I wonder what I should wear.
Azusa looked through her mess of a closet, trying to figure out what outfit she should try on next. It's been far too long since she had been to the movie theaters (and no, that weird dream didn't count!), and it's been even longer since she had gotten a chance to hang out with Ui like this. Ever since Azusa had excitedly called up Ui and Jun that she had gotten into the same college as the rest of HTT, she was saddened to learn that the two of them had gotten into different colleges than her. Though it would have been nice to have all of them going to the same college together, Ui had decided that she wanted to go to a college that offered courses so that she could pursue her dream of becoming a kindergarten teacher, and Jun surprised the lot of them by brazenly proclaimed that she was aiming to become a nurse, of all things. Understanding her friends' choices, and wondering what she would want to pursue as a career, she decided on a business major, and immediately delved into classes filled with economic terms and public speaking projects. She became more confident in speaking in front of a large crowd, thanks to her experiences playing in a band, and she was already so good at organizing lists and managing expenses that she excelled in all of her classes. Though she didn't share classes with her senpais, the five of them would often take her places, exploring new stores and trying new things. She had even been dragged into a place that sold milk tea with tapioca balls in it, known as "boba," which came in plastic sealed cups where you had to poke through the seal with a pointed straw. Though she was fond of milk tea, the texture made her squirm and she preferred to not have the little balls clogging up the straw. Yui-senpai, on the other hand, nearly choked on the new drink, then decided to go up to the counter and sample all of their flavors before Azusa gave Yui the rest of her own drink.
Aha! Found the perfect outfit!
Azusa settled on a white shirt with reddish trim around the neck, patterned with diamonds around her upper chest area. The sleeves ran up to her elbows, and billowed out slightly. She put on a pair of blue pants and a set of red sneakers to compliment her top, and she checked her cell phone.
"Perfect, just in time. Good thinking, Ui, picking a matinee to go to."
Summer break meant higher movie ticket prices, but on Tuesday and Thursday mornings a particular theater charges only $5 per ticket, so this was definitely worth waking up early for a movie.
Taking her bike, Azusa skimmed along the road, humming a familiar bouncy tune. From the basket attached to her handlebars, her phone chirped. Pulling over onto the sidewalk next to a river, Azusa answered the call.
"This is Azusa."
"Ah, Azusa-chan? Are you at the theaters already? I saved us a couple of seats."
"Oh, Ui! Yeah, I'm almost there, just a couple more blocks to go. Did you bring snacks?"
"Yup, brought a whole purse full of them, along with a couple of water bottles."
"Gotcha, Ui, thanks for the save. Movie food is expensive."
"It's no trouble. Get here soon, I'll be watching some of the ads until you get here."
Azusa ended the call, and then started pedaling once more. She parked her bike outside the theater, careful to lock it in case someone got any funny ideas about stealing her bike, and walked inside, handing her pre-paid ticket to the ticket collector. After finding the right theater number, she walked inside, only to find that the theater itself had completely changed. The rows were a lot wider, and the chairs were a lot bigger than she remembered. From the middle of the room, a slender arm shot up, waving her over. Azusa skipped up the steps, rushing to hug her friend.
"Missed you, Ui!"
"Me too, Azusa! It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Yeah, definitely. Um, which one of these seats was number 8 again?"
"This one over here," said Ui, patting the one on her opposite side. Azusa marveled at the space between this row and the one in front of them, as usually she would have had to awkwardly climb over Ui's legs to get past.
"What's up with the chairs? They've never had this much room in the rows before," she asked. Ui smiled, and gestured to the seat.
"See for yourself," she said. Azusa plopped onto the chair, only to sink into it a couple of centimeters.
This is super-padded! It's really soft! she thought. She noticed a set of buttons on the arm of her chair, and curiously pressed one of them. Immediately, the seat started reclining back, leaning Azusa back with it, and a footrest appeared from the bottom of the chair to lift her legs into the air. Ui giggled at Azusa's obvious surprise.
"They added reclining chairs to the theaters now. Pretty neat, right?"
