Chapter 4 – ‘This date,’

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                “She said that?”

                “Yeah, she’s been really looking forward to doing something with us.”

                “That sounds great! I should email her soon then, why didn’t I think of this sooner?”

                “You’ve had what, like eight years of school together? Would it kill you to be more considerate?”

                “Sorry-sorry, but that’s why I have you right? Always looking out for me, that’s why I love yah!”

                Lilly’s pout was more playful than anything harboring ill will. Of course Rea wasn’t inconsiderate, but she can get caught up in her hyperactivity sometimes, oblivious to the world around her. One just has to learn to keep up.

                Sunday. Three in the afternoon. The quaint little café they had entered bustled along as the girls continue their conversation. Subdued and calming, the café’s ambiance has already begun to sedate the couple into a soothing daze; Lilly could feel her eyelids getting heavy as she lets free a yawn. Shoulders slumped, her right and proper posture eased. The furniture added to the rustic quality of the coffee shop, making the two feel as if they were sharing a silent moment together in a cabin on the countryside, looking out as the sun gives leave into the hills in the distance. The gentle urban clatter kicked them back to the warm, dainty establishment at the edge of Shouai City. At least the rural atmosphere was simulated.

                The fine woodwork of a small chalkboard sign spell the words Café Dewall. The backdrop of their first official ‘date.’

                “Ne-ne,” Rea purred, “when are you gonna be a superhero?” Her twin-tails sprang with life as she tugged on the strap of her short overalls. Large donut earrings swayed as she spoke. She wanted to make sure she looked good for their date, in her own way.

                “No way,” Lilly bluntly responded. She ignored Rea’s silent protests as she pulled on Lilly’s yellow sweater vest. “Plus what would I do anyways? I couldn’t even save you with this thing.” Her thick eyebrows tighten in concentration. “And I’d be nothing but your personal superhero.” I’m putting way too much thought into this.

                Rea backs away in jest, pouting to continue their banter. “Why wouldn’t you? I thought I wouldn’t have to ask for you to be my personal superhero.” She lowered her eyes in an effort to look sultry.

                “And why would that be?”

                “—.”

                “-Gck!”

                With a joke so vulgar, Lilly nearly spit out what was left of her drink, shaking under fits of coughing while Rea quickly broke her façade of suggestive teasing, now laughing at the shock of her partner’s response. The other few patrons of the store begin to spare glances at the two. If she were without any special abilities, Lilly could still accurately guess what they were thinking. She tried to calm down as Rea kept laughing at her expense. Salvation was found in the waiter who saw it fit to tend to them now.

                “How is everything today? Would you like another cup of coffee?”

                He was met by one face of strained coughing, and another of oddly placed maniacal laughter. He staggered back in confusion. In the corner of her eye, Lilly took note of the bright red hairclip across his bangs.

                What the hell is wrong with them? Ugh, keep it cool with this table then.

                The waiter was within arm’s reach, but somehow his thoughts sounded far and distant, like whispering in a large empty cave, the way it echoed. Having this ability for as recently as she did, Lilly hasn’t taken as much advantage as one might normally would. Though at the very least the pop quizzes for the past week weren’t as… poppy. She’s snapped out of her concern when Rea’s voice chirps along with the man.

                “Actually can I get another caramel macchiato? Ehh… Annie?”

                He closed his eyes to alleviate frustration. Reaching towards his green apron, he fixes the nametag to give Rea a more appropriate view.

                “It’s… Anthony, actually.”

                “Okay Annie, one large macchiato and three glazed donuts please!”

                “What did I just say?” He removed the nametag from his apron, and brought it closer to Rea, almost shoving in her face. She backed up a bit.

                “Don’t you give cute nicknames to pets and stuff?” Rea questioned, making little sense.

                “Do I look like an animal to you?!”

                “Well…”

                “Why, you-!”

