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Emilogue: Ascent

Mountaineer Mar 3rd, 2012 18,284 Never
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  1. Mountaineer's Emilogue:
  3. Ascent
  5. =========================================
  8. Thump. Thump. Thump. Th-THUMP. Thump. Thump Th-THUMP.
  10. I gasp for air.
  12. Th-THUMP.
  14. I need to slow down.
  16. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  18. I feel the cool air rush across my face as I race around the track at Yamaku Academy. It has been only a few months since I started exercising regularly to compensate for my heart disease. Arrhythmia.  It is still such a foreign thing to me, though I guess one could consider everything that is foreign to be a danger. The capability of the unknown is quite scary, after all. I cannot hope to understand why I have it, but I know that I must face it. However, I must not let it kill me. Not now, anyway. I begin to slow my run down.
  20. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  22. I can feel my heart slowing finally. Long gone are the days when a jog would cause my chest to seize and my head to spin. I can comfortably do a 25 minute run around the track with a few sprints added in without much difficulty. I had tried to push myself today and I felt the pain coming back. There are just some limits that I won’t ever break.
  24. Heh.
  26. I shouldn’t let Emi hear me say that. She would tell me that limits are there to be broken, and would probably have pushed me even harder. Not that I mind; Emi is the only reason I’m in the condition that I’m in today. I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. She is my motivation to keep going, even in the most extreme circumstances.
  28. Ever since we graduated from Yamaku, we’ve been utilizing their track to continue our daily morning runs. Well, not recently... Emi hadn’t shown up to our past two runs – In fact I had not seen Emi at all the past week. The only thing she told me was that she doing ‘doing something important’ and that I would ‘find out soon enough.’
  30. Thump… Thump… Thump…
  32. As I slow to a walk, I close my eyes and put my hands on my head, inhaling deeply and letting the cool air rush into my lungs to replenish my energy. Something didn’t feel right though. This was going to mark the third day Emi hadn’t shown up t-
  34. My thought processes grind to a sudden halt as I hear a familiar clicking noise approach me from behind. Rapidly. I spin around and open my eyes to take in the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen, and one that I want to continue to see for a long time.
  36. Emi is running toward me, greens eyes gleaming brightly in the sunlight with a large smile adorning her face. She is wearing a white t-shirt and blue shorts, along with her running prostheses, of course. Her signature twin-tails flow gracefully in the draft behind her created by the speed at which she runs.
  38. “HISAO!” she shouts as she tackle-hugs me, nearly knocking me to the ground. “I’m so happy to see you again!” She closes her eyes and buries her face into my chest. I hug her back in kind, lifting her off of her feet and spinning around gracefully.
  40. “I missed you too, Emi! Where have you been the past week? You didn’t get sick again, did you?”
  42. I stop spinning and set her gently back on the ground. Before responding, she looks up at me expectantly. I lean down to give her a passionate kiss that we hold for several seconds before breaking apart.
  44. “Well if I WAS sick, you would have it now, dummy!” She giggles and nudges me slightly before continuing, “No, I wasn’t sick. I’m sorry I didn’t keep in much contact but I had to keep what I was doing a secret! I was out of town for a... well... for something secret! And you’re about to find out why!”
  46. “What are you talking a- Whoa!”
  48. My question is cut short as she grabs my hand and drags me back from where she came, toward the school parking lot. As we run there hand in hand, I notice Mrs. Ibarazaki standing next to her car, smiling and waving as she sees the two of us bounding towards her. I can’t help but wonder what this all about. Emi has been missing for a whole week and now she and her mother are here to do… what? My curiosity is piqued.
  49. We make it to Mrs. Ibarazaki’s car in no time flat.
  51. “My, Emi, I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen you run!” Mrs. Ibarazaki smiles at Emi (who sticks her tongue out in response) and then embraces me in a gentle hug. “It’s good to see you again Hisao. How have you been?”
  53. “I’ve been fine Mrs. Ibarazaki, but I’m a little confused. What’s going on?”
  55. Emi and her mother share a knowing glance and start laughing. “Well, you see, Emi had a wonderful idea and- oh!” Emi tugs on her mothers’ sleeve and shakes her head expectantly. “Well then, why don’t I just let Emi show you?”
  57. I have no idea what’s going on, but all my doubts wash away when Emi looks at me with her infamous puppy-dog eyes and asks, “Hisao, could you please close your eyes for a bit? I’ll tell you when to open them again.”
  59. I let out a melodramatic sigh. “Oh Emi, you ask too much of me! There is no possible way I could ever do such a t- Ow!” I receive a quick jab from Emi in response to my sarcasm. I smirk at her and close my eyes. “Alright,” I say, “They’re glued shut.”
  61. Emi giggles and I hear the trunk of Mrs. Ibarazaki’s car open. I hear the familiar sound of Emi removing her running prostheses. I wonder what this could possibly be? I hear Mrs. Ibarazaki fussing over ‘how to connect’ something to her leg but Emi shoos her away. “Alright, open your eyes now, Hisao!”
  63. I open my eyes and see that Emi is no longer in her running prostheses, but a new pair I have never seen before. Instead of the normal c-shaped curve in her running legs or the ‘realistic’ legs she had, this pair has a straight metal leg that emulates the tibia and fibula of one’s leg. They connect to a rather machine-like looking foot piece. However, the foot piece looks far more high tech than her normal prosthesis, with a curved shock absorber in the ankle section and a tapered two-layer front part that I assume are the toes of the leg. All in all, these are the most advanced pair of legs that Emi owns. I don’t think that they are for running though; after all, she has a perfectly good pair already.
  65. “Those looks pretty high-tech, Emi, but uh…”
  67. Emi smiles and says, “Confused, Hisao? These are my newest pair of legs – these are my HIKING LEGS!”
  69. With this proclamation she strikes a pose and points toward the sky dramatically. I raise an eyebrow.  She then points at me and declares “And you’re going to come with me to hike on the mountain trail!”
  71. I think of something funny and barely conceal a smirk. Emi’s smile falters and she asks, “What are you grinning about?”
  73. “It’s just that, well, you’re the ‘fastest things on no legs, right? So you’re taking on a new challenge in climbing mountains? Well it seems to me like you now also want to become the “tallest thing on no legs!”
  75. I can’t contain my laughter and Mrs. Ibarazaki joins in as well. Emi pouts and puts her hand on her hips. “That’s not funny, Hisao! I wasn’t finished yet anyway. We’re not just hiking; we’re going to go camping as well. A weekend trip into the wilderness!”
  77. I stop laughing and seriously consider Emi and her mother. “So this is what you two have been up to, huh? How long have you been planning it and where did you manage to get these legs?”
  79. Mrs. Ibarazaki answers this time, “I was talking to Emi about what you two planned to do over the summer and she claimed that she hadn’t thought of anything yet. I know that Emi likes to be active and outside, so I mentioned the idea of a day hike to her and she took it one step further. The prostheses had to be special ordered. We’ve been gone for so long because creating a new pair of them isn’t an easy process. It’s why we’ve been out of town for such a long time; the only place that could construct them was 2 day drive one way. Either way, Emi’s been at it for a good two weeks or so, planning the best routes and looking up how to survive in the wild.”
  81. I grimace. I can only imagine what kind of things Emi has been looking into. “What, do you expect to have us hunting bears every night to feed ourselves?”
  83. Emi laughs, “No, silly, all of our food will be prepared beforehand. I just wanted to make sure I had the basics down, like building shelter, how to make a fire, and how to navigate...”
  85. “Phew! I know I can wrestle you down easily but a bear might be a bit of a challenge for me.”
  87. Emi ribs me following this comment while Mrs. Ibarazaki looks away unconcernedly, as if she didn’t hear or didn’t want to hear it. I smile deviously but then I falter.
  89. “Wait, how expensive are new prostheses, anyway? How did you pay for these?”
  91. I’m surprised when both Emi and her mother shift uncomfortably. Emi, in particular, seems shaken up at the question. Mrs. Ibarazaki answers, “We used some money from the insurance from Mr. Ibarazaki’s life insurance to help pay for them. We like to think of them as a gift from him to Emi.”
  93. I nod and look to Emi. It’s a very strange sight. Her very aura radiates two conflicting emotions: discontent at the mention of her father, but happiness at the thought that he was the one to give her this gift. And this is a gift that she wants to share with me. The meaning of this hits me with its full weight.
  95. I do the only sensible thing I can think of. I embrace Emi lovingly in my arms and say, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I think they look great, Emi, and I would love to go adventuring with you!”
  97. Emi hops up and kisses me openly. My eyes open wide with shock and my cheeks turn red with embarrassment. Mrs. Ibarazaki lets out a giggle as I look to her. Emi breaks the kiss with me and hugs me tightly, her eyes reddening ever so slightly. Mrs. Ibarazaki closes the trunk with Emi’s running legs in them and gets into the driver’s seat. “I’ll give you two a moment, but then Emi and I need to go – we have an appointment at the hospital for a final checkup on the new legs before they’re okay for use.”
