The last bell of the school day rang out and with a sigh of relief Subaru slid her books into her bag. She waited until most of the students in the classroom had gone. Then she picked up her bag and left the room.
Outside the rain that had been threatening all afternoon was starting to beat against the windows. A low rumble of thunder made the windows rattle. “I guess we won't be able to go stargazing tonight.” She mused as she headed towards the elevator.
She picked up her pace as she approached the elevator. “Minato-kun!” She called as she came around the corner.
He was waiting there, as normal. “I don’t think we’ll be able to stargaze tonight,” He said as she approached.
“I guess we can always do homework instead.” She said, circling around and taking the handles of his wheelchair. Subaru was the only one he allowed to push him; the rest of the time he wheeled himself around. She pushed the button for the elevator and when it opened a moment later, wheeled Minato into it.
“Hold the elevator!” Hikaru and Nanako ducked inside just as the door closed.
“Yo! What are we doing today?” Hikaru asked as they ascended to the third floor.
“Maybe the Cosplay Club could meet, since we can’t really do anything tonight in the Astronomy Society?” Subaru suggested.
“We could have, but we announced last week that there wouldn’t be a meeting today.” Nanako said. “And they printed that in the schedule for this week.”
The elevator doors opened a moment later and they exited the elevator, Subaru still pushing Minato. “I was thinking we could have the room open today, and if people have questions or want to know more we can talk to them.”
“Works for me.” Hikaru said. Nanako nodded.
The observatory was at the top of the school, and the elevator didn’t run that high. The four of them stopped at the stairs that led to the observatory.
“Minato, are you ready?” Subaru asked. He nodded, folding up the blanket covering his legs and setting it on the arm of the wheelchair. Subaru came around to his right side, Nanako came to his left. When he stood up, they supported him up the stairs to the observatory. Hikaru came behind them, bearing the folded up wheelchair and everyone’s book bags.
Five minutes later found everyone in the observatory. There were more furnishings these days; there were two desks now, one with a chair and one without, and a row of shelves on either side of the room set with astronomy books and assorted knick knacks. A throw rug was on the floor, and pillows and cushions were stacked neatly in one corner. Subaru’s telescope stood by the wide window. The rain was beating against the window harder then before, punctuated with occasional flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder.
The four of them were just settling in to the room when the door opened to reveal Itsuki and Gorou. “Hello everyone!” Gorou said.
“Welcome to the study hall.” Nanako said as they entered the room. Itsuki and Hikaru had taken some of the cushions that were in the corner and were on the floor. Subaru was rolling the low table over to set in the middle of the room.
“Is that what we’re doing today?” Gorou asked.
“There isn’t much hope to see the stars tonight.” Subaru said. Lightning flashed as if to emphasize the point. “So I thought I would just have the observatory open for anyone who wants to come in.”
“I see.” Gorou said. Minato was working at the desk without a chair, and he paused to peer over the redhead’s shoulder. Then he grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and jerked Minato a few inches away from the desk, causing him to drop his pen. “More homework?”
“I’m trying to get caught up.” Minato said irritably.
“You’re on your way to being back to grade level.” Gorou said, shoving the wheelchair back towards the desk and forcing Minato to brace himself on the desk to avoid slamming into it. “But suit yourself.” The green-haired student said. He walked off, oblivious to the glare that Minato was shooting at him.
Another growl of thunder rattled the windowpanes, and Subaru went to move the telescope over to the wall.
Nanako turned towards the door. “Leaving already?” Itsuki asked.
“Yes. I have to go clean the science lab. I said I would do it.” She said.
“I’ll come with you.” Gorou volunteered.
Nanako looked at him impassively. “Suit yourself.” She said in English, then left the room. He followed.
“Yeesh,” Hikaru said once they were gone, looking up from her textbook. “She oughta just break his heart and be done with it.”
“Now, now,” Itsuki said with a smile somewhere between happy and sneaky on her face. “This might be just what it takes for the two of them to realize their true feelings!”
