Emilogue Part Un

mehkanik Jan 25th, 2012 11,727 Never
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  1. Emilogue
  2. Don't Fall Behind!
  4. Take it as I go.
  6. One step at a time. One foot in front of the other. Start with a walk. Break into a jog. Let it become a sprint.
  8. That was my life now; acceleration. It was strange to think someone with arrythmia would be this religious about his running. It was how I was planning to stay alive, to keep my heart regular, so long as I remained careful about my limits.
  10. My university had a small track club and I decided to join, like Emi would've wanted me to. I paused for a moment, taking a deep swill from the sports bottle I kept with me. One of the other girls in the track team paused for a moment.
  12. "Hisao, you alright?" Always so doting. I couldn't blame them; I felt it was only right that I had a heart that could give any time I ran too hard. They tried to accomodate me, but that wasn't my style anymore. I kept up with them as much as I could and kept pushing my limits, improving them. They were pretty impressed with me.
  14. Some days, I was too.
  16. I wonder what Emi would think of me now.
  18. Theoretical Physics major and a member of the track club. She'd probably mess up my hair, call me a geek and then kiss me. I sighed a little. I missed the fastest thing on no legs.
  20. "Yeah, yeah. I'm just thinking. Gonna slow down to a walk for now. Meet you guys back at campus." She gave me a smile. Her name was Aya Nasao. Nice girl. Pretty, light brown hair and pretty blue eyes. She confessed her feelings to me and asked if I'd want me to be her girlfriend. I denied politely, telling her that I was already in a relationship.
  22. Honestly, sometimes I wasn't so sure. I was a little confused about the whole thing. After graduation, we stopped talking as much and when I got an apartment away from where she lived, we barely saw each other. Oftentimes it put an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach.
  24. I hoped that in her haste to keep running and keep moving forward, she hadn't left me behind.
  26. It was summer and it was already pretty hot, so while I walked forwards, I poured some of the water from my sports bottle onto my head.
  28. My foot caught on something hard while my eyes were closed and I was enjoying the cool sensation of my water on my face. A surge of fear struck me and I immediately stretched out my hands to prevent myself from slamming my chest into the ground and risking a heart attack.
  30. I winced, feeling my hands scrape the concrete.
  32. A giggle.
  34. I looked to my right and saw a face I hadn't in nearly half a year smiling down at me. Those glittering green eyes. "Emi?" She was wearing that familiar green tanktop of hers and a pair of shorts, those orange and red stockings covering her prosthetics.
  36. A faux sad face. "That's all? Not happy to see me?" I got up off of the ground as she got off of the bench and smiled. To refute her question, I pulled her into an incredibly tight hug. "Completely the opposite. I thought you forgot about me." I was happy to feel that she hugged me as tightly back. That was a good thing, it meant she still felt the same about me as she did last time we saw each other.
  38. One of my biggest fears was that the distance would cause her to fall out of love with me and find someone else.
  40. "How'd you know I'd be here?" I asked as I took her hand in mine and started walking back to the campus. They'd be a bit worried if I lagged behind too much and assume I had an attack on the way back or something. Emi smiled deviously.
  42. "It's not hard to find you, you know. You told me your university so all I had to do was ask whether you had a track team or something, pretending I was a student." I arched an eyebrow. "I asked where you guys run, like I was interested. So I waited on the route." I laughed.
  44. "Stalker." All I had to say to mess with her a little. "I am not! I just wanted to make sure you were still running!" She brought her hands into little fists in front of her, as if she were defending herself. Another laugh. "I'm sure, I'm sure. If that's the case, why didn't you just come by my place and ask?" A hard question for her to answer, it looked like.
  46. "We'll talk about that later~." She sang and I shrugged. "I guess we will." I knew better than to push topics she didn't want to talk about. Something was bugging her, so I left it alone. It probably coincided with the fact that she was carrying a pretty heavy-looking duffle bag back with her, too.
  48. =====
  50. When we arrived at the campus, the captain of our track club was going over a clipboard, getting everyone's times for the day and seeing how everyone did. "Ah, there you are Hisao. Time?" He asked at first but then realized I was holding Emi's hand. He looked like he wanted to ask, but didn't.