  99. I thank Mrs. Ibarazaki and I turn to look at Emi. Though the lining of her beautiful deep green eyes is reddened, the determination and happiness that emanates from them shine like a floodlight back into my own.
  101. “We’re probably going to go this weekend, if that’s alright with you, Hisao?” I nod. “Great!” She leans in to kiss me lightly one more time.
  103. “Be sure to bring a few extra changes of clothes, plenty of water, and a sleeping bag. Maybe some snacks too. I’ll see you at my house at 8 A.M. sharp Friday, okay?”
  105. “Can do, I don’t have much else going on.” I wrap my arms around her. “I love you, Emi.”
  107. “I love you too.”
  109. ==================================
  111. I step off the bus and trip, dropping my bag on the ground next to me.  I had been in the process of standing up when the bus took off, spewing smoke into my face. I accidentally inhale some of the exhaust from the bus and begin coughing.
  113. Thump. Thump. Th-THUMP.
  115. Hm. Apparently I shouldn’t ever smoke. It doesn’t seem to mingle well with my heart. I retrieve the rest of my belongings from the ground and begin walking toward Emi’s house, which is only a few blocks away. The early morning dew is still present on the grass and is brightly illuminated by the morning sun, which rises ever so slightly above the horizon.
  117. I take care to not walk in the grass, however. I remember Emi telling me yesterday before I left (among other survival tips) was that ‘Wet equals dead! You can get sick or Hypothermia could set in if you don’t keep yourself dry, especially if we go high in the mountains!’ I figure I should take her words to heart even now.
  119. I make a brisk pace to Emi’s house and make it there in a few minutes. I knock lightly and within three seconds the door is swung open violently. Emi, smile beaming like the radiant sun rising outside, pulls me into her house with a tight hug. “Good morning, Hisao,” comes the muffled greeted from my chest.
  121. “Good morning, Emi.” I kiss her on the head. “So, where is all the equipment? Anything you need help packing?”
  123. Emi motions me over to her living room, where I glance over all the things in the room. A cooler containing water and cold food, a laundry bag filled with several changes of clothes, including some cold weather gear, a blue sleeping bag and pillow are rolled up together, two collapsible chairs, some fire starting equipment, a small hatchet, a kettle and a bag containing our tent for the weekend are all items laid across the floor. I pick up the bag containing the tent and inspect it. “This seems a little small Emi, are you sure you got the right kind?”
  125. She giggles and leans into my ear to whisper, “It’s made for two,” before bouncing off to her room to change out of her pajamas. Mrs. Ibarazaki walks out of the kitchen yawning and holding a steaming cup of coffee.
  127. “G- good morning, Hisao. I see you and Emi share the same morning-person quality.”
  129. I smile and reply, “Good morning, Mrs. Ibarazaki. I’m surprised you aren’t as well!”
  131. “Well, I did have to get used to her father getting out of bed to run every morning, but I haven’t since… well…” She looks distant.
  133. ‘8:30 in the morning and already off to an awkward start!’ I think to myself, ‘Time to steer this out of dangerous waters.’
  135. “What’s in the cooler? Did you prepare it? Your meals are always delicious!”
  137. Mrs. Ibarazaki’s gaze returns to me as she smiles. “Oh, yes, I did. I prepared something special that could last the whole weekend for you two, though I considered making you both some steak to take with you, we wouldn’t want any bear attacks, now would we?”
  139. We both chuckle and Emi comes out of her room, wearing her brand new hiking prostheses. She is wearing a deep green long sleeve shirt on with a sports logo on the breast and tan cargo shorts. Her legs are exposed this time, except for the ankle, which is covered by a woolen sock which are tucked into what I assume are hiking shoes. Finally, her normal twin-tails are missing, and she is actually wearing a black skullcap bearing the same logo as her shirt, from which the rest of her hair runs down her back. She looks very adventurous. And adorable.  Though, something seems off.
  141. “Emi, why are you wearing socks on your, well, feet?”
  143. Emi scoffs at me. “Well my current feet ARE made of metal, Hisao. I didn’t know if they would scratch up the inside of my new shoes, so I figured to at least put some cushion in. Plus, it’s fun being able to say that I’m wearing four different socks!” She smiles sheepishly at her last statement.
  145. I laugh and clap my hands together. “Well! Let’s get this all packed up and get moving. We want to get a head start right?”
  147. Emi nods in agreement and we begin packing. Everything manages to fit in our two backpacks and the cooler, though they both seem to be bursting at the seams. The three of us pile into Mrs. Ibarazaki’s car and we begin the trip to the mountainside. Conversation on the way is pleasant and time passes quickly in the hour-long drive. We finally reach the starting point and begin unloading. I hop out of the backseat and begin pulling our bags out of the trunk. Mrs. Ibarazaki hands Emi her phone and says “I put our neighbors’ phone numbers in as well, in case you have an emergency and can’t get in contact with me.”
  149. Emi hugs her mom tightly and thanks her. She then runs over to me and puts her phone and water bottle into her bag and shoulders it. I deftly shoulder my own and pick up the cooler. I look to Mrs. Ibarazaki. I can see the worry in her eyes; I want to reassure her, but the only thing that comes out of my mouth is, “Thank you for this opportunity Mrs. Ibarazaki. It means a lot to me.”
  151. Mrs. Ibarazaki turns a pale shade of red and laughs slightly. “Not a problem at all Hisao, just please promise me one thing.”
  153. “Of course, anything!” My god, I feel like such a robot. I’m never this uptight around Mrs. Ibarazaki but she’s letting us cast out on our own for the first time together. Why is it so awkward between us now?
  155. She looks solemn. “Keep my Emi safe.”
  157. Oh. The worry in her eyes betrays her smile. I can tell Mrs. Ibarazaki is afraid that something may happen to Emi. She’s afraid. Afraid that what she loves will be ripped away from her once more. I remember my thoughts from a few days ago regarding the unknown. To Mrs. Ibarazaki, this unknown is the danger, and she is casting Emi willingly into it. I want to help alleviate that fear. I put the cooler down and embrace Mrs. Ibarazaki tightly.
  159. “I will. Unless, of course, Emi pushes me so hard up the mountain I have a heart attack and fall off the side. Then I’m afraid I won’t be able to deliver.”
  161. We all laugh heartily at my expense and I pick up the cooler again. I glance at Emi. “Shall we go?”
  163. Emi bounds forward. “Last one to the start has to buy dinner for the next date!”
  165. “No fair!” I shout as I run after her.
  167. I look back at Mrs. Ibarazaki one more time. I see her mouth move, but I don’t hear the words that come out. I wave to acknowledge her, and turn to chase Emi to the trail entrance.
  169. ===============================================
  171. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thumpthump.
  173. Hiking could be perceived to be a much more involved activity than running. Each step one takes is a step that is taken with an additional 20 to 30 pounds of weight. Each step is a step higher up on an ascent. Each step higher to a place where one’s breathing becomes less efficient due to a lack of oxygen. Luckily Emi and I are both in shape. This mountain will not conquer us.
  175. Emi is a few feet ahead of me, admiring the view, while I, well; admire the 'view' so to speak. The cargo shorts don’t put off her feminine features as much as one would think. Her hips sway tantalizingly after each step that she takes. I feel a familiar rising in my pants. Oh, not now! We still have the whole day ahead. I need to get out of this state of mind – I speed up to walk next to her. She smiles when she notices this and reaches her hand out to embrace my own. We walk like this for a while before we stop to rest. As I open my bag to remove the water bottles, Emi walks over to gaze upon the scenery.
  177. She’s standing on a small outcropping looking out over the forested area we had just come from. We have been hiking for just about an hour now on a trail that did not go very high. A thin fog still hovers over the tops of most of the trees. The sun has now risen well above the horizon, though parts of the mountain side were still covered in shade from its sheer height. The foliage that we walked under now provided an interesting pattern of light to shine through, with most of it illuminating Emi standing on the outcropping.
  179. “Isn’t this wonderful, Hisao? Have you ever been up this high?”
  181. Thump.
  183. Apparently thinking about heights makes my heart nervous. “No, I can’t say I have been. This really is very cool!” I notice that I am breathing heavily. Emi notices as well and giggles.
  185. “Need a drink?”
  187. I nod. I finish removing the water bottles and toss one to Emi. We sit down on the side of the dirt path, leaning into one another, taking sips from the water and enjoying nature itself. “This really is peaceful, Emi. It’s quiet. It’s beautiful. I can see maybe even building a house up here. Wouldn’t that be cool? To have a house in the mountains?”
  189. Emi grins mischievously, “Don’t you mean a secret PIRATE BASE in the mountains?”
  191. I groan. “Still on about that are you? Unless you’re a time traveler, Emi, I think you’re going to be out of luck finding someone willing to recruit you to the cause!”
