I actually did not care much about pairings in Nagi no Asukara before, since it has always been more of a friendship story to me, but then the stunning episode 14 makes me lean more towards Tsusaki, if I may call it that way. Sorry for not including other characters much in this story, but I hope to just focus on Chisaki and Tsumugu here.

This story does not follow exactly what happens after episode 13 – certain scenes will be mentioned and incorporated, but it does not aim at connecting with what happens in episode 14 and onward. The story title, 'Wonderwall', is named after the Oasis song of the same name. Check it out, it's a good song.

Plot: Post-episode 13. Years of living under the same roof caused changes to the relationship between Chisaki and Tsumugu. A story that looks on the five years that Chisaki and Tsumugu lived together, from opening up to each other to accepting each other.

Genre: Romance, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Family (?)

Characters: Chisaki, Tsumugu; Isamu (oji-chan); Shun, Kaori, Yu (classmates from junior high); Hikari and co. will be briefly mentioned, but they do not play a significant role in this story

Pairing: Tsusaki (Tsumugu x Chisaki)

The image of this story is by ちかりや, an illustrator on the website pixiv (a large Japanese website that contains tons of high-quality fanarts). You can get into pixiv. net, then search for "id=41124134" to get the image used for this story.

She was fourteen when she lost everything overnight.

Hugging her knees in an unfamiliar room that she was supposed to call 'her room' from now on, Hiradaira Chisaki did not know what to think. Images of that fateful night kept popping up in her mind that she felt like her head could explode anytime. Whenever she blinked or whenever her eyeballs rolled, she saw Hikari trying to hold the tall flag despite how small he seemed in comparison; she saw Manaka standing next to Akari faithfully, holding the necessary items for the Ofunehiki Festival; she saw the expectant looks on the people's faces, all hoping for the night to go well.

But then, she also saw Akari losing her balance and falling into the sea, with Hikari and Manaka rushing in attempt to save her; she saw Tsumugu's boat being consumed by the tidal waves and him suffering the same fate as Akari; she saw Kaname's falling figure, an arcane, painful smile on his face that she could never forget. Thousands of questions raced in her mind, after she learnt that it was impossible to get back to Shioshishio. What happened to her friends, who never returned to the land? What happened to her parents, whom she had forgotten what her last words to them were? What happened to the place that she had spent her whole life in, and could she ever set foot on it again?

Chisaki let the tears roll down her cheeks and hugged her knees tighter, wondering if the warmth could somehow ease her pain, however impossible that might sound. It had been a week since that incident, and she still could not bring herself to face the truth. She had forgotten much of what happened after that chaos on the sea, and the next thing she knew, she was being taken in by Tsumugu's grandfather to stay with him and his grandson for the moment. The neighbours had been kind enough to lend her some spare clothes to wear, but she missed home. Kihara Isamu and Tsumugu had given her a place to stay, but this was not home. She could not find her diary in the drawers here, nor could she find her favourite pen that Manaka had bought her a few years ago. And where were the smiles of her parents that she longed to see so much?

The blue-haired girl cried for all night long, and the situation lasted for almost a week. She refused to leave the house, locking herself in the room, even though she knew it was rude to people who cared for her. Akari and Miuna had come to visit her, and so had some of her classmates, but she could not face any of them. The very idea of her being the sole survivor of the youngest children from Shioshishio filled her heart with intense pain and unforgivable guilt.

She heard footsteps outside her room, but she did not have to raise her head to know who was standing out there. For the past week the same person had been listening to her emotional outburst silently, and it made her feel even worse. She suppressed a hiccup and rested her back against the wall, her sniffles almost inaudible, but loud enough for the person outside to hear her.

Chisaki did not understand Tsumugu at all. If it were Hikari or Kaname or Manaka, she was certain that they would just barge in and comfort her, telling her that everything would be alright. However, all Tsumugu had done was standing outside her room, listening to her sobbing until she grew tired and fell asleep. Even their meals were quite ones, with Isamu and Tsumugu talking sporadically about school and fishing. She knew that the boy her age was not a particular talkative person, though she wasn't sure how to make of the distance between them now.

'Can I come in?'

