Will The Stars Remember My Name?
That night, Haruto and Shiomi went back home carrying a handful of gifts and bouquets. Haruto looked worried for some reason but he was doing his best to hide it. He had a smile plastered on his face while his eyebrows were furrowed together. Shiomi knew he was concerned with what happened between Miyuki and Natsu and wanted to help as much as he could. But, she didn't say anything. She knew he wanted her to enjoy today so she hid all her signs of worry. She hummed happily as they walked back home.
Haruto entered Shiomi's house with her and helped her keep all her gifts in one corner of her living room. He wished her parents good night and went back to his house.
That night, Haruto was awake, thinking about what Ryuuji had told him when he asked about what happened between Miyuki and Natsu. When Ryuuji was entertaining the guests at the cafe, Haruto had secretly pulled him aside for a moment to ask. Ryuuji was evasive at the time and tried to reassure Haruto that everything was fine. He had told him, "Haru-senpai, you really don't need to worry. You and Shio-senpai deserve happy memories today, so please forget about this. We'll handle it. Alright? Now, before I go, promise me one thing. Promise you'll make sure Shio-senpai stays happy till the day ends."
All Haruto could do was nod as Ryuuji rushed out greeting the others with his pleasant smile. He looked at Ryuuji laughing with others and having fun. He set his mind at peace and let his worries go.
But, now when the clock struck 11 p.m., his worries returned. He sat up on his bed and folded his knees. He sat there for a while when he heard someone quietly tapping on his window. He opened it and saw Shiomi looking out of her window. As kids, they used to talk all the time through the opposite windows. Their rooms were exactly opposite to each other. They hadn't talked through the windows for a long time but Shiomi revived the tradition that night. Haruto looked at her and smiled, "Hey Shio! Aren't you tired? What're you doing still awake?"
Shiomi twiddled with her thumbs and looked down, a bit embarrassed.
"Well, yeah... I am tired. But I couldn't, because a certain someone forgot to give me my birthday present."
Haruto's face turned white.
He quickly turned away from the window and leaped out of his bed. He searched for something in his backpack and then pulled something out. He went to the window and handed it to Shiomi.
"I'm so sorry, I completely forgot I didn't give you your gift yet! Here. Happy birthday, Shio."
Shiomi took the wrapped gift and unwrapped it in front of Haruto. She opened the box and inside, there lay a pair of beautiful emerald hair brooches. In the moonlight, they sparkled and shined, giving off a beautiful radiating glow.
Shiomi turned away from the window to hide her red hot blushing face.
Haruto said, "Ah... It's not much but those were the be-"
"Haruto, can you close your eyes for a second?"
"Just close them."
Haruto promptly closed his eyes. A few moments passed and nothing happened.
"Shio, how long do I-"
His lips were promptly stopped by Shiomi's. She kissed him deeply as his eyes shot wide open. He could feel her soft lips on his. Surprisingly, the first thought that popped in his mind was that her lips tasted like vanilla ice cream. Everything happened so quickly he had no time to react. Shiomi finally pulled back. He saw she was wearing the brooch. His cheeks, now flushed, were almost burning. But then, he saw Shio's cheek were the same colour as his. She was looking down, trying to hide her face out of embarrassment. In the moonlight, her white hair shined along with the emerald brooch. He couldn't say anything back as Shiomi quietly said, "Goodnight, Haru," and quickly shut her window.
Haruto just stood there by the window, with his knees on the bed staring at Shiomi's window. After a few minutes, he closed his window and fell back on his bed. He touched his lips and went through the entire experience once again. He couldn't stop thinking about the kiss. He was just sure about one thing... He wouldn't be able to sleep properly tonight.
Futaba had always been a light sleeper. She had faintly heard Natsu getting up but was too drowsy to wake up. It was when she opened the door of the terrace, Futaba opened her eyes. She looked out and muttered softly, "Natsu?"