  193. “Nonsense! I’d build the fortress here and begin piracy anew! We’d live like kings from atop mountain high! And, as you so eloquently put it, I’d be the tallest pirate on no legs, ruling all around me with an iron fist!”
  195. I shake my head, amused. I kiss her lightly on the lips and reply. “Well, if you’re so dead set on being a mountain pirate, where are you going to keep your ship? I don’t think the rivers here are large enough to support a galleon.”
  197. Emi pushes me lightly. “Thanks for ruining all my dreams, jerk!” She stands up and offers her hand. “Ready to keep going?”
  199. I accept her hand as she helps pull me up. “Sure am.”
  201. The rest of the day passes uneventfully. We enjoy our premade meals from Mrs. Ibarazaki around lunch and make the rest of the way around half of the width of the mountain, enjoying the view as we progress. We plan to go to the top of this mountain tomorrow morning and stay there to watch the sun rise. For now, though, the sun retreats beyond the horizon. We make our way to a public campsite. Surprisingly, there is no one else here.
  203. “It must not be a good time of year for camping?” I speculate. Emi shrugs.
  205. “Let’s set up the tent quickly, and then you can grab some firewood while I unpack everything else we’ll need.”
  207. “Sounds good to me!”
  209. Unpacking the tent takes longer than it should. Neither of us has ever set up a tent, so it takes a few minutes to read the instructions and find out where each piece is supposed to go. Eventually, the tent is set up and ready for use. Emi hands me the small hatchet from her pack and shoos me away. “We’re going to need a lot of firewood!”
  211. I head into the forest to find some fallen trees to chop up. Emi had told me previously that using live wood wouldn’t burn, as the moisture still inside the trees would not ignite easily. I find a small knocked over tree and begin cutting.
  213. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  215. Well, it’s a good thing I started lifting some weights before school let out. My upper body is aching slightly but I am able to stack a decent amount of firewood into a bag and carry it back to our campsite. Emi is waiting outside the tent. She created a small fire ring out of stones. She also gathered up small twigs and combined it with old newspapers to create a small kindling fire starter. We lay down the smaller sticks that I cut on top of the kindling pile and ignite it. It takes a few tries, but we manage to get a consistent bed of embers rolling. Emi smiles at me and says, “I’m going in to grab the food and stuff, keep tending to that fire, would you?”
  217. “Sure thing, babe.”
  219. She kisses me and disappears into the tent.
  221. I stir the embers and put larger and larger logs onto the fire. Soon we have a large fire going and it doesn’t look like it is going to be put out any time soon. Eventually, Emi comes out with the food and we cook it. Once it is well prepared, we eat together. It's delicious. Emi burps loudly once we're finished and giggles afterwards. "I'm going to go clean up now, I'll be right back out. Keep the fire going!"
  223. "Can do."
  225. Emi slips back into the tent. I let my thoughts wander for a few minutes before she calls out from inside the tent, “Hey, Hisao, could you help me with something?”
  227. “Sure.” I unzip the tent and my jaw drops.
  229. All of our equipment is stowed off to one side in the bag containing the tools and our extra clothes. The cooler with the food is in front of that. Emi’s legs and our shoes are next to the exit flap. However, this is only considered by the portion of my mind that currently isn’t taking everything about the beautiful half-naked girl splayed on the sleeping bag before me.
  231. She is wearing just a bra and panties which are both adorned with a camouflage pattern. The front of the bra has no straps, and only wraps around her back. The panties are tight and barely cover her most erogenous area. Her hair is completely let down now, but it also has a distinct messiness to it, like she had been exposed to the elements. Finally, and funnily enough, Emi has put decorative war paint on her face under her eyes. She looks dangerous. I look into her eyes – she is giving me her best ‘Come and get it’ look. It’s beautiful.
  233. No more words need to be said. I remove my shoes and place them gingerly on the floor next to her shoes and move to be with her on the sleeping bag. When I get close, she leaps forward and grapples me, flipping me onto my back and pinning me to the ground.
  235. “Tonight,” she says seductively, “I’m going to go WILD, Hisao…” Her legs wrap tightly around my hips in an oh-so-familiar fashion as she begins rocking back and forth. She leans forward to kiss me and her messy hair covers both of our faces like curtain. While her lips assault my own, her hands go to work on removing my shirt. We briefly pause to pull it above my head, and when it does she quickly darts under my defenses and begins kissing my neck. I try to reach up to caress her chest but she grips both of my wrists and pulls them above my head, effectively immobilizing me.
  237. “I told you I’m going to be wild, Hisao. I’m the hunter, and you’re my prey.” As she does this she bites lightly into my neck. A shiver goes down my spine. A large part of me, pardon the pun, is excited that this is happening. However, a small part of my brain is actually scared of what Emi is about to do. She continues to bite all the way down my body until she reaches my abdomen, whereupon she releases my wrists and savagely removes my pants. I don’t think I’ve ever even removed them that fast.
  239. She grips my erection with one hand, stroking up and down softly as she leans back up to keep my two wrists pinned with one of hands. She kisses me deeply again, this time forcing her tongue in to meet my own. She speeds up her stroking. I moan deeply. She laughs and squeezes down on it gently. I can’t take it anymore. I’M supposed to be the dominant one here! In a single motion, I use my right leg to hook around Emi’s knee as I use the strength from my two arms to free myself from her one. I grab onto her waist with one hand and opposite shoulder with the other. I then push with all my might and flip her over. Now I’m on top.
  241. “And so the hunter becomes the hunted.” I say as I caress her breasts with my hands, looking deeply into her eyes. She tries to fight me, but I put all my weight onto her when she tries to escape. Meanwhile my hands, apparently acting of their own accord, remove Emi’s bra and toss it into the corner. I move my head down to her chest and begin sucking on her nipples while I remove her panties with my hands. I rub her inner thighs with my hands as I kiss my way around her breasts and stomach. Soft groans emanate from her as she succumbs to my touch.
  243. I continue to tease her by kissing lower and lower on her body until my mouth is just above her vagina. I begin rubbing the area softly. Her voice takes on a higher pitch as she begs me to do it. I lower my mouth and begin licking lightly. Her back arches. My tongue goes faster. I insert my fingers. She squirms in delight. I can’t think coherently, only the movements of my tongue and fingers indicate that I am even aware of my surroundings. The only thing I can hear is Emi’s increasingly shrill moans and coos before finally she grips my head in between her legs and squeezes, climaxing all the while.
  245. After a minute, she finally relaxes, and I wipe my mouth off before going to kiss her. Before I can make it there though, she has taken advantage of my unawareness and flipped me over once again, pinning me to the ground.
  247. “My turn.”  She says earnestly as she grips my member and without further ado, inserts it into her mouth. A wave of pleasure rolls over my body as the warm and wet sensation of her mouth encompasses my head. She continues to move up and down on it with vigor, causing my back to arch and my toes to curl. She looks me in the eyes deeply, pauses, and then forces as much of my penis into her mouth as she can. The whole thing nearly fits, but she gags and has to come back up. She coughs and begins again and again and again and again, attempting to go as deep as she can, before finally
  249. Oh god finally
  251. I erupt massively into the back of her throat, causing her eyes to widen with shock. It twitches in her mouth a few more times before going still, and Emi removes it from her mouth and swallows it whole without hesitation.
  253. “I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.” I proclaim as I lay my head on the pillow.
  255. “No, Hisao, you’re just outside the pearly gates.” Without giving me time for rest she fumbles through her pack for a small square package. Knowing that it will be a few minutes before I am ready again, she lays next to me, kissing me and stroking my cock tenderly. I finally regain my erection and she slips the condom on. She straddles me and slowly inserts myself into her. She cringes ever so slightly as I enter.
  257. Her movements start slow and intimate, her hips gyrating in time with her deep breathing and moaning, but this soon devolves into a rapid bucking, her moans turning into high pitched, almost feral screams. Everything in my mind is going blank except for the focus on my crotch and the feeling of my hand on her breasts and buttocks. She continues to ride my manhood deeply and quickly. She grips my stomach with her hands as she bounces hard and fast for the final stretch, her walls clenching deeply around me, when I erupt again into her. Emi pants heavily and collapses onto my chest, her hands wrapped around my biceps now. “I guess I got you then, huh?” I laugh and wrap my arms tenderly around her.
  259. Both of us completely spent, we decide to sleep the rest of the night. I quickly exit the tent to put out the fire and step back in. After I dispose of the used condom, I slip into the sleeping bag next to her and pull her into my embrace. The sounds of the forest at night engulf us as we drift into our dreams.
  261. ==========================
  263. “Come on Hisao, let’s go!”
