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Chapter 8

Posted by PURPLEYHAN STORIES on Saturday, November 26, 2016

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No’ng nagising si Akemi ay napatingin agad siya sa akin at ngumiti kami sa isa’t isa. Both of us didn’t want to stay in the hospital so we ended up resting in our dorm. All the girls are here and I’m sure that they’re worried about us.

‘Your mind is really hard to read,’ 
sabi ko agad kay Akemi. I managed to read Mitsuo’s but not her. It’s like she was trained to close her mind no matter what happens.
‘Bakit mo kasi binabasa ang isip ko?’
‘Hindi ko rin alam. Siguro kasi dahil mahirap? It’s in our nature to try things that are challenging, dangerous and forbidden. Alam kong ganun ka rin.’

I looked at her expression but it remained unchanged. I want to know something about her, things that she didn’t tell us yet, but I guess it’s not that easy.

‘By the way, alam mo bang si Mitsuo ang nagbantay sa’yo?’
 bigla naman niyang sabi.
‘Really?’ I know that but if she knew that, she might tease me.

Bigla namang nakisali sina Akira hanggang sa napunta na sa akin ang usapan. Kapag talaga magkakasama sila ay laging ako ang nakikita nila. Dumagdag pa ‘tong si Akemi at sinabi sa kanila ang ginawang pagbabantay ni Mitsuo kaya pinagtulungan na nila akong lahat.

“May gusto ka ba sa kanya?” biglang tanong ni Akemi at nagulat kaming lahat.

Gusto? Is there a difference between being curious about someone and being attracted to him? But if one is curious about a person, somehow, he or she will end up being attracted, right? Though, I don’t really understand the logic behind that.
After some time ay nadivert naman kay Akemi ang usapan at no’ng napagod na sila sa kakaasar ay tumigil na sila. Buti na lang at may class kaya umalis sila samantalang naiwan naman kami ni Akemi sa kwarto.
Bigla naman akong napaisip sa mga nangyari noong nakaraan kaya tumingin ako sa kanya.

“I was just thinking . . . Hindi kaya kilala tayo ng mga Shinigami na sumugod sa atin? And I think may nangyari sa kanila nung Custos agent. Siguro sumugod siya sa base nila and hinabol naman siya ng Shinigamis. But they didn’t expect na nandoon din tayo sa vicinity kaya napilitan silang kalabanin tayo. Napansin kong hindi nila kami sineryoso at parang alam nila ang sixth sense namin tapos mas focused sila doon sa paghabol sa Custos agent. Sa tingin mo may kinuha o ginawa siya sa base nila,” I said and Akemi just stared at me.

I really found it weird, I mean those Shinigamis. It was like they knew us and the Custos agent was too strong but they still divided their forces and chose to fight us. Why? Do they have a hidden motive? What is it?

Hindi na namin natuloy ang usapan namin dahil bigla na lang pumasok sa kwarto sina Hideo at Mitsuo. Mitsuo approached me and he held my wrist.

“Anong ginagawa—”
“Let’s go.”

Ah. It might be a case.

