Hot Air Balloon


Emily Adachi laughed as she jumped across the roof of another building, her AT gliding her across the air currents. She landed with grace and sped to the edge of the building, crouching and catapulting high into the sky just as she reached it.

There was no building to land on nearby but she giggled anyways, her laughter blown away by the wind. She landed on the canopy of a shop and hopped down from it, still laughing as she ran away from the shouting shopkeeper.

This was great. This was definitely fun. This was what Emily loved to do.

Her habit started two weeks ago, her curiosity at how it felt to 'fly' grabbing the best of her sane mind. She wound start from her balcony, jumping and gliding across every railing and fence of the two-storey building as she let her mind free to wander thoughts and ideas.

Before long, her courage and excitement grew to the point of making her explore her neighborhood, the block, and finally the town. The adrenaline rush was worth the risk, but she was careful enough.

The best part was when she would go racing with a friend she had made recently. Speaking of the friend, there he was, sliding across the hand railing as a smile flashed. He reminded her of someone, but she couldn't put the finger on whom exactly.

Emily snapped out of her trance and stared around; when did she reach the park?

"Hey," The stranger was standing now, wearing his usual sleeveless black hoodie, a white baseball cap and opaque shades even though it was night. Emily smiled back a 'hi' as she walked over to the benches in the park and took a seat and a breather as well. He followed her and sat down beside her, casually draping an arm at the back of the bench.

"Wanna reschedule today's race as well?" He spoke with a rasp, as if he came right after waking up from sleep.

"Why keep asking the same thing when you know the answer?"

"True," He chuckled as he patted her head. Emily sighed; he would always ask her to postpone, give a few tips and tricks, and after purposely losing, he would drop her half-way back home.

She was yet to know his name and vice-versa as well, but she was comfortable with just seeing him.

"Thinking too hard…?"

"No, just thinking about why you keep losing,"

"It's the AT I tell you; I haven't adjusted to these yet,"

"Yeah right, these look just like my rundown ATs. When did you get these?"

"Recently, as a gift, you know. I promised myself that I would wear these and train, so yeah," And then he slid his shades back up his nose, the ghost of a smile on his face.

It became quiet; just them and some crickets.

"Well then, let's start!" Emily suddenly declared and immediately ran off into the insanely huge park, perfect for mostly AT races and practice in general.

Kazu would always run around a particular track of the track, and Emily would do the same, choosing the same track for their daily races. She had always wanted Kazu to be her mentor, but he was always so busy…

She smiled and let a giggle bubble up as she heard him mutter a cuss. Emily turned back and blew a kiss as she sped into the looping and twisting pathways, careful to keep her footing on the track. When she turned back, she was surprised to see him right behind of her, smirking as he moved in front. She let a feral grin appear on her face as she trekked on the grass, taking the short cut for the turn that was about to appear.

He went on as usual and after a while of muscling through, Emily found herself back on the track, nothing in front of her blocking the way for an easy win. She turned around for another peek and saw him far away, shouting about cheating. She winked at him instead. As soon as she turned back around, her AT bumped with a loose stone tile and she lost her footing, falling on the ground and skidding a few feet forward.

"Oi!" She heard him talk something gibberish before she felt two hands pick her up into a sitting position.

"Did you manage to sprain your ankle again?"

"No, it's alright. Only scratches, nothing much,"

"Nothing much? You're bleeding! Didn't I tell you to stop looking back on your opponent? You know it ruins your concentration,"

"Sorry," Emily felt like she was a child being scolded by her mother. The ankle was sprained long ago at her first fall! Now was maybe her fifth fall, so yeah, he would be pissed.

"I'm taking you back home,"

"But the race?"

"No, that's postponed, maybe after you're done healing yourself," She leaned back on his arms, dejected that this was happening again. This was ridiculous, how was she supposed to learn AT if she wasn't allowed to stand back up again?! She seriously felt like a kid now.

A grim frown was set on her lips as he picked her up bridal-style; one arm under her knees and another holding her back, and continued the trek back to her house.

Emily wanted Kazu to pick her up! Not him! But her legs hurt a lot too, so she shut her mouth for now. He wouldn't listen anyways; even when she told him at first, he didn't bother to listen that time, so what would change now?

She sighed and folded her arms, silently accepted what support she was getting. Unconsciously, she leaned onto his chest and felt sleep take over instantly. His heartbeat was lulling her so slowly into dreamland. She didn't want to rest yet but it was getting harder to keep her eyes open.