  265. I had been slow to wake after the exhausting night time activity, but Emi always did have energy, no matter what she did. We manage to pack everything up by a decent hour and eat lunch together. We get rid of the old fire pit, making sure to leave no trace behind, and begin our ascent of the mountain top. I make sure to take my extensive heart medication before we begin.
  267. After three hours of climbing, we’re still nowhere near as close to the top as we would have hoped. The trail is simply not steep enough. Emi pouts, “We’ll never make it there in time now~!”
  269. I look longingly to the peak of the mountain. It is still quite a few hours up. I think that Emi’s assessment is quite right before I look to see a devious grin appear on her face.
  271. “Unless…”
  273. “What are you thinking, Emi?”
  275. “We skip the trail, and forge our own path! Let’s ascend to greatness!”
  277. “I don’t know if that’s safe, Emi.”
  279. “Nonsense, Hisao! I’ve traversed this mountain more times than you can fathom! I’m the pirate captain who lives here, remember?”
  282. "Emi, I promised your mom I'd keep you safe and I can’t do that if you go off forging into areas that may be eroded or inhabited by dangerous wildlife.”
  284. “But Hisao, that’s part of the adventure! Come on!” She gives me the puppy dog eyes. Well, I guess that’s decided.
  286. After a few more hours of travel, making sure to avoid most poison ivy and other dangerous areas, we reach an area near the peak to rest.
  288. Thumpthump. Thump. Thump. Thumpthump.
  290. Breathing has become quite a bit harder, but nothing that would be near fatal to anyone. The mountain here isn’t high enough to have those kinds of things happen at this altitude, anyway. We’re on a relatively flat area that our journeying through the forest found. It’s a stone cliff overlooking the side of the mountain. The cliff is off of the beaten path, but strangely has no shrubberies growing on it. While some mosses grow on the side, the otherwise completely bare stone wall is irregular and jutting in places. The view, however, is completely unobstructed.
  292. Emi sets down her bag next to her and she sits on the edge, looking over the sights.
  294. “It’s amazing, Hisao. Look at the world we live in.” I move to stand behind her. “Aren’t you glad that you’re alive?”
  296. She turns to look at me. I smile at her in response.
  298. “I sure am.”
  300. Emi jumps to her feet with a smile on her face, and at that moment things go horribly wrong.
  302. The part of the cliff Emi has been standing on crumbles away as she puts all of her weight from the jump onto it. There is a loud crackling sound as pieces of stone tumble over the edge and into one another on their descent to the ground. The loudest sound of them all, however, is the rumbling that occurs as the piece of land Emi was standing on falls away beneath her. The look of joy on her face quickly turns to one of fear as she begins descending. She screams in terror. Her arms flail as she tries to grab onto something to slow the fall. Her right arm hits her bag, sending it tumbling over the edge.
  304. While this is all going on I’ve dived forward for her. The only thing I am focused on is her head, which is rapidly disappearing over the edge of the cliff. I reach forward desperately.
  306. Just.
  308. A little.
  310. Farther!
  312. GOTCHA!
  314. I grab Emi’s outstretched hand with my own and I hear a dull clang resonate from below. I use my second hand to grab her arm again, this time above her wrist to secure me to her. Emi dangles precariously over the edge with me as her only anchor. I am holding on to her for dear life.
  318. “HISAO, HELP ME!”
  320. “HOLD ON!”
  322. I try to pull her up, but since I’m lying on my belly I can’t exert much force. I can feel her sway back and forth from the momentum of the fall, and the sweat on both of ours hands is loosening our grip.
  326. I hear her terrified grunts as she attempts to pull herself up with her other arm. Eventually she gets a grip on the remaining cliff face and begins to hoist herself up. After some effort, I hear a sound like metal scratching against rock as she pushes herself off the cliff face and back onto the ledge. I drag her away from the edge, not wanting it to collapse again. Then I notice what is wrong. And it doesn’t look good.
  328. Emi’s right leg is missing completely, and her left one is damaged. It appears to have made such hard contact with the cliff face as she swung forward falling that it is bent at a 20 degree angle. Her other leg must have been completely dislodged. It is gone for good. To compound on this fact, Emi seems to have somehow run her knees into the rock face as well. There are two very distinct bruises on her kneecaps, both of which have torn slightly and have begun to bleed.
  330. Oh no, Emi.
  332. She is crying openly, taking deep breaths in between sobs. “H- Hisao…” she cries into my shoulder. “I - I – I-“
  334. I wipe the tears from her face and hug her close to my chest. “Shhh, Emi, it’s okay, I’ve got you. Everything is okay. You’re safe.” We stay like this for a few minutes. I feel the tears flowing down my face. I almost just lost everything I loved in a complete accident. It's just like Emi said back in the graveyard at her father’s tomb. It was almost just ripped away from me instantly.
  336. But it wasn’t. I saved her.
  338. Then the full weight of the situation hits me. Emi has no working legs. We lost her bag and everything in it. We’re on the top of a mountain.
  340. “Emi, where is the phone?”
  342. She sobs harder. “… I put it in my bag.”
  344. My mind goes blank. We’re lost. We have no way of anyone knowing that we’re up here in such a situation. I don’t remember where the trail that we followed earlier is. We’re lost! We’re… alone. I can’t seem to come to grips with the situation.
  346. “It’ll be fine. Let’s take care of your knees first.” They are bleeding quite heavily now. I go to my pack which thankfully is still with us. I tear up one of my t-shirts that I had brought along into strips and wrap her knees gingerly with the fabric. “There, that should at least stop the infection.”
  348. Emi looks distant. I am frightened by the facial expression she wears now. I’ve only seen it once before. Fear. My Emi is actually afraid. And that makes me afraid. No. No. No. NO. I will not be afraid, I’m going to get us back home safe. I promised Mrs. Ibarazaki. I try to think what we could do to get rescued. Start a fire? No, the fire starting equipment was all in Emi’s bag. Now that I think about it, so was the tent. Damn it! Even if we could start a fire there’s no guarantee that anyone would think it was out of the ordinary to warrant inspection. Maybe she brought another pair of legs? We could at least walk back. Wait, no, they would have been in her bag! The full realization of what I will have to do to get us both out of here alive hits me with the force of a train.
  350. “Emi… if we’re going to get back down… I’m going to have to carry you.”
  352. Emi looks taken aback. “No, Hisao! I can still hold on to your shoulder and walk on my leg, look!” She attempts to get up by steadying herself and a nearby rock wall but stumbles as she gets up. Not only can the bent leg no longer support her weight, the bruise appears to have impacted where her knees meets the prosthetic. There’s no way she could walk on it without extreme pain or by making the wound worse. She seems to realize this and slumps to the ground in defeat.
  354. After I shoulder my pack, I inch back over to her and sit behind her, hugging her from behind. No more words need to be said. We sit like that for a while, trying to forget our situation. Finally I whisper to her, “We should get going before it gets dark. I don’t think we should be up this high at night, it will get very cold.”
  356. She nods, wiping tears out of her eyes. She scoots herself into a position where I can wrap one arm under her knees and one under her armpits while she would put her arms around my shoulder to support herself. As I’m about to pick her up though, I say something.
  358. “Emi, you’re going to have to leave the leg behind. We need to leave as much weight behind as we can so I don’t kill myself carrying you down.”
  360. Emi’s eyes tear up at this and she squeaks out the words, “I can’t… my dad gave these to me.” Her tears return in full force. “I can’t leave it behind!”
  362. I look deeply into her eyes and gently wipe the tears away with my thumb. “Emi,” I state calmly, “The greatest gift your dad ever gave you was your life. I don’t think he would mind if you leave behind your leg in order to protect yourself. Please.”
  364. Emi begins shaking. “I… I… I…” she can't choke back her sobs. I comfort her once more. After a few minutes, she finally concedes, removing the leg and tossing it to the side. She looks so vulnerable. This is not how I want to see her. It frightens me to no end that she is now completely and totally reliant on my help. I have to get her out of this, or she will die. I laugh in my head. It’s funny how just a few months ago Emi was berating me for wanting to be her knight on a white charger, yet here I am, forced into the situation that she loathes.
  366. “I’m ready,” says Emi. I pick her up and we begin walk back the way we came.
  368. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  370. I’m now carrying 90 pounds of extra weight in my arms. I pray to some God that we are found quickly, before my heart gives out from the stress. But I will go as long as I can to keep Emi alive, even if it kills me.
  372. We get about 30 minutes down the mountainside like this before I have to take a break. My arms are aching. How am I supposed to do this? If I can’t carry her for an extended period of time it will take us days to get back to the bottom safely. And we’re running out of food and water. I can only hope for the best. I set Emi down gingerly on the ground and take a sip of water. I offer some to Emi but she holds up her hand and declines, “No. I’m not going to need it as much as you. We need to ration it.” She swallows deeply, her body betraying her words for her need of hydration. I don’t want to upset her further, so I put the water away without taking any more for myself. I’ll be sure to ration it appropriately then.