  52. "I actually didn't time myself, I got a little distracted along the way." Emi giggled somewhat abashedly. "Sorry, Hisao." I glanced over and saw that Aya was giving me a funny look paired with a smile. "Is that your younger sister, Hisao?"
  54. Oh boy, here we go. Emi wrapped her arm around me. "Nope, I'm his girlfriend." A resounding silence amongst my track members. I knew that most of them thought I was lying about having a girlfriend. Aya placed a hand to her cheek. She seemed to be suddenly and unnecessarily critical of me.
  56. I guess she was a bit upset that I wasn't lying when I said I had a girlfriend. "Oh, I didn't know you were into... um, little girls. How old is she?" She asked, sounding a little ashamed of me.
  58. Emi glared hard at her. "I'm twenty." Aya looked a little surprised. "You're pretty short for twenty years old."
  60. Oh god. I cringed as if I had stepped on a landmine, even though it was Aya who had.
  62. Emi let go of my arm and strode towards her. "Excuse me! Even if I'm shorter than most women, it doesn't make me any less of a woman." Emi put a seductive emphasis on the word woman.
  64. "Please. I don't have time to argue with children." Aya turned to walk away before she felt more insulted. Sure, Emi looked a bit childish, but she was a mature person. More mature than me at times.
  66. "Then maybe you have time for a race? Obviously I'm woman enough to have Hisao, how about a little competition? I bet you couldn't beat me, even though you seem to think I'm a 'child'." Emi's jabbing challenge seemed to catch Aya's attention. The club leader sighed at me, shooting me a look that read 'Why did you bring her here if she was going to cause problems with Aya?'. I raised my hands, using body language to try and convey 'I didn't, she randomly showed up'.
  68. His shoulders slacked and I guess he conceded. He was a pretty mellow guy even if he was hard on us about our running.
  70. Aya stopped in place, turning on a heel. "Alright, right now. There's a track at the park we just ran around. Even after my routine, I can still take you." Emi scoffed at this. "I could probably beat you without my running legs, but I'm going to put them on so Hisao doesn't worry." My trackmate looked at Emi funny.
  72. "What? Are you trying to be smart or something?" Emi rolled her eyes, lowering the top of her stockings to reveal the prosthetic legs that she wore. "No legs below the knee and still faster than you." She boasted. "I assume you have a bathroom somewhere I can change in real quick?" Her words were directed at our club leader and he nodded.
  74. "Didn't you ask me about our route earlier...?" He asked and she seemed to shush him. "Shhh, show me where the bathrooms are first." I sighed and stood around looking at Aya who was fuming. Not only at me, but in general as well. It seemed Emi had hit a soft spot. Aya was one of those women who were proud of their... assets, so to speak. Having someone who she probably viewed as less of a woman happen to be my girlfriend, a person she wanted to date, struck a chord with her.
  76. "You're dating a cripple?" She eventually flung at me. "Hey." My tone was more stern than usual, catching people by surprise. "If you forgot, I'm technically a 'cripple', too. I've been in your position too, but try to have a little more tact. Or at least be a little more considerate." I've made my fair share of mistakes when it came to dealing with people like myself when I first transfered to Yamaku, so I was a little forgiving, but it seemed that my reprimand upset her a bit.
  78. Despite my own mistakes, I had gotten tired of people treating people with disabilities as lesser.
  80. Eventually Emi bounded out of the school on those same running prosthetics she always used. Her running outfit was a bit different this time around though. Instead of the bloomers that were Yamaku's uniform, she wore a tight pair of blue running shorts and a tight white tee.
  82. "This is exciting, I haven't had a race in so long~!" She cooed as she bounced up and down on her metal legs. To the others, it came off as strange. To me though, it looked like the most natural thing in the world. Aya glared at Emi as we all walked towards the park's track. It seemed like everyone wanted to witness the fastest thing on no legs. I wondered if she could beat Aya. I wanted to say she could, but I hadn't ever seen Aya run her hardest. We only ever did our endurance runs around the park.
  84. "So what have you been up to?" I asked as I took her duffle-bag. I kind of wanted to sneak a peek inside of it. I wondered what else she had in there if she was bringing her legs with her.
