“Wooow, it sure is crowded!” Kirishima Hiyori commented in awe at the crowd as soon as she stepped foot into the theater.
Pamphlet, drinks, and popcorn in hand, the three found their theater—the one with the most seats in the whole complex—almost completely full when they walked inside. Perhaps because most elementary and middle school students were on summer break right now, many of the audience seemed to be families or friends coming together.
Yokozawa Takafumi sauntered up the aisle, checking the number on their tickets against the plates along the back of the seats to find where they would be sitting.
“Pretty crowded, huh…” Kirishima Zen commented in admiration, gaze flicking around the theater.
“Well, it is a pretty popular flick—plus it’s summer vacation, and a weekend to boot. Ah—our seats are right over there. Hiyo, you sit on the aisle; you’ll have a better view from there.”
“You don’t mind?”
“We’re pretty big boys; we can see from anywhere.”
Yokozawa had reserved three seats in from the central aisle. Setting their drinks in the respective drink-holders, they settled into their seats, with Yokozawa furthers from the aisle.
“Hiyo—you sure you don’t need to go to the bathroom before the show starts?”
At Kirishima’s suggestion, Hiyori stood again, flustered. “Oh, yeah! I’ll hurry back, then!”
The movie they’d come to see today was a foreign action flick rather popular at the moment. Pre-release talk shows had touted it as a movie well worth the price of admission, with cool superheroes and an air of exhilaration. Perhaps due to Kirishima’s influence, Hiyori seemed to prefer shounen manga to shoujo manga, and while she did occasionally read romance manga, the ones she tended to re-read over and over again were largely shounen titles.
“Good thing we reserved these tickets in advance, huh? I never would’ve thought it’d be this crowded.” Kirishima had been surprised as well at the turnout—the one who’d forced him to rethink the initial haphazard plan and actually reserve tickets had been Yokozawa, and he’d explicitly chosen seats Hiyori was sure to have the best view from via the online internet reservation system.
“Didn’t I tell you? Still—it’s been a while since I’ve been to a movie theater…” Even when there’d been a title that looked interesting running in theaters, he’d always been swamped with work and the run had ended before he could see it. Movies he really wanted to see, he rented later to watch at home, but there were many titles he really would’ve preferred seeing in the theater itself. Watching a movie while relaxing at home was all well and good, but flashy action flicks were always better in the theater. The impact watching on a huge screen was completely different, and you could feel the sound in your very bones—plus, he loved he buildup of excitement when the lights started to go down, just before the movie itself started.
It was enjoyable enough chatting back and forth about a movie while watching it, but discussing the movie in depth after watching it, recalling all of the great scenes, was just as much fun. He’d gone to cheap ‘late shows’ quite a bit in his youth, and there’d even been a time where all he’d watched were minor foreign films that only played in arthouses.
“Yeah, I guess it’s been a while for me, too… I used to come see anime films a lot with Hiyori when she was younger, though.”
“What, like magical girl stuff?”
“Yeah, that—but before I knew it, we wound up not going as much anymore. Maybe I’ve been making her hold back… This was actually the first time in a while that she said she wanted to see something of her own free will.”
“Maybe there just haven’t been any titles out lately that she’s wanted to see? She seems happy enough to be here to me.” Perhaps she had been holding back, given how busy Kirishima was with work; or maybe she’d just graduated from movies geared toward children—only Hiyori herself could tell for sure, but there was no reason for Kirishima to worry about it right now.
“…I guess you’re right.”
Yokozawa knew fully well that Kirishima felt bad whenever he considered that his daughter might be holding herself back because of him—which was perhaps why he’d gone to the effort to drag them all out to this movie on their day off.
While he doubted that Hiyori hadn’t been feeling at least a little lonely, he felt he had a pretty good grasp on how her father was feeling. Perhaps that was how he’d been able to raise such a straightforward, kind daughter.
While both father and daughter had their awkward, tactless moments, the way they cared for others was admirable—though given how embarrassing it would be to admit as such, Yokozawa never intended to let them know this.
“Mind if I check out the pamphlet?”
“Sure.” Kirishima passed the pamphlet to Yokozawa, and he flipped through the booklet. He typically only reviewed these kinds of things after a show, so as not to spoil anything for himself, but it was already pretty clear who the good and bad guys were in this movie.
Scanning the character introductions to acquaint himself with the cast, Kirishima began to pepper him with questions. “Want some popcorn?”
“I’ll eat some later.”
“Mind if I try what you’re drinking?”
“Have at it.”
“Ooh, this is pretty good—want to try some of mine?”
“Not really—and what’s with you? You’re all worked up!” Yokozawa finally snapped at the way Kirishima kept overtly engaging him in conversation—thankfully, while Hiyori was still away. If she’d been here and caught them bickering like this, she would’ve undoubtedly given a long-suffering sigh of, “Honestly, you two are so immature!”
“It’s just…sitting here like this—it’s kinda like a date.”
“…God you’re an idiot.” The guy simply seemed to be in uncharacteristic high spirits, and Yokozawa found himself at a loss for words in shock. He tried to ignore Kirishima and dive back into his pamphlet—when the lights dimmed by half.
Wondering where Hiyori was and why she wasn’t back yet, Yokozawa twisted in place to check the rear entrance—just in time to catch her jogging down the steps back to where they sat. Perhaps the bathrooms had been just as crowded as the theater itself.
“I’m back~! I got scared when I came back inside and saw it was dark—thought it had already started!”
“They’ll still be playing commercials and previews for a while yet, so you’re fine. Be careful not to spill your drink.”
“Do you not need to go, Papa?”
“I went earlier, so I’m fine.”
Thank goodness Hiyori came back when she did; Kirishima was the type to put on airs around his daughter, so he could be trusted not to say anything stupid in front of her.
But the moment he let his guard down, the lights dimmed further and plunged the theater into darkness—and Yokozawa found his hand gripped in another.
He jerked his hand back in shock, but after a moment, he found it gripped again—and when Kirishima tried to thread their fingers together this time, he hissed in sharp warning, “Don’t get cocky!” and slapped his palm away.
That was what he got, he supposed, for praising the guy in his mind earlier.
“Damn, no dice?”
“Hell no.” Dark as it might have been, they were in the middle of a huge crowd and his daughter was right there—Kirishima could stand to practice a little self-restraint. And more to the point—it wasn’t in Yokozawa’s nature to hold hands, an action so embarrassing he couldn’t just sit there and silently let it happen.
“Hey you two—no talking during the movie!” Hiyori scolded when Yokozawa berated Kirishima for making a pass at him.
“Sorry sorry, we won’t do it again.”
It was horribly awkward, feeling like they’d just been caught flirting—but while Yokozawa would have liked to explain himself, the movie seemed about to start, and he bit back his words. In return, he satisfied himself with lightly kicking Kirishima’s leg in frustration.
This only seemed to amuse the guy even further, though, for when he hazarded a glance to the side, Kirishima’s grin had widened substantially—he couldn’t let himself get any further involved in this. He reluctantly settled for crossing his arms over his chest, glaring up at the screen as the previews started playing.
The sensation of Kirishima’s fingers on his hand lingered vividly, and the harder he tried to forget, the less he was able to tamp down his irritation at failing to wash from his memory the movements of those fingers.
It goes without saying that Yokozawa couldn’t concentrate through the entire movie.