Under the Starry Skies
By Roop Banerjee
They walked along a familiar road surrounded by forests on either side. Illuminated by the starlit sky, the road brought back memories. For here was the place where they had first met each other and the misunderstandings between them had begun. They became bound by a relationship of butler and lady after the former rescued the latter from being kidnapped and driven away along the road that they were presently walking on. With their entwined fingers and beating hearts, they walked along, while sneaking glances at each other every now and then. They found a bench on the pavement after a few minutes and taking a quick look at each other at the same time, they went towards that bench. Settling down, they gazed up at the sky with smiles on their faces.
“You know,” said Hayate breaking the silence. “I've always wondered how a shooting star would look like during the day.”
Nagi giggled. “How would you know? Would you be able to see it?”
Hayate smiled. “I guess not. But it makes me wonder why the stars come out only at night.”
“Because they're too bright Hayate,” said Nagi. “They want to be known, to be seen, and the night sky enables them to do so.”
“Yeah. Without darkness, there is no light.”
“Don't feel bad for lack of shooting stars during the day, Hayate. We have our old friend, the sun, and it always reminds us of it's presence, by shooting down it's rays, wanted or unwanted.
Hayate laughed. “Yeah. Sun is always there. It's the only star we can see everyday.”
“And why do you seem so interested in stars today?” Nagi seemed a little agitated for,as much engrossed as she was in the night sky, tonight was Christmas Eve, the special day when she got reunited with Hayate after two years. She wanted Hayate to talk about the same thing that she desperately wanted to be discussed.
“Hayate,” she said with a firmness in her voice. “It's been a while, I know. It feels strange to say this, but I want to know everything. Whatever you've been doing these 2 years, I need to know and you need to say it.”
“Of course,”said Hayate. “I forgot how impulsive you were.”
Nagi reddened. “I'm impulsive? Then what are you? You're impulsive and impatient as well. I know you've been stalking me for two years.”
“Yes. I've been following you around,” said Hayate, still gazing up at the sky.
“I know each and every detail of what you've been up to. You've been working hard.” He looked at her and smiled.
“Well I couldn't help it,” said Nagi looking down and blushing. “I had to take up a part time job to pay for my school fees. I'm still good in studies. I got to learn a lot of things that I could've learned if I hadn't skipped school.”
“Yes,” said Hayate. “But I'm glad you enjoy your days with Chiharu. Otherwise I would've been worried sick if you returned everyday to an empty apartment after your lonely hours at school.”
“Yeah well, Chiharu definitely is fun to stay with. And yeah, although I am lonely at school, I sit by the window everyday and there's this tree with a weird branch that often moves up and down whether there is wind or not. It's fun to watch. And there's this eagle with gigantic eyes that always sits on that branch and stares at me. Sometimes I feel…” Nagi stopped short.
“How did you know that I spend lonely hours in school?”
“I never mentioned it before you did.”
“So? How did you know?”
“What do I see?”
Hayate gulped. “I was really worried, you know. That's why I bought a toy eagle and binoculars. But now I know there was nothing to worry about. So you don't need to...”
Nagi clenched her right fist. “You... You've been stalking me even at school? How could you Hayate? How could you? This is really horrible. I never expected….I know you've been following me, I've known for a long time, but I never thought you had gone to such an extent.” She teared up out of embarrassment and clenched her fist harder.
Hayate moved forward, took her hand and loosened her clench. Nagi looked away and tried to fight back her tears.
“Is it because you didn’t want me to know?” he asked.
Nagi stared at the ground without blinking. Her bangs fell upon her eyes and she felt relieved that Hayate couldn't see her tears. Hayate wanted to move her hair away from her face but Nagi needed something more impactful.
“Tell me Nagi.” It was the first time after 2 years that he had uttered her name.
Nagi nodded while still looking down on the ground.
“I understand,” said Hayate. “I admire you Nagi. You've been lonely and yet you never missed a day at your new school. You've become so mature.”