  86. "Well, I finally got a good idea what I'm going to do for university. The nurse helped me out one day when I was talking to myself, trying to figure it out. Don't want to look like a slacker, you know?" I smiled and wrapped my arm around the bubbly little bouncing runner.
  88. "So what are you studying now?" I kissed her on the cheek and she seemed a little disappointed. "You missed, dummy." Huh? She pulled me towards her and planted a kiss directly on my lips with one of her trademark winks. "Much better. And I'm studying physical rehabilitation. I figured it's something I've been through and I can help people get their 'legs' back so to speak. It seems fulfilling and I've been participating in some local marathons too!" She was so excited.
  90. I missed this little beam of sunlight in my life. Every day grew a little more dull, a little more boring without her near me or having sleepovers in my dorm or vice versa.
  92. When we arrived at the track, Aya seemed to have an idea. "How about this, seeing as you're so confident." Emi started stretching, limbering up. "What's that?" Aya's smile was worrisome. I wasn't sure if I'd like where this is going.
  94. "If I win, I get to take Hisao on a date and for that day, he is single." Emi looked at her as if she was crazy. Honestly, I was beginning to feel as if Aya was crazy. I might have to find a new running group.
  96. "You can back down if you're too afraid to lose. I wouldn't blame you if you didn't have confidence in your running." Emi laughed. No way she was going to take the grievous insult to her running even if it meant risking me for a day. I didn't plan to agree, even if by some stroke of chance she did lose.
  98. "I'll take the outside lane." Emi declared and Aya decided to take the lane directly next to hers. "No excuses if you lose because of being on the outside lane." Aya began taking her position, kneeling as if she were some kind of wildcat about to pounce on their prey. Which incidentally would be me if Emi loses.
  100. "Any conditions if I manage to lose?" Aya asked as the leader of our track club approached. Emi shook her head. "Nope. I don't need anything other than to win because I've already got everything I want." Oof, Emi. That was a mean jab.
  102. My short girlfriend got into position as well and the captain of the track club stood in front of the two. "Going to give to the count of three, then when I clap, you race a lap. First back here wins. And then you both cut this crap out." The captain said and I couldn't stifle my laugh.
  104. "Three... two... one..." And then the sharp clap from him and off the two shot. I didn't look at the two runners originally and instead first glanced towards my friends in the club. They were shocked. Emi blasted off of the starting line, running as agile as anyone who had legs. They were amazed that someone who had none could move like that. I then turned my eyes towards the two as they barreled along the tracks.
  106. That expression of intensity and focus was on Emi's face, the one that had helped me fall in love with her. But behind it, there was another expression. One of pure determination. She wasn't going to let Aya win, even though she was beginning to catch up and slowly overtake Emi on the track after the second curve.
  108. I knew what was going to happen, though. Emi wasn't going full speed, as I assumed Aya was. As they rounded the second bend and started hurtling towards the third curve, Emi began pouring on the speed. The sound of her metallic legs clashing with the ground underneath her filled the air, the ground daring not to impede the progress she wanted to make in her life.
  110. After the third bend, her speed increased dramatically and she passed Aya, rushing towards the starting line that the the track club captain had designated. Aya tried to pour the rest of her strength into that final stretch, but realized she had expended it meeting and staying ahead of Emi's normal speed.
  112. When she burst past the finish line, she skid to a halt and thrust her fist into the air, her breath sort of short. "Hah!" She exclaimed proudly, jumping into the air repeatedly, celebrating her victory. I don't know how many times I've seen her rush around the track back at Yamaku, but she seemed to be faster than ever now.
  114. Aya was doubled over, trying to catch her breath. And to think that Emi used to speed around the track at this speed, for five or ten or more laps a morning. I grinned at Emi, who charged at me and threw her arms around my shoulders. "So much energy, what am I going to do with you?" She laughed, kissing me on the lips. Always one for PDAs.
  116. "Well, maybe you could take me back to your apartment and let me use your bathroom to bathe?" I paused for a moment eventually nodding. "I can do that, schools over for the afternoon anyways and I don't have too much homework." I looked to everyone and waved to them. Emi started going through her dufflebag and pulled out a thin windbreaker to wear over her tee-shirt.
