Chapter 5: Ruka
As I packed up my harp, I began to hear my stomach grumble in a very undignified manner. I tried to glance around to make sure that no one had heard the sound and found myself face to face with Hanabusa.
"You hungry?" he asked me, cocking his head like a puppy. I nodded and he smiled, grabbing my hand and leading me over to Akatsuki who was still trying to pack up his cello. He looked at us curiously, his eyes lingering on our linked hands.
"Ruka is hungry, and so am I. Wanna eat something?" Hanabusa asked. Akatsuki looked surprised somehow, but I could not think of why. He looked thoughtful for a minute, and then said, "I suppose I could see if one of the maids would be willing to accompany us into town for lunch. We would have to make sure that our parents were notified and were okay with it, and both of your tutor lessons would no doubt have to be cancelled but—"
"Or we could just leave," Hanabusa stated slyly, a twinkle in his eyes. I looked to Akatsuki, certain of what he was going to say.
"I don't think that's a good idea," he said, his arms crossed in front of him. Hanabusa stuck his tongue out and his nose in the air and began walking.
"Well I'm going, with or without you Akatsuki. Come on Ruka, let's go. We'll have more fun without him anyway," Hanabusa said, beckoning me to come along. On a whim, I decided to follow and disobey for once. I was sick of being a lady. I knew my parents would be angry. I had never in my life left the house without their permission, or without them even. I knew my mother would be worried. But I didn't care.
I looked behind me, not knowing that I had been hoping Akatsuki would come until I realized he wasn't. I didn't know why, but I always felt safer when he was with us, especially since both Hanabusa and I could be very impulsive. Akatsuki balanced us out. But as much as I wished he would come, he just stood there, watching us walk away, his mouth a hard line. Fine, if he wanted to stay here alone there was nothing I could do to stop him.
Hanabusa and I headed out the door quickly, running towards the road that lead to town, hoping to avoid the gaze of unwanted eyes. I knew we didn't have to worry about Akatsuki telling anyone. He never told anyone if Hanabusa or I did something we weren't supposed to.
I couldn't remember the last time I had been outside for more than a couple minutes. I cherished the walk over, gazing at the sky above. For as long as I could remember, I had simply adored the night sky. I loved the way the stars seems to shimmer and wink in and out of existence, and I loved the way the moon waxed and waned, forever changing yet forever the same. Being out under the dark canopy was my freedom when I needed to be away from society and rules, but I only ever got to admire it on rare occasions, since my mother thought it unladylike to spend my time outside. She thought it more prudent that I learned to be a proper woman and an asset to the Souen faction within the confines of walls and shut doors.
Soon enough we made our way into town. With its brick roads and small one story buildings lined up along the street, it had a cozy feel to it. I imagined that during the day it was probably bustling with humans, but it was hard to imagine since I had never seen a human. At this hour only vampires walked the streets. Unknown to the humans, many of the shopkeepers in this town were in fact vampires who hired humans to work the day time hours for them.
Hanabusa came to a sudden stop right in front of me, causing me to ram into him. He didn't seem to take notice of it and instead asked me, "Do you smell that? It smells heavenly!"
Indeed I did smell it. It smelled like Italian food. Like pizza and pasta and rich sauces. My mouth began to water and I remembered how hungry I was. Without needing spoken agreement, we headed towards the open door.
"Table for two, please," Hanabusa said, perfectly mannered as he usually was in public. We were lead around a corner and seated in a quiet and dimly lit section of the restaurant.
"This is so nice, I never get to eat at restaurants," I told Hanabusa, who was sitting across from me. He didn't answer, but instead looked at me thoughtfully.
"May I ask you something, Ruka?" he said, oddly formal for how well we knew each other. I was so surprised by this that I just nodded, curious what he could possibly want to ask me.
"Your parents…do they…regulate what you eat?" he asked, his icy eyes staring right at me, perhaps trying to gauge my reaction. The question surprised me so much that my own eyes snapped up to meet his.
"What kind of a question is that?" I said, the skepticism in my voice clear.
"The kind that I would like a real answer to," he stated.
"Why do you want to know anyway Hanabusa?" I asked, thoroughly confused at the way he was acting. I almost preferred rude and irritating Hanabusa to this cold, serious version that seemed to see right through me. By way of an answer, he shrugged, turning towards the waitress who was coming towards our table.
"Young Lord Aidou!" she almost squealed. "So good to see you again. What can I get for you?" she asked, completely ignoring my presence.
"Good evening Hinako. And I think you mean to ask Ruka what she wants. The lady always orders first," he said with a smile and a wink at the young waitress. She turned to me, a look of apology on her face.
"So sorry, young Mistress. I wasn't thinking. What can I get for you?" she asked me. I hadn't looked at the menu, so I ordered what I had smelled from outside, the chicken Florentine.
"And to drink?" she inquired.
"I'll have blood with your finest wine."
"I'll have the same as her," Hanabusa said from across the table. The waitress nodded and with a quick smile, she was off in the direction of the kitchen. Before I had time to blink Hanabusa was right beside me, holding his hand out. I looked up at him, wondering what on Earth he was doing now.
"Let's dance. Can't you hear the music?" he asked me. Now that he mentioned it, I did hear it. It was just a slight sound in the background.
"If you think I want to dance with you, you're delusional," I said, crossing my arms in front of me. I should have known that resistance was futile, but I was surprised when he pulled me up by the elbows and took my hands leading me backwards so we could dance between the booths.
Looking into his eyes, I found myself thinking that it was strange, the way he was acting. It seemed almost…affectionate? Romantic? I didn't know exactly what. Not that it was strange within noble families for cousins to get married, but still it was something I had never thought about with Hanabusa. He appeared to be thinking in a different direction.
"You know why I wanted to know?" he asked me out of the blue, his eyes trained on me again.
"Know what?" I asked, confused.
"The answer to the question I asked you earlier."
"Oh…no I don't know. And frankly I don't really care, it was a stupid question," I told him.
"It's because…well, I guess…I know I have a lot already, but—" he appeared to suddenly be embarrassed. I could not even guess what he was thinking.
"Spit it out Hanabusa."
"I know I have a lot of sisters already, but I guess I've always sort of thought of you as if you were one of them. So when Akatsuki said he was worried about you—" he started, but I interrupted him.
"Wait…that's why you were worried? Because Akatsuki was?" I said, trying not to laugh. So that was what had happened. Akatsuki must have mentioned something to Hanabusa when he saw me avoid the food the other night. Little did they know it had nothing to do with avoiding food and more to do with needing blood more than food.
"Akatsuki worries about everyone and everything all the time. Why would you decide to suddenly be a worry wart like him?" I asked, making sure he was aware that their little theory was not true in the least.
"Yeah, you're right…worrying is just about his favorite activity," he scoffed, and I couldn't help but giggle.
Just then the waitress came back carrying our lunch and looked strangely at us. I realized that although we had stopped moving, we were still in the dancing position. Red faced, both of us walked quickly back to our seats.
As we ate in silence I had time to think. It was amazing how relieved I felt when Hanabusa had told me he felt about me like he did his sisters. I had always thought of him as more of a brother and it was good to know he thought the same.
When our food was finished, the waitress came back and asked if Hanabusa would be paying for my meal as well tonight. He gawked at her, clearly appalled.
"Now why would I pay for her? She can buy her own food," he said crossing his arms. I crossed mine too and stuck my nose in the air, though secretly I was relieved to have my cousin and all of his antics back.
We paid separately at the insistence of Hanabusa, using the cash our parents had given us earlier in the week for emergencies and walked outside, heading in the direction of my house.