Chapter 6: Akatsuki
It was getting late. I had begun to worry about Hanabusa and Ruka, that they had somehow gotten into trouble without me, and had started heading in the direction they had gone hours before. Part of me knew this was ridiculous; they were practically the same age as me so there wouldn't be much that I could do if by chance they were in trouble but I would have felt better being there with them. Not to mention, Ruka's parents had begun to tear apart the mansion looking for her, I noted as I listened to the panicked sounds from the servants inside the house. I had made the right choice when I decided to wait for them outside of the house after they left.
There was some small fear taking shape in the back of my mind, and although I tried to ignore the feeling I knew what it was. If anything happened to Ruka…if anything happened to either of them, I would never forgive myself. They were precious to me, some nights for reasons I couldn't comprehend. Losing them would be—
Just then, two small figures became visible in the distance. It was about 12 a.m. now, and my parents would soon be expecting me home to take care of some things before dinner, so it was a relief to see them. I waited, halting my progress on the road and shoving my hands into my pants pockets.
As they neared, I saw Ruka catch sight of me, and her eyes widened, her lips forming a perfect 'O'. Strangely, she blushed scarlet and hung her head. Walking up to me, she looked like there was something she wanted to say. Just then Hanabusa walked up, stretching his arms and yawning loudly.
"Well I am very ready for a hot bath and dessert. Maybe I'll order one of the maids to read me a chapter from father's advanced astrophysics book before dinner!" he said with way more enthusiasm than any normal child should have. Ruka looked at him incredulously.
"Well I need to get home as well…my parents…are probably worried," Ruka stated, turning towards her home. I caught up with her in a couple strides.
"I'll walk you home," I said, leaving no room for argument, even though I knew it wasn't far at all. She seemed to have heard it as well and for once didn't argue with me, but instead nodded, perhaps secretly glad for the company and the safety that came in numbers.
We walked in silence for a bit. Not the awkward silence, where you don't know what to say, but the companionable silence where you don't need to say anything. The moon was only a tiny crescent in the sky tonight, but I didn't need light to see anyway. My sensitive eyes could easily see the girl standing next to me, looking up as she so often did.
Just barely illuminated in the moon's wan glow, her light chestnut hair looked quite a bit darker. Her skin, however, seemed to stand out pale against the darkness. A small breeze lifted her waist-length hair and it fluttered, releasing the scent of honey. She turned to look at me, eyes dark pools of chocolate.
"Akatsuki, why did you come after us? You could've gone home, you know," she asked me, eyes unreadable.
"Well…I guess I worry about the two of you," I said, speaking the truth. I had never been good at lying.
"Like Hanabusa worries about me? Like a brother?" she asked, catching me off guard. My eyes snapped up to look at hers without conscious thought as I tried to give her an answer. It was as if the words were stuck in my throat, unable to dislodge themselves. I cleared my throat unnecessarily, wondering what in the world was going on with me.
"Yeah, of course. Why do you ask?" I said, still trying to recover internally from something I didn't understand.
"Just wondering," she said cryptically. Her eyes looked far away for a couple moments before she focused on me again. This time her eyes were serious. I realized she had stopped walking and I slowed to stand in front of her, though her home was in our line of sight.
"Hanabusa told me that you are worrying about my…parents…and my eating habits. Why would he tell me that?" she inquired, eyebrows raised now, a subtle warning in her eyes.
But I could see right through her. I knew what she was trying to do. Knowing it was the only way she might talk to me, I stood there silently, looking into her eyes. It felt like hours passed as we stared at each other, her eyes stubborn and mine unwavering. Finally, she gave a tiny sigh and broke our eye contact, turning away from me.
"Akatsuki, you shouldn't worry so much. It probably isn't good for you," she said. Though I wanted to push the subject, I knew there was nothing she would tell me tonight.
We both jumped as shouting erupted from near the house. A handful of servants came racing towards us as they spotted the "runaway" Ruka. Scolding her profusely, they grabbed her roughly by the arms, practically dragging her towards the front door. She didn't even look back at me as she was brought inside and the door closed, sealing her from my worried view.