  118. "Well, I'll be taking off. See you all tomorrow." The track captain nodded. "Alright. Maybe bring her by more often, she could help me whip these guys into shape." Emi tossed a bubbly laugh his way. "Maaaaaybe." And then we were off, walking towards the bus stop where I waited for my ride to my neighborhood.
  120. As we stood there, I decided to ask the million dollar question. "So, any uh... reason why you're carrying your running legs and changes of clothes with you?" She beamed at me. "That's. A. Secret!" I smiled at her, if a little disapprovingly. "I thought we had gotten past all these secrets." She looked a little guilty at this statement.
  122. "Well, fine... I ran away!" I arched an eyebrow at Emi. "You what?" I usually had a lot of fun joking around with her, but I wasn't sure if this was a joke or not. "I've run away to come live with you because I couldn't take being away from you anymore~" She buried her face into my chest and I rest my chin on her head.
  124. Was she being serious? One on point, that'd be nice. I would be able to see her whenever I wanted and wouldn't have to worry about distance, but... her mom was probably worried if she had run away.
  126. It was about then that my phone started ringing and I opened it instinctually and read the caller ID. It was Emi's mom.
  128. I didn't let her know that. "Hello." I said casually, as if I was expecting her. "H-Hisao? Do you know where Emi is?" She sounded panicked. "Yep. She's here with me, claiming to have run away. Can you shed some light on any of this?" It was about then that Emi tried snatching the phone from my ear. "Hey! Don't talk to her, she's the enemyyyyyyy!" I smirked at her as I dodged her jumping strikes.
  130. "Yes... we had a really bad fight this morning and when I got back from work, there was a note saying 'I've run away and I'm not coming back. For at least a week'." Oh Emi, what could you two have possibly fought over? "If she's staying with you for the week, that's fine. I just wanted to make sure she's safe." I nodded. "Of course she'll be safe staying with me. She's alright." It was around now that I was keeping her at arms length by pressing my palm to her forehead while she struggled to get my phone.
  132. Yeah, she wasn't going to overpower me like she did that one time in her bedroom. Oh no. I'd taken some time to lift weights so that wouldn't happen again. It seemed she realized I was stronger too now and gave up, instead assaulting me with her puppy-dog vision.
  134. I turned my head away from her so that I could resist.
  136. "It was a really bad fight, it'd probably be better if she stays with you and cools off for a while. Is it okay if I come by and drop off some clothes for her? She'll probably need them if she'll be gone for a week." I thought that was pretty sensible. "Yeah, I'll text you my address and you can drop her off some extra clothes- OW!"
  138. Emi was biting me. Half biting, half chewing. "Ged awf da phone." She spoke while gnawing on my arm. "Well, I've got to go. Your daughter is chewing on me because I'm fraternizing with the enemy or something."
  140. A soft laugh from her mother. "Alright. Thank you, Hisao." A quick no problem and I closed the phone. "Why don't you save the biting until later tonight or something?" A flirtatious response I didn't even intend, realizing that it had been a long time since our last... night together. She was probably going to keep me from sleeping and make me late for school because of that response.
  142. "I didn't know you liked biting." She said, that evil smirk spreading across her face. "Well, maybe you'll have to find out." I then put her into a soft headlock, rubbing a knuckle into her head. "So why are you and your mom fighting, huh? Huh? Stalking me, causing problems with the people I run with and now you're just gonna freeload? Better let me know what's going on." I said, rubbing the knuckle into her head playfully.
  144. She squirmed and didn't try resisting too much.
  146. "She... brought a boyfriend home for dinner." I loosened my headlock on her. This was something I couldn't give her crap for. Instead, I draped my arm around her. "Oh, I can see why that'd cause a fight." She looked upset just at the mention of her mom finding someone new.
  148. "I know she dates people, but bringing him home is something entirely different. He sat in my dad's chair at the table and... they sound serious." Her bubbly voice started to fade and was instead replaced with a sad one.
  150. I kissed her on the forehead. "Well, no worries. Because starting today, you're going to have a nice vacation with the most awesome boyfriend you could ever ask for." Emi perked up at my cheerful tone. "Oh yeah, who would that be?" I smirked. Right into my trap.
  152. "Kenji! See, because he and I are comrades, we were aware of your feminist spying. When we get back to my apartment, we're going to tie you down and interrogate you until you tell us all of your feminist secrets. There is no escape!" I proclaimed as I began tickling her, to which she reacted in a way I didn't expect.