Nagi said nothing.
“You must forgive me for my stalkerish behaviour,” continued Hayate. “I never meant to upset you. I wanted to protect you and I failed to consider how you would feel about it when you found out. As long as I could protect you, the means never concerned me. I've been insensitive. I'm sorry.”
“How long Hayate?” Nagi asked without looking at him. “How long has this been going?”
“It's alright,” said Nagi. “I should've known anyway. I don't think anything else can be more shocking.”
“Well I…I’ve been following you since the day after you fired me.”
Nagi's eyes widened. Hayate panicked a little. “Please don't…”
“Don't worry,” Nagi interrupted. “I won't freak out anymore.”
They were quiet for a few minutes after that.
This time Nagi broke the silence.
“I really wanted to grow up as a normal responsible adult. Never knew taking up responsibilities could be so difficult. I'm fortunate that Isumi and Saku help me out whenever I desperately need help. I'm glad Tama and Shiranui are staying with them. I don't need to be worried as long as they're with them. I know they'll do a better job of keeping them safe than I can. Hinagiku and I meet up sometimes to discuss our studies. She keeps me updated about the new things that she's learning and she helps me out on mine. She also helps me out on my lacrosse skills. It's just…” Nagi faltered.
She glanced at him from the corner of her eyes and gazed in front of her. Hayate was impassive but she could tell that he wanted her to continue.
Hayate didn't say anything but his eyes were fixed on her.
“I miss Maria. And in school, there is no one who can help me. 7 hours is a long time and although I get along with my classmates, I'm practically friendless over there. The teachers are helpful. But I can hear my classmates discussing about me while sitting behind me. I know they're not insulting me, they're only curious, but still...it’s unnerving. And...I didn't want you to know that I'm lonely at school.”
“Why not?” said Hayate.
“I don't know Hayate. You and Maria...you two have always been protecting me. This time too. Because of you, I found something engaging during my tedious hours at school. I didn't want that.”
Hayate continued to stare at her.
“Whatever is happening in my life,” said Nagi. “I alone want to be answerable for that. I didn't want anyone to look out for me. I wanted you to know that. I guess I didn't want you to worry. I knew you were stalking me. Each and everyday I wanted to call out to you.”
“Then why didn't you?”said Hayate.
“How could I?” Nagi turned towards him and looked straight at his eyes. “I fired you. Remember? And if I returned to that time, I'd fire you again. And again.”
“I know,” said Hayate. “You were planning on firing me tonight as well, weren't you? This time, permanently from your life?”
Nagi turned away. She didn't want him to see her expression and think that she was troubled. She didn't want him to comfort her. “I was under the impression that you only wanted to protect me and that's why you were staying by my side,” said Nagi. “Through my actions, I wanted to tell you that you didn't need to do that anymore. I didn't want to be a burden. I'm self sufficient now and I believe I'll be in an even better position in the future. I wanted to tell you that I didn't need you by my side anymore.”
“But I do,” said Hayate. “I need you Nagi.”
Nagi remained silent. Deep within, she felt a sense of relief by his words but she decided that she would let Hayate speak and not reveal any more of her emotions until she was satisfied with what Hayate had to say about himself.
Hayate wondered if Nagi had become upset again. He became curious about her thoughts but her silence made it awkward for him to speak. He realised that she felt vulnerable speaking only about herself while he kept on listening and hardly saying anything. He decided to convey to Nagi, more of what he felt, if that would ease her a bit.
“What I told you just now is the truth,” he said. “I've never been very expressive. And mostly because I didn't know what to express. I didn't know what was being expected of me. Human emotions are complicated. They confuse me. I tried to make you happy. I wanted you to be the successor of the Sanzenin property as I thought your wealth will be able to protect you.”
“You thought wrong Hayate,” said Nagi. “The Sanzenin property cannot protect me. And neither can you. Nor Maria. Only I can protect myself. I have to. For how long would you keep on protecting me?”
