"That was what? The seventh time this week?" Nagi looks fairly calm for someone who just escaped a murder attempt, arms crossed behind her head and seemingly unconcerned save for the wrinkling of her nose and the annoyance in her tone. "Jeez, can't they at least take days off?"

"I'd like that," Hayate mumbles under his breath, wiping away some sweat and grime that have accumulated on his forehead, wondering for the umpteenth time how many times his uniform has been repaired by Maria, and if she'd mind doing it again.

Because he's not quite sure but there may be a large tear on the back of the jacket from when the giant robot pulled out its equally giant axe (who the Hell do you find in Japan that builds a giant axe, he wonders) and tried to decapitate Nagi. Or from when that motorcyclist hit him in an attempt to coerce Nagi into crying. Or from the chainsaw wielding assassin who didn't have very good eyesight.

Either way, he's going to need to apologize to Maria for adding to her workload.

It's Tuesday, one of the more innocuous days of the week, being preceded by the almost universally hated Monday and being followed by the somewhat better Wednesday. But just because the day itself is innocuous won't stop greedy, sometimes homicidal maniacs from attempting to attack little girls (albeit little girls with a huge fortune to inherit).

"Are you okay?" Nagi peers inquisitively at him, looking oddly shy, and suddenly Hayate feels the exhaustion slipping away.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," he says, smiling cheerily (though having to force it out somewhat, as it is kind of difficult to smile with bruised ribs). "No problems at all."

"Really?" Nagi gives him a doubting look, standing now just inside his personal space.

Hayate raises his hands, waving them in the universal gesture of 'I am actually lying right now but please try to believe me'. "Yes, really!" he says, and laughs to prove it (which hurt the aforementioned bruised ribs).

Nagi pokes him in reply, and Hayate yelps shrilly, curling up almost on reflex.

"You lied!" she admonishes, stamping her feet dangerously close to his own, eyes sparking with concerned anger.

"Eh... sorry?" he manages weakly, chuckling, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly, as if caught with his hand in the cookie jar and not for hiding seriously debilitating injuries.

"Idiot." Nagi's head is turned and her arms are crossed in a clearly irritated gesture, but her tone of voice is soft and makes Hayate feel badly that has nothing to do with his bruised ribs.

However, the fact the world is currently spinning around him probably at least has a little bit to do with said ribs.

I didn't know concrete could grow, Hayate thinks to himself, watching the ground shake and rise like an earthquake on speed.

A second later, his head hits the concrete soundly.

--

Falling asleep (or being knocked out) in one place and waking up in another is very disorienting. Even if it's happened to you before, and in Ayasaki Hayate's case, it happened quite frequently, really.

Luckily, the fact that a) he had this happen to him before, b)was in familiar surroundings, and c)Maria was standing over him, helped get Hayate over the disorientation fairly quickly.

"What happened?" he asks, struggling to pull himself up, and with Maria's help, manages to sit up with his back against several pillows. He flushes as Maria's hands pass over his body once or twice, color flooding his cheeks- he can't help but notice the soft, soapy scent drifting off of her or the softness of her hands (despite the daily regimen she has to go through).

"You passed out," Maria replies simply, smiling gently as she smooths out the blanket. "Ojou-sama called help and brought you here." She inclines her head to the other side of the bed, where Nagi has fallen asleep, half in a chair and half on the bed, pigtails splayed out messily across the sheets.

Hayate smiles softly as he watches her breath in and out, remembering why he passed out, or more specifically, the reason why he took so many hits in the first place. "Thank you," he said quietly, still gazing, before turning to Maria and nodding as smiling, "Both of you."

"I didn't do anything, so there's no need to thank me," Maria responds easily, still smiling. "And I'm sure Ojou-sama doesn't really want thanks either. You've done so much for her that she feels like anything she does to repay you isn't enough."

"Eh?" Hayate blinks, startled, shifting to look back at his Mistress, at first startled, then fondly. "Is that so..." he murmured, watching her continue to breath easily, peacefully.

"Your job is so difficult though," Maria continues, voice light and almost musical, "Hopefully it'll get better once Ojou-sama gets older, huh?" she smiles generously.

"When she gets older..." Hayate pauses. He's never considered what would happen in the future. He's a Here and Now guy, always moving forward, never looking forward.

An image of a slightly taller, more mature Nagi flits in and out of his mind's eye, still as alive and energetic as ever, but that energy is more vivacious, more attractive, brash nature still intact but complimented by experience and maturity. A beautiful and capable young woman.

Hayate hopes he can help shape that woman. It gives him purpose, gives him yet another reason to stay by his Mistress's side for years to come.

"She'll be a great woman," he says, almost unconsciously, but meaning every last word, swearing by it.

"And beautiful," Maria adds in, smiling at the sleeping girl as well.

Hayate smiles, and watches over his young Mistress, seeing the young woman that lies within her.

"In fact, I'll bet all the boys will want to go out with Ojou-sama," Maria continues, startling Hayate out of his reverie. She gives him a somewhat pitying smile. "You might have your hands full beating them away from her."

Suddenly, Hayate's head is filled with visions of his Mistress's dating future- and the subsequent insanity he would no doubt have to go through in order to protect her from any sorts of perverts and gold-diggers who would no doubt want to go out with the beautiful heir to the Sanzenin. Like a rich young man who won't take no for an answer, or some thug that Ojou-sama thinks she can redeem with love, or any other myriad of possibilities, the mere prospect of which gives Hayate the beginnings of a migraiene.

If anime and manga have taught him anything, it's that beautiful young women always attract trouble. Even more so than little girls who stand to inherit a vast fortune.

And suddenly Hayate thinks he made a grave error in choosing this profession.