Chapter 15:

Chasing Present

Will The Stars Remember My Name?

Natsu woke up late the next morning. She had barely slept last night and was drowsy. Nevertheless, she washed up and prepared to leave for college. She picked up her phone to call Miyuki so they could leave together but then remembered yesterday’s events. After throwing him out of her house, she couldn't expect him to suddenly forget everything and behave normally, could she? She looked at her phone hesitantly and then decided to go alone. That would be for the best for both of them right now. Bookmark here

She walked to the metro station but then saw the huge crowd there. High school children commuting with friends, white collar employees going to work, and several others amongst them. She gripped her handbag in fear of losing control over herself and decided to take a taxi instead. She couldn't dare board a train full of strangers and take the risk of lashing out like she had done these past few days. Bookmark here

She nervously called for a taxi using an app in her phone and after a few minutes, her drive to the college arrived.Bookmark here

Natsu couldn't focus on her classes. Somehow, she got through them without being caught daydreaming. Everytime she would try paying attention to the lecture, her mind would distract her by bringing up the past. In between her lectures, her friends came up to ask what's wrong, but all she could do was avoid the conversation. She forced her usual smile and pretended to be ok. Bookmark here

She managed to attend all her classes without interacting with a lot of people. After her classes, she tried to find Miyuki but she couldn't notice Miyuki anywhere in the college. She tried to contact some of his friends, but she didn’t find anything useful. Hoping to see him at Nagasaki’s, she quickly set out for the cafe.Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

The small bell tinkled as she stepped inside. She was quite nervous as she came in. She had hurt both her co-workers, and wasn’t ready to face them yet. She wondered how they would look at her. Would they avoid her? Or would they watch her with scorn? She was a bundle of nerves as she entered and closed the door behind her. She turned around expecting to find Miyuki and Ryuuji at the counter, but instead she just found Ryuuji serving some customers. She looked down as she entered and wondered if Miyuki was helping out in the kitchen. The manager wished her, and she wished her back. Ryuuji seemed busy with a customer, so she managed to avoid him. Bookmark here

After an hour or so, she still couldn't see Miyuki around. Hesitantly, she walked up to the manager and asked, "Um... Manager, has Miyuki taken a leave today? It's supposed to be his shift right now."Bookmark here

The old lady looked up and met with Natsu's worried eyes. She sighed and said, "Well, Miyuki no longer works here. He resigned yesterday."Bookmark here

The Manager's words fell on Natsu's ears like a thunderclap. She couldn't believe her words. Bookmark here

Miyuki... Had left? That didn't make any sense! Why would he suddenly le- Unless... It was because of her... She remembered his words the day before. How he said that he would go crazy doubting himself if she didn’t confide in him with her secret. She could easily see why he would want to leave. After all, who would want to work at the same place with a person who was making someone feel self-guilt. Maybe some distance would be good for them. She didn’t feel good about Miyuki leaving his part-time job because of this but she respected his decision. She hoped they would make up again soon.Bookmark here

She looked down and said, "I- I see. Tha-"Bookmark here

The manager wasn't done yet. She interrupted Natsu, "Said he was gonna move to another city."Bookmark here

Natsu's eyes shot wide open.Bookmark here

"I'm not sure why, but he told me that he was going to apply for a transfer to another college in Yusaku City. He's leaving for the city today."Bookmark here

Natsu's world came crashing down in a moment. "Oh no..." she thought, "OH NO!" Natsu stumbled back and fell on the floor. She couldn't hear the manager's concerned voice asking if she's alright. Her vision was blurry and her chest was hurting. She didn't know that Miyuki would actually get out of her life. She couldn't bear that. She couldn't bear to push away the only person who had helped her during her worst times. She couldn't let the man she loved escape out of her life. She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes. She sat there for a moment and then opened her eyes. Bookmark here

The manager couldn't hide her smile when Natsu opened her eyes. Her sickly, tired eyes had been replaced by a fiery and determined gaze. She got up on her feet and stood straight.Bookmark here

"Manager, did he tell you at what time he was leaving?"Bookmark here

"No, I don-"Bookmark here

At that moment, Ryuuji popped out of nowhere and interrupted, "Genji Station, 5th platform. The train leaves in 2 hours." Bookmark here

He winked at her and then trotted away happily. Bookmark here

Natsu grinned at him, wondering how he knew the exact details. But it didn't matter right now. She knew what she was supposed to do. Bookmark here

"Manager, I-"Bookmark here

"Go get the stupid boy back. After all the times he knocked some sense into you, now it's your turn. Now go! Go before it's too late."Bookmark here

Natsu bowed once and flashed a smile at the manager.Bookmark here

"I will bring him back, I promise!"Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