                She flinched at his small outburst, even Rea could tell what kind of words he was trying to hold back. Hurriedly he jotted down the order, the pen almost tearing into the page behind it. Looking up from his notepad, Anthony coolly glared at the other customer.

                “What about you, ‘Eyebrows?’ Want anything?” Anthony’s tone carried a bite with it, catching even himself off guard.

                Lilly tried to keep a courteous outlook. I don’t remember this being my dad. Twirling her hair behind her ear, she lets loose a response.

                “I think I’ll just take a glass of water for now, Annie.

                The waiter visibly shook from anger. Lilly heard it now, but it still felt faint. Turning on his heels, his hair flipped as he took his leave. “If that’s the case, I’ll leave you to your date then. Um, together. You two are together right?”

                It had only taken them until now to realize how they had been laid out. They were sitting in a standard booth, but they were both sat on the same side, leaving the seat across empty. Rea was glued to Lilly’s side; the weight of her body becoming all the more evident. Ugh, Rea! This looks too suspicious, Lilly thought. She stuttered as she musters up a comeback.

                “It- it’s not like that! I swear, we-,” Rea feigned dejection, Annie snickered to himself. He got what he wanted.

                “I kid, I kid,” he exhaled. “I was talking about your bill. I’ll bring out your drinks as soon as I can.” He waves his hand as his back faces them.

                “Geez, that guy…” Lilly grits her teeth, arms crossed. “You know I don’t like it when people mention my eyebrows. And some stranger too.” Lilly made no qualms over showing her ire. Unexpectedly she felt two arms coil tight around her upper body.

                “Ha ha, I’m sure he was just joking around,” Rea giggled, “You don’t have to dwell on it.” If she could hug any tighter, she would.

                With Rea, Lilly couldn’t stay mad for too long. “Fine…” She loosened up when she looked at the top of Rea’s head, her red hair cutely done for the occasion. The calm returned to wash over them.

                The sunset vibrantly painted the sky to an orange and red hue, a few splashes of white as clouds float overhead. Wind flows through the lush green grass, like waves on a grand ocean. The hills almost came to life as the wind hummed a low tune.

                Blonde hair swept into her face as she tried to keep up with her companion. Rea had already ran ahead to catch the top of the hill, essentially racing against herself. Taking considerable effort in the last few steps of the stone stairs, Lilly succeeds in catching up.

                “I didn’t think we’d actually come up here,” Lilly panted. Man, I should exercise more often. Or at all. “You’re surprisingly energetic, how did you make it all the way up sprinting?” Lilly’s legs ached at every word and step, while also cautiously positioning a free hand on her white skirt, so as not to allow it to fly liberally. She knew she didn’t have to bother asking, by now the answer should be the clear.

                Rea’s fanged grin was as wide as the view. “You know I wanted to see the view from here, and this is the perfect place to bookend our first real DATE!” She shouted that last word to hear it echo across the landscape, and when Lilly finally caught up to the redhead, she couldn’t help but agree.

                Shouai City was laid out in full for the young girls. The city wasn’t the sprawling urban metropolis of Tokyo, nor was it an antique village secluded in the mountains. Rather, it was somewhere in the middle. Capable enough to support a budding economy, yet still held on to a small-town ambiance. Mountains and hills that bordered the west of the prefecture were a popular tourist spot, but if you knew your way around you could find a nice spot to be alone.

                The taller of the skyscrapers captured some of the color the sunset provided, a red shade with now a hint of violet across some of the windows. The rest of the city maintained a similar tint, but the city seemed too busy in its own commotion to care. Cars speeding around the streets, people running to and fro, staring at the ground or on their phones; they had no idea the colors that surrounded them. And on this lone hill, one that presented the girls with a modest sight of their town, all that urban disorder looked so far away. As if they were truly alone, together. It was peaceful. This would be a great place to read some books…

                “It’s certainly great here, hmm, good choice,” Lilly leaned on the railing of the hilltop that overlooked the city. Rea does the same, bumping into Lilly. Closing her eyes to listen to the wind’s whistle, a buzz in Lilly’s head began to harmonize with the breeze.

