"Eh? Our birthdays are just one day in between." she stated the matter of fact- one that pulled an expressionless face on the arrogant man.
Without concerning the changes of the grey-haired man, a light bulb lit up above the brunette's head.
"Ne, let's celebrate together this year on 18 April. So that, we can celebrate twice! I'll meet you before my birthday ends, and I'll leave after your birthday starts; and so, we can still celebrate with friends, ne?" she suggested smilingly.
The bright smile on her face sending an indication to Kazuki that only a 'yes' allow getting into her ears; a crap reason doesn't seem to able to brush it away easily.
Perhaps, the girl is easy-to-please but hard-to-handle somehow.
Just before words could utter from his parted lips, silvery tinkles of a wind chime strangulated Kazuki and cast Asu's eyes to her handbag.
"Gomen." she excused herself briefly before rushing to fish her cellphone out from her portable survival vault.
An incoming message notification pushed on her screen. 'Turn off the light at the foray when you're home.' displayed alongside with the name of Eri.
Taking a glance at the numeric figures on the upper-right corner of the screen, she blinked blankly at her realisation. 45 minutes before midnight.
'Shimatta... It's already this hour.' she thought as a droplet of sweat dripped off from her head.
"45 minutes before midnight." she said briefly as she turned the screen to the man.
"Sore de?" he replied nonchalantly before uninstalling the telescope and placing it carefully into the packaging.
His nonchalance knitted her brows and tightened her lips. Turning away, she outreached her hand to pick the star chart and rolled it up as slimmer as she can.
"Sore de...ja nai! What if I didn't catch the last bus, Kaichou-san?" she imitated his blank expression and low tone before adding with hints of sarcasm and teases, rants and dissatisfaction.
Raising a brow, he was rather amused with her imitation. Wide smirk plastered on his face as he walked towards her with the paper bag on hand.
Standing behind to the hurrying girl, he pressed his free hand onto the desk and leaned in casually.
"Nanda? Are you hinting me to ask you to stay over?" he whispered his tease in low voice next to her ear- a tease that even Kazuki, himself, wasn't certain if it's just merely a tease or words from the bottom of his heart.
She squinted an eye as the hot breathe vaguely swept past her ear.
His tease cast not only the pinkish clouds on her cheeks but also popped a rage mark on her head.
"Not at all." she responded firmly.
"Mou! I don't have the time to play with you, Mr. President."
Turning to him without concerning their distance, the teasing man leaned back in reflex.
She moved her hand to the ropes of the paper bag, attempting to take over from the man; yet, his grip tightened.
"Let's go!" he said as he walked by the girl, heading towards the door.
The hazel eyes blinked blankly on her quizzical face, she couldn't understand the simple words momentarily before her brain analysed it thoroughly.
Taking wide steps towards the man, she outstretched her hand and grasped the ropes of the paper bag from his hand.
"I can go back myself." the stubborn girl declared.
Looking back at her over his shoulder, he narrowed an eyelid, expressing his doubts openly.
"Maji? You know, every academy and dormitory have their own Seven Mysteries." he hinted with a mischievous smirk on face.
The statement struck her mind like a lightning bolt and refreshed the forgotten, unreal-yet-petrifying imagination.
As much as she hates to show her weakness to the man, her heart unsettled just by imagining walking down the eerie hallway alone.
Silently, she released her grasp as a response from her- and a victorious grin formed on his satisfied face as the wilful girl finally surrendered in his persistence.
Strolling at the empty street, the stubborn girl tailed behind the arrogant man as if a lost kitten following the big cat.
The coldness of the night turned bitterer as the night went deeper; it penetrated through the fabric and clung onto her skin tightly.
Stopping their pace at the bus station, they locked their eyes onto the opposite direction.
Harmonious melodies of the silent night played by nature- the harmony of loud and soft leaves fluttering mingled with the wind howling now and then-
and in a thrice, a high-pitched-yet-brief sneezing sound interrupted.
Glancing at the sneezing girl from the corner of his emerald eyes, a sense of nostalgia hanged a smile on his face.
The sneeze that annoyed him once has no longer disturbed him; yet, it brought a sense of worries secretly.
The soft sigh that escaped from his lips once was no longer mingled with frustration but in defeat.
He removed the large wool-made scarf from his neck and stood in front of the sniffing girl.