After Natsu ran out of the cafe, Ryuuji walked up to the manager and raised his hand. The manager obliged, giving him a high five. Bookmark here

"Good job, Ryuuji!"Bookmark here

"Oh please, it was all your magic."Bookmark here

"That's not true. I couldn't have done anything without you kids."Bookmark here

Ryuuji chuckled softly and took out his phone. He called someone and said, "Yo! Yeah, she left. Yeah... Yeah... Yup, it's all up to you now."Bookmark here

Ryuuji kept his phone back in his pocket. Bookmark here

He beamed, "Our part is done. It's all up to Ryouta now. Thanks a lot for trusting us with this. We felt so helpless before you called last night. Natsu-senpai... She... We all love her. She's one of the best people I've ever known. She was the only one who would play along with my jokes. I... We couldn't bear to see her like this."Bookmark here

The manager smiled softly.Bookmark here

"You know, at this age, most people are worried about making friends, or being in cliques, or fitting in. You kids are the most mature bunch of your generation I've seen. And that's because... You all have been through some painful times so you're able to understand the pain of others. You are sensitive to other's feelings. I'm proud to have such kids as my staff."Bookmark here

Ryuuji blushed, "Jeez Manager, I didn't know you liked us so much. Maybe give us a raise too sometime?"Bookmark here

"I would, if you didn't waste time flirting with every customer."Bookmark here

"Hey that's not true!"Bookmark here

"Chop chop! Back to work lad. Or else, I'll open my mouth to your girlfriend."Bookmark here

Ryuuji stood up straight like a soldier and saluted, "Aye, aye, captain!"Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

Natsu sat in the taxi thinking about all her memories with Miyuki. She couldn't understand what she was feeling. Nervous? Angry? Her thoughts were a jumble of emotions and all she knew was that she couldn't let Miyuki go this easily. Not without a proper goodbye, at least.Bookmark here

She remembered the first time she had met him. The seniors had organised a welcome party for the freshmen. There were lots of people and they were all mingling with each other. Natsu was there, trying to fit in with much difficulty. She didn't want to come to the party but, one of her seniors had insisted she attended. She was still afraid of men and there seemed to be many that night. Bookmark here

Miyuki saw her from a distance and approached her. Bookmark here

"Hi! You're a freshman too?"Bookmark here

"Uh... Hi. And... Uhm- yeah."Bookmark here

"I- I'm sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?"Bookmark here

"Oh no- I- I mean, it's fine. I did decide to come here, might as well socialize a bit... I guess."Bookmark here

Miyuki sipped the orange juice in his hand and said, "You're uncomfortable with crowds?"Bookmark here

"Yes and no. Crowds do make me a bit uncomfortable but at the same time, it guarantees my safety. I don't feel... Alone. It's much better being uncomfortable here than walking alone in a dark alley."Bookmark here

"Well, yeah that's true."Bookmark here

A moment of awkward silence settled between the two like a wall. But Miyuki didn't give up.Bookmark here

"To be completely honest, I didn't want to come to the party too. I just... Got through a really long relationship a few weeks ago. Last thing I wanted to do was socialize."Bookmark here

Natsu looked up and saw Miyuki for the first time properly. His light blue eyes shined in the dim room, his lean yet buff frame rested on the wall as his left hand found warmth in his pocket while the right one held a cup of orange juice. He had a slight pleasant smile on his face and seemed very approachable and open.Bookmark here

For the first time, Natsu found herself staring into a man’s eyes without anger or fear. She felt warm talking to him. Her instincts still made the hair on her arm stand but her heart told her otherwise. She decided to take her leap of faith. Bookmark here

"Hey, wanna get away from this party?"Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

Miyuki and Natsu walked in a public street. It wasn't too crowded for Natsu nor was it too empty. She felt a bit better and safe. Her stiffness, tension and anxiety from before was gone and she felt relaxed and comfortable. Away from the dance music and suffocating room, the two walked as a pleasant autumn breeze greeted them. It was a bit cold and Natsu had her scarf on. Now, under the open market lights, she could see Miyuki a bit clearly. Bookmark here

He had dark circles under his eyes and had a short stubble growing on his face. It was clear he wasn't lying about the break-up. Natsu felt just a bit more inclined to trust him. The two walked while making light conversation. Which major they had chosen, what were their hobbies, dreams, aspirations. Natsu, obviously, couldn't say her biggest reason for moving to a college away from her city. She avoided personal topics and Miyuki was quick to understand. He, like a gentleman, steered away from those. Bookmark here

Now, sitting in the taxi, when she looked back she realised nothing really happened that night between her and Miyuki. It wasn’t a love-at-first-sight kind of moment. All they did was talk casually like friends. When they were parting ways, Miyuki told her about Nagasaki's Cafe after Natsu told Miyuki that she would go job hunting soon. Bookmark here