“We’ll see.” Hikaru said noncommittally.
Subaru had gotten out the lamp that they used for planetarium presentations and started listing the constellations that had been used for it. She was planning to make a new one with a new set of constellations for the upcoming Club Events Day.
For a few minutes there was no sound in the room. Then Subaru’s phone vibrated. “Aoi isn't coming today.”
“I wasn’t expecting her to, unless she was going to swim in.” Hikaru replied.
Silence reigned again as the four of them worked on their own projects. Then there was a brilliant flash of lightning outside the window, followed by a sharp clap of thunder. All of them looked up.
“That sounded close.” Itsuki said. Then the lights flickered and went out.
The only light in the room was the occasional flash of lightning outside. The sky was dark and the rain was beating down in earnest. “Subaru, does that lamp you use for the planetarium presentations run on batteries?” Minato asked.
“It does!” Subaru exclaimed and grabbed the lamp.
There was the sound of glass breaking and Itsuki exclaimed, “Hold still until Subaru gets the light!”
A moment later the room was lit by the soft glow of the lamp. Hikaru bumped into the shelf behind her and knocked a tea cup off. Itsuki picked up her notebook and used the edge like a broom to sweep the shards of glass away. “We'll have to clean it up later.” She said.
Hikaru’s phone buzzed a moment later. She picked it up and looked at the message. “Nanako and Gorou are stuck in the science lab. The RFID door can only be opened from the outside now that the power has gone out.”
“It might be good if we all went back downstairs.” Subaru said. “The storm seems to be getting worse.”
And outside the window it did seem to be growing worse. The thunder and lightning were more frequent. The rain had turned into a torrential downpour and the wind was driving it in wave against the glass.
“Let's go.” Minato said. The four of them began to pack up books and notebooks. And a few minutes after were headed out of the room. Subaru locked the door to the observatory and they departed. This time Subaru and Hikaru helped Minato down the stairs, while Itsuki carried everything else down. They kept the planetarium light with them.
Other students who had been meeting were starting to trickle out of the different classrooms that served as club rooms.
“What's going on?” Subaru asked another girl.
“We're going down to the gym.” She replied. “Now that the power is out and the storm is getting worse we're supposed to wait for the weather to get better down there. Are you all coming?”
Subaru glanced at Minato for a moment then looked away. “The power is still out, so…”
“We’ll be staying up here for a little while longer.” Itsuki said.
The girl shrugged. “Suit yourself.” She went past them and on down the stairs. The last students on the floor with the exception of the Astronomy Society were now gone.
Hikaru’s phone buzzed again. “Good thing the science lab is on the same floor as the Cosplay Club room.”
“Did you hear from Nanako?” Subaru asked.
“Yes. She just texted me the code to unlock the door from the outside. I guess this fancy lock is designed that was so that if someone breaks in, they can’t get back out. Which is great until the power goes out.”
The hallway was eerily quiet as they traversed it. The sound of three pairs of footsteps was the only noise as they walked down the hallway. Subaru was pushing MInato in his wheelchair again. The occasional sharp burst of thunder echoed through the walls.
Hikaru was the first to reach the science lab door. “Okay, let’s get this taken care of.” She pulled up the text on her phone. “Itsuki, come help me. We have to hold the buttons down to get an override.” Itsuki handed the light to Subaru and went to the door. Hikaru rattled off a string of five numbers and with Itsuki holding the buttons down was able to turn the handle and open the door.
Nanako and Gorou exited the room a moment later. “Are you two alright?” Itsuki asked.
“We’re fine.” Nanako said. “We just got stuck when the power went out.”
“We’re going to the Cosplay Club room.” Itsuki replied. “The storm isn’t letting up at all.” She took the light back from Subaru.
“Well, let’s go.” Nanako said.
A growl of thunder covered the sound of the club room door sliding open.
“We can wait the storm out up here until the power comes back on.” Subaru said. There was a bold flash of lightning and a crack of thunder.