  374. After a few minutes break I pick her up again and begin again with renewed vigor.
  376. Thumpthump. Thump . Th-THUMP. Thump. Thump.
  378. It will not end like this, I promise you, Emi.
  380. =========================================
  382. We continue this way for a few hours, with me being able to carry her at increasingly shorter intervals until finally my arms are so sore that I cannot possibly carry her any longer. The sun has set now and the stars are beginning to shine through the thick foliage cover under which we rest. Since we lost the tent with Emi’s bag, we find a spot under a tree and set up our remaining sleeping bag, curling up together in its warmth, our arms wrapped around each other. We both drift off to an uneasy sleep. My dreams are populated with visions of Emi falling off the cliff, the terror in her eyes, and the feeling of my heart giving way to pain and collapsing. I wake with a start. The cool morning air stings my cheek. I squint against the early morning sun rising in the east. Emi stirs from beneath me.
  384. She yawns widely, “Morning, Hisao,” she manages to mumble while rubbing sleep out of her eyes. I lean down and kiss her gently on the forehead, she responds by wrapping my abdomen in a tight hug. I reach over to my pack and pull out some water and a light bit of food for breakfast. We share it in silence. We began packing everything up and stow it away into my bag. Emi sits on the ground, looking up at me expectantly.
  386. “Ready?” I say.
  388. She nods and looks away. I can tell she is frustrated. I can’t possibly discern why though. Is it because she is so helpless now that she has to rely nearly completely on me? Is she still down on losing her new legs? Or maybe she is still in shock from the fact that she nearly lost her life? I know that in time I’ll have to talk to Emi about it to prevent her from bottling it up and pretending like everything is fine, but I’ll keep quiet for now. I don’t want to cause an outburst I don’t have the energy to deal with.
  390. 30 minutes walking. Rest. 30 minutes walking. Rest.
  392. Thump. Th- THUMP. Thump.
  394. 20 minutes. Rest.
  396. Thump. Thump. Thumpthumpthump. Th- Th- Thump.
  398. 15 minutes. Rest.
  400. It feels like I’ve barely made any progress. The horizon looms ever far away, and we still haven’t even made it back to a trail. I’m not even sure I’m going the same way we came back anymore. I just know that the town is to the west, so I keep heading in that direction. Emi feels like dead weight in my arms, but her closeness keeps my upper body and neck warm. Her chin rests on my shoulder, watching the landscape fall away behind us as I carry her onward. The sound of her regular breathing puts me at ease. At least she has calmed down for the time being. This gives me strength.
  402. Walk for 20 minutes. Rest.
  404. Thump.
  406. As we rest again this time, I look to the sky. Something’s off. We’re just about past noon and the sun isn’t bearing down on us anymore. To my horror, grey clouds have started to cover the sky. I notice that the wind is picking up. I keep in mind what Emi said about hypothermia. If we get caught out in the rain it will not end well. Our only saving grace is that hopefully, we’ll be able to find shelter under the cover of the forest. I grimace. I crouch down by Emi. “Break is over, we need to get moving now before that storm hits. If it does, that is.”
  408. Emi looks at the sky and frowns. “Of course, all of our rain gear was in my bag. Perfect,” she says dejectedly.
  410. I hate seeing Emi like this. The bubbly, radiant energy that usually emanates from her person is replaced by a depressed, cynical side. I don’t like it. The feeling of her body in my arms is not enough to keep me calm any longer. I need to see her happy again. I pick her up off the forest floor and we set off, now that I have a new plan in mind. I’ll defeat her cynicism with optimism.
  412. “So, Emi, do you remember the first time we kissed?”
  414. She pulls her chin away from my shoulder and looks at me, perplexed. “Well, of course I do, Hisao. I had to coerce you into it, remember?” She smiles slightly and giggles. Just the reaction I was hoping for.
  416. “Well, you may want to kiss me soon. It looks like it's going to rain soon.” I grin widely as she kisses me on the cheek. I turn my head to face her and plant one on her lips in response. Emi holds on to me noticeably tighter.
  418. “Hey, Hisao?”
  420. “Yeah?”
  422. “Remember the time you came to my room and we made love for the first time?” She leans her face into my neck as she says this.
  424. “Yeah, I remember. That was an amazing night, Emi. I’m still surprised I made it to the morning run that day.”
  426. She laughs at this. “Well, it’s a good thing you’re going to be able to keep up with me now. I’ll think we’ll have a lot more of those encounters.” She kisses me lightly on the neck and returns her chin to my shoulder.
  428. A few more minutes pass as we both reminisce in our memories. I think that my plan might have actually worked when Emi pipes up. “Hisao… do you remember when you visited me after exams?”
  430. I slow my pace. I don’t like where this is going one bit. I know that even after we made our amends on the rooftop and she took me to her dad’s grave, I figure there’s still some unease regarding my actions. The words that we exchanged that night weren’t exactly pleasant and I'm in no hurry to reenact them in my head.
  432. “Emi…” I begin to say but she puts a finger to my lips, halting me.
  434. “It’s just… we’re a similar situation now, aren’t we? My legs are gone. I have no outlet. I don’t want to have to rely on you. I’m… I’m bitter. How could this happen again? I lost my legs AGAIN!” Emi shouts this last word and I feel the hot tears fall down from her face onto my shoulder. “I feel so helpless. And here we are. I have to rely on you. You have to protect me. You’re my knight on the white charger.” She laughs bitterly.
  436. “Emi, that’s n-“
  438. She cuts me off again. “But you know what, Hisao? I don’t care. Because the one thing I always feared was having what I loved ripped away from me. You almost just lost me. You dived for me, you put yourself at risk to save me. I can’t hold that against you. You’re going to protect me no matter what I say or do. And I know now that I’m okay with that, because you’re risking everything you love by being with me too. I don’t have to go at it alone, anymore. I told you this at my dad’s gravesite but I admit I wasn’t so sure when I said it then. I am now. And I want to apologize for hurting you back then. I was callous, angry, and- mmph!”
  440. I interrupt her by swinging her forward so that she has her legs wrapped around my abdomen and her arms around my shoulders. I kiss her deeply on the lips. This is what I was worried about. I didn’t want Emi to spiral back to her old self, always running from the problems to get away instead of confronting them head-on. With her words an overwhelming feeling of relief washes over me. I know that she is getting better, letting go of her inhibitions. When we part from the kiss, I look deeply into her emerald green eyes, and say the only thing that could cement what she had opened up to me.
  442. “I love you, Emi. Enough to die for you.”
  444. She looks shocked. She hugs me so tightly she squeezes the air out of me. “No, Hisao, I love you too but please please please don’t die on me!”
  446. I return the hug. “I’ll make sure that I won’t, don’t worry.”
  448. She returns to my arms, and I continue walking down the mountain side.
  450. ===========================
  452. I have no clue what time it is. The gloomy gray storm cloud that lingered overhead in the afternoon changed. They are swirling, black, and menacing. The wind is picking up now, and I can hear thunder occasionally off in the distance. We’re about just under halfway down the mountain, but it would be foolish to continue traveling in a storm. Emi is snoozing in my arms. Though I can’t feel them anymore, it has not become painful to carry her. Either I’ve lost all feeling in my arms, or my determination to continue is so strong that I couldn’t possibly put her down now.
  454. Emi jumps awake when a large raindrop impacts on her forehead. “Oh no…” she says softly.
  456. Thunder crashes loudly overhead. A gust of wind comes from my right and threatens to throw me off balance.
  458. “We should really find a place to stay until this blows over!” says Emi.
  460. “Where, though? It’s not safe to sit under a tree during a thunderstorm!”
  462. “Yeah but if you stay out in the rain you could get sick!”
  464. Shit. She has a point. I look around for something, maybe a small outcropping or a ditch. Anything we could rest in. Nothing is nearby. I’ll keep moving until the storm gets too bad to continue. I trudge along the forested ground, raindrops kicking up small amounts of dirt as they fall from the leaves of the trees. The wind gusts again and thunder roars through the sky. The storm is getting close to our location. We need to find shelter, quickly.
  466. I notice a tree that has been downed is leaning against the ground. It’s at enough of an angle that a person could fit under its trunk and be slightly sheltered from the rain. “There!” I proclaim.
  467. I run Emi over to the fallen tree and lay her down under the trunk. “Hisao, this isn’t safe!” she exclaims.
  469. “Well the chances of you being hit by lightning are a lot lower than getting rained on. I'll take these odds. Stay here, I’m going to see if I can find something to cover the sides!” I remove the hatchet from my bag but leave the rest next to her and begin looking around the forest. I see several pine trees with large branches off to our side. I stride over to them again begin hacking. The rain worsens, and I see lighting streak across the sky and the thunder roars louder, closer now.
  471. “Hisao!” I hear Emi call from under the downed tree.
