Chapter 19:

Omake: Takuma on Ice

One Wish They Never Wanted

It seemed like Takuma's adventures were over, but Kris came back in December, full entourage behind him this time. Takuma was situated behind a box, box cutter in hand when-

"What was your name again?...Ah yes. Takuma, my friend!" This was delivered with a well-intentioned try of a slap to the back, but almost caused Kris to fall over, so after one attempt, he tried not to do it again. "I've got no need for these, so you can do what you like with them." He slapped two tickets (printed on to pale blue paper) on to the counter and made a beeline for the door.

Amelie picked one up and peered at it with a discerning eye: 'Ice Rink - Admit One'.

Well, whatever that guy was planning, it probably didn't have anything to do with Fumika, who had left for Japan after doing a con circuit and some more signings.
Therefore in the heat of a blazing hot summer, Takuma had to resist peeling off his striped scarf and parka as he stepped into the factory-like building situated in the city.

"Takuma!" Amelie waved frantically, a slate grey skating boot dangling dangerously close to her head as she did.

She was quite easy to miss, considering she was in a white jacket that appeared to smother her. Adding that to the white, glaring rink made the situation like finding a polar bear in a snowstorm, but luckily she was also wearing dark leggings so that it wasn't a problem.

"Aren't you suffocating in that jacket?" he almost dared to ask, but the more she moved, the more she proved that her mobility was (miraculously) not hindered by it.
One of the biggest reasons Takuma wasn't so keen on sport in the first place was that he had no sense of balance whatsoever (to the point where, at 18 years old, he couldn't ride a bike) but so far, it seemed like he was succeeding at ice skating.

The key words being "seemed like". He hadn't even left the side of the rink yet.

"C'mon! You're taking far too long!" Amelie cried, yanking his right hand off the freezing metal rail, then his left. Before too long, they'd gained enough momentum to whirl around in circles, at a speed that was close to dizzying.

Suddenly, a small tittering caught his attention. It was clearly human, though, so he could easily guess why it was being made.

As if she were reading the atmosphere, Amelie slowed down and glided over to the rink's edge, the air as frigid as the rink as he stomped away.
"What was the deal with you back there?" Amelie asked him a few days later, prodding the cashier but not pressing hard enough to operate it. "You're such a killjoy sometimes."

Takuma didn't respond at first as he was shoving some books on to a shelf at eye level, but then she slammed the counter with a shout, startling him and causing some of the newly placed books to fall.

When he finally answered, his voice was soft yet still audible. "Why is it that everywhere we go, people seem to misunderstand? We're just friends, right?"

"I...guess so?" For once, Amelie sounded perplexed.

"Sometimes I wonder what would have happened, had you been a guy."

Amelie strode up to him and tapped a finger on to his chest. "Regardless of gender or any other defining characteristics, we still have empathy and sympathy, and that's what allows people to have and make friends. Therefore, a friend could be defined as 'someone who surpasses the outer core of a person', right?"

"I...kinda get it."

"Then case closed." She whirled around and went back to waiting.
Even still, Amelie had a suspicion that her case was not closed, so...

"What did you do with Amelie, you alien?!" Takuma cried, his glasses suddenly so fogged from his gasp of surprise that he had to stop and clean them.

"I just got a haircut. It's no big deal," she shrugged, readjusting the navy headband she wore. Now that Amelie's hair was only about half its original length, she did indeed look like a boy.

At this point, Takuma was still cleaning his glasses. "You mean, you did that for me?"

"It's part of the definition of a friend too." With that, Amelie gave him a big grin.