“We could play a game while we wait.” Itsuki suggested.
“To bad we didn’t get the chance to make any tea.” Nanako said.
The group settled into chairs around the room, when Gorou noticed something. “Maybe you shouldn’t sit in front of the window.” He told Hikaru. “I’ve heard that in strong storms with high winds like this, people should stay away from the windows.”
“In case the glass blows out?” The blonde asked.
“Something like that.” Gorou replied.
“Really?” Hikaru asked.
“I’ve heard the same thing.” Minato told them.
Hikaru shrugged and went to sit on the floor against the chair Itsuki was sitting in. “So, what do we do now?”
“We could play a game.” Itsuki suggested.
“Tell scary stories by the flickering light.” Gorou said.
“I like that idea.” Nanako said.
Before anyone could say anything else, a tree branch came flying towards the window and shattered it, sending flying glass everywhere. For a moment, there was pandemonium. Itsuki and Hikaru darted out of the way of the window. Subaru turned away, making sure to keep herself between Minato and the window. Gorou hit the floor, trying to stay out of the way of the glass. The only one who wasn’t trying to move out of the way was Nanako, who was still in the back of the room.
There was a tree limb lodged in the window and the wind and rain were driving in.
“Subaru, are you alright?” Minato asked.
She nodded. Around them the other girls were started to brush off glass and stand up. Minato started to say something else, but devolved into coughing.
“We have to leave.” Subaru said, grabbing the handles on his wheelchair.
“Go.” Hikaru said, looking at the damage. “We will be right behind you.”
Subaru nodded, and together with Minato headed for the door.
“We should cover the window.” Itsuki said.
“With what?” Nanako added.
Gorou shoved the settee out of the way and pushed the table back so that they would not get as wet. “If there’s anything that we can use we’ll have to find it and come back later.” He said. “We should go.”
Together they left the room. Gorou picked up the light as he walked by. Subaru and Minato were waiting outside. Nanako slid the door firmly shut. The sounds of the storm outside had not diminished at all. “Either we need to wait in the hall…” Nanako trailed off.
“We can get down the stairs. All of us.” Gorou said. “And I think that’s the best idea now.”
“You think we can do it?” Subaru said.
“Yep. Let’s get going.” Gorou said, and set off for the stairs. The others followed, Subaru pushing Minato.
They stopped at the landing for the stairs.
“You think we’re all going to make it back downstairs?” Minato asked.
“We are.” Gorou confirmed.
“Do you want me to walk down?” The redhead asked. His coughing was abated, but he was still breathing hard.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Gorou replied. “We’re going to carry you down.”
Hikaru paused. “We’re gonna do what now?” Even Minato looked concerned at this pronouncement.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re all going downstairs. Two of us can lift Minato’s wheelchair from the rear handles, two more from the front wheels. You don’t weigh that much.” Gorou said, looking at the redhead. “I think we can manage. And someone needs to carry the light down so that the four of us who are carrying you can see where we’re going.”
“I can take the other rear handle.” Nanako said.
“I’ll take a front wheel.” Subaru volunteered.
“Me too.” Hikaru said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“You don’t have to do this.” Minato said. “You can send help up later.”
“Listen, either we’re all going together or we’re all staying.” Hikaru said. “And I don’t want to stay up here any longer so we’re all going to have to go.”
“Itsuki, take the light.” Nanako said.
“And you’ll have to walk down the stairs backwards so we can see where we’re going.” Gorou added.
Itsuki looked surprised for a moment, then nodded. She took the light and waited until the others were in position.
“This might go without saying, but try not to move.” Nanako said, bracing herself to pick up her side of the chair.
“Don’t worry I’m going to try hard not to.” Minato said, his voice strained.
“Alright, go.” Gorou said. Itsuki started down the stairs, and then the others lifted the chair and began walking down the stairs.
“Don’t worry, Minato.” Subaru said cheerfully. “Everything will work out fine.”
He gave a thin smile. “I know.”