  473. “Almost done!” I shout as I cut one remaining pine branch from the tree. I walk over to the tree and begin placing the pine branches along the side, acting as a makeshift roof. It works marginally well, but some water still manages to get through. Emi helps me set up the sleeping bag and climbs in. I climb in, sidling up next to her. Though the ground around us and the bag itself are extremely wet, the warmth emanating from her body is wonderful.
  475. “Hisao, we’re going to need to do something about the ground being wet, otherwise it will suck the heat right out of us!”
  477. I contemplate the issue. Lightning strikes and Emi’s frightened features are illuminated briefly before it stops and the thunder claps across the sky. I have an idea. I reach into my bag and pull out my remaining clothing. I switch positions with Emi so that she is underneath me, while I straddle her. I take all my dry clothing from the bag and begin inserting it in the bag, on her back and sides to keep the water from seeping through the ground and bag and onto her. I then get on my elbows and knees and lay on top of her. This way, she is completely encapsulated by dryness and warmth. I don’t want her to get hurt.
  479. “Hisao…” she says softly.  “You’re going to get sick.”
  481. I shiver as the rain intensifies and I feel the water seeping into my back. I place my forehead to hers. “But you won’t, Emi. And that’s what is important.” I kiss her on the lips. My shaking intensifies as the rain pours down even harder, and the gusting wind chills my skin to the touch. I have to do this for her. It’s the only way. The branches I set up earlier have blown away by this point and my body is the only thing keeping Emi dry.
  483. I am her roof.
  485. “You need to stay warm, this isn’t going to work!” She pleads with me, “Please just let it go, I can handle the water!”
  487. I shake my head. “No, I can’t let you get hurt again. Not after the cliff.”
  489. Emi pouts, but then her expression changes to thoughtfulness. “I wonder…” she muses.
  491. The wind slows for a moment and lightning crackles and lights up Emi’s face again and I see that her face is… seductive?
  493. “Well, in that case the only way you’re going to stay warm is if you move. And you’re in a position that there’s only one way you can do something like that.”
  495. Oh, no way. “You can’t be serious, Emi! This is a life or death situation!” I exclaim incredulously.
  497. She nods sagely. “I know. Sometimes, desperate times call for desperate measures.” She reaches down into the sleeping bag and begins removing my belt. I can’t believe she’s actually going through with this. I feel her wiggle around as she moves her pants down low enough to provide me access. I feel her free hand grab my rock-hard erection and begin rubbing it. “Come on, Hisao,” she teases me, “You living or dying depends on how hard you do me~.”
  499. I feel my body shaking as the feeling of cold envelops my back, but I tense up as I enter her slowly. I can’t believe this is happening. I could probably die and the girl of my dreams is forcing me to fuck her. She moans softly. That’s my cue to begin. I slide in and out gently, starting slow in our awkward position. She wraps her knees around my freezing hips and coaxes me closer. I oblige by sliding in farther and eliciting an erotic yelp from her. Emi raises her face to meet my own and kisses me deeply. The rocking of our hips under the sleeping bag matches the movement of our tongues on one another.
  501. The rain is slowing. The thunder has stopped. And I keep going. Emi rubs her hands up and down my sides and abdomen rapidly, attempting to use friction to return some heat to me. All the while I continue ramming into her, causing high-pitched moans to escape her throat.
  503. The wind stops. I feel some warmth return to my body. I feel my penis throbbing inside of her. It isn’t going to be long now.
  505. Oh, Emi. Oh Oh oh Oh oh
  507. I moan louder and harder than I have before.
  509. “Hisao, you can’t go in me though!” she manages to eek out.
  511. I pull out just in time to feel Emi’s hand grip my member and begin tugging and I explode all over her stomach. She giggles. “Oh wow, it's so warm!” She continues to rub it even after I’ve finished as I collapse on top of her. She lightly kisses my neck and whispers into my ear. “That was amazing, Hisao. I think that the storm even stopped because of you.”
  513. The thunder is distant now, but I still shiver. I am soaked. However, Emi is fine. And that’s what is important. She continues to whisper encouraging things into my ear. Since it is no longer raining, I remove my wet clothes and set them outside the bag. I move to Emi’s side and fall into a restful sleep.
  515. “Good night, Hisao.”
  517. “Good night, Emi. Thank you.”
  519. “I love you.”
  521. “I love you too.”
  523. Th- THUMP. Th- THUMP. Thump.
  524. ====================================
  526. Birds chirp in recognition of the morning sun.  I open my eyes blearily. The storm has passed, but the ground is still soaked with rainwater. I look at Emi resting peacefully. I didn’t manage to get to sleep much last night. I was up shaking due to the coldness, but I think that my idea to keep Emi dry worked. I don’t think she woke up at all during the night. She has a smile on her face while she sleeps. That’s a first. I feel an overwhelming wave of happiness rush across me when-
  528. “ACHOOOO!”
  530. Emi jumps awake, eyes wide like a deer caught in headlights. “Hisao!”
  532. I wipe away the mucus from my nose. Oh, no. I did get sick. Shit.
  534. “Well, you managed to keep me alive last night Emi, but I still got sick!”
  536. Emi looks worried. “Do you have a temperature?” she places her hand against my forehead. “A headache? Anything?”
  538. I can’t say that I currently feel anything, but my nose is really running.
  540. “I feel fine, other than my nose. Let’s pack up and keep moving, it looks nice out today.” We extricate ourselves from the sopping sleeping bag. I remove all the clothes that didn’t manage to stay dry and separate them from those that did. Emi and I change into the last remaining dry clothes. I’m stuck with a pair of polyester green and black plaid pajama bottoms and a woolen t-shirt. Emi wears a pair of sweatpants with the ends tied off, sort of like how Rin ties of the ends of the arms of her shirt, and a triple layer of long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, and hooded sweatshirt. All of our socks were soaked so I end up taking our last remaining dry t-shirt, ripping it up, and creating make-shift cotton socks for myself.
  542. I cough heavily and phlegm comes up. It’s getting worse than I thought. Emi and I share the remaining food we have left for breakfast. All we have left are two bottles of water and a bag full of wet clothing.
  544. Emi pipes up, “I think we should leave everything else here, Hisao.”
  546. “What? Why!?” I exclaim incredulously.
  548. “Well, think about it,” she explains, “All of the clothing and the bag itself are now saturated with water. It will be even heavier for you to have to carry that, and there’s no way any of it will dry off in this forest without direct exposure to sunlight. We’ll be able to cover more ground that way. I can at least hold on to the sleeping bag while you carry me.”
  550. She has a point. I don’t like the idea of leaving supplies behind but if we’re going to make it out of here alive we need to cover a lot of ground. We’re already a day late, Mrs. Ibarazaki is probably worried sick about us.
  552. I cough before I nod. “That makes sense. C’mon, let’s roll up the sleeping bag and we can get moving.”
  554. I take my heart medications and hand Emi the capsule containing the tablets. I hoist her up while she clings to me with one arm and the sleeping bag with another, our water bottles and my medicine resting inside of it. With the weight of our belongings off of my back, I’m able to make a much better speed than I would have normally.
  556. I am able to go a full hour without stopping before I need to rest. I can feel a heat rising to my head. The sickness is worse than I thought. Emi notices that I am burying my head in my hands and asks, “Are you alright?”
  558. “I’ve just got a headache… I think I’m pretty sick actually.” I cough at the end of this statement. Emi looks very concerned. She passes me one of the remaining water bottles.
  560. “Here, drink the whole thing. You need to keep yourself hydrated, especially when you’re sick!”
  562. I take the bottle and thank her, draining the whole thing.
  564. “Ready to go?”
  566. She nods and I pick her up and we set off once again.
  568. Thump. Thump. ThumpthumpTh-Thump. Th- THUMP.
  570. No, please, not now.
  572. ================================
  574. I know we’re near the bottom of the mountain now. We’ve been traveling for too long for it not to be. This can’t go on forever. The burning feeling in my head has reached a critical point. It hurts to think. My coughing intensifies. There has to be a trail… somewhere, anywhere… there have to be other people out here…
  576. I trudge along slowly. My rate of movement has slowed significantly since the morning. The sickness has taken its toll on my body. Emi noticed and is constantly whispering words of encouragement in my ear, telling me to stay strong and how much she loves me. It’s the only thing keeping me going. I can’t let her down.
  578. I can’t even look up anymore. I keep my eyes locked to the ground, focusing only on what is in front of me. Have to keep her safe.
  580. Have to…
  582. “Hisao!”
  584. Emi’s shout brings me back from my reverie. She is pointing directly in front of me. “Hisao look! A road!”
  586. I look in the direction she has indicated. I can’t believe it. There’s a two lane road just about 400 feet in front of us. A lesser traveled mountain road, but somewhere that someone will at least see us.
  588. “We have to get there now! We can flag someone down!” She is smiling radiantly. “We’re going to be okay!”