Hayate smiled. “That's why, although I was happy that you've grown so much, I envied it. I couldn't help but follow you everyday, desperate for something that would enable me to help you again. Nothing arrived. You even were able to scare away those idiots today.”
Nagi giggled. “Yeah. That was fun in a way. Reminded me of the night we had first met.”
“Yeah I tried to kidnap you on that night.”
“But you didn't.”
“I certainly could've.”
“But you stopped before you could.”
“Because I dropped before I could.”
“Because you didn't have the will to kidnap me,” said Nagi. “Your only concern at that time was to survive. Yet, you lent me your coat. Can you explain that Hayate?”
“Because you were cold,” said Hayate. “I couldn't have kidnapped you if you became ill. I wanted you to be healthy to increase my chances of securing a ransom.”
“You know Hayate,” whispered Nagi. “This is a public place. And you're 19. You should really brush up on your lying.”
“Wh-what do you mean?” said Hayate, blushing slightly.
“Wouldn't it have been easier for you to kidnap me if I just fell sick and too weak to move?” said Nagi.
“Ye-yeah but I couldn't think that far in that situation,” said Hayate. “I don't think far.”
“Oh really?” Nagi smiled. “If you don't think far, why are you wearing the same coat as you did on that night?”
Hayate turned crimson. He hadn't expected the conversation to turn this way and he wasn't prepared.
“What happened Hayate?” said Nagi. She was surprised at Hayate's reaction and even more at how much she was enjoying it. “Feeling hot on this snowy night? Would you like to exchange your jacket for mine? It's lighter than yours and it'll look good on you. It's the same colour as your face, after all.”
Hayate sighed. “Fine. You win. I had become worried. You were shivering and sneezing and I couldn't let that pass. I had to do something of course.”
|“Alright then,” said Hayate. “How do you want me to make it up to you?”|
“That's right,” said Nagi. “Now that you've accepted it, you really should atone for your two years of absence, Hayate.”
“What? Atone?” Hayate looked puzzled. “But you're the one who wanted to stay away from me, for a while. You didn't call out to me when you could've.”
“Oh come on,” said Nagi. “That's different. You kept a girl waiting, you know. So you better make up for the lost time.” She was enjoying his puzzled expression.
“Alright then,” said Hayate. “How do you want me to make it up to you?”
“Eh?” Nagi realised she should've thought about it a little before mentioning it.
But the mere anticipation of meeting Hayate had been too much for her and she couldn't plan everything out.
Hayate looked at Nagi and smiled.
“You haven't thought it out, have you?”
“Who told you so?” cried Nagi. “I have plenty of ideas.”
She didn't have any ideas but didn't want Hayate to know that. She blushed furiously but kept her gaze fixed on Hayate for she was afraid that turning her head or averting her gaze would make her thoughts transparent. Unfortunately for her, Hayate figured it out but it made him want to tease her more.
“So Nagi,” he said. “Tell me how I should make it up to you.”
Nagi was at a loss for words. The truth was, being with Hayate alone was enough for her. She wanted to tease Hayate and make him embarrassed but her lack of ideas was really turning against her.
“Well,” said Nagi. “Do you have any suggestions yourself, Hayate? You're 19 so I believe you're imagination has been upgraded.”
Hayate didn't respond. He was silent. Her words made him think of bizarre ideas. It was a snowy night, the two of them were alone in the park and Nagi was looking really endearing in her red winter vest and with her bangs covering her forehead. He realised that their fingers were still entwined.
He moved forward, lifted his left hand and brushed her bangs away from her eyes.
“Careful there,” he said. “You need to be aware whom you're asking for suggestions.”
Nagi was at a loss for words. She wasn't sure where the conversation was heading but she decided to play along anyway.
“Why? You're not thinking of doing anything unnatural, are you?” she said.
Hayate didn't blink. He kept his gaze transfixed on hers. “I don't know,” he said. “What is unnatural for you, might be quite natural for me right now. For us.”