His knock on the door and his question surprised her, as rarely did he ask to come in, preferring to give her enough privacy instead. Chisaki wanted to say 'no', not wanting for anyone to see her in such pathetic state, but she could not find her voice. After a prolonged period of silence, Tsumugu slid open the door.

'Akari-san brought you some clothes,' Tsumugu stated calmly, eyeing the girl carefully as she raised her head and wiped the tears from her eyes. From the moonlight penetrating through the windows, he could see the stain of tears on her cheeks, and he frowned.

'I'll put them here,' he added, placing the clothes next to her bed. Just as he was about to leave the room, he felt a tug on his arm, and he widened his eyes at the sight of Chisaki grabbing it with her petite fingers.

'Could you…' she sniffed, finding it hard to speak after crying her heart out again, '…could you be my sea slug for a while?'

Tsumugu stared at the blue-haired girl, pondering on the options he had. Soundlessly, he took a seat next to Chisaki.

The two did not say a word to each other. They just sat there, each absorbing in their own thoughts. Apart from Chisaki's occasional sobs, Tsumugu could hear clearly the squealing bugs outside his house and the gentle waves from the ocean, splashing against the shore as if all had been well from the beginning. His eyes floated from the painting on the wall to the clothes that he had just brought in to the girl sitting next to him, his mind picturing how she would look in those clothes.

For some reason, neither spoke of that night again. All that mattered was that the next day, Chisaki decided to go back to school.

She was fifteen when the blue senior high uniform told her that she could start a new chapter of her life.

Chisaki was in a good mood when she tried on her new uniform. It clung to her body well, and she really liked its design. Smiling at her reflection in the mirror, she abruptly left her room and made her way to the backyard.

'Oji-chan!' she greeted Isamu who was kneeling on the ground, his hands trying to repairing the broken fishing net. The bald man turned around and stared at the girl, who was smiling radiantly at him, her eyes glistering with joy. The blue coat and the dark blue skirt added a sense of maturity to the girl's outlook, and he was reminded of his own daughter showing him her senior high uniform, many years ago.

'Hmmph,' his jaws dropped for a second, but then he made a low sound and turned his head away. Chisaki just had to laugh. Knowing the old man well, she was sure he was wearing a warm smile on his face. Over the past year she had come to treat him like a grandfather, and it didn't take long for her to figure out his subtle way of expressing himself. Like grandson, like grandfather.

Speaking of whom, Tsumugu emerged from his room and presented himself. He put on the dark blue coat for boys and he kept adjusting his red tie, apparently uncomfortable with something hanging around his neck. Isamu looked at him and scowled.

'Your tie does not look well,' he merely commented, and Chisaki turned to scrutinize Tsumugu's tie. It wasn't that bad, but it was obvious he did not tie it seriously, given how loose it looked right now. She frowned.

'That's not an appropriate way to make your tie, Tsumugu,' she scolded and brushed off his hand, decided to take the matter into her own hands. She untied the knot and worked her magic on it, swiftly making a nice knot that seemed to impress even Isamu, who looked in awe.

It was then that Chisaki realized what an awkward position she had gotten herself into, and when she looked up to find Tsumugu (who had grown even taller over the year) staring at her with surprise in his eyes, she blushed furiously and took a few steps back, her ocean blue eyes flickering at anywhere but his face.

She found it odd that she was feeling like this. After living with him and Isamu for a while, they had agreed to drop all formality in addressing each other, and she and Tsumugu were even on first-name basis. She recalled that she felt awkward at first, but it didn't take her long to adjust to that. Right now, it felt different though. The way she helped him fix his tie, and the raised eyebrows on his face, made her think about all the rumours that had been spreading in school, about how they were secretly dating, engaged, or even married, for her schoolmates refused to believe that nothing happened when a healthy boy and a healthy girl, both single, were living under the same roof. If her schoolmates saw them like this just now…she dared not imagine what would happen.

The light-hearted snort from her oji-chan was a good enough example of how that could turn into.

She was sixteen when she received her first confession in her new life.

The boy was a member of the basketball team, someone from her year but in a different class. Much to her surprise, he had been having a crush on her for quite a while despite the fact that they had never formally met. When he shyly asked for her to meet him in the school's backyard, she didn't expect him to say such a thing. And now, she was faced with the dilemma of what her answer should be.