  154. Violently. As if on reflex, her left fist jutted forward, catching me directly in the chin. I stopped my teasing post-haste, rubbing my chin. "Ow." Emi couldn't contain her laughter and leaned forward, kissing me on the chin. "Ohhhh, I'm sorry!" She said, unapologetically. "But if it makes it any better, I wouldn't mind being tied down by you and 'interrogated'." I shushed her.
  156. "C'mon now, no dirty talk in public. I'm wearing track shorts." Fervent giggling from Emi as the bus pulled up and we both boarded. As usual, we got the strange looks we'd come to expect from people who weren't aquainted with those who had disabilities. Honestly, I could barely call it a disability for Emi. Emi was Emi not because of those prosthetics, but because she made them a part of herself.
  158. We arrived at my apartment and I directed her to the bathroom. "I have a tub which I think would probably be more convenient than a shower, anyways." She nodded with a smile, taking the duffle-bag from me so she could change after she got out.
  160. While she was in the bathroom was about when her mother called me. "I'm outside, I think." I opened the front door and saw her standing in the parking lot with her phone to her ear.
  162. "Hey." I called out, closing my phone and walking down the stairs of my apartment towards her. She had a large airport bag, one with those little handles that extended and the roller wheels. "How is she?" She asked. I sighed and scratched my head. "Acting at its finest. You really should've talked to her before bringing someone over that she felt would replace the memory of her dad."
  164. She frowned. "That's not what I'm trying to do." I nodded. I understood. "It's totally natural... and I'll help her get past it, but this is a really sensitive thing for her. You know better than I do." Miss Ibarazaki nodded. "It's just... I have to live with the absence of my husband too. She doesn't understand I don't have anyone to love anymore." I knew she was talking about me filling that void for Emi.
  166. Even though I couldn't replace her father, I could placate the feeling. We could make happy memories to help remove the pain from the bad ones.
  168. I took the handle of the bag. "I'll talk to her. Before the end of the week, she'll be okay with you again." As I turned away from her, she seemed to want to ask me something. "Hisao?" I turned with a smile. "What's up?" She seemed a little worried about what she was going to ask.
  170. "What kind of future do you see with Emi?" An awkward pause. "Regarding your relationship." I glanced at the skies for a second. Was this wishful thinking or bitter realism? I might not be alive for as long as the average person...
  172. "I can see her being someone I spend my life with." I decided on. I was the only person she ever let herself rely on or trust and we had been through a lot with each other. Shared our secrets, our pains. I didn't see us separating. That was the only thought that had gotten me through our absence.
  174. She smiled at me warmly, brushing a lock of the hair that reminded me of Emi's out of her eyes. "I'm glad. Please take care of her." A slight bow which I returned. There were two bags like the first Miss Ibarazaki pulled out of the car. After bringing in the third bag, Emi was waiting wearing a towel and only her prosthetics. She narrowed her eyes at me.
  176. That was a quick bath. Then again, she probably didn't need a very long one just to get the sweat of walking and then that run off. Plus, she probably wanted to intercept me and ask whether that was her mother before I figured out a way to deflect the question.
  178. "Was that the enemy?" A bitter tone doesn't suit you, Emi. I wanted to say that but instead decided to turn the topic from upsetting to amusing. "Yep, and I already defused the bomb inside of it. Your clothes are safe." She smiled, kissing me on the cheek. "Good! ...So, where's your room?" I lead her to my room and showed her around. My dresser had a few spare empty drawers which I pointed out so she could put her clothes in them.
  180. When I turned around, she was sitting down on my bed and removing her legs. She threw herself backwards, disregarding everything I had said. "Ah, I'm so tired. I had to walk all the way to your university because I didn't have any bus fare. And then I had to race that dumb girl." Excuses, excuses. Emi wouldn't get tired from any of that. She just wanted to lay down on my bed to incite some kind of-
  182. She started removing the towel from around herself after shimmying further onto my bed. My eyes roamed the body I hadn't seen in so long; the curves of her body, still slightly dampened from her bath and that modest, sensitive bust of hers. She placed her wrists close together and put on that face that was half cute, half apologetic and completely irresistable.
