somehow. I fall right back into the comfortable habits of conversation with her immediately.
"So, you were just assuming that I was going to head out around the same time as you? Or were you planning on bringing back lunch for me?"
Minako rolls her eyes at that. "I was planning on texting you and seeing if you wanted to come along. But since I saw you as soon as I went out, I figured you were good to go. Duh!"
We fall right back into the comfortable habit of joking with one another as we head down into the town, grabbing a quick lunch in one of the town's cafes before just wasting some time going around town now that the rain's finally stopped. It strikes me after a while that we've already got a few inside jokes between one another... just little things, regarding stuff like the few more impromptu 'soccer-games' we've had, the few walks around town, and even now it was starting to incorporate the movies we'd watched yesterday. It's all incredibly reminiscent of so many times I'd hung out with my friends back at home, with so much of the same attitude seeming to be the same between me and Mina.
Of course... things aren't quite all exactly the same anymore. After all, there's a reason I'm here at Yamaku in the first place.
"Hisao, you alright?" Mina asks as she sees me rubbing my chest yet again, trying to rub away a dull aching sensation. It'd been something that I'd caught myself doing just a few times as we've been walking around today... mostly by catching Minako looking at me with a bit of obvious concern.
"Y-yeah." I say, stammering slightly, to my own confusion as I suddenly realize that the words are strained.
There's no reason that I should be feeling like this, forcing the words out of my mouth... feeling a bead of sweat suddenly on my forehead as the dull ache continues on. I haven't had a single real 'hiccup' at Yamaku since I've started school almost a month ago. I've been going on walks like this fairly frequently, a few times a week... been eating alright, save the past few meals... been taking my medic- My eyes shoot open wide as I realize that I've forgotten at least one dose of most of my medications, and two of the few I need to take at night. Minako's expression of concern causes me to immediately do my best to hide my own concern.
"I... We... need to get back to school." I grunt, the hand massaging my chest somewhat tightening over it even as I try to keep myself calm.
The doctors had all told me plenty of times... 'if you ever find yourself in a stressful situation, do your very best to calm yourself down, it'll help the situation'. As easy as it all sounded in theory, just taking deep breaths and trying to 'think calm thoughts' didn't really come quite as naturally now as I'd hoped. My chest hurts, and I feel more than a simple pang of guilt as I look over and see Minako's absolutely terrified expression.
"Are you okay, Hisao? Do I need to call an ambulance?" She's asking breathlessly, phone already in hand, ready to dial as I find myself shaking my head while still concentrating on my breathing. Continuing to walk right now just seems like a bad idea... and we're just a little bit outside of town anyways, on a sidewalk that wasn't exactly all too used. I find myself sitting down on the concrete, staring down at the ground guiltily. Ignoring my condition wouldn't make it go away... even if sometimes it felt like it did. The frustration I feel, with myself, with the fact that I'd been cursed with the heart of an eighty-year old before my twentieth birthday comes crashing down all at once. Clenching my jaw, I just stare at the concrete defeatedly as I hope against hope that the dull throbbing will go away. "Hisao?"
Biting back my anger, I look up at Minako, more ashamed of the fact that it'd happened in front of her than anything else about the situation. "Are you okay?" The concern in her voice and eyes cuts deep, even as I'm aware of the fact that the aching is slowly subsiding. I can't maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds as she looks down at me fearfully.
"I-... yeah. I'll be okay." I say past a lump in my throat, concentrating on my breathing for another moment or so. I'm not quite confident in my ability to judge myself as being a hundred percent 'ok' for a few more minutes as I sit here, vaguely aware of the fact that Mina's sat down next to me awkwardly. It's just... shameful. That I can't even go for a walk on a day where I've forgotten my medication, just a light walk and not feel like I'm about to suddenly fall over and scar whoever I'm walking with for life. It's pathetic. I feel a hand on my shoulder for reassurance, and feel myself flushing at the fact that I so obviously need support right now.
I'm not quite able to force myself to look over at Mina as I feel the words slowly begin to roll off my tongue for the first time since I've been diagnosed.
