Our vacation ended fast but returning to the campus felt great. Sabay kaming bumalik ni Akira pero noong nasa gubat na kami ay nagulat ako dahil bigla siyang tumakbo.

“Wait! Why are you running?” I asked and I was forced to run because of her.
“Something good is happening,” sabay lingon niya sa akin habang nakangiti.

Wala naman akong nagawa kundi tumakbo papunta sa dorm kahit na ang dami naming dalang gamit. After a few minutes, we stood in front of our room, catching our breaths. Akira opened the door and I saw several people gathered inside.

“Sabi na nga ba! Naririnig ko ang mga boses niyo rito sa kwarto,” Akira beamed.
“Why do we need to run, though?” bulong ko na lang dahil napagod ako sa ginawa namin pero nagulat ako nang makita ko si Mitsuo. I tried to remain calm but what happened a few days ago came into my mind.

Inayos namin ni Akira ang gamit namin at sumali sa usapan nila about sixth and seventh sense. They were still trying to figure out the meaning of it until we all get tired. Napansin ko naman bigla ang kilos ni Akemi

‘Are you okay?’
 tanong ko dahil parang lumilipad ang isip niya. I tried reaching for her deeper thoughts but all I can hear was her being suffocated and cornered. Hideo also looked at her but she averted his gaze.
‘I’m fine. Hindi lang ako nakapagpahinga nang maayos.’

Umupo siya sa gilid ng kama at bigla naman kaming nagkatinginan ni Hideo.

‘Please look after her,’ 
he said and I nodded.

After that, they all decided to leave so that we can rest but Mitsuo turned around and our eyes met. I wanted to ask him about the details that day but he just left after he calmed me down without any explanation.

‘Do you mind explaining what really happened few days ago?’
 tanong ko.
‘No need to,’ he said. ‘Just pretend that didn’t happen.’
‘I can’t. I saw it with my own eyes. That guy . . . he’s a Senshin and I don’t understand why he did that.’
‘He was

Our conversation was suddenly cut off by loud thud and Akira’s scream. When I turned around, Akemi was already laying unconscious on the floor. Hideo immediately carried him and Akira went with them. Mitsuo and I stood still, neither one of us yielding.

“He was what?” tanong ko naman matapos ang nangyari kay Akemi. I was worried but I know that Hideo would take care of her.

Nagulat naman ako nang bigla siyang naglakad papunta sa akin at huminto siya sa harapan ko. I tried my best to stay calm but his intensity was draining my composure. He leaned over me, his mouth near my ears.

“You don’t need to know,” he whispered. “No. It’s better if you don’t know.”
“Why?” mahina kong tanong. “Is it some kind of classified mission?”
“No,” he said but I heard some hesitation in his voice.
“You seem unsure.”

Umayos na lang ulit siya sa pagkakatayo at tumingin sa mga mata ko. I don’t know why but the more serious his expression is, the more I want to taunt him. I want to know what’s going through his mind . . . his thoughts.

‘As expected from her.’

Napatigil naman ako nang marinig ko ‘yon. His mind was slightly opened and I can clearly hear his thoughts.

“Goodbye,” bigla niyang sabi kaya napakunot ang noo ko. He walked away from me and somehow, it sounded more serious than it should be. I suddenly remembered his words before.

“I must return to my rightful place.”

Sinundan ko siya hanggang sa makalabas kami ng kwarto at noong nasa hallway na kami ay tumigil ako sa paglalakad.

“That rightful place you were talking about . . .” He halted. “Are you going there?”

Muli siyang lumingon, but this time, instead of a serious expression, he was smirking. I thought he would say something but he continued walking away and I had no choice but to follow him until I got the answers I wanted to hear.

Sinundan ko lang siya at hindi naman siya nagreklamo. We were quietly trudging the hallway until we got out of the dorm. The sun has set when we stepped outside and when I checked the time, it was already past 6 PM.

‘Are you just going to follow me?’ 
he suddenly asked.
‘Maybe,’ I replied and I heard him chuckle. ‘What’s funny?’
‘Your stubbornness.’