Without speaking a word, he hanged the warming piece on her neck before encircling it gently.
"Just why don't keep yourself out of the cold when you couldn't handle coldness." he nagged.
Looking up at the good-looking face, the gentleness of the arrogant man warmed her cheeks and heart better than the scarf.
Butterflies from nowhere were found fluttering vigorously in her stomach.
"What about you? You'll catch a cold, deshou?" she uttered her concerns while ignoring his complaint.
"I'm way stronger than you, baka sprout." he replied haughtily without forgetting to emphasise the teasing tone on the given nickname.
Just as she was about to launch another verbal counterattack, the rumbling sound from far snatched their attention.
Right after the bus stopped and automatic panel doors opened, Kazuki hopped into the bus before the girl. An action that baffled her.
She wasn't expecting him to send her to the doorstep.
"I can-" she attempted to repeat her words, and it knitted his brows lightly.
"Uruse na omae..." he responded, strangulated her words as he scanned the card onto the installed device.
The arrogant man, then, walked to the back of the bus. His unilateral decision leaving her no choice but to sigh in defeat and follow behind him.
Taking the seat at the last row of the two-seater, Kazuki commanded the girl to take the window seat before sitting next to her.
No words spoken, no conversation shared- only admiration of the marching scenes out of the windows that installed at the body of the bus.
The marching scenes soon turned into a series of blurry view, straining her hazel eyes gradually. Unknowingly, the curtain of her eyes closed and her head grew heavier.
A soft wince followed shortly after a faint banging sound, capturing Kazuki's attention.
Comical and entertaining; he blinked amusingly at the constant knocking of her head on the luminous glass.
A soft chuckle let out from his mouth indicating the hilarity; yet, his action spoke otherwise.
He pushed her head silently to lean on his broad shoulder- so carefully to not knock off the dream of the sleeping girl.
However, the movement of Kazuki furrowed her brows; yet, her eyes refused to open.
Glueing his eyes onto her pale profile closely, his body began to take over the control of himself.
His slender fingers reached to brush the strains of brown hair to the back of her ear.
'Mattaku... How could you just sleep so soundly in front of a guy, baka?' he thought and cast the corners of his lips instinctively.
If he has to describe the girl with another creature, he would label the brunette as a cougar cub, for that they shared the persistence in trying hardest to act tough but looking rather adorable.
A minute after another, he lost in time staring at the defenceless sleeping face in silence.
The announcement from the broadcaster brought him back from losing in his thought. Carefully, he reached his hand to press the alert button.
The protective man, then, shifted his hand to pat her cheek lightly.
"Oi, Asu... Asu, wake up. We're here already." he called her out softly.
The first time that he addressed the girl by her name since they met- not idiot, not sprout- just her given name.
"Hnn..." Slowly and unwillingly, she blinked her heavy eyelids before sitting up lazily. Asu, then, rubbed her eyes with her index finger.
He clutched her wrist and pulled her hand away from her eyes before she knows it.
"Don't rub. Hora, stand up and move, sleepyhead." he commanded firmly-yet-softly as he got up from his seat and pulled the girl with him.
Hopping off from the bus, he led her to the direction of her apartment.
The numbness of her nerves was merely awakened by the chilling breeze that brushed against her face.
She stumbled sleepily as he dragged her along the street.
The warm rays from the light poles along the street shone onto them, summoning their haunting shadow beneath their feet- two shadows that merged into one through their linked hands.
The more his brain told him to loosen her wrist from his hand, the firmer his grip is.
What was worst is that he clearly understand the reason behind his changes and actions- despite convincing himself with a reasonable intention.
Stopping in front of the building, he placed the paper bag on her hand and ensured she held it tightly before loosening his clutch.
"Stay awake until you reach your room, wakatta?" he shifted his hand to ruffle her hair messily and commanded- and the sleepy girl nodded firmly in response.
Without seeing her off, Kazuki turned around and walked away immediately, back to the bus station- as if a deserter.
Danger, his logical mind warned; attracted, his sentimental emotion is.
Escape, his brain shouted; worried, his heart whispered.
The colder the night is, the warmer the sense of touches clings on hands, the harder he attempts to brush away the lingering warmth.
Perhaps, to love is to protect- and to protect is to let go.
Notes: Check out Wattpad for special feature made specially for this chapter, to enhance reading experience. Wattpad: @asuryuura