"I've got... a really bad heart." I admit slowly, between deep careful breaths. The dull throbbing's all but gone, replaced with a sensation deep in my gut... guilt. "And... well, forgot to take my medicine this morning. Even with the medicine, I'm supposed to take it pretty easy." I say each word slowly and deliberately, practically chewing on them before I finally spit them out. "Apparently, without taking it, I can't even go for a walk without problems." The last sentence is injected with an absolutely toxic dose of self-loathing as I screw my eyes shut. It just... looking so weak in front of Minako feels worse than I could've possibly imagined.
"Can you make it back to school?" The response is soft and thoughtful, giving me just a small measure of relief.
"Probably... taking it easy." I admit, feeling a shift as Minako stands up next to me, and a hand appears in front of me to help me up. Reluctantly, I grab it and pull myself up, aware of the dullest pain in my chest as I do so. A hand remains on my back for just a moment as I carefully test a few steps forwards, content that with a slow pace I probably won't overexert myself. I'm a bit surprised to hear the sigh of relief in stereo, and manage to look over to Mina for the first time in what feels like ages. She's pretty obviously concerned, the weight of it tugging down at the corners of her mouth until she notices me looking at her. As soon as she does, she gives me a reassuring smile, carefully putting a hand on my back.
"That was... scary." She admits, letting out another sigh of relief as we continue back towards the school at a grueling pace.
I grimace. "I'm sorry..." Minako looks surprised at that, blinking as she looks over at me.
I can't help but being equally as surprised at that, practically mimicking her as I blink and try to find words to explain it. "Because... I should've remembered my medicine, should've been more careful, shouldn't have ignored it until it got that bad, realized it a little earlier so that it didn't scare you." I say slowly, listing off all the reasons and means by which I've screwed things up. Minako gives me an odd smile, one of cautious relief.
"But you caught it before anything really bad happened, right?" I nod, getting a long sigh of relief as Minako's smile gets wider and more optimistic.
"Then everything's okay. As long as you're okay, everything good. I was really, really afraid for a few minutes there that things were going to get worse." It's accompanied by another long sigh of relief as I realize just how pent up Minako had been... scared on my behalf. The rest of the walk back to Yamaku, taking far longer than the walk down had is in near-silence as Mina half-supports me and we take it all easily. She insists that she helps me up to my room even when we get back onto the grounds, helping me to sit on the side of my bed and handing me my medications as I point them out on my bedside dresser.
I'm absolutely exhausted... no doubt thanks to the episode with my heart as I choke down pill after pill as Minako hands them to me after carefully checking the bottles for the proper dosage. Strangely, it looks like after each pill I take a little more tension actually leaves her
rather than me. By the time that I've finished taking all of them, I'm ready for nothing more than to go to sleep for the rest of the day... to wish that I could forget about the whole episode. Still, I feel absolutely compelled to thank Mina for all that she'd done, even if I wasn't quite sure if I could look her in the face after this whole ordeal I'd put her through.
"Thanks... Mina." I say, staring at the floor as I'm vaguely aware of her sitting down next to me, forcing the words past a huge lump in my throat.
I'm surprised as she throws her arms around me, hugging me tightly against her for a moment. "Don't ever scare me like that again." She says, tone a little scolding even as her voice cracks for a moment, pressing herself against me almost urgently, as if making sure that I really am real and solid. I can't help but steal a glance over at her, noticing that her cheeks are matching her scarf and that there's what looks like a trail from a single tear on a face that expresses nothing but complete and utter relief with closed eyes. Before she opens her eyes she dips her head against her scarf to clear away the tiny bit of wetness, and disengages herself from the embrace with a strangely sweet smile.
"You can't just keel over to get away from me, Hisao. You're stuck with me." She says, getting a weak grin out of me as she stands up. "A hundred-percent sure you're okay?" I nod, the simple movement redoubling her smile. The sigh of relief is less pronounced than earlier, but still definite. "Good..." Her face is still flushed as she nods, apparently at an unusual loss for words as she heads towards the door. "I'll... see you around, alright Hisao?"
"Alright." I croak out, awkwardly rubbing my neck as Mina does the same as she closes the door with a smile.
I feel like my face is probably mirroring hers, completely red as I mentally find myself replaying the feeling of her against me and the obvious relief at my admitting I was alright, even the stubborn joke at the end of it all. I can't help but feel like, if it were at all possible, Minako really would be the type to fight death over who had the rights to me. It's... an oddly reassuring, but at the same time oddly nerve-wracking feeling. Despite not knowing quite how to feel about it, I end up falling asleep with just a bit of a smile on my face.