Naging tahimik ulit siya matapos niyang sabihin ‘yon hanggang sa makarating kami sa Central Plaza. It was already dark and a lot of students were gathered to eat and enjoy the night, while here I am, tagging along with this guy. I really don’t understand his way of thinking. It was frustrating.

Huminto naman siya nang makarating kami sa fountain area at umupo siya sa bakanteng bench. Naglaan siya ng pwesto sa tabi niya kaya tinignan ko siya at nang hindi siya umimik ay umupo ako.

“That guy . . .” I mentioned while looking at the fountain in front of us. The color of the water changes depending on the dominant mood of the people surrounding it. It was blue which signifies tranquility.
“You should not worry about it anymore,” putol naman niya. “It’s for the best.”
“So it’s really a confidential mission, huh?”

He replied with silence. Now that I think about it, was it related to what Kyo told him?

“You need to catch them immediately.”

Was he talking about that guy? That Senshin? But it was really weird. Why would a Senshin act like that? He seemed . . . demented.

“You’re really curious about that,” sabi niya naman kaya napatingin ako sa kanya.
“Curiosity is a good thing.”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” he countered. Playing proverbs with me now, huh?
“Maybe the cat wasn’t careful enough. It still depends on the individual.” Tinignan naman niya ako na para bang may mali sa sinabi ko. “What? I’m just being realistic here.”

Naging tahimik ulit kami at pinanood ko na lang kung paano magbago ng kulay ang tubig sa fountain. We remained silent for a few minutes but it wasn’t awkward at all, in fact, it was comforting.

“Thank you for everything,” bigla niyang sabi kaya napatingin ako sa kanya. He was staring at the sky with a relaxed expression.
“W-what was that for?” I coughed, trying to hide my confusion.
“Do you still like me?” he said while looking straight to my eyes and I was so dumbfounded that I shifted my gaze to everything but him.
“W-when did I say that? Are you an idiot?” I retorted while looking at the kids playing at the left side. God, why is this guy so unpredictable? One moment he’d be like a raging tiger and then after a few minutes, he’d turn into a warm and honest boy.

When I heard his timid chuckle, I glanced at him and saw him looking at me. I averted his gaze once again and focused on the yellow water.

“You’re cool, clever and dependable,” he said and I don’t know how to react. Is this really Mitsuo? I’m getting goosebumps and my heart was pounding loudly against my chest. “Maybe if I am a 
normal Senshin . . .” His voice trailed off.

Nagulat naman ako nang maramdaman kong lumalapit siya sa akin. My body was petrified due to nervousness and when his hand fingers grazed my hair, my whole body tingled.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered and when I noticed something was wrong with his tone, it was all too late. I felt a sharp sensation on my neck and the next thing I knew, my senses were already fading.
“M-Mit . . .”
‘Thank you, but I shouldn’t be loved. I might hurt and break you so give your heart to someone who could really protect you. But your feelings toward me, I’ll treasure it.’

Even though my senses were dwindling, I felt the tears running down my cheeks and I saw his agonizing smile. I wanted to say something but my voice betrayed me and those were the last words I heard before my consciousness slipped away.


Nagising naman ako dahil narinig ko ang pagtawag sa pangalan ko.

“Nathalie?” I opened my eyes and Akira’s face was the first thing I saw. “You’re finally awake!”

Nagulat naman ako nang bigla niya akong niyakap at naramdaman ko ang pagpipigil niya sa pag-iyak. Doon ko lang din napansin na nasa hospital room ako at nandito rin sina Michiko, Mayu at Hideo.

Hideo was covered with wounds but his expression didn’t reflect the physical pain. He was devastated because of something else. Then I realized that all of them were wearing the same expression.

“What happened?” I asked but none of them responded. Pilit kong inalala kung ano ang nangyari sa akin bago ako mawalan ng malay.

Mitsuo . . .

“Where is he?” tanong ko kaagad. “And Akemi?”

They didn’t answer and that made me frustrated.

“Hideo,” I pleaded and he looked at me with remorse.
“They’re gone,” he said in a soft voice but his words resonated across the room. “And they’re not coming back anymore.”