She felt the chill air blow as she looked outside to see Natsu climbing on the railing of her terrace. She blinked twice and suddenly realised what was happening. She slipped out of the couch and fell on the floor. She cursed and got up somehow and ran towards the terrace as she saw Natsu just starting to lean forward. Natsu slipped and Futaba lunged to grab her. Just at the last moment, she grabbed her arm and pulled her back. She fell back with Natsu on top of her. She hit her head on the door of the terrace. Everything became dizzy. She saw Natsu looking at her with surprise as she managed a smile and said, "You're safe."
She saw Natsu's eyes well up. She touched the back of her head and started to lose vision. She saw blood on her hands and then Natsu's voice calling out her name before she slipped into darkness.
Futaba opened her eyes slowly. She heard birds chirping somewhere nearby. She saw a bright white ceiling. She felt a bit heavy as she tried to get up. She held her head and felt something soft. Her head was wrapped in bandages. She looked around to see an empty room with some small plants and tables with some strange equipment beside her bed. She realised she was in a hospital room. She tried to move her other hand and saw it was held by her mom.
Her mom slowly got up and said, "Futaba? You're awake! Finally, oh, my poor baby!"
She hugged her and patted her head. Futaba, a bit dazed, asked, "What's happening? Where's Natsu-senpai?"
Her mom smiled at her and said, "Don't worry about them. They're fine. They said they would come later in the afternoon to check on you."
Futaba stopped herself from revealing Natsu's suicide attempt.
"What do you mean by they?"
"Your friends, of course. Natsu, Ryuuji and his elder brother."
"Ryouta and Ryuuji? How did they-"
"Don't worry dear, you can think about it later. Just lie down and rest your head. Natsu told me you slipped and hit your head on the edge of the door at night when you went to get some water."
Futaba didn't say anything and quietly lay down.
"The doctors said you're fine and you'll be discharged by evening today."
She looked at her mom and said guilty, "I'm sorry mom for making you worried like this."
"It's alright my dear Fu-chan." She pinched her cheeks softly and said, "All that matters to me is that you're safe."
She held her mom's hand and smiled at her.
Later in the afternoon, Ryouta, Ryuuji and Natsu visited Futaba in the hospital. The three of them entered Futaba's room. Futaba smiled at them, "Hey guys! Thanks for helping me."
Ryuuji went and hugged Futaba.
"You're okay. That's all that matters."
Ryouta sighed and smiled weakly at her. He looked tired. He said, "You should take care of yourself Futaba."
Futaba glanced at Natsu who was standing in a corner looking down. She said in a low tone, "It's... It's all my fault. I'm sorry, Futaba."
Futaba sighed and requested, "Ryouta and Ryuuji... I'll be alright. Mom said I'll be discharged in the evening. Can you guys give me some time with Natsu-senpai?"
They both nodded and left. Before leaving, Ryuuji winked at her and indicated to call him when she reached home safely. Futaba looked at him with a straight face and then they were finally gone.
"Natsu-senpai... Please, can you come sit beside me?"
Natsu obeyed more out of guilt than because Futaba asked her to. She held Futaba's hand and hung her head.
"I'm sorry... I'm so so sorry, Futaba. I shouldn't have-", she broke down crying.
Futaba said, "It's okay, Natsu-senpai, I just want you to feel okay and talk to me. I know that right now you're feeling guilty and I'm sorry for being like this, but I'll take advantage of that."
She hesitated as Natsu looked up and continued, "You have to tell me what happened? Why did you want to kill yourself? Why did you call Miyuki-senpai a monster, even though you didn't mean to?"
Natsu's gaze dropped and after a moment of silence, she muttered,
"Ok Futaba. I'll tell you. But you have to promise me something. You won't tell this to anyone. If I need someone's help I'll talk to them and tell this to them myself. You're... Actually the first person I have ever had the courage to talk to."
Futaba nodded promptly.
