16th Chapter: Gravity of Love
Leo had a habit of watching, so he saw the paused in Natsume's steps, saw the disgruntled look that changed into grudging acceptance when he walked out of the bathroom and saw them seated at the kitchen table. His pale green interested eyes picked up on the way his friends turned towards him as soon as he got out of the bathroom, he saw their eyes settled on his face, gauged his mood and settled into what they were doing when whatever they saw on it calmed them.
They flitted around the room like busy bees.
He watched as Ruka Nogi handed him a towel and a clean T-shirt before going to the kitchen to talk to the girl with the pink hair, Anna—if he wasn't mistaken—then walked back to get the wet uniform Natsume left haphazardly on a sofa to playfully throw it to Monchu who waved it into the laundry basket near the bathroom door with a smug smile, resulting in a scuffle between the two boys that was broken off by the class president with a patient and calm look. The flying boy was pairing off with the mind reader in annoying the girl with the green hair, spraying her with warm water and was stopped by—of course—the class president.
Leo jumped when a familiar young droll voice piped up at his side. "What are you doing here?"
Without waiting for an answer or so much as a by your leave, the six year old loitered toward Natsume who stood in his library, no longer interested with the dangerous abilities that looked a bit lost in the big room. "Can't sleep. I want to see nee-chan."
"She's taking a bath."
Leo noticed the look Yoichi cast at them and the nod that Natsume gave back to the little boy. Together, they walked back towards the kitchen table and sat across from them with a similar blank but easy expression on their faces.
From the corner of his eyes, Leo watched Anna and Yuu carried a tray full off warm snacks and hot tea. He noted the way they served Natsume and Yoichi first, already knowing their preference.
"Do any of you prefer coffee?" Anna's voice was high and pleasant, soothing.
Both Makoto and Quin held up their hands as if they were in a classroom, surprising Leo. They were the rowdiest of the dangerous abilities, but here—in the comfort of Natsume's special class bedroom—they looked their age, especially with their faces half drenched and covered by their hair.
Anna shuffled around their table like a waitress, no—Leo realized with shock—like a mother. He watched Kai murmured a thank you—so unlike his brash and impatient self—when Yuu handed them towels.
He finally realized the significance of Natsume actions—in sitting with them, he gave the sign that it was safe, they were safe.
No important words were exchanged, no orders were given, each knew their own duty, knew their own part in the grander scheme of things. Each knowing each others moods, their expressions, taking hints from Natsume as their center.
Interesting, Leo mused, Very interesting.
A snort made him broke his thoughts and he stared into the bland stare of Koko who stared at him with a focus that was as unnerving as it was creepy.
Crap, forgot they have a mind reader.
The smile on Koko's smile widened and Leo hurried to clear his thoughts and think of harmless things.
He stifled a sigh when Koko finally took his attention somewhere else—the bathroom door—seconds before it opened.
Another girl with long black hair opened the door and motioned Natsume—unnecessary since Natsume was already on his feet and walking towards her, he weaved amongst the others who stopped whatever they were doing and faced the open door—waiting.
How could he explain the rush of feelings that seemed to throb inside the room; joy, relief, affection and most of all; love.
Love was almost a tangible thing inside the room as Sakura Mikan stepped out of the bathroom beside her best friend Imai Hotaru, wrapped in a knee-length voluminous white dress that left her shoulders bare and sleeveless, probably not to aggravate the wound there, already treated and bandaged. Her hair looked shorter and was in pigtails that draped pass her shoulders like thick honey blond ropes, almost to her waist.
When Natsume picked up Mikan in his arms, her cut and wounded hands circled his shoulders like it was as natural as breathing.
He heard them took a collective long breath as if they had been holding it and letting it out along with their nerves and anxiety that had been piling away, and Leo stared as one by one they approached the huge bed where Natsume sat her gently, taking his place behind her, propping her up as she leaned heavily against him.
He saw the way Natsume slid his hands down her arms in one lengthen sweep, saw the way she leaned her head back and smiled at him as if to answer a voiceless question.
Leo stared as Hotaru and Anna pulled the blanket over Mikan's legs then patted them in a comforting, reassuring manner. He watched little Yoichi crawled on the bed to sit beside her, a hand curled over the ruffled edges of her dress. Whether they sat at the edge of the bed, or stood beside it, their faces turned towards her as if she was an irresistible force that they can't live without.
Watching Natsume's hands as they restlessly moved over hers, it was obvious that Natsume was not as calm as he looked.
It was as if Natsume was a planet and she was his sun while the others were moons that gravitate around them both.
The emotions that surrounded them were thick and stifling but Leo could feel drawing him in and resisted against the pull He fought against it, for that kind of commitment, that kind of bond was something that he didn't trust.
He never wanted to be so dependant—especially to another human being—and was surprise that Natsume had allowed it.
But then again—he thought—as he watched Natsume and Mikan entered into a whispered conversation that curved Natsume's lips into a gentle smile, maybe, he didn't have any choice on the matter.
The green haired girl was mumbling all the while as she dressed Sakura Mikan's cuts and wounds, chastising her for her reckless behavior but her hands were soft and gentle even as her voice raised a notch when the mind reader bandaged Mikan's other hand that wasn't even close to her elevated standards.
Bandages and bottles flew and exchanged hands as they made quick work of treating her wounds.
It was easy to feel invisible, to feel that you don't belong.
Leo felt his and the others straightened their backs when Natsume whispered something and the others turned to look at them with subtle speculative eyes before turning toward Mikan who nodded in agreement to whatever Natsume had said..
He watched as they touched her bandaged hands, kissed her cheek and murmured words of comfort that were threaded with affection, traded looks and nods with Natsume before they left the room as a group, no—a family, he corrected himself.
Just as the door snick close, Natsume and Mikan both aimed their eyes towards them, the smile on Natsume's face faded into the face the dangerous abilities recognized. Sakura Mikan however kept the soft, comfortable smile on her sweet and now clean face.
Natsume's face, however, was hard and uncompromising.
"We need to talk."