It's the third day that Kazuki's called to cancel on me. I'm not too worried, honestly. From what I can tell, I'm getting faster schooling this way than if I were able to go to class. But all the same, it's disappointing. I've gotten used to the distraction he offers me during the day, while Kaneda's out doing whatever it is he does all day. Today, I'm feeling really good, and I tap the glass of the balcony door. If only it weren't raining, I'd feel good enough to do something outside, maybe even hit the park and get some sun. It's a gloomy feeling, to be stuck inside on a day when I'm itching to do something, and I glance over at the radio. If I can't do anything outside, perhaps I can at least do something inside.
Wanting the fresh air, I go ahead and open the balcony door. It's unlikely the rain will get so far in. And then I head back, flicking the radio on and playing with it until a good beat fills the room. That's better! It's some sort of pop song, the girl's voice light and airy as she sings, and the song itself is full of all those teenage dreams of independence. I laugh, even as I start twirling around to the beat. Activity feels so good right now. My arms lift, wrists crossing as I continue to dance, not so much interested in any particular moves as in the feeling of my body exerting itself, muscles welcoming the exercise. As I dance, I can feel my worries lift away, until the thick sweater I always wear seems heavier. And even in my slender body, which feels even the slightest draft as biting cold, that sweater is becoming too heavy. I shove it off, ignoring where it falls to the floor as my eyes fall on the open balcony door again.
It will be cold out there with the crisp spring wind and the rain. But before I can really chastise myself for thinking of it, I've turned the radio up louder, and her voice carries out into the gentle patter of raindrops. Once more, I'm spinning. But this time, there are little bits of wet on me, chilling my skin and keeping it from overheating. I lose track of the sensations after a bit, too caught up in where my feet are and how the music feels as it washes through me. So when it stops abruptly, cut off halfway through a song, I freeze too. My eyes immediately shoot to the indoors, expecting to see some sort of power outage. What I do not expect to see is Kaneda standing there, his brown eyes glowering at me.
"What do you think you're doing?" he demands, waving me inside. "You'll catch your death out there!"
I blink at the way his words sound strained, and a fat waterdrop falls from my bangs directly onto the tip of my nose. It's... funny, really, and before I know it, he's catching my hand and guiding me inside while I'm doubled over with laughter. The laughter continues while he heads to the linen closet to get a towel, and when he returns, I've mostly calmed. I take the towel, rubbing at my dripping hair, and then look up at him, and the laughter in me stills. He has this incredibly gentle smile on his face, and his eyes are suddenly like rich chocolate, wrapping me in warmth. I reach a wondering hand toward his cheek, and almost immediately, his look shutters, red suffusing his cheeks as he turns away. "Where's Kazuki?"
"He's not coming today," I manage, trying to keep the hurt out of my voice. I wrap the towel around my shoulders - the chill is really hitting me, and suddenly a warm soak sounds like a really good reason to get away from him. "I'm gonna go soak for a while. Are you working tonight?"
"Yes, but I'll deal with dinner before I go," he promises, and I nod, not willing to bother questioning it. I don't look at him again before I make my way to the bathroom, filling the tub with hot water and climbing inside. Once the warmth surrounds me, I lean my head back, staring up at the ceiling. Is it really such a strange thing, to touch another man? There was nothing sexual about it, nothing he should have any reason to worry about. I just... wanted to ensure the expression I saw was real.
I don't get out until the water starts to feel cool to me, and once out, I pause to stand in front of the mirror, staring at myself. I should really find a girlfriend, I suppose. I'm not exactly ugly, though a lot of girls don't really like the delicate features I sport. My hand lifts, fingers feathering over my cheekbones before I lift them to my hair, pulling it away from where it frames my face. But my face needs that frame - it softens the almost too-sharp features. I wonder, for a brief moment, if I could pass for a girl, given the right outfit, and then shake my head. The idea is... distasteful to me. I wouldn't dress as a girl any more than I'd date one, and I'm fully aware of both problems.
Finally, I turn away, heading back to retrieve my sweater. Kaneda's already gone, but there's a note about takeout in the refrigerator, and an admonishment to stay warm. He really mothers me too much.