It was sundown by the time Natsu had finished telling her story. Futaba's hands were clasped on her mouth from shock and her eyes wide and watery. Tears streaked down both their faces. Natsu smiled weakly through the tears while Futaba just sat there in shock. She couldn't say a word. She couldn't even try to console her. She had no idea what to say to her. All she did was sit there as Natsu got up and wiped her face with her sleeves.
Natsu smiled at her, "I'll be ok Futaba. I won't ever try that again so don't worry. What's done is done. I know I must live in the present from now on. I'll try my best to do so from now. To be honest, I had forgotten all about it when I moved here and Miyuki was one of the reasons why I never felt like this again. He doesn't know, obviously. That night... I just felt... It all came back to me too suddenly. Anyway, leave it. I'm sorry once again Futaba and I hope you get well soon."
She bowed and then left before Futaba could say anything.
Later that evening, she was discharged and her mom took her back home.
The next day Ryouta went to the cafe in the morning. Today was going to be a busy day. He had recently started working on weekends in the cafe and found that they were much busier than weekdays. He came early, because he had the keys to the cafe. He cleaned up the cafe and arranged everything in an orderly fashion. Soon, the bell tingled and Miyuki entered. He smiled and wished Ryouta. He went inside to change. The manager would return today in the afternoon. While Miyuki was changing inside, Natsu entered the cafe. Likewise, she wished Ryouta and went to change. He wasn't surprised that Natsu didn't say much unlike her usual demeanour. He knew that things were still awkward between Natsu and Miyuki. He wondered how he would help them make up.
Unfortunately, the day turned out to be much busier than usual. Since the day they organised the party, business had boomed. Their food had become popular and the number of daily customers had almost doubled. Just as the manager wanted, the party was a big success for the cafe. But, because of that, Ryouta couldn't get even a moment to talk to Miyuki or Natsu properly. He observed that Miyuki and Natsu avoided each other and behaved formally with each other. He still wondered what Futaba and Natsu had talked about.
The manager came back early and Natsu and Ryouta were allowed to leave early. Another helper would come soon to help Miyuki and the manager, the one Ryouta had never met. He waited outside for Natsu. When she came outside, she saw Ryouta waiting for her. She said, "You didn't have to wait for me Ryo."
Ryouta said, "But I wanted to tal-"
She cut him off rudely by saying, "I want to walk home by myself today, I'm sorry."
Ryouta heard the voice in his mind again, "I'm trying to help you, you ungrateful bitch."
Ryouta winced and Natsu looked down, thinking she hurt his feelings. She muttered under her breath, "I'm sorry" and then ran away.
Ryouta held his head in confusion... What was that voice? He... He had heard it somewhere before. Dazed and a bit sad, he walked back home.
At the same time, Ryuuji was on his way to Nagasaki's Cafe from his other part time when he saw Natsu running. He called out after her, "Natsu-senpai!"
She looked in front to see Ryuuji standing there, his eyes full of worry. She ignored him and tried to run away but Ryuuji caught her hand. As soon as he caught her, she stopped in her tracks. She felt his touch vibrating through her entire body and she could feel the darkness taking over her. She managed to speak out weakly, "Leave... My hand... Ryu. Please... Just leave."
Ryuuji replied, "I can't senpai, I have to kno-"
His words were drowned out by the blood rushing in her ears and it was too late.
Ryuuji had texted Futaba earlier and Futaba had refused to speak about Natsu. He just had to know what happened that day. He didn't want her to feel sad anymore and most of all he didn't want to ruin the bond between Natsu and Miyuki. So he went out of his way to stop Natsu, but... He didn't realise how it would backfire.
He was saying something when he felt Natsu's hand loosen. She turned around and looked at him with cold dead eyes. Ryuuji stopped speaking. He could see pure anger and... Maybe fear in her eyes. Natsu suddenly pulled away her hand and pushed Ryuuji. He fell on the floor and exclaimed, "Senpai wha-!"
Before he could finish, Natsu wrapped her hands around his neck and started choking him.