Nathaniel sprung to his feet as Hagi descended down the staircase. He was expecting him to be bed-ridden for days… but there he was standing before him, looking as livelier as ever.
"I'm lucky I happened to run into you backstage," Joel spoke, "Otherwise our friend here would have died on us."
He fixated his face on the floor at that point. They could have easily avoided this situation, but he chose not to acknowledge it. To brush it off like it was some sort of bad dream.
"I'm sorry, but you had to have known. Hagi may be resilient and all, but you can't just starve him. He's just like anyone else. What were you thinking? Did you even care?," Joel questioned.
"Joel… this is hardly fair. If I were in his situation, I wouldn't know what to do either. He was doing the best he could," said Hagi calmly.
Joel shook his head, "Your life was at stake, and here you are protecting someone else as usual. You never change."
Hagi's eyes darted to Nathaniel, who gave him a grateful smile in return. Deep down, Nate felt as if he really didn't deserve all the kindness he had constantly given him. He looked back at the events of the last few days and felt embarrassed by his inconsiderate actions… sometimes he really needed to learn to bite his tongue… but he had to try, at least one more time.
"Thank you," he finally spoke, "but Hagi… if it isn't too much trouble… there was a small favor I wanted to ask of you."
Hagi gave him his undivided attention. He had a feeling to where this was heading.
"Since you did so great night… I was wondering if you would want to perform regularly for us? You were simply brilliant out there Hagi… words can't describe."
Hagi smiled. A small trickle of hope started to arise in Nathaniel. Maybe he had changed his mind…
"Sorry, Nate. But I'm going to have to decline this offer."
Nathaniel was flabbergasted. He blinked, a rosy blush creeping onto his cheeks. Joel smiled smugly.
"Believe me. The people there are wonderful, but it's just not something I want to be surrounded by everyday. There's been something I wanted to do for sometime now, and I think I finally have the chance to start it."
"What is it?," Nathaniel queried. Joel also raised a curious eyebrow.
Hagi gazed towards the window, a faraway look in his eyes.
"It was a dream Saya and I had when we were younger. We wanted to travel the world with nothing but her blade and my cello," he paused, smiling at the memory, "Even though one of us isn't here enjoy this… I thought I could go out and try for the both of us. I would like to travel the world and perform everywhere I go."
He caught Nathaniel's eye, who was speechless at that point, "I owe it to you, Nate… for opening my eyes. When I performed, I just felt so at peace with myself, something I did not expect to feel in front of a huge audience. I thank you, for opening my eyes."
"But… but surely you'd feel more content playing for familiar faces!," Nathaniel exclaimed. He would not give up, no matter what. Joel shook his head in annoyance. The man was stubborn as a brick.
"I have to follow my own heart and wishes… not anyone else's. Maybe one day you will understand and open your eyes to the world in front of you," Hagi spoke. He grabbed his infamous case and began to strap it to his back, preparing to leave.
"Good luck, Hagi. Remember, if you need anything at all, don't hesitate to ask," Joel smiled. He extended his hand towards his. Hagi took it, slender hands shaking it firmly.
Nathaniel stood by the door, not knowing what to say. He came here with a motive in mind, and it had failed miserably. He had actually… grown attached to him. He stared into Hagi's ice blue eyes. When he had first met him… they seemed weary. Now they were full of life and filled with determination. It was a nice change… but he still wished things could have been different.
Hagi walked towards him, and stopped, looking for the right words. He finally extended his hand towards his. Nate hesitated, then took it, giving him his trademark grin.
"You be careful out there. Remember, I was the first one to discover you."
His face broke into a wide grin. He was going to miss Nate.
"Thank you," he said once more. He turned his attention to the door in front of him, hand lingering on the door handle. If he still had a heart, it would be beating furiously against his chest right about now. It was now or never, and he couldn't turn back. Hagi pulled the large oak door open, sunlight greeting him.
"A single journey begins with one step," He said to himself. Without another word, he exited the manor, filled with a new resolve. Life was awaiting him now, and he was going to enjoy every minute and everything that it hurled at him.