“What do you want me to do, Nagi?” asked Hayate.
Nagi was shocked by this turn of the conversation. But she didn't want to stop.
“What you're about to do next,” she said.
“Fine then,” said Hayate. “Close your eyes.”
Nagi did so.
“Listen,” she heard Hayate saying.
Nagi couldn't hear a sound. The leaves weren't rustling, there was no chirping of any bird, no splashing of water nearby. Only silence surrounded them.
“I can hear nothing,” said Nagi.
“That's right,” said Hayate. “Listen to nothing.”
Nagi kept her eyes shut tight, but she could feel her heart beating fast. Hayate looked closely at Nagi. With her enclosed eyes and the moonlight falling upon her face, she looked like a painting. He touched her right cheek and felt her tremble under his fingers. Consumed by the smell of lavender shampoo on her hair, he bent down and his lips descended on hers.
|With her enclosed eyes and the moonlight falling upon her face, she looked like a painting|
The moment felt surreal for both. It was a mere touch, nothing more than that, but they felt more real than they had ever felt before. Nagi had never thought that Hayate would actually kiss her. And she was glad he did. And so was he.
That was the eternal moment for both of them. They remained still for a while, with fear in their hearts for what would happen next, as well as happiness that they wished would last forever. And then, finally, Nagi broke the kiss.
She moved away, red in the face, confused, yet, with an overwhelming happiness. She wondered why Hayate had kissed her but she was too embarrassed to even look at him. That was her first kiss and although she had enjoyed it, she didn't know why it happened. She didn't know Hayate's intention behind it and she didn't want to ask.
Hayate looked for a while at Nagi, who was sitting with her back turned towards him, and he wondered whether he had done something wrong. He knew that he was truly living in the moment and he could tell that she was, too. He couldn't prolong the silence between them as that would only intensify the awkwardness.
“Are you okay, Nagi?” he asked.
Nagi nodded. “I am,” she said without turning back. “It's just...I don't know.”
Hayate became anxious.
“You don't know... don't know what Nagi?” he said. “Did you hate it?”
Nagi turned. “No,no, absolutely not. I didn't hate it at all. I just…it was my first kiss. You know that right?”
Hayate felt a rush of mixed emotions. He was surprised, but joy and relief were what dominated his heart at the moment.
“I'm sorry,” he said. “I didn't know that. Or maybe I did. I...I don't know. Did I not do it right or something?”
“No,” said Nagi. “That’s not it. Don't worry about it.”
Hayate pulled Nagi closer to him as she turned away.
“Are you worried? About why I kissed you?”
Nagi looked up.
“No,” she said. “I just didn't expect you to. And I'm not really sure how I feel about it.”
Hayate smiled. “Then why don't you find out?” he said.
“Find out?” said Nagi. “How?”
Hayate closed his eyes. “Your turn.”
Nagi’s eyes widened in disbelief. She didn't know how exactly she was supposed to act. She looked at him sitting straight, eyes closed, his bangs moving with the gust of wind. She leaned up towards him and touched his face. In a moment she kissed him just like he had kissed her and felt hayate's arm around her waist. She moved her arm up and around Hayate's neck and once again they remained still, now locked in an embrace.
Hayate could feel the soft touch of Nagi's hair on his face and he knew he loved her, he had loved her for a long time and he knew that her feelings for her had remained constant. He didn't want to let her go anymore.
Nagi broke the kiss again but she knew that she wasn't done yet. As Hayate opened his eyes slowly, she quickly withdrew her hand from his neck and covered his eyes. She leaned in and traced her tongue along his lips and felt him quiver. She smiled for a while, but shocked at her own boldness, she immediately broke their embrace and moved away.
Hayate looked at her, both of them breathing hard. After a good few minutes,
Hayate broke the silence.
“That's it?” he said.
“What do you mean that's it?” asked Nagi.