***

Pagkatapos ng case ay ipinahinga ko kaagad ang paa ko dahil sa pagtakbo at paglalakad na ginawa namin. Bigla ko tuloy naalala ang pagiging show-off ng dalawang lalaking ‘yon during the investigation.
Just like what I’ve said to Akemi when we were watching them, Hideo is so good in analyzing things and events just by looking and observing the scene and the behavior of people around him, but sometimes, he’s thinking of too many scenarios to the point that he can’t sort out what can and cannot happen anymore. However, when Mitsuo joined us, everything has changed. Besides having a dependable sixth sense, he can sort out those kinds of situations and he’s good in putting the pieces altogether. That way, they can solve the cases efficiently.
Watching them a while ago made me realize his talents, though he’s still as cold as ever.
Naalala ko naman no’ng bigla akong tinanong ni Akemi about sa kanya no’ng nasa crime scene kami. I can’t really answer her in a precise manner since I don’t understand these feelings yet. Hideo’s the only guy I am close with but I see him as my brother.
In fact, I am also confused. Why am I so interested in his past? Ewan ko ba pero simula no’ng nakita ko ang mukha niya na puro dugo at ang pagngiti niya sa gitna ng mga bangkay, gusto kong malaman kung ano ang nangyari noong panahong ‘yon. Basing on that memory, he has the vibe of a Shinigami, and in addition, he's also an executioner, though I still don't understand that part.
Napadilat naman ako dahil sa dami ng iniisip ko at pagtingin ko ay wala na naman si Akemi. Tsk. That girl. Saan kaya siya pumupunta at lagi na lang siyang umaalis kapag mga ganitong oras? Though, mukhang mas maaga siyang umalis ngayon.
Tumayo ako at dahan-dahan kong inilakad ang paa ko. I can’t sleep anymore so I decided to follow her. Dahil ayaw kong mawala siya sa paningin ko at agad akong lumabas at hindi ko naisip na magdala ng jacket. Tiniis ko na lang ang lamig at sumunod sa kanya pero napatigil ako no’ng nakita kong lumabas din ng dorm si Hideo. Nagtago ako sa bandang blindspot ni Hideo at sinundan ko na lang sila ng tingin. I guess I’m not needed anymore.
Dahil nasa labas na rin naman ako ay naglakad na lang ako sa kabilang direksyon. Mukhang bukas pa ang ilang shops sa plaza dahil naririnig ko pa ang ingay mula roon. Nagstay na lang ako sa fountain area at umupo sa bench.

“Si Miss Naomi ng Atama family ‘yon, ‘di ba?”
“Oo nga. I heard she’s injured. Why is she here?”
“Wow. I can’t believe I’m looking at her right now.”
“Right? Kaso nahihiya akong i-approach siya.”

Napalingon naman ako sa kabilang direksyon dahil ayokong tumingin sa kanila. Kinabahan tuloy ako bigla dahil mag-isa lang ako ngayon. Usually, sina Akira at Michiko ang bahala sa mga ganito dahil hindi talaga ako mahilig makipag-interact sa ibang estudyante. I feel embarassed every time I hear their praises and concerns, and I don’t really know how to talk to people who think highly of me. That’s why I’m only comfortable to Atama family since they treat me as equal.

Pagkaharap ko sa kabilang direksyon ay may tatlong lalaki naman na nakatingin sa akin kaya napayuko na lang ako.

“M-Miss Naomi?” tanong ng isa at napatingin ako sa kanya.

Nagulat naman ako nang bigla siyang naglakad papunta sa direksyon ko habang may kinukuha sa bag niya. Panic started to get me when he’s just a few meters away from me.

“Miss Naomi,” sabay tingin niya sa akin habang naglalakad. “Take thi—”

Hindi na niya naituloy ang sasabihin niya dahil napatid siya sa isang bato, pero ang hindi ko inaasahan ay ang direksyon ng pagbagsak niya. He’s going to hit my injured leg and his head might collide with the metal bench. I was about to use my sixth sense but suddenly, I saw someone’s back in front of me. In a span of a second, he prevented the fall of the guy and helped him get up.

“S-sorry!” biglang sigaw ng lalaki at bigla siyang lumuhod kaya napatayo ako.
“It’s okay. Don’t do that,” sabi ko at nilapitan ko siya. Tinignan ko kung may nakuha ba siyang gasgas o kung ano and fortunately, none. Tumingin siya sa akin at narealize kong may hawak siya. Napansin niya siguro ‘yon kaya napatingin din siya doon at sa akin.
“A-ah . . . here . . .” sabay abot niya sa akin ng hawak niya. “This is an ointment I made a week ago. Y-you can use this for faster recovery.”

Napatigil ako no’ng marinig ko ‘yon. I didn’t expect him to give something like this. Kinuha ko naman ‘yon at ngumiti ako sa kanya.

