Chapter 25:


Purple Prose

Soaking wet, they huddled under a rain shelter until the bus came to pick them up. Issei’s heart was still thumping like crazy after what had happened–one wrong move, one bad misstep, and he could have…

Murasaki seemed to know, and she placed a hand gently on top of his heart as if trying to calm it down. While it wouldn’t stop being in Panic Mode for a while, it was a nice feeling. Issei knew the danger was long gone.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and a musty smell hung in the air. The rain had no signs of letting up; in fact, with the wind picking up, it was only getting stronger. At this rate, they might not even make it home. Will they have to sign into a hotel?

As they were dropped off near the train station, Murasaki did not head for the next rain shelter, but instead veered off towards a nearby department store.

“I, uhm, need to get some things,” she said.

“Need me to come with you?”

“Not this time,” she said, allowing herself a chuckle. “I’ll be right back.”

He sat down, waiting, and moments later, Murasaki returned with a clothing bag hanging off her arm.

“What did you get?”

She put a finger to her lips. “Not telling until we get there!”

That just made Issei stare at the clothing bag even more, and as they boarded the train for his house, he caught a glimpse of wrapping paper and something pink and fuzzy underneath. There wouldn’t be something like that in the bag, would there? Issei threw that thought against his mental window. But why did she not want to tell him until then?

Murasaki shivered as they sat down. The air conditioned train was like biting winter to their wet bodies, and even huddling against him wouldn’t help.

“Here–I can untie your pea coat. The inside shouldn’t be wet.”

Issei stood up and pulled off her pea coat, and at once Murasaki gleefully shoved her arms through the sleeves and wore it backwards. “That’s so much better!”

They hurried for his apartment as soon as the train came to a stop, and though they had to run a quarter of a mile through the rushing wind and pouring rain, being in a dry, cozy place was their every motivation.

Issei flicked the lights on, and his apartment welcomed him with familiar sights and scent.

“I’m so soaked!” Murasaki said, tossing her soggy boots to the side. “I hope the clothes in my bag aren’t wet too.” She pointed at it. “Can I use the bathroom so I can change?”

“Oh sure–it’s the only door to your right.”

Murasaki opened the bathroom door and, before closing it, turned around and squinted, warning him without a single word.

Issei scoffed and, seizing the opportunity, opened his closet door and took off his soaking wet shirt and pants in exchange for a long-sleeve shirt and sweats, feeling the warmth return in moments.

Murasaki hummed through the bathroom door as Issei heard the muffled sound of shuffling clothes. Then she turned a squeaky handle, and the water came on.

Guess she wants a bath, Issei thought as he flicked on the TV. The same weatherman appeared, but instead of the same storm system passing through, it seemed to get larger and more severe. Instead of spots of red, it was now a wall: what they ran through was merely the appetizer.

Hopefully nothing serious happens. Issei whistled, but he should have expressed his fortune in a different way, because Murasaki yelped.

“Did you open the door!?”

Issei called out. “I promise I didn’t!”

“Why did you whistle?”

“Sorry! I’m watching the weather. It’s getting stronger.”

Whether because of his emergency evacuation, his near-death experience with the thugs, or both, Issei’s stomach twisted in hunger. Murasaki might be feeling the same, so he rose from the couch and put oil in a frying pan. Something simple and quick, like hamburg steak.

Steam poured into the apartment as Murasaki opened the bathroom door.

“Enjoy your bath?” Issei asked from the kitchen.

“It was just what I needed after all that rain!”

Issei looked up from the frying pan. Murasaki’s hair was wild, but sleek and damp as she carried a bundle of clothes in her arms.

“Something smells good!”

“Yep, we got hamburg steak coming–oh, the laundry room is behind me.”

“Hamburg steak? You’re the best!”

With a relaxed look on her face, she waltzed past Issei, and his nose caught a hint of perfume, as well as shampoo that didn’t belong to him. What all did she buy at the store?

