Of Wanting and Giving
A Ginji x Natsumi Request Grant for rumiko-serenity. Gomen for the delayed uploading.
"Natsumi-chan, there you are!" Amano Ginji's voice sprung into her senses, startling her. The rest of her sensations returned in full force—the smell of mud, the feel of pricking rain on her skin, the chill that was enveloping her fragile frame.
And the sadness that was threatening to break her again inside as self-pity, anger, and regrets whirled within her ruthlessly.
She opened her voice to speak, but realized that she didn't have the strength to even summon her vocal ability. Instead, she trudged on, embracing herself. There were a few people running past her shoulders in the sidewalk leading away from Honky Tonk, some even slamming on her, but she couldn't care less.
And Ginji was still trailing after her, holding an umbrella. "Natsumi-chan!"
Her knuckles shook. How she wanted to snap at him, tell him how unfeeling he was that moment. She wanted this time alone. She couldn't force herself to entertain him and his questions, nor could she put up a brave smile and tell him that she was feeling alright.
Because she was everything but that. She was broken, with the pieces of her heart scattered all over.
"Natsumi-chan, come on, wait up for me!" he begged. "Y-You might catch cold…or something."
My problem not yours, she thought quietly, but she kept mum. A little while passed before she felt the noise of the city decrease significantly. She finally looked up and around—she had been too busy walking aimlessly to notice that she had reached the dead end of the block. Beyond the concrete road was a small piece of grassy patch that was raised above slightly, seeming like a miniature cliff.
"Hey, where did you take us?" Ginji had finally caught up with her, huffing and puffing.
She walked towards the edge of the land silently, alarming her companion.
"Natsumi-chan, hey!" He broke into a jog and blocked her way. Sensing that she was going to keep walking anyway, he started stepping back too, as if to keep up with her pace. "You can't mean to tell me you'll jump?"
"What for?" she asked wearily, finally stopping. "I could see the view perfectly from here even without jumping."
"You're not going to jump? Sure?" he asked, eyeing her suspiciously.
She gazed at him for a moment, and then sat down, laying her chin on the crook of her arms.
"If you only wanted to sightsee, why did you have to cry?" he wanted to know.
"Is that…your best way of asking what my problem is all about?" she asked.
"Doesn't matter as much as your answer will," he replied, shrugging.
She cocked her head sideways, as if hesitating on whether she should tell him or not. In the end, she decided that the best and wisest thing she could do right now was to let everything out.
"I was…in the café today, cleaning."
He looked at her intently. "Did Master make you clean too hard?"
"N-No." She couldn't suppress a smile though. "And it wasn't him."
"Okaaaay, then what happened?"
She flicked a wet strand of her hair behind her ear. "Ban came…alone."
"He didn't bring a customer along, so that's why you're sad?" he asked, sitting down beside her.
She laughed softly. Under normal circumstances, getting interrupted incessantly would be very annoying, but with Ginji, the act seemed…different. He was like a little boy, with the same curiosity of it. And she knew that he was just trying to lighten the mantle of tension up, which was typical of him.
Looking overhead and away from wide-eyed Ginji, she continued. "He sat down in front of the bar and called me. He told me to bring him coffee and cake for two…he then told me to sit down and eat with him." She paused, deciding if she had enough guts to tell the rest of the story.
"And he didn't pay for it?" guessed the orange head. "And now the Master will deduct the bill from your salary?"
"Ginji…" She shut her eyes tight. "While eating, he suddenly… he told me to stop myself before I fall too deeply for him."
Defeaning silence ensued.
Her eyes pooled with tears again. "I could only gape at him openly as he drank and ate the last forkful of his cake. I could only watch him leave the store…"
"Ne, Natsumi-chan?" He leaned over and touched her cheek gently. "Don't blame yourself. I'll pay for Ban-chan's orders. He's always like that, you know?"
Her eyes widened in shock. "Ginji!" Was this man really this dense? His sensitivity must be as populated as Tokyo City itself!
"Like in what you narrated… he may seem so cruel, especially when he tries to be honest. But believe me, Natsumi-chan, he was only doing it for you." Ginji's eyes crinkled into a smile. "He must have noticed that, and knowing that if he lets it continue, it would only hurt you more."
Her forehead creased. Was this how quickly this guy would shift the topic?
"He likes you a lot. He loves your cooking," he continued, rubbing his cheek. "In fact, I always have to steal his refrigerated cake you bake for us because he always gets the lion share!"
"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked, fascinated.
"It means that even if right now you feel like you mean nothing to him, it's actually not true." Ginji nodded. "Yep, Ban-chan adores you. Almost as much as I do—" He paused, laughing shyly. "W-Well, the point is… he finds you an important person. However, in a way that is not similar to how you would want it."
She bit her lip. "I wasn't even planning to tell him. I don't want him to worry…"
"That could work," he said thoughtfully. "But you see, you're a simple girl…easy to read and all that stuff."
"You mean I'm predictable and transparent?" she asked.
"No, just…too honest by nature," he laughed. "Anyway, he doesn't want you to be bothered by that emotion also, which is why he tried to antagonize himself in your eyes. For him, it's the easiest way to make you forget about it."
"He didn't have to do that…"
"Er, Ban-chan…sometimes…gets too brutal…" The tangerine head grinned. "I mean, that's what he does to try to resist Himiko-chan."
"He loves her in a way I meant, right?" she asked, gazing at him.
"I think he does," he admitted. "But Natsumi-chan…"
Her face crumpled. "I'm… fine…"
"You're not, and you know it." He sighed. "Umbrella?"
She looked up at the rays of light filtering the dark clouds, and then back at him in disbelief.
"I can only offer you things I think you need when your needs have passed. My shoulder to cry on, this umbrella… a-and I don't even have a hanky to lend you…but… I'm always here for you." He leaned over and pinched her nose fondly. "Ne, broken hearts hurt, but like any other organ of our body, it heals too. And then we realize how important it is, and next time, we'll be more careful in giving it away. Isn't that nice?"
She pondered over this, and then sighed. "Maybe…"
He patted her. "It'll be hard to accept this so soon, but someday, you will. And then you'll laugh at this and say, "I lived through it, wow!"
Her head automatically buried itself on his shoulder, sobbing again. But it was less painful now, the tears. His words reverberated in her mind. Someday, someday, someday…
And always. She unconsciously tightened her hold on his shirt, and he smoothed her hair some more.
He was her dearest friend, her biggest culinary fan, her personal clown, her favorite pillow to huggle… the man who wouldn't hesitate to look out for her amidst the rain.
She felt a bit more courageous now. He was here, and right now, she wouldn't need anyone or anything else but him.