  184. "So... do I get my interrogation now?" She asked in a pleading voice.
  186. Oh, you minx.
  188. =====
  190. My small bed's sheets were tossed everywhere, as were my clothes. Emi's head was against my chest and she was sighing contentedly. "I missed you so much, Hisaoooo." I laughed. "I'm sure it's me that you missed and not these fevered moments we share in bed." Emi punched me playfully. "It's not the only reason I missed you. I missed not having time to talk to you, or see you. And sleeping... it's not the same without you next to me."
  192. Aghhhhh. The flutters this girl's words gave my heart were unbearable sometimes. I pulled her close to me. "Get a job and move in with me and you'll never have to spend a night alone." I didn't expect the effect my words had on her. A shake at first, then a shudder. Then full-body tremors.
  194. I looked to her. She was crying. "I always have those god damned dreams. The nightmares, Hisao." I know, Emi. All I could do for now was hold her close. There was nothing I could do to change it. Pushing to make this sort of thing better didn't work; all I could do was show her my love and let her know I was here to support her if she needed and that it would never change.
  196. "It's better when y-you're here. If I have a nightmare, I know at least you're here. That I'm not alone in this. I was scared before to rely on you because everything vanishes. People, things, memories, voices... I can't even remember what he sounds like, Hisao." More shaking as she cried into my chest.
  198. The hardest thing for me was knowing that all of this was because of her mother's bringing a boyfriend home. It brought everything careening to the surface, things she was finally starting to look past. Things she couldn't forget, but things she had to accept.
  200. She was reminded by the fact she can't remember his voice, his touch, the memories of their runs together when her mother's boyfriend showed up and took her father's seat at the dinner table. All those painful memories, thrust directly into her face.
  202. And what did she do? She ran. But not away from everything, like she used to.
  204. She ran to me. Into my arms. Something I never thought she'd do so blatantly; rely on me.
  206. "I'm sorry, Emi. There's nothing I can really do other than love you as hard as I can and just try to give you things to look forward to. You don't even need a job to stay here. I'd be more than happy to just have you with me." Emi laughed when I said this.
  208. "You've been doing fine on your own, Hisao. You're still running, you're attending university and getting good grades. You don't really need me. I'm just going to burden you. I don't want to bring you down because I want to rely on you." I squeezed her shoulders at these words.
  210. "No, that's not true. You'll never be a burden. How many times have I relied on you? You don't even know, but more times than you can count. Just being yourself has helped me and I want to do the same for you. I'm only where I am now because every time I do something, I think about you. I think about how you changed me, how you motivated me to think more, do more, be more. I wouldn't be who I am without you right now. If it can make you happier, I want you here with me too."
  212. She laughed again, kissing me with everything she was and had, not wanting to pull away. I didn't want to either. I missed the taste and smell of strawberries on her skin.
  214. "Well, I'm going to be here for a week. Let's test out living together before we make any decisions, okay? We'll see how it goes and if I'm more comfortable here, I'll talk to my mom about it." I nodded. I liked where this was going. "And you could meet my parents. My dad would love you. You both have the same kind of absurd energy. Except he's more like a bear. A big, energetic bear." She laughed louder than I thought she would at that.
  216. "Sounds nice."
  218. With smiles on our faces, we started dozing off with each other close. Time passed slowly as the moment of pain had been overcome. Flecks of dust floated in the air, illuminated by the beam of glowing sunlight.
  220. "You'll get through this, I know you will. And I'll always be here for you, every step of the way." She nodded softly against my chest, her breathing becoming relaxed after having cried so hard.
  222. "You know Hisao," Emi quietly began and I waited for her to finish her sentence.
  224. "If the entire week is going to be like this, I might have trouble letting you get out of my reach from now on."
  226. I placed my forehead to hers, looking into those dazzlingly green eyes of hers.
  228. "Why would I ever want to be out of your reach? You've said it yourself, you're too amazing for that." A soft laugh and a tentative, tender kiss. Although we hadn't said it, we had said we loved each other with our actions a hundred times over.
  230. "I mean it, Hisao."
  232. I know. I was okay with that. I was more than okay with that. It's the only thing I could imagine wanting.
  234. "Me too, Emi."
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