The rest of the trip was made in silence and without incident other than the sound of the storm outside. Three flights of stairs later, they group came out on the bottom floor.
“Easy enough.” Gorou said when all four wheels of the chair were back on the floor.
“Yes.” Subaru said, coming to take the handles of the wheelchair.
“Let’s find the others.” Itsuki said. “Where did that girl say that everyone was meeting?”
“The gym.” Nanako replied.
By unspoken consent they headed in that direction. The hum of conversation was audible even before Hikaru pulled the door open.
The smell of turpentine was overwhelming when the door opened. “What was the Theatre Club doing in here?” The blonde asked.
“I think today they were painting all the sets.” Nanako replied. Behind them Minato had started coughing again and Subaru seized the handles his wheelchair.
“We’re going next door.” Subaru said, and they left.
“Look, a couple of the teachers are here.” Itsuki said. “Maybe we should check in.” Itsuki and Nanako headed into the room while Hikaru and Gorou turned to follow Subaru.
The classroom next door was dark and the air was easier to breathe, but Minato was still coughing. Subaru had a hand on his back, trying to be comforting. Hikaru came in with the light and Gorou trailing after her.
The green-haired student paused when he came in, then turned and went back out.
Hikaru set the lamp down on one of the desks in the center of the room. “Nanako and Itsuki will be here in a minute.”
Gorou reappeared a moment later with a bottle of water. He handed it to Subaru, who took it with a quick “thank you!” and opened it. She helped Minato take a drink from it.
Hikaru perched on a desk. Outside, the rain was just starting to abate, changing from the torrential downpour that it had been to a lighter rain, and she looked out the window. “It’s going to be a mess tonight.”
Minato’s coughing finally started to ease. Nanako and Itsuki entered a moment later. “The teachers next door know we’re here. They’re going to get medical help sent here now that the storm is letting up.” Itsuki reported.
“Wonderful.” Minato said, his voice rasping. “My parents will be thrilled.”
“Well, there’s not much you can do about the weather.” Hikaru said.
“Now that the worst of the storm is over they’re going to get buses here to take us all home.” Nanako said. “And our club room wasn’t the only room that lost a window. One of the classrooms on the second floor lost a window too. One of the other students went back up to get his book bag and found the damage. The branch went through the window and took out half the door.”
“Is it wrong of me to be relieved that it wasn’t just our room?” Hikaru asked.
“What’s the weather forecast for tonight?” Subaru asked.
“It’s supposed to rain all night.” Gorou replied.
“Still no meteor shower then.” Subaru noted.
Itsuki had been looking out the window. “Here come the buses. And the ambulance. Sorry, Minato.”
Minato seemed resigned to his fate. “It’s alright.”
Hikaru stood up. “We need to get our bags from upstairs.”
“And hope that the room isn’t too soaked.” Gorou added. “We should go take a look.”
“I don’t think I want to know.” Nanako said. But she stood up and prepared to follow him out of the room. “The teachers know about the broken window. We just need to pick up what we left there.”
“Um, could you pick up my stuff also? And Minato’s?” Subaru asked anxiously. She looked at her friends expectantly.
“Yes.” Itsuki said as the others left. “If we don’t see you again today, we’ll bring everything tomorrow.”
“Thank you!” Subaru said. The dark-haired girl nodded and then hurried after the others, leaving Minato and Subaru alone.
“I'm sorry we won't get to see the meteor shower.” Subaru said.
“Maybe we'll have better luck next year.” Minato said. Subaru nodded.
A pair of paramedics arrived in the room. Minato sighed. “My ride is here.”
“Will your family be there waiting for you?” Subaru asked as the paramedics lifted Minato onto the gurney and started to strap him down.
“After what happened today I think they will.” He replied.
Subaru considered the situation. Then she climbed up onto the gurney next to him. “I'll come with you. And stay with you until your parents get there.”
Minato smiled. “Thank you.”
She returned the smile.
Outside the rain was pattering gently on the roof.