"Go to sleep, I'll protect you," It must be exhaustion; why was everything blurring by so suddenly? Stupid exhaustion…


Something wet was rubbing against her arm. Emily didn't like that wet shit; it was disturbing her sleep, damnit! She tried to swat it away and found a voice speaking instead.

"Stop doing that. I have to disinfect them you know?"

Huh, was that Kazu?! Emily quickly sat upright, only to flinch away from the pain of the head butt she had managed to do.

"Ouch, what just happened?" She managed to mumble, her hand pressing on the bruise that was forming.

"I was cleaning the scratches when you bumped right into my head," Emily opened her eyes finally and saw the other dude instead, scrambling to get the shades back on his nose. She thought she saw a flash of blue as the shades replaced his eyes. She blinked and shook off the illusion, checking her room and current conditions.

The lights were switched on and she was on her bed, the AT taken off and now laying in the corner. This horribly felt like déjà vu, but Emily only shuddered and glanced at the bandages.

There were many of them all over her knees, the side of one of the thighs and a few on one of her arms as he worked on the other one. He was putting the stupid happy-print bandages even on the scratches which weren't bleeding! She sighed and let him do as he wished; the least she could do after all that help. But she really wanted Kazu to do all that, not him. She just wished the blonde wasn't so busy and would spend time with her. But he was so distant, so far away…

She looked at the stranger in front of her; such a tender face he was making, cleaning the wounds so carefully. Emily wanted to see his eyes but the glasses were huge, covering a huge chunk of his face.

"All done," He patted her elbow and smiled, proud at his patch up work.

"That's it?"

"Yes, pretty much,"

"Well, now how do I repay you? Cookies?"

"Cookies," He deadpanned.

"Yes, I like them, don't you?" She pouted

"As you wish,"

He sighed and folded his legs at the ankles. She leaned out of her bed, her lower body still on the bed as her head made contact with the floor. Her hands disappeared underneath the sheets and after a soft thud, she cussed and pulled out an Oreo box. She could already imagine his raised eyebrows but she simply pulled back the foil cover and offered him first.

"Nice," He picked a cookie from the half-empty box, munching on it slowly ass he watched her take one as well. She popped the cookie in her mouth and chewed, her cheeks all puffy as she grinned wide.

"Shouldn't you be going?"

"But I just finished my first cookie!" He complained. She tossed some more in his open hands and smirked.

"Eat them on the way, but really, it's one in the morning. Get out before I punch you, stranger," He flinched at the last word and immediately got up, making his way towards the closed windows and unlocking the latch.

"Wait…"

A gust of winds blew in dramatically as the curtains fluttered. Emily flinched and composed herself quickly before he turned around. His lips were set in a small pout as his hood threatened to fall off.

She smiled; sure, he wasn't Kazu or even somebody close, but he helped her a lot these few days, didn't he?

"Well, thanks for coming today as well. And heap loads of thanks for helping with the wounds," She said, a soft dust of blush across her face. He was a good guy, right from the heart. She might as well have fallen for a nameless person, but Kazu was a part of her soul. She could live without that but just not the same; her life would be very difficult.

Before she could do some more internal monologues, he dashed forward and kissed her cheek. Emily turned beetroot red as soon as contact made and was about to head butt him again when he jumped out of reach.

"Anytime!" He shouted behind his back as he waved cheekily, already a speeding shadow among the shadows. She cracked her knuckles; he was so dead tomorrow, that cheeky bastard! But damn, such soft lips…

She blushed furiously again and stuffed a cookie in her mouth, chomping on it with the enthusiasm she was going to kill him with.


He reached home, entering through his bedroom's window like the secret ninja he was. Instead of undressing as always, he went to a corner and banged his head on the wall.

I know I'm dead tomorrow.

What caused such an impulse? And he was thinking about it twice only when she had reeled her head back for the very much expected head butt. He felt blessed to have kissed her anyways.

A sweet smile crawled onto his face.

A sigh later, his hoodie, cap, goddamn shades and jeans were on the floor. The ATs Emily gave almost a month ago were on his study table. He stared at himself in the full length mirror, nodding his head as he finally feeling like himself. He opened the door to the bathroom, going in for his usual late-night shower.

He touched his lips and smirked; either he would die proudly by stealing another 'impulsive' kiss tomorrow, or actually live a rather complicated life by telling her he's Kazu. It would be nice to hold her hands once in a while.

Of course, Kazu could avoid meeting her until her head cooled down instead. By a bit, at least.