She thought back to the time when Kaname, out of the blue, confessed his feelings to her in front of her parents, and how she never gave him an answer. The atmosphere between the two never fully recovered from that episode, much to her regrets considering what happened afterwards. There was also the time when she told Hikari how she truly felt, even though she knew that she could never replace Manaka in the spiky-haired boy's heart. Those were the only two times that Chisaki had ever come close to touching the subject of 'love' herself. Sure, she had had such discussion with her friends before, especially when her friends had trouble with their boyfriends or girlfriends, but she didn't really know what to do in such scenario.

The first person that appeared in her mind, however, was neither of her childhood friends.

'I know that you are currently living with Kihara-san, but I also know that you have denied you're in any relationship with him,' the boy continued, 'so I ask you to please give me a chance.'

Chisaki's mind drifted back to the times when people gossiped about her relationship with Tsumugu. It didn't happen during her first year of living on the land, probably because everyone still looked at her with pity in their eyes. As time passed by, however, people began to tease her more on the matter, and often times she found herself being confronted by Tsumugu's fan girls at school to ask about what her deal was with the phlegmatic boy. Both had denied such accusations of them being more than friends, but it became futile when most people just assumed they were an item.

She looked at the boy again, and frankly he looked like decent boyfriend material. He had a reputation of being a nice and charming person, and he had indeed quite a handsome face. Unlike other sports player of her school, he was not a playboy who had had numerous girlfriends before. Some of her friends even had a crush on him, and she knew any of them would immediately say yes to him if they were in her shoes now.

However, he was not him, and even though the blue-haired girl couldn't fully understand it, she was thinking about him all the time that she listened to the basketball player's nervous rant.

Chisaki made up her mind, and gave him her answer. They conversed for a bit more, and when the boy finally left Chisaki let out a long sigh mixed with relief and guilt. She grabbed her schoolbag and walked towards the school gate, preparing to leave the school, when she spotted a dark-haired boy leaning on the gate, his eyes leaving the book he was reading to look at her. Chisaki was surprised to find him there.

'I thought you have left already?' she asked, studying the boy whose dark eyes gave no hints of what he was really thinking. She thought about adding that she had told him not to wait for her, as they usually went to visit Isamu in the hospital together after school, but she swallowed back the words on that part.

'Oji-san likes it better when we show up together,' Tsumugu replied emotionlessly. Cocking his head forward, he motioned for her to follow him, and she obeyed, trailing behind his footsteps thought she consciously kept a distance from him.

That did not go unnoticed by Tsumugu, who glanced back curiously. The two continued to walk in silence, listening to the sound of summer wind waltzing with the trees.

'You're unusually quiet today,' Tsumugu suddenly said, taking Chisaki aback. He decided to go on when the girl did not respond, apparently too absorbed in her own thoughts. 'What did you say to Mizushima-san?'

Chisaki almost tripped over her own feet when she heard Tsumugu ask that. Not only was she surprised by how he knew about it (though with hindsight, given how Mizushima asked her to meet him after school in front of her classmates, it was only understandable that the news spread right away), she was more stunned by his seeming interest in the matter. While they talked about many things during their walks, they rarely discussed any of their personal matters. The only time they had done so was when Tsumugu's parents came to visit him and Isamu, and the two shared a long-night talk of what family really meant.

The blue-haired girl ceased her footsteps when she noticed Tsumugu was waiting for her reply, his feet glued to the ground and his dark eyes staring back at her. At times like this, she was honestly quite taken aback by his intimidating look. She felt like he could see through her no matter how hard she tried to hide her thoughts.

Just like what he had always been doing since they first met.

'I turned him down,' Chisaki finally muttered, her ocean blue eyes wandering around their feet. 'He is a nice person, and he's really kind too, but…' she stuttered on her words, holding her hand in front of her chest, '…but I don't think I like him that way.'

Her ending tone sounded sincere, and Tsumugu observed her expression carefully. 'I see,' was all he said, before he turned his head back to the front and began walking. Chisaki stared at his back, as if expecting him to say something in return, but after a few seconds, she found her feet moving again, as if the conversation had never taken place.

Tsumugu's delighted footsteps were a sight to see, and somehow, she felt like her spirit was lifted just by that.

