Raidou exited the school building with Aharen holding onto his arm as usual. When he started towards their regular path, however, she gently pulled on him and said in her quiet voice, “I have somewhere else to go today. Do you mind walking with me?”
He nodded once and replied, “Of course,” and let her direct them down a different street.
As they walked, he started to wonder where his girlfriend was going today. He didn’t recognize the area they were headed into.
After a few minutes, he noticed that Aharen was staring up at him intently, and abruptly let go of his arm. Surprised, he turned to watch her as she stepped up onto a small concrete ledge surrounding a grassy planter next to the sidewalk. She walked along it until it ended, then hopped down lightly, spinning around in place as she came down, before going to the next planter wall and stepping onto it.
Suddenly, he understood. She was practicing parkour.
He watched her walk along the second planter’s wall as he mused the issue over. Certainly, parkour had seen a recent boom in popularity. Although it had been created in the late 1980s, only recently had the craze begun to spread worldwide, sparking a plethora of clubs, competitions, and even meetups called jams, where practitioners got together to trade ideas and techniques. The whole idea of parkour was based on the principle of moving through an urban area in the most efficient way possible. Similar, although competing with the idea, was the practice of freerunning, where many fancy stunts and flips were added in for additional entertainment. Raidou started to wonder if Aharen was interested in doing parkour or freerunning.
They had now come to an area where there were several low, flat cylinders placed along the sidewalk. As she came to the first one, Aharen clambered up onto it, hopping from one to the next without touching the ground.
Raidou nodded to himself. It seemed as if Aharen-san was interested in the more traditional parkour, rather than freerunning. Having come to this conclusion, worry started to creep into his heart. Parkour could be quite dangerous. There was nothing to cushion your fall if you missed your footing, like there would be in gymnastics. He glanced over at his girlfriend, who had now hopped down from the cylinders and was walking alongside him. Well, he supposed if she was determined to become a treceuse, he would do his best to support her. Maybe he should look into how to become a paramedic, just in case she needed him to be on the scene of a parkour accident with quick first aid.
Now they had come upon a low wall. Without hesitation, Aharen hopped up onto it and began walking along its edge. As Raidou watched her, sudden inspiration struck him. She must be headed to a jam now, to meet up with other traceurs. He took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure if he was ready to see all of that action, but if it was for Aharen-san, he would be sure to do his best.
Without him noticing, the wall had begun to steadily slope upwards, and now Aharen’s feet were almost on level with his shoulders. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her legs wobble, and he quickly whipped his head around, just in time to see her body tumbling off the wall. Instinctively, he reached his arms out and caught her, holding her body tightly to his chest.
For a moment, they stared at each other until Raidou quickly set her down on her feet. “Ah, sorry, Aharen-san, I didn’t mean to mess you up…” Certainly she had meant to leave the wall at that moment. She had probably been attempting to practice a trick, and he had gotten in her way.
To his surprise, she looked up at him and said quietly, “Thank you, Raidou. It was scary falling off the wall. I’m glad you caught me.”
He looked down at her in confusion. She hadn’t meant to fall off? Then… “Why were you on the wall in the first place, Aharen-san?”
The tiniest hint of a blush dusted at her cheeks as she responded, “Well, it’s frustrating being so much shorter than you all the time. I thought if I could walk on something to make myself a little taller, it would be easier for us to talk to each other.”
Raidou stared intently at her for a few long seconds. Ah, so she wasn’t getting into parkour. “Aharen-san, I don’t mind you being at that height. I don’t think it’s a problem at all. We’ve always found ways to communicate with each other, haven’t we? I’d rather you not risk your safety over something like that. Besides, isn’t your height just something about you that’s adorable?”
She looked up at him, and the color on her cheeks deepend a little bit. She nodded and replied, “I’m sorry, Raidou. I’ll be more careful from now on.”
He returned her nod. “But Aharen-san, where are we headed?”
“There’s a new café that opened up today. I want to try out their specialty cake. All the girls in class were talking about it, and it sounded delicious.”
“Ah, so that was it. A café date. Well, hadn’t we better hurry, then? If they opened today, won’t it be hard to get in?”
Aharen’s entire face flushed at the word “date.” She nodded her head vigorously and reclaimed her hold on his arm, pulling him down the street.
When they turned the corner, Raidou saw a long line stretching in front of them. Without hesitation, Aharen pulled him towards it, and they joined the queue. Craning his head around the crowd, Raidou saw that they were at least a block away from the building. He supposed he was glad that Aharen-san wasn’t getting into a dangerous hobby like parkour, but was this line really much of an improvement over a jam meetup?
He glanced down at his girlfriend, and caught the excited look on her face. A small smile stretched across his lips. Well, when Aharen-san was this happy, then he supposed it was fine, after all.