  590. I grimace and begin moving forward. Getting to that road is my only goal now. Emi feels heavy in my arms.
  592. Thump.Th- THUMP. Thump. Th- THUMP.
  594. Please, heart, not now. We’re so close.
  596. I’m moving faster. My eyes aren’t paying attention to the ground in front of me. The girl in my arms and the road I am moving to are the only things that matter.
  598. Suddenly, I trip. I gasp.
  600. Emi goes flying out of my arms. I fall. I feel a sharp pain emanate in my chest. I clutch at my heart. I landed on a sharp rock.
  604. I cry out in pain and clutch at my chest. No! Not a heart attack! Not now. Not so close.
  606. “HISAO!” Emi’s cry is painful to hear. She is splayed a few feet from me, sleeping bag thrown away. She crawls over to my side.
  608. Th-THUMP –THUMP----thump—THUMP
  610. “Hisao no, no, no, no, no, no!” Emi is crying; tears streak down her face as she looks into my eyes. The edges of my vision blur. I get the oh-too-familiar pulse of red webs in my vision for each time my heart beats.
  612. I can feel the world fading away. Even Emi is turning to black. I can’t hear what she is saying anymore. Her mouth is moving, her eyes are wide with fear.
  614. If I have to die, the last image I want to see is Emi’s face.
  616. I grab Emi’s hand in my own.
  618. I look her in the eyes.
  620. I smile.
  622. Everything goes black.
  624. Thump. Thump.
  626. ====================================
  628. I feel gravel. I hear screaming. I taste the dust. I see the road flow onto the mountain side below me. I smell burnt rubber.
  630. How am I here?
  632. I am being lifted up. I stare into the sun. The white light at the end of the tunnel. Suddenly it disappears. I’m in a car. We’re going fast.
  634. Emi is next to me. She speaks, but I don’t comprehend.
  636. What.
  638. I black out again as the car goes over a bump.
  640. Thump…. Thump…. … thump
  642. ============================
  644. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
  646. White.
  648. I’m aware of something in my arm.
  650. Beep.
  652. Where am I?
  654. Beep.
  656. I’m not outside
  658. Beep.
  660. WHERE’S EMI!?
  662. Beep.
  664. I sit upright suddenly. The bright lights in the room blind me momentarily.
  666. “Doctor, he’s awake!” A woman is sitting expectantly in the chair next to the bed that I’m lying in. I have an IV in my arm and electrodes on my chest. I get it now, I’m in the hospital. How did I get here?
  668. I shake my head. “Where’s… Emi…” I manage to mumble. My head is still throbbing.
  670. A man in a white coat walks into the room with a clipboard, flipping over the pages and muttering to himself. He sits down next to me.
  672. “Mr. Nakai? I’m Dr. Nilgun. Do you know how you got here?”
  674. I shake my head, confused. The last thing I remember is smiling at Emi before accepting the sweet embrace of death. Or, so I thought.
  676. “You were driven here by a Mr. and Mrs. Tuso. They were accompanied by a girl – a Ms. Emi Ibarazaki?”
  678. I nod.
  680. “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Tuso found you and Emi on the side of the road. You were unconscious and Ms. Ibarazaki was sitting next to you, attempting to flag down a passing car. Mr. Tuso was kind enough to stop and pick you two up and drive you to the hospital here. According to Ms. Ibarazaki you have a heart condition. Arrhythmia.  You were admitted immediately and treated accordingly. Your heart should be fine now, but you are still quite sick. Tell me, how did you two end up in this situation, anyway?”
  682. I want to see Emi, but I’m sure the doctor needs his explanation before he can authorize anything. I relay the events of the mountain trip to him.
  684. He merely notes things as I relay them to his clipboard, nodding occasionally and saying “Yes, of course.”
  686. “Well, Mr. Nakai, it seems as if your story checks out perfectly with Ms. Ibarazaki’s. That was an amazing feat of strength and courage. I’m surprised that someone in your condition was able to do such a thing.” He laughs. “Love it a powerful force, after all.” He motions to the nurse.
  688. She opens the door and Emi wheels in on a wheelchair. “Hisao!” she exclaims.
  690. “Emi…” I reply weakly. My throat is sore from telling the story to the doctor and my head is throbbing from the ache.
  692. She makes it to my bedside and gives me an awkward hug from across the wheelchair.  “I was so worried about you!”
  694. I’m just perplexed. “How… did you get me out of the forest…?”
  696. She giggles and says, “Well, my legs are still pretty powerful Hisao. I managed to get a hold of you and, well, I pulled you out to the edge of the road. I sat there until someone drove by and flagged them down. I think that the sight of an unconscious boy and a legless girl frantically waving at the side of the road would attract anyone’s attention. Luckily Mr. and Mrs. Tuso stopped and picked us up. They saved you!”
  698. It’s too much for my mind to wrap around.
  700. “I think I need to get some sleep.” Emi smiles at me and nods. “Okay, I’ll see you in a bit, Hisao. My mom is on her way anyway, she was worried sick!”
  702. The doctor answers me, “We’ll leave you alone now Mr. Nakai.”
  704. “No… I want Emi… to stay…” I reply weakly.
  706. The doctor nods curtly. “Very well. Nurse?”
  708. I look Emi in the eyes, and she looks back at me.
  710. “Well, we made it.” I manage to cough out.
  712. She smiles. “We sure did. That was quite the adventure, Hisao.”
  714. I close my eyes. Everything is okay. Emi is okay.
  716. I’m okay.
  718. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  719. ============================================
  721. “Emi! Emi! Oh my god, Emi!”
  723. I’m awakened by the sound of a woman shouting. I see Emi stir. Apparently she fell asleep in her wheelchair next to me.
  725. “Mom!” Emi wheels frantically over to meet Mrs. Ibarazaki. She picks her daughter up out of the wheelchair and embraces her lovingly.
  727. “Oh my god, Emi, I was so worried. You were gone for a whole day! I waited in the parking lot for hours calling your phone again and again. I knew something happened but we had no way to find you. Rescue parties didn’t turn up anything. I was so scared you and Hisao were dead.” Tears fall from Mrs. Ibarazaki’s face. “I didn’t want to have to face that kind of loss again, Emi.”
  729. Emi is crying now too. “I’m so sorry mom, it was my fault. I egged Hisao on to get off the path and we went somewhere dangerous… I nearly did die but Hisao saved me!” Mrs. Ibarazaki is shocked at this. However, her look at shock is replaced with one of relief.
  731. “Emi, I really, really want to be angry at you for this… that was stupid. But I can’t. I’m just so happy that you’re safe.”
  733. Emi breaks down harder at these words. The two of them stay coupled in a loving embrace before they finally let go. Emi’s mother then walks over to me and takes a seat.
  735. “Hisao, what happened out there?”
  737. Emi and I relive the tale yet again, leaving out certain private parts that I’m sure Mrs. Ibarazaki wouldn’t want to have to hear about anyway. Mrs. Ibarazaki simply shakes her head, amazed. “You traversed the entire mountain side carrying my daughter to keep her safe, Hisao? If I could ever say that there was ever a true man in this world, it would be you. You have my eternal thanks. You gave me back my daughter.” Mrs. Ibarazaki begins crying again and holds my hand tightly.
  739. All I can do is smile and squeeze back. I feel so weak.
  741. “You have to stay in the hospital a few more days, Hisao. I’m going to take Emi back now to clean her up, but we’ll be back later tonight. You’re welcome to stay at our house once you are released. I know that your parents were out of town for the month. We’ll let you rest now.”
  743. Emi leans over her wheelchair and plants a kiss on my lips. “I’ll see you later, Hisao.” She says. “I love you.”
  745. “I love you too.” I choke out between sobs. Wait, I’m crying? I finally notice that tears are running down my face.
  747. Everything is alright.
  749. Everything.
  751. Thump. Thump. Thump.
  753. ========================================
  755. A few days after my admittance to the hospital, I am released. A full checkup reveals that even after my heart attack I am still just as healthy as ever. I laugh to myself at this revelation. Emi’s work saves me again. Non-shocker.
  757. I get into the car with Mrs. Ibarazaki and Emi and we drive to their home. Emi still cannot use her prostheses due to the scrapes and bruises on her knees, so Mrs. Ibarazaki and I help her into the house. We all collapse on the couch, exhausted from the trip back. I cuddle with Emi, enjoying feeling the warmth of her body against mine once again. We flick on the television and began watching whatever is on.
  759. Eventually Mrs. Ibarazaki gets up and states, “Alright, I need to drive in to town to grab some groceries. I can prepare a dinner for us all when I get back then!”
  761. Emi nods and smiles at her mother. “Thank you, mom. For everything.”
  763. Mrs. Ibarazaki hugs Emi and myself briefly before exiting the house.
  765. Emi turns to me and looks my deeply in the eyes. I return the gaze. I see something wonderful in them. If I thought Emi had been completely into me after her revelation at the graveyard, I was wrong. Our latest adventure together had cemented our relationship even more. She loved me with the same intensity that I loved her.