She was seventeen when she seriously questioned her relationship with Tsumugu.

She still wasn't sure how, but Sayama Shun, her classmate since junior high and the young master of Saya Mart, had managed to reserve a venue at a restaurant for the whole class to enjoy their celebratory dinner for the School Festival. What made her confused was that alcohol was served. She reckoned it was because of Shun's connections with the local restaurants, but still, wasn't it inappropriate for senior high students in their final year to consume alcohol? Seemingly, no one cared, and everyone was served at least one glass of sake, if not more.

Deciding that it would just spoil the atmosphere if she voiced her dissatisfaction about the matter, she just went with the flow and enjoyed the night like everyone else. To her surprise, Shun's claim that hotpot dinner was best served with sake seem to have some validation, and she quite enjoyed the feeling of her friends talking loudly over dinner in such a carefree manner. After all, they would all be in different colleges next year, and this was likely the last chance for them to gather like this, just being themselves without a care in the world.

Her heart sank, however, when the images of Hikari, Manaka and Kaname surfaced in her mind. Long time ago, they had all talked about how senior high or college life would be like, and even though she had accepted the fact that they might never get to enjoy such a feast like she was doing now, it still pained her heart to think how odd it was to be here when her childhood friends were lying deep down the sea.

'Why the long face, Chisaki-chan?' Akiyoshi Kaori asked in a seductive voice, her hands groping Chisaki's well-developed breasts casually. Chisaki shrieked, smelling the alcohol in Kaori's breath and struggling to break from her grip. 'Are you bothered by the fact that your prince charming is not sitting next to you?'

Chisaki scanned the room to find Tsumugu on the other side of the room, being surrounded by her classmates who kept feeding him sake after sake. Chisaki frowned and was about to rise from her seat, only for Kaori to pin her on her seat.

'Don't' worry, Chisaki-chan,' Kaori smirked, giving her a knowing wink. 'You'll thank us after tonight.'

'Huh? What do you mean?'

'Ahhhh you're so innocent! Marry me, Chisaki-chan!' Kaori threw her arms around the blue-haired girl and hugged her face tightly, earning laughs from Seiki Yu, her other friend since Mihama Junior High, and her other classmates sitting near them. Chisaki wasn't sure why they were giving her scheming looks like that, but she was indeed worried about Tsumugu's well-being.

Initially, he sat next to her and constantly reminded her not to drink that much. She appreciated the gesture as her friends were trying to force her into drinking the whole bottle at first, but somehow after a discussion led by Shun, they switched their target to Tsumugu instead. The boy was dragged to the other side of the room, and everyone started making excuses to make him drink glass after glass. Tsumugu was usually a very composed and disciplined person, but it was hard for him not to succumb to peer pressure when he was trapped by those figures whose sly beams were bright enough to illuminate the whole room.

Which was why Chisaki was carrying a drunken Tsumugu on her shoulder, trying to make her way back to the household amidst the grins and wolf-whistles of her friends. She didn't really get why, but when they were leaving they all took turn to congratulate her. Was it that fun to see her taking care of a drunken person? She wasn't sure. All she knew was that Tsumugu was rather heavy for a girl like her to carry, and when none of her friends were willing to offer a helping hand she could only try her best to make her way back home without trouble.

In actuality, Tsumugu was behaving quite well. He mumbled a lot, but mostly incoherent words that she could not comprehend, though she felt her heart was racing whenever she caught him murmuring her name under his breath. A couple times he lost his balance and fell, but she would quickly grab him and make sure he was on steady feet again. After much stumbling, they finally arrived back at their house. With much difficulty, Chisaki carried him to his room. She carefully lay him down on his bed, observing his half-conscious features. She watched his chest rise and fall rhythmically, his eyes half-open as he seemed to be glancing back at her. His cheeks were flushed, and she gently loosened his tie to make it easier for him to breathe.