He craned his head and watched her place her soggy clothes in the washing machine. Then when she returned, Murasaki stepped forward and gazed at him with an anticipating stance. Instead of what his mind previously thought, she was wearing fuzzy pink pajamas with little red bows adorning her shoulders, chest, and hips.

“What do you think?” She asked.

All the steam must have gone to his head, because Issei felt his cheeks burning. It was hard to meet her eyes, or anywhere else for that matter. “I was wondering what you bought–I like it. It makes you look cuter.”

“Cuter, you say?” Murasaki curled the tips of her bangs, blushing. “You better be careful, Mister, or I’ll fall for you at this rate.”

Issei chuckled as he piled the finished hamburg steaks on two plates. “I thought you already fell for me.”

He handed her a plate, and Murasaki made sure to grab his end so their hands touched. “Even more than before,” she cooed.

The storms picked up. Thunder rang in the distance and rain battered the windows as they sat on the couch and decided on a movie to watch while they ate their dinner.

“The atmosphere is ripe for a scary movie,” Murasaki drawled, her fingers curling mischievously. “I used to watch scary movies all the time with my friends back in elementary school, and right before a scary moment happens, I’d always GET THEM.”

Right when she said ‘get them’, she pinched Issei’s waist playfully, and he jumped high off the couch which made Murasaki giggle.

Issei raised an eyebrow. “Do I have to put a pillow between us?”

“No!” she cackled, “I must enjoy the scary movie fully!”

Issei grabbed a blanket and turned off the lights, then, after wrapping the blanket around them, he and Murasaki snuggled together on the couch as the horror film “Doomed to Play Forever” played, a movie about a young violinist who stumbles into the underworld where she must play for the demon lord at all costs.

“If it’s the last thing I do, Demon Lord, I will find a way out of here! Mark my words!”

“My dear, the last thing you do will be playing for me long after you DIE!”

Issei felt Murasaki tense up against him as the auditorium seats filled with the moans of the damned. Skeletons rose from the rotted floorboards. As the violinist perched herself on top of a stool, a zombie waited behind her and, with one festering arm, it seized her neck–

Lightning rattled Issei’s apartment with a deafening strike, shaking the foundations and instantly tripping the power, immediately throwing them into darkness.

Murasaki shrieked, and she jumped so high she flopped over the couch as Issei roared laughing.

“That didn’t count!” she said, her hands struggling to find the couch in the darkness. “It wasn’t the movie that made me jump, so I didn’t lose!”

Issei fished out his phone from his pocket and shook it, activating the phone’s flashlight just as he caught Murasaki’s silhouette climb over the seat cushion. Both neighbors to his left and right complained through the walls as they shuffled about.

Murasaki pouted. “Now what? I wanted to see the movie to the end.”

“Sure you did.”

“I mean it, I–I really did! If I could find my axe, I’d bonk you on the head with it again!”

“Well, we might as well go to sleep and hope the power comes back on tomorrow.”


Phone’s flashlight in hand, Issei leaned the couch’s spine back, forcing the foot rest to rise and flatten.

“This couch doubles as a bed. I’ve had Takao stay over several times, whether it was to work on songs or just hang out.”

Murasaki stammered. “Right–okay–that’s what you meant–that’s what I thought you meant.”

He crept down the apartment and towards the closet, then pulled out a couple of spare pillows and another blanket before handing them to her.

“Anything else you can think of?” He asked.

She flopped down on the makeshift bed. “I think I’m good. Goodnight.”

“Yeah, goodnight.”

Their first goodnight as a couple.

Issei turned the flashlight off and climbed in his own bed, and he grew a smile. It was just the idea of it that made him happy, the fact that his girlfriend had bathed in his apartment and watched a movie with him. On top of that, she was sleeping not too far away from him.

Lightning cracked again, sending a wave of erupting thunder through the walls. Murasaki made an odd squeaking noise, and when a third strike rang out, she flew herself off the couch.

