[Chapter 1 - 021]

The clock on my Electro ID struck 20:30– half an hour before the movie would start tonight. I decided to head to the rec room early, in case Honoka and the others needed help setting up.

No others when I got there, though… Just Honoka.

Honoka looks worried.
Oh, Timaeus…
Tim smiles gently.
Is there anything I can do?
Honoka smiles weakly.
Well, there’s no snacks… and decorating, hah, didn’t really seem appropriate after all of this… But thank you, anyway!
Tim looks worried.
Alright… I can keep an eye on the place if you want to go change?
Honoka laughs nervously.
I-I’m fine! I’m not sure where the pajama party idea came from, anyway…

Oh… I guess I’d just assumed that was happening, given how late we were meeting and some comments I’d overheard in the hallway. Hopefully I wouldn’t end up underdressed!

I sat down cross-legged on the couch and decided to people-watch as the others showed up. Riko was next to arrive, decked out in space-themed sleepwear (she sure is dedicated to her aesthetic) and carrying a shiny DVD case. Aoi tagged along behind her, carrying… another shiny DVD case?

Aoi smiles.
So, uh, how do we feel about a double feature tonight?
Riko speaks.
I prefer Wrath of Khan of the two, but we may as well start from the beginning…
Honoka thinks.
I suppose it depends on how long they are?
Tim laughs.
I-I mean, ordinarily I’d say I dont think I can stay up that late, but…
Riko frowns.
It’s not like we’re going anywhere…
Tim sighs.
Aoi looks away.
…I’ll go ahead and turn down the lights.

Aoi flipped the switch and took off their visor, while Riko kneeled in front of the DVD player, placing a disc in its tray with surgical precision. If nothing else, the kitschy menu music broke up the silence as we tried not to think too hard about what was happening to us.

Jurou barged into the room next– he’d swapped out some of his more prickly piercings and taken out his contacts, but he still wore that dramatic eyeliner with his fuzzy cow-print pajama pants.

Jurou yelps.
Aah! Sorry I’m late!
Honoka laughs.
You’re twenty minutes early?
Jurou looks like a determined puppy.
B-but I was gonna help with– whaddever y’needed help with!!
Honoka smiles.
You’re a dear, Jurou… But there’s really not anything to do! I’m just glad you’re here.
Jurou blushes.
Oh… uh… I’m glad yer here too? I-I mean–

Honoka’s gentle laugh thawed the gloomy atmosphere a little.

Sal and Yusra were next through the door– Sal with his hair in curlers, Yusra looking as impeccably put together as ever.

Sal sighs.
No luck talking those three out of their rooms…
Yusra speaks.
But as long as they don’t leave, they should be alright, yes? Albeit at a disadvantage if they need proof of their whereabouts.
Sal looks away.
Right… We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Not much else to do.

Yusra pulled up a chair, while Sal spread out the blanket and pillows he’d brought and promptly belly-flopped on top of them. Just as I was wondering about another certain someone with a habit of hiding in his room, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

Nik smiles.
Hey, Tim.
Tim grins.
Nik! You came after all!
Nikola laughs nervously.
Of course I did! Sorry for being a little, er, down in the dumps earlier…
Tim looks serious.
I mean, you have every right to be scared? No need to apologize… though I hope you’ll at least talk to someone about it…
Nikola sighs.
I know I know, it’s just… complicated.

He sighed and sat down next to me, stretching his arm across the back of the couch. Around me…?

Tim smiles.
…But we can worry about that later. Tonight is movie night.
Nik smiles back.
Ishi giggles.
Well well well, what are YOU two doing, huh?

Nik yelped and immediately plastered his arms to his sides. So much for that.

Gugalanna cackles.
WAHAHAHA! Leave ‘em alone, chica!
Vash looks shy.
I hope the movie’s not gonna be scary…
Aoi smiles. They're not wearing their visor anymore.
Star Trek isn’t really known for its horror, ahaha.
Riko goes 'Well Actually.'
Nor is The Motion Picture particularly action-packed, though we’ll be watching the 2001 director’s cut which tightens up the pacing a little… But the premise is interesting, and the music and special effects are state of the art for the time…
Kapono laughs quietly.
…will she talk… the whole… movie?

Kapono snickered as he pulled a red blanket tightly around his shoulders. Ishi plopped down on the other side of me, Vasundhara beside her, and Gugalanna on the floor, leaning against their legs. Our chatter and laughter couldn’t drown out the fear in our hearts entirely… but as we settled in for the movies, it felt like we could endure it, at least a little while longer.

We just had to make it to tomorrow.

Riko hit the play button, and we lost ourselves in the adventures of the starship Enterprise, forgetting our troubles for an hour or two.

The students (well, most of them) sit on and around the couch, watching the TV excitedly.

Well, I’ve never been the hugest fan of Hollywood sci-fi, and I can’t say either of these movies did much to challenge that position. But the night passed uneventfully, and as the credits for the second movie scrolled idly down the screen, we nudged each other awake and split for the dorms.

Nothing seemed strange as I passed through the cafeteria or the hallway that night, and I slept as well as I could with an empty stomach. As I write this now, though… I can’t help but wonder. If only I’d paid more attention…

If only I’d stopped that one person from leaving early… if only I’d listened for the door…

Maybe things wouldn’t have gone to hell the next day.