Tsumugu started mumbling again, and Chisaki chuckled at this rare, childish state of his. Seeing him like this also reminded her of the times when she was sick, and he skipped school just to take care of her. Despite her protest, Tsumugu simply shrugged and asked her to rest. Being too weak to argue further, Chisaki let him do whatever he wanted, and apart from the time when he had to prepare for meal and let her change her clothes, he never left her side. She could still vividly recall the image of him leaning against the wall while reading a book about underwater civilisation, his eyes raising occasionally to check on her. Once in a while he would ask her if she needed anything, and Chisaki always wondered if he would treat her like that if she wasn't just the youngest survivor of Shioshishio.

His tenderness was remarkable, even more so when she recalled how he always turned down girls' confession at school. She knew a number of girls had confessed to him before, but he never seemed to show interest in any of them, even some that were extremely pretty and popular among the male population. Thus, she had heard some criticism on his part, saying that he was a heartless, emotionless jerk who did not care about other people at all. It always pained her heart to hear such comments, and when she shared this with Kaori and Yu they always just gave her a funny look, as if she had gone mad.

'You do realize Tsumugu-kun treats you better than anyone else, right?'

That was what Yu said, and as Chisaki was sitting next to his sleeping figure, listening to his light snoring, she couldn't help but think that her friend was right. She knew Tsumugu was not good at displaying emotion, but that did not mean he did not care. She had thought he was indifferent to people's feelings, but he had proven her wrong with his constant interaction with Hikari and others back then, and his tender care for her over the past four years. Sure, he did not laugh loudly or grin wildly like boys his age usually did, but Chisaki could feel his benignity whenever his eyes softened, and whenever he showed his concern via action, not by superfluously fluffy words.

She was about to get up to get a towel to clean his face when she felt a grip on her wrist. She jumped in surprise, and she turned to find Tsumugu grabbing her arm. His drunken state did not seem to affect his strength, for he showed no intention of letting go. Under the moonlight, his dark eyes looked even paler than usual.

'Stay,' he whispered, though it took a while for Chisaki to respond.

'What?' she gulped, her voice cracking at his unusual request.

'Don't leave me,' he continued, and for the first time in her life, Chisaki sensed fear in his voice. 'Stay with me,' he added, his eyes begging for her not to turn her back on him.

The next thing she knew, she was lying on his bed, being forcefully dragged down by him. Chisaki squeaked and found his arms wrapping around her waist, pulling her closer to his body, her head being pushed against his chest. Thousand scenarios played in Chisaki's mind as she questioned what made the usually phlegmatic boy act in such way, her cheeks boiling in the process. Even though she was well aware that he was under the influence of alcohol now, that did not really explain the anomaly at hand. What did he want with her? What would this…lead to?

'Stay with me,' Tsumugu kept repeating his words, his hand caressing the back of her head and gently playing with her long hair. 'Don't leave me. Don't walk away from me.'

'You do realize Tsumugu-kun treats you better than anyone else, right?'

Maybe Yu was right. Maybe Shun and Kaori were right. Maybe she had just been ignoring the apparent fact for so long. Whatever the case was, Chisaki slowly let her eyelids drop and decided to comply with his intrepid move. Truth to be told, she was very embarrassed, and if anyone saw them in such position she knew she would rather kill herself right away.

Yet his steady breathing managed to calm her down. Discarding that time when Isamu was admitted to the hospital, after she found him lying unconscious on the ground, she had never been physically close to the boy. But right now, she actually enjoyed feeling the warmth of his body. It was like she could forget the worries of the world and let go of her fear just for the night while she was in his arms.

Fortunately for her, she woke up earlier than Tsumugu did the next morning, so she quickly left the room and tidied herself. When Tsumugu finally woke up around noon, rubbing his head to soothe his headache, the first thing he did was to apologize to her. Chisaki's heart skipped a beat, for she thought he remembered what had happened, but it turned out that he only recalled their friends continuously pouring sake down his throat and nothing afterwards. Chisaki felt both relieved and disappointed at the same time, and her troubled expression did not escape Tsumugu's fastidious eyes.

'Did something happen last night?'

His query was expected, and just as she was about to make up something as an excuse the doorbell rang. Yu and Kaori were grinning widely at her as she answered the door, and to this day Chisaki could still remember their desperate shrill when she told them nothing had happened last night. It was then that she realized why everyone was giving her evil smirks as she carried Tsumugu away from the restaurant.

Really, she could die of embarrassment.