                I totally want to kiss her right now…

                Both of their faces warm considerably. Lilly pretended not to be aware as Rea squirmed beside her.

                “You… heard that, I bet?” Rea whispered, adjusting her glasses.

                “Yeah, you really can tell when I do it to you, huh?” Lilly summarized. “That’s strange.”

                “I can’t explain it either, I just… know.” Her words were tiny and subdued, but on this hill they resonated clearly.

                “Mhmph,” they spent a few lingering minutes taking in the sight. Considering Rea’s personality, some place like an amusement park or a festival suited her perfectly. Not that she hated quiet scenes like this. Lilly knew Rea chose here, and the café, with her in mind; she had to have saved this spot for a day like this. A new secret for them to share. The air pecked their faces, coercing Lilly to speak up.

                “Well, I believe I’ll have to thank you for today,” Lilly said. She whispered something into Rea’s ear.

                Somewhere down on the streets below, a handful of people quizzically cocked their head to the sky. A few could’ve sworn they heard a laugh. Shrugging it off, they spent a second to notice the visuals above.

                Lilly stood patiently for Rea’s laughter to die down. Whatever she whispered caused quite the stir in the fiery-haired girl. “Now that was a bad joke!”

                When she sensed her body starting to relax, Lilly turned Rea towards her by her shoulders. “Let me try to do something first this time.”

                Having to hold Rea so she won’t step back in shock, and to come to terms with her own, Lilly pressed her lips on Rea’s. Instinctively, Rea tip-toed to help grasp Lilly’s touch. Overall, it was amateurish at best. No different then the time in Lilly’s room. Eyes shut, they held still as they interlocked, their brains scattering to make sense of this turn of events. The taste of coffee greeted Lilly as she took in the moment. Ecstasy radiated off of Rea; Lilly felt this too. Whatever worry that earlier ailed Lilly subsided as they remained standing. This is just like that first day in the park. In this instance, her heart was beating with a racing tempo, but her mind was fully clear. Also, an all-too-familiar sensation rises to all new heights as well.

                Wow~ The clouds don’t look half bad today. I wonder if Aki wants to hang after work…

                Okay, I have everything here… Dammit I hope I don’t forget anything. Ah, I’ll check one more time…

                Man, I’m tired! Good thing I recorded my idol anime…

               Did you just see that data spike?! This’ll be interesting…

                Ah! Mai, you idiot!

                Lilly’s still gone? I’ll have to hit the store by myself if that’s the case.

                Was it okay? This is too much homework for one day. Where did he put the case? I’m be gonna late, I’m be gonna late, man I’m be gonna be late! Hide-and-seek here was a terrible idea… My schedule is jam packed for to-IhopeeverythingturnsoutfinesHejustcutoffwhataIreallyhavetothinkthisthroughWhat doIwanttodointhreeyearsGodsI’mprayingtoyoutodayforLillyLillyLillyiseverythingokayyou’relookingkindof-

                “AAAH!!”

                It took a while to collect herself. As she opened her eyes, she brought a finger to her lips. Staring at her friend, she moved forward to push the long hair out of her face. The frightened expression hasn’t relived her just yet. Rea wanted to give a quick peck on the cheek, but it would only further stress Lilly out. Wanting to calm her, Rea smoothly touched Lilly’s face. It was still warm, and her eyes were trepid with hesitation. She made certain her next words were chosen carefully. Listen to my voice, her thoughts projected, everything will be fine. Rea waited until the blue eyes in front of her soothed. Pleased, Rea pressed her face onto Lilly’s shoulder, on her toes again as she squeezed her. Two weeks had passed since that fateful day at the park, and it’s significance has only now began to grip Lilly. The fears and worries that come with such an occurrence only now rushed toward her with a force of a freight train. Rea tried her best again. For now, just… for now…

                “How are you feeling? Let me know when you’re all better, okay?”

                It was all she needed.

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