"This explains why they asked us to reserve them online ahead of time. Because now they have actually good seats!"
"I know, right?"
Exchanging similar stories of their college adventures, the girls felt like time hadn't passed at all, but before they knew it, the lights were dimming and the theatrical trailers were about to start playing. Sharing a smile and falling silent, they sat through the trailers, occasionally making remarks about the upcoming movies, and silently freaking out together about the new live-action movie of a cartoon they loved growing up.
The last trailer finished, the girls reclined back and settled down as the movie started playing. It was a new romantic comedy, and they had decided on this movie amongst the list of kids' movies, animated films, and sequels that looked to be not as good as the first movie. But this was actually looking to be a pretty decent movie; in fact, it was actually funny. Azusa started blushing furiously at the sex scene, and although the girls were in college, it was still a bit weird to see things like this, even though the movie itself didn't show much skin on screen. As the movie was starting to build towards a climax, she barely noticed that the back of Ui's hand had been brushing against the back of her own on their shared armrest.
Um, when exactly did our hands get this close? And why am I even thinking something like this. Stop it, Azusa, focus on the movie, focus on the main guy, who's . . . currently shirtless right now. Yeah, yeah, just focus on that! Ohmygod I'm overthinking things again . . .!
During Azusa's little mental argument with herself, she didn't even realize that she had started brushing back against Ui's hand. Azusa quickly stopped her hand from any further movements, and glanced nervously in Ui's direction, scared to find out if Ui had noticed.
Ui was starting right at Azusa, not even focusing on the movie anymore.
Yup, she definitely noticed . . . Azusa thought. Oh, how she wished that she could sink down into the fluffiness of the chair and hide her obvious embarrassment. Suddenly, Ui whispered in her ear,
"D-Did you want to hold my hand?"
Azusa turned and faced Ui head on, cheeks going a brilliant crimson. Ui's face was full of curiosity, with some determination and a hint of embarrassment thrown in for good measure. Azusa slowly nodded, and then Ui took the initiative, lacing her fingers with Azusa's, their slightly sweaty palms connecting, holding, with time crawling to a standstill. Every now and then, they'd break the hold only to dry sweaty hands on their jeans before joining hands once again, not sure of what else to do beyond that. Azusa applied a little pressure into her grip, and Ui responded with equal pressure, allowing them to share the warmth between their hands. After a little while, Azusa felt a little less awkward, and started to get used to the feeling of Ui's hand in her own.
After what seemed like an eternity, the credits finally scrolled onto the screen. The lights brightened up the room, and the other moviegoers began to stand up and stretch, and slowly file out of the viewing area. Azusa and Ui were one of the last few people still watching the credits play, the bouncy pop song playing in the background. Their hands were still intertwined, and both of them shifted nervously in their seats, unsure whether to stay silent or break the tension. It was the brunette who broke the silence first.
"Um . . ." she started, barely audible underneath the rhythm of the ending credits song.
"Y-Yes?" Azusa stuttered out. Ui held up their hands, still linked together.
"Does this . . . I mean . . . does this mean that we're . . . dating?"
"What?!" Azusa exclaimed, a little too loudly than she would have liked. She turned and looked around the theater, but they were the last ones there.
"I-I mean . . . if that's not what you had in mind, I'm sorry, it's just that . . . um, oh . . . I . . . I'm sorry, if I hurt your feelings in any way . . ."
Azusa looked at Ui, and she couldn't help but smile. She had never seen the younger Hirasawa sister look so flustered before; Ui was always the composed, gentle girl that Azusa knew, so seeing her nervously floundering for words, cheeks bright red, was . . . actually kind of cute!
Azusa stood up, readjusted her grip on Ui's hand, and pulled her up so that they were both standing.
"Azusa . . ."
Azusa smiled even more widely.
"Well, since you asked nicely . . . I suppose our date doesn't have to end here, now does it?"
Ui giggled, and swung their hands back and forth as they exited the theater. They started talking about the movie, and even though they missed a few scenes here and there . . .
I suppose this was worth it, after all! Azusa thought, as they stepped into the bright light of the outdoors.