Tsumugu was generally a keen observer, but even he could not figure out why Chisaki was blushing like a fresh red tomato while Yu and Kaori whined about 'wasting an opportunity' and 'a future ruined'. Girls, he reckoned, and he retreated back to the kitchen as the girls kept chatting about their little secrets. Right now, it was more important for him to see if there was any headache pain relief in the kitchen.

She was eighteen when Tsumugu left town.

She was happy for him, really. After all, how many people living on land were interested in undersea villages? How many of them even had the chance to experience the Ofunehiki Festival themselves? Tsumugu aced his exams and got an offer from a prestigious university to study oceanography, and she was proud of him.

Yet she could not suppress the sense of despair in her heart, knowing that one of many she cared for in her life was leaving her again. Yes, Tsumugu would be back from time to time to conduct research, but that was different. Based on his current schedule, he wouldn't be back until at least half a year later. He had promised he would come back to visit often, but Chisaki knew how busy college could be. The schedule and foreseeable workload of her nursing school were intimidating enough that she was sure a college in an urban city would not fare any better.

What it meant was that she would not be able to see him for months, and who knew what would happen during this period?

Chisaki shook her head in hopes of getting rid of that selfish thought. She knew Tsumugu had always wanted to study oceanography, and as her friend she should not let her own negative feelings get in the way. Tsumugu would be leaving in just minutes, and she should see him off with a proud smile on her face. That was what he wanted, she knew.

Isamu's grumble snapped her back to reality. The old man, lying on the hospital bed, did not say much to his departing grandson, nor did the young adult with messy dark hair. However, the atmosphere was very pleasant, and Chisaki smiled at their interaction. Often times, things needed not to be said out loud. The two just exchanged brief words of wishes before Tsumugu grabbed his bag and left the room, knowing that the time had come. Chisaki looked at him and noticed the frown on his face, then she turned to Isamu to find him having the same expression, though the small smile on the old man's face was enough to inform her of how proud the former resident of Shioshishio was.

Chisaki and Tsumugu walked in silence and soon found themselves standing outside the hospital, their friends waiting for them there.

'Is your oji-san doing well?' Yu asked as Shun grabbed Tsumugu's bag and placed it on his car. 'You must come back to visit him often, Tsumugu-kun. I'm sure he'll be very happy to see you if you have time to.'

'Hmm,' Tsumugu nodded. He knew that, and he appreciated Yu's concern.

'No worries, no worries,' Kaori interjected as she patted Tsumugu on the shoulder. 'We all know that your private nurse,' she cocked an eyebrow at Chisaki, 'will take good care of your oji-san.'

Chisaki sighed amidst laughter of her friends. Ever since she was accepted into the nursing school, Yu and Kaori had never stopped making fun of her because of this, especially considering that she visited Isamu basically every day, even on days when Tsumugu was not available.

'It's time for you to go, Tsumugu-kun,' Sakishima Akari, or currently Shiodome Akari, stated. She gave Tsumugu a light pat on the shoulder as well. 'Good luck, and do come back to visit us.'

'I will,' Tsumugu replied, and Chisaki caught the twist of eyebrows on Akari's face. She knew the married woman was very grateful of Tsumugu's decision to study her own village, especially when he was the one who firmly believed that Hikari and others were still alive. Over the years, Tsumugu had often visited her to ask about what life was like in Shioshishio, and she was more than happy to provide information that he deemed necessary to conduct his research. To a certain degree, he provided the intellectual and emotional support that none of the others could quite reassure the young woman.

'Have fun in the city!' Hisanuma Sayu exclaimed, and Shiodome Miuna nodded timidly. The two had grown over the years, now that they were studying in the very same junior high that Chisaki had once attended. How time passed by quickly, Chisaki sighed.

'Hey, Tsumugu! If you don't hop on now you'll be late!' Shun yelled from the driver's seat of the car, waiting impatiently for him to get on. Tsumugu couldn't help but twist the corners of his lips a bit, a small act that did not escape from Chisaki's eyesight.

'I'll be going then,' Tsumugu turned to face all his friends, looking at each of them in the eye. He looked hesitant at first, but he figured it wouldn't be very appropriate to leave just like that. So he bowed in their direction, closing his eyes to show his gratitude. 'Thanks for taking care of me so far.'