"Oh! Well if you want I can talk to the manager at the place I work. She's a sweet old lady and pays generously. I think you'll like it there."Bookmark here

"Really? That would be great Miyuki!"Bookmark here

"Mhmm it's alright, anything for a friend!" He smiled cheerily. Natsu smiled back, and wondered if she had made the right decision or not. Was she too quick to trust? Hadn't they just met? She didn't know that Miyuki had noticed her hand slightly trembling when she smiled back. Bookmark here

"Hey, you know what? Forget what I said. I guess I'm making you uncomfortable. I'm really sorry for just popping out of nowhere and then... Trying to be all helpful and whatnot. I must really look like a creep right now. I- I just wanted to connect with someone. I haven't talked to any of my high school friends about my break-up and... I- I don't know."Bookmark here

He hung his head as Natsu looked at him silently. Slowly, she reached out her hand and, unable to believe what she was doing, she patted Miyuki's head softly. Bookmark here

"You're not a creep, Miyuki Shimura. You're a sweet person."Bookmark here

He looked up and smiled sadly.Bookmark here

"Thank you, Natsu."Bookmark here

After that, the two slowly got closer and Natsu opened up. She learnt more about herself as she became the person she couldn't be back at her home. She started working at Nagasaki's and the two would meet in between classes to hang out or eat. She made many more friends and had lots of fun during her college days and it all started from Miyuki.Bookmark here

She stared outside the window of the cab, reliving all her memories with him after that day, and slowly fell in love with him all over again.Bookmark here

The taxi stopped suddenly.Bookmark here

"Uh... Mister, what's the matter?"Bookmark here

"I'm sorry miss. There seems to be traffic up ahead."Bookmark here

"What!? But- How long will it take to clear up?"Bookmark here

"Well, about half an hour or so."Bookmark here

Exasperated, she paid the driver and got out. She started running towards the station which was still a kilometre away. Bookmark here

"I'm not letting you go, Miyuki. I understand everything now. I was living in the present and that's why I was fine. As soon as I started living in the past, my present began to erode. I don't need those horrible memories, I need the ones I made with you. The time we spent with each other, the fun we had together, that's what I need to cherish. I'll cherish you properly Miyuki, so please... Wait for me! I'm going to bring you back."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

Natsu was late. Ryouta looked at the boy in a hoodie with a green duffel bag. He was looking down, waiting for his train. Ryouta looked at his phone again. The train would be arriving any moment now. Ryuuji and Futaba were not around to help him out. He had to deal with this on his own. Bookmark here

He remembered the manager's call yesterday night as she told them about Miyuki's resignation. She requested for them to stop him because she knew that in the end, all it would do was hurt both of them. Then he contacted Futaba and together, along with Ryuuji, they planned to stop Miyuki from leaving. Bookmark here

Ryouta had a small task in all this. All he had to do was make sure everything went smoothly at the station. And now it seemed he was going to fail at even that.Bookmark here

The strange voice in his head broke its silence and once again spoke.Bookmark here

"What did you expect? A person like you could help others? You really thought you were allowed to do that after you did that? Hahaha!"Bookmark here

"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!"Bookmark here

"Do you even know who I am, Mr. Ryouta Ito?"Bookmark here

"Whatever you are, I don't want you inside me!"Bookmark here

"Huh... Alright then. Let's keep a bet to make this interesting. If you can stop him from getting on the train I'll go away for a while. If not..."Bookmark here

Ryouta could feel the voice in his head grin.Bookmark here

With determination, he walked up to the boy with the duffel bag. He kept his hand on his shoulder.Bookmark here

"Miyuki-senpai..."Bookmark here

———————Bookmark here

Natsu arrived at the platform, panting. The train had been standing there for some time and was just about to depart. She looked around to find any signs of Miyuki and finally saw a person with a green duffel bag. It was the same bag Miyuki had. He was standing just outside the doors of the train, hesitating to go in. Natsu pushed through the crowd, and cried out, "MIYUKI! STOP!"Bookmark here

The person didn't look back and climbed aboard. Bookmark here


The crowd on the station was looking at her but she didn't mind as she tried to push her way through the dense group of people between her and the train. Bookmark here

When she finally reached the train, a final warning bell rang and the familiar voice of the train operator announced, "Doors are closing, kindly stay behind the yellow line."Bookmark here

She tried to run towards the train but there were a few people on the station who grabbed her hands and stopped her. Bookmark here

The train started to move slowly as she helplessly watched the back of the man with the duffel bag. He didn't even turn around once to say goodbye. Bookmark here

She fell on her knees as the train sped away leaving her in dust and tears.Bookmark here

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