“Well I thought it'll last a bit longer,” said Hayate. He sounded slightly disappointed.
“That's long enough for one day, Hayate,” said Nagi. “And...how much longer did you expect it to last, anyway? That's my second kiss, you know.”
Hayate laughed a little. “Well! It certainly didn't feel like your second kiss.”
Nagi turned beet red. “Just what are you implying Hayate?”
“Well I meant…”
“No no,” interrupted Nagi. “Don't say it.”
She sighed. “Well you know, I've become pretty much adaptable, so I can grasp..uhm (she glanced over at Hayate) new things.”
“Well...good job,” said Hayate.
They were quiet for a while. After that, Nagi spoke first. “Hayate,” she said.
“You haven't told me everything.”
“Eh?” Hayate looked surprised. “What do you mean?”
Nagi narrowed her eyes. “What are you doing for a living, Hayate? Where do you live? Are you going to college?”
Hayate was stumped for a while. He hadn't realised that he had missed out on giving that information.
“I'm staying with my brother,” he said. “Helping him out on his business. He's opened a restaurant. And I'm not going to college. I was thinking that I'll work for a year to save up enough and meanwhile think about what I want to do in the future.”
“I see,” said Nagi. “So things between you and your brother...it's going fine, right?”
Hayate laughed. “He fools around with that lifesaving job of his, on weekends. He's still not willing to completely accept me as his brother but he refuses to let me go whenever I bring up the topic of wanting to live alone.”
“Do you want to live alone?” said Nagi. “Away from him?”
Hayate bent down his head.
“What do you think?” said Hayate.
“I think not,” said Nagi.
Hayate smiled. “You think right,” he said.
“I see,” said Nagi. After a pause she said, “so Hayate, what was all that about daytime shooting stars and sun and all?”
“Oh that? That was just...I was reminiscing how I had promised to the stars that I would protect you. And I got reminded of how I had promised you that I would stargaze with you.”
Hayate looked up at the sky. “Unfortunately I couldn't fulfil that promise. By the time it was dusk…”
“By the time it was dusk,” interrupted Nagi. “13 year old Nagi called you and you returned to fulfil your promise.”
Hayate looked at her, wide eyed. “You remember?”
Nagi smiled. “Of course,” she said. She got up from the bench, took out her phone and said, “same number?”
“Same number,” said Hayate.
Nagi turned on the camera of her phone and bending down, took a picture of
herself with a surprised Hayate.
“To commemorate our first Christmas Eve after 2 years,” she said.
“It's Christmas now, Nagi,” said Hayate. “Look at your phone. It's 12:10.”
“Eh? How did that much time pass?” said Nagi.
“Merry Christmas Nagi,” said Hayate.
“Merry Christmas,” said Nagi. “And advanced Happy New Year.”
They both stared at the stars for a while. Then Nagi said, “alright. Enough of stargazing. Now Hayate, let's go moon gazing someday. On a full moon night.”
“Sure,” said Hayate. “For now, I'll walk you home.”
“You don't have to,” said Nagi. “I can go home on my own.”
“Well, of course you can,” said Hayate. “But…(he held up their entwined fingers) we're still like this.”
Nagi blushed. “Can't be helped, I guess. Alright Hayate, you may walk me home.”
Smiling, the two of them walked away, with stronger feelings in their hearts and they were surer of those feelings than they had ever been.
“Full moon night, huh?” said Hayate. “I might howl.”
Nagi giggled. “I look forward to it,then.”
Author's Notes- Thank you for reading this fanfiction of mine. It's my first fanfiction and I'm very happy with the result. I'd like to thank lordcloudx for encouraging me while I was writing and giving me the necessary feedback. I wanted Hayate and Nagi to be completely alone on this starry night with no one but themselves dominating their thoughts. I imagine them to interact exactly like they do, in this fanfic - after two years; no drastic change in their personalities but a major change in their relationship and in each of their perceptions of the other.