  767. “So, Hisao, I need to take a shower now, but without my legs, well… it’s hard.” I can feel my face turning red and my heart beating faster at the thought of what she is going to ask next. “Do you think you could, well, help me?”
  769. Emi looks at me knowingly and traces her finger down one of my biceps. There’s no way I can pass this up. I pick her up tenderly and lift her to my face. We kiss passionately as her legs wrap around my waist. I slowly make my way to her bathroom, kissing her all the way. Emi somehow finds a way to remove my shirt without climbing off of me and begins caressing my chest. She runs a finger delicately down the scar that adorns my sternum. I look at her and speak:
  771. “This heart beats for you, and you alone Emi. It’s not as strong as other hearts, but it is more determined. It conquered a mountain to make sure that you stayed safe. It continued to beat even after it got sick. It continued beating even after it was physically damaged. I- I want to be with you forever, Emi. I love you.”
  773. Emi responds by placing a heavy kiss first on my chest scar, and then by moving up to my face and intimately kissing me on the lips.
  775. “I love you too. And I will stay with you.”
  777. We frantically remove the rest of our clothing and step into the shower. We turn the water on and set it to heat up. The water rains down from the shower head onto our naked bodies. We take turns bathing one another, rubbing shampoo through the others’ hair delicately, and using soap and a simple washcloth to wash the other’s skin. Once we’re clean, we begin kissing deeply again. This time, I take the initiative. Using my newfound strength, I pin Emi up against the shower wall while continuing to kiss her. She yelps in surprise but wraps her legs even tighter around me. I use one had to support her while the other caresses her supple body, moving from breast, to stomach, to waist, to her outer thigh, and back to her breasts.
  779. Meanwhile, Emi uses her free hand to reach underneath her to grab my throbbing member and begins rubbing it. The hot shower water continues to fall on us, intensifying the feelings that both of us share. Finally, Emi separates herself from me ever so slightly, and uses her hand to guide my penis inside of her.
  781. I waste no time. Keeping her pinned to the wall, I begun thrusting vigorously, moaning as I go deeper in deeper to her rhythm. Emi’s shrieks and moans are intensified by the acoustics of the shower walls and they drive me faster and faster.  We continue to go at it for several minutes, long enough for the water to run cold. I extricate myself from her and turn off the water. Still holding onto her, I step out of the shower and place her on the floor. I place both of my arms underneath her inner thighs, pushing them upwards toward her head, completely exposing her red and moist vagina. I push myself into her again, rocking with renewed vigor. I feel her walls clenching around me and I know that I am reaching my limit.
  783. “HISAOOOOOOOO!” she cries loudly as I thrust into her for a final time, removing myself just in time to release my semen all over her breasts, stomach, and face. I groan loudly after each spasm.
  785. For a few minutes, we simply lay there in ecstasy. We kiss passionately and begin cleaning up. Emi giggles, “You made quite the mess.”
  787. I am so overwhelmed with afterglow that the only appropriate response is to kiss her intimately. Not too hard, not too soft. A kiss that speaks volumes. A kiss that says, “I love you with ALL of my heart.”
  789. We hang the towels the dry and begin dressing ourselves. I flick the light switch and carry Emi out of the bathroom. We look lovingly into one another’s eyes and kiss again when a noise grabs our attention.
  791. A cough.
  793. Emi and I snap to attention to see Mrs. Ibarazaki sitting on the couch. Her legs are crossed, her lips are pursed, and her eyebrow is raised. The groceries she went to get from the store lay on the floor next to her. We must have been in the shower longer than I thought. I feel the heat rising to my face and notice that Emi has become beet red, her mouth hanging agape. There’s no way this could be construed as anything else. Our hair is askew, we’re still damp from the shower, and I’m carrying her lovingly in my arms.
  795. “Mom, I can e-“ Emi begins, but Mrs. Ibarazaki holds up a hand to silence her. She looks to me gravely.
  797. “Hisao, may I speak with you privately for a minute?”
  799. “S-Sure. I’ll just set Emi down.”
  801. “Thank you.” Mrs. Ibarazaki picks up the groceries and moves to the kitchen.
  803. Emi is horrified. “Oh, no, Hisao we shouldn’t have done that, my mom won’t like you anymore and I won’t get to see you again and I’ll feel so bad and we’ll kick you out of the house and-“
  805. “Emi, it’s okay. Your mother is reasonable. I’m sure nothing horrible will happen.”
  807. She nods nervously. I set her back down in the wheelchair. I walk to the kitchen, each step seeming as if spells doom for the relationship between Emi and I. Mrs. Ibarazaki sits on the far end of the kitchen in a chair, looking solemn. She gestures for me to sit next to her. I do so quietly.
  809. A few seconds pass before she speaks, “Well, this is embarrassing.” I nod, not looking at her in the eyes. “I suppose you think I’m mad at you?”
  811. The change of her tone makes me look up. She is unhappy, as I first gathered, but looks rather bemused with a bright sparkle emanating from behind her eyes. She lowers her voice and whispers to me, “Emi’s father and I were pulling the same stunts when we were your age. I couldn’t possibly punish Emi and ostracize you without having to call myself a hypocrite.”
  813. A feeling of relief washes over me, “I’m sorry Mrs. Ibarazaki, and we really shouldn’t have taken advantage of that situation t-“
  815. She shushes me, cutting me off. “Hisao, really, it’s fine. You’re both young teenagers in what I assume is love. Provided you both use protection, I don’t care what you do. As long as I get some sleep at night.” She smiles widely. The embarrassment is still killing me. I decide to change gears.
  817. “So what exactly did you want to talk to me about, then?”
  819. Mrs. Ibarazaki adjusts briefly in her seat and gazes at me seriously. “Hisao, you made a promise to me before you left for the trail that you would keep Emi safe for me. In the most extreme conditions, you did so. You’ve proven yourself to be called an equal as a man as her father was. As her father IS.” She corrects herself and tears up slightly. “I see him in you, Hisao. And it makes me immeasurably happy that Emi and I will continue to have someone like both of you in our lives for a long time to come. You saved me from having to experience the pain of loss as I hoped that I would never feel again. Hisao, I want to give you a gift.”
  821. She moves closer to me and grasps my hand, looking directly into my eyes. “I want to give you and Emi the gift of being able to live together.”
  823. My jaw drops. My mind is careening around at one hundred miles an hour. She wants to what?! “I don’t understand…” is the only thing I can say.
  825. She smiles at me. “I want Emi to be able to expand, Hisao. After her father’s death, as you know, she took comfort in running from everything. From her problems. And if she couldn’t do that, she would always end up here with me. We could never break the cycle. And then you came along. You shattered the cycle. I’ve never seen Emi happier in her life, and in turn, I’ve never been happier in my life. You gave us back our optimism, Hisao. And I want to return the favor. I still have plenty of money left from my husband’s life insurance – I’ll be paying for the two of you to move in together to your own place and begin your life together. Emi told me what you said on that mountainside one night. That you would die for her. That’s powerful, Hisao. Binding, even. So please, accept my gift, for it is best thing that I can do for you and Emi.”
  827. I jump out of my chair and embrace Mrs. Ibarazaki. Tears fall from my face. I don’t have the words to express my gratitude. She hugs me back tightly. We stay this way for a few seconds before we let go of the embrace. Mrs. Ibarazaki begins to say, “We should probably let Emi know she isn’t in…” but I stop her.
  829. “No,” I say, “Just play along for a second…” I wink at Mrs. Ibarazaki, and her look of confusion changes to a mischievous grin. A very familiar one indeed.
  831. I open my mouth and shout widely, “WELL, MRS. IBARAZAKI IF THAT’S REALLY HOW YOU FEEL, I GUESS I’LL SEE MYSELF OUT!” I pound on the kitchen table for emphasis.
  839. I open my mouth to shout my next theatrical line when Emi scoots rapidly into the room on her wheelchair, tears streaming down her face looking worried. “No, mom, mom please no! He didn’t hurt me please stop he is a good person!”
  841. Mrs. Ibarazaki and I ‘glare’ at each other for a second before smiling and bursting into laughter. I walk over to Emi and look her in the eye, “Gotcha.” I say while smirking at her. Her tears cease and she angrily looks at her mother and I.
  843. “You are both so mean!” she punches me in the abdomen, hard.
  845. “Ow!” I exclaim, rubbing where her fist impacted. While I’m concerned with my injury, Emi quickly leans in to kiss me.
  847. She looks at me expectantly and says, “So, is everything actually alright?”
  849. Mrs. Ibarazaki and I look at one another and then back to Emi.
  851. “Well, Emi, do we have some good news for you…”
  853. ==================================================
  855. THE END
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