“Sorry…can I…come over there?”

Come over here? As in…but that means…

“I really hate lightning,” she muttered.

“Oh…yeah sure, come over here.”

Issei heard her footsteps approach, then he felt her arms slowly reach over him and disturb the sheets, followed by her legs. Her arms lowered, and Issei tensed up as Murasaki caressed him. The softness of her pajamas brushed against his arms, and Issei felt the warmth of her body everywhere as Murasaki rested her head on his chest.

“This is a much better sound.”

Her ear was placed where his heart was.

“It’s not sudden, loud, and frightening like lightning is…it’s gentle, calm, and constant.”

Issei’s mind raced. This was an attack unlike any other. He could handle Murasaki leaning against him during the movie, but now she was laying against him while in his bed! To make matters worse, he felt her breath on his arm as her chest rose and fell with his. He wanted to believe it was incredible, but he shouldn’t. His heart drummed anxiously.

She chuckled. “Well, not anymore.”

“Sorry…” Issei gulped. “I’m just nervous is all.”

“I know, me too…but bear with me, please? Just until the storm goes away.”

Issei carefully reached over and began rubbing her back. “So you have a fear of lightning, too, not just fire?”

She paused. “Lightning makes fire.”

As if answering its name, another bolt of lighting cracked–light flashed through the windows, and though the thunder did not echo for several seconds, it only took the sudden light flash for her whole body to tremble against him, squeezing Issei with all she had.

“I understand,” he said.

After all, he has a fear too.

Issei smoothed her hair. “I’m here.”

“Yeah. You always are.”

Issei felt her warm hand on his face, her breath on his neck as she spoke. “You were really cool back there. I was so happy you stared them down, and even though I looked like a total mess, in my head I was shouting ‘thank God–thank God Issei is here–Issei will save me’, and you did. You saved me.”

“To be fair,” Issei said, “I would have waited like I said I would, but I had to kick open the bathroom door. Next time we go on a date, how about we eat less sugary food?”

Murasaki snorted into his chest in laughter. “So that’s why you weren’t there! Wow.”

She returned to listening to his heart. “You know, despite that scary moment, it was such a wonderful first date. We ate breakfast, went to a festival, listened to so many different bands with different styles of music, and now we’re here. I can’t wait to spend more time with you.”

“Takao’s gonna kick my ass if I don’t help him out with our music–I’ll fit you in my schedule as soon as possible, though.”

“ASAP is perfect.”

Then Murasaki’s head lifted from his chest.

“Issei…I really want to kiss you, but…I’m worried that if we kiss here, we might get carried away.”

That’s putting it mildly. Why even mention it then? Do you realize what you’re doing to me?

Issei felt dizzy–he couldn’t see anything anyway, but he knew the room was spinning.

“Are you okay?”

Issei stammered. “Well, I…I want to kiss you too. So…”

He swallowed. “How about we compromise and kiss one time?”

Murasaki’s upper half rose. “One kiss and we keep it together?


Then he felt her warm hands on his face. Issei placed an arm around her waist with one hand caressing her neck. They leaned in together. Her soft, plump lips pressed against his, and they smooched, two, three, four times until Murasaki took in a sharp breath. Her mouth opened wide, and Issei knew to open his. An overwhelming wave of tingling emotion washed over him as their tongues joined in, and in their dance, they swept over, along, into, and across each other until, with one final smack, she retreated.

Murasaki’s body sank into his, her head nuzzling into his chest. “Thank you, Issei. I’ll sleep soundly through the storm so long as I’m with you. Goodnight again.”

“Goodnight again.”

The storm passed over, the thundering dying down to mere rumbles. They held each other as they slept, each sharing a hand to hold. Soon, their breathing was equal. Issei bent over and kissed Murasaki on the forehead, and though it was more than the first kiss they promised, she didn’t seem to mind.