'Drop the formality,' Akari laughed, concern visible in her eyes as the laughter died down. 'Take care.'

Tsumugu looked up and gave a weak smile. He was about to turn around and get on the car when his eyes landed on Chisaki, who had been really quiet throughout this farewell of his.

'Please take care of oji-san,' he stated in his usual monotone, though his sincerity was apparent.

'I will,' came the reply.

'And take care of yourself too.'

'I will.'

Their exchange was brief, just like how their conversation had always been. They didn't need colourful languages to express themselves. Chisaki had come to appreciate such exchange, and she generally did not mind it.

But this time it was different. There was something that she had to say no matter what, even if it meant all her friends would hear her, even if it meant she's adding fuel to the rumours about them. For the moment, she did not care.

'I'll be here,' she stated.

Tsumugu stared.

'I won't leave,' Chisaki continued, her petite fingers fidgeting on the edge of his sleeves, but her eyes showed strong emotion. 'I'll be here, waiting. I'll wait for you to come back to be my sea slug again.'

The crowd was initially confused by her words, but whatever they were thinking the conversation really meant, they forgot about it when Tsumugu stepped forward and brought Chisaki into an embrace.

And Chisaki did not show any sign of resistance or embarrassment, with the smile hanging on her face and the content expression she was wearing.

'Thank you,' were his last words before he got on Shun's car and the young master of Saya Mart drove him towards his destination.

Everyone was left stunned by the scene that just unfolded in front of them, even Shun who had some trouble concentrating on driving. Yet Chisaki paid them no attention. She put her hand on her chest, feeling the residue of his bodily warmth, and smiled.

The sea was calm.

Chisaki walked near the seashore, admiring the sight of the place she used to call home. A few times, she would dive into the sea just to remind herself that she was a resident of Shioshishio, and even though she could never get anywhere near the village again, swimming in the sea still felt refreshing enough.

She dropped her legs on the water as she sat on the edge of the shore, feeling the warm wave splashing on her feet. She looked at her reflection in the seawater, and observed the image of her nineteen-year-old self. Her outward appearance had changed a lot, but sometimes she felt like she had not changed much, psychologically speaking. She was still that needy, insecure fourteen-year-old who was weary of changes, and only hoped for things to stay the same. A dream that she knew could never come true.

But changes were not always bad, she had come to learn. For sure, she would much prefer to experience these changes that had happened to her with her family and friends from Shioshishio, but that did not mean she did not like Oshiooshi either. She loved both places, and she felt lucky enough to have been granted the chance to experience both lifestyles. More and more, she had come to understand Akari's mentality regarding the sea and the land. It wasn't like she had to make a choice between the sea and the land, anyway. To her, both places were home.

She heard footsteps approaching her, and she looked up to find the one person she had been waiting for the whole time. He did not look like he had changed much, though she could tell his hair was even messier than before. He seemed to have grown taller too, as when she rose to stand on the ground she sense that she might be more than a head shorter than he was.

Yet there were things that did not change. He still dressed casually, the same sweater that he had been wearing since she gave it to him as his birthday present a couple of years ago. He wore the same stoic expression, one that often scared people away for his seemingly aloofness. However, the one thing that she was certain did not change was the way he looked at her. It was the same pair of warm gentle eyes that she had grown so accustomed to over the years, and one that she truly missed.

'It's been a year,' she broke the silence as he walked closer to her, before stopping right in front of him.

'Indeed,' he replied, his eyes not leaving her ocean blue orbs.

Without another word, they closed the gap between them with a tight embrace, just like the one they shared before he left, but with more passion and lingering this time. Tsumugu took in her scent as she did likewise, resting her head on his chest. He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer to his body to feel the warmth that he had missed dearly over the last year.

'Welcome home,' she whispered, burying her head in his chest, letting the warmth engulf her senses. Tsumugu held her tighter, closing his eyes to burn this moment in his mind. A moment that felt just right for both of them. The sea was calm.

'I'm back.'

The End

I have actually emailed the ffnet staff to make a request of starting a Nagi no Asukara fandom on the site, but I still haven't heard back from them yet. Noting that there are other people writing for this fandom, I hope they'll set one up soon.

Please kindly review to let me know what you think!