“Thank you,” I said and he smiled in return. Napatingin naman siya sa nagligtas sa kanya at nagsorry rin. After that ay umalis na sila ng grupo niya.
“And where are you going?” tanong ko habang tahimik siyang tumatakas. “Mitsuo.”

He glared at me but I didn’t feel any fear. Maybe I’m already used to it. However, I didn’t expect him to be here. He just appeared out of nowhere and now he wants to leave, as if nothing happened. Pero pagtingin ko sa kanya ay napansin kong nagdudugo ang pisngi niya. Saka ko narealize na baka tumama ang kamay ng lalaki sa kanya kanina habang bumabagsak siya.
Lumapit ako sa kanya at hinatak ko siya papunta sa bench.

“What the hell are you doing?!” sigaw niya pero hindi ko siya pinansin at tinulak ko siya papupo sa bench. As usual, he just glared at me and I raised my brow.
“I thought you said I should stay away from you but it seems like you’re the one who’s sticking with me,” I said, trying to tease him and I almost smiled when his brows furrowed a bit more.
“Don’t get the wrong idea,” malamig niyang sabi.
“Okay.”

Actually, I already know what he’s doing. After hearing his conversation with Akemi, I know that he’s feeling guilty about my injury, that’s why he’s observing my movements.
Lumapit ako lalo sa kanya at napasandal naman siya sa bench habang nakatingin pa rin ng masama sa akin. I leaned forward and he froze, unsure of what to do.

“You’re bleeding,” I said and without any hesitation, I reached for his face. “Don’t move.” Nilabas ko kaagad ang panyo ko at pinunasan ang dugo sa pisngi niya. Naalala ko ang ointment na hawak ko kaya naman binuksan ko at kumuha ako doon.

I was about to put it on his cheek but he suddenly grabbed my wrist. Our eyes met each other and it seemed like time has stopped moving even if I didn’t use my sixth sense. Even the sounds around us faded away and all I can hear was my heart, beating fast.
I can’t remember anything from my parents but my mother’s favorite line: A person’s memories can be seen clearly through his eyes. She’s right, because right now, Mitsuo’s memories flooded my own mind. A sea of blood, hundreds of corpses, people’s cry all over the place, and him in the middle of all of that. Using all of my remaining mental strength, I shifted my gaze from his eyes to his wound, and I fell on my knees, panting heavily.

“That’s why I told you not to get too close.”

I knew it. He did that on purpose. Is this his way of threatening me?
Sure, the night is cold, but my body trembled because of his bone-chilling memories. Dahan-dahan kong kinalma ang sarili ko at tinignan ko siya nang masama pero hindi ko inaasahan ang nakita ko. His eyes looked . . . sorrowful.
Tumayo ako at nilagay ko ang ointment sa kamay niya.

“Treat yourself,” sabi ko at saka ako naglakad palayo.

Habang naglalakad ako ay napayakap ako sa katawan ko dahil sa lamig ng hangin. Naramdaman ko rin bigla ang sakit sa binti ko at tingin ko ay dahil ‘yon sa stress na nakuha ko kanina. Mukhang aabutin pa ako ng ilang minuto bago makarating sa dorm—wait, what—!
Nagulat na lang ako no’ng may maramdaman akong bumuhat sa akin at pagtingin ko ay nasa mga braso na ako ni Mitsuo.

“Kailan ka pa makakarating kung ganito ka kabagal maglakad?” sabi niya habang nakatingin lang sa harapan.

I really don’t understand him and I don’t like that feeling. He said I should stay away from him and shouldn’t get too close but he’s doing the opposite. He’s giving me a hard time but I’m getting more and more curious. I want to know him more, despite his memories, and I think I know why.

“Are you cold?” bigla naman niyang tanong at tumingin siya sa akin.
“No,” I answered as I adjust my arms on his neck. “You’re warm.”

My mind already knew the answer, and my racing heart is the evidence.


***