Nene's head was throbbing. It was as if a hammer was pounding her head, each stroke getting harder every after it falls. Her vision was getting blurry, her eyes filling up with tears. And not to mention that the overbearing heat was not helping her situation at all.
When she woke up that morning, she only felt a dull ache that she thought would go away within the day. So she still went to school and got through her normal routines. And now, in her third period, she felt like her head was on the verge of cracking.
Nene massaged her temples to dull the pain but it provided little to no relief at all. She should've gone to the nurse's office by now but their teacher said that today's lesson was important because it will be on their final examination. She couldn't let her grades drop more because that means that she'll have make-up classes. And that will mean that she can't go and hang out with Hanako after classes. She can't have that.
She loved hanging out with Hanako. Even if that means cleaning his bathroom, it's their deal after all. Her not going to his bathroom at their usual time will probably make him worry. And she cannot bear to think about him alone and waiting for her, and then for her not to show up.
A sudden cold pressure on her right cheek made her lookup. Hakujoudai was by her side, bobbing up and down in a quick manner. She would say that it looked frantic but she can't be too sure. And Hakujoudai being there meant that Hanako can't be far off.
"Yashiro-san!" Her teacher called. "Come to the board and solve this equation."
Her focus was immediately drawn in front of their classroom. The quick turn of her head made her flinch, her headache getting worse.
She did not understand what their lesson was about but she'll try her best. Standing up from her chair was a struggle as she braced her hands at her table. Slowly moving her legs forward, she heard Aoi ask if she was okay. Aoi's voice was muddled, it was as if she was hearing her from a distance.
I should've stayed at home after all was her last thought before she felt the last of her strength leave her. She heard Aoi shout her name and that started a commotion. Her teacher and some of her classmates were standing from their seats. But before passing out, she saw Hanako going towards her with his hands stretched out. His expression was a combination of panic and grief.
And then it got dark.
Nene awoke with a start. She was lying on a hard mattress, with the bed surrounded by white curtains. Feeling a bit confused, she tried to think back on what happened that made her wake up in the nurse's office.
Oh, yeah, I had a headache. Worse headache of my life. I overexerted myself. I should've told them that I was sick.
And Hanako was there! He looked so agonized, she had to go to him and ease his worries somehow.
She tried to sit up but something was stopping her, then she tried again but to no avail. Something was definitely pinning her. She looked under the cover and saw an arm hugging her midsection.
"Kyaaaa~" shrieked Nene as she tried to remove the arm surrounding her but try as she might, the arm didn't even budge. It was attached to her like glue.
"Oh, you're finally awake." Someone said beside her. She turned her head to the direction of the voice and got face-to-face with a snug-looking Hanako. They were sharing the same pillow and his face was inches from hers. His hat was nowhere to be found and his hair was tickling her forehead.
"Hanako-kun?!" He was smiling at her so tenderly and so full of affection that she can't stop her face from getting warmer. She was sure that Hanako could feel the warmth radiating from it with how close they were. She hasn't been this close to him since...
Her thoughts immediately brought her to the time in the fake world. They were on top of the clouds and she finally found out Hanako's reasoning for what he did. She forgave him, of course.
He was only doing it for her sake, he was trying to save her, even if that means trapping her within a made-up world and then leaving her with her memories of the real world erased. She didn't want that. She clasped his hand in between hers and asked him to grant her wish. The smile he gave her when he said okay was so soft and genuine that she can't help but feel her heart thump faster and louder. When he asked her to close her eyes, she did. She thought that he was going to...
Nene's thoughts were interrupted when Hanako leaned his forehead to hers. If she thought that her face couldn't get redder then she thought wrong. One of Hanako's arm was still on top of her waist while the other was holding her head to his.
"H-H-Hanako-kun? W-W-What are you doing?" Her voice was trembling what with their bodies almost hugging. She almost felt dizzy when her eyes locked at Hanako's amber-colored ones.
"I'm trying to check your temperature so stop struggling," Hanako ordered her. She could feel his breath on her lips and did what he told. She closed her eyes because looking at Hanako was making her heart beat wildly. Surely he could feel that by now. She was so embarrassed, she would cover her face if she could. But alas, Hanako was still pinning her from under his arm.
When he was finally done assessing her, he let head go then caressed her cheeks. His touch was featherlight as if he was afraid that she would break. His expression was one of wonder and vulnerability. It was rare to see him like this. The last time she saw that expression on his face was when they were looking at the stars during their time in the fake world.
"You should go back to sleep. The nurse said that your body needs to rest for it to return to its normal functions," he commanded with finality, no space for debate. "You were running a 40°C fever."
Nene was surprised when she heard that. "40°C?! No wonder I felt so bad. My head was throbbing like crazy!"
"Your fever broke minutes ago so that's a good thing. The nurse also said that you should be kept cool," he explained. "So here I am. What better way to keep you cool than for you to use my body?~"
"Don't say it like that, Hanako-kun!" Nene exclaimed, the warmth that receded from her face coming back with gusto.
"Say it like what?" Hanako challenged, the smirk present on his face revealed that he knew what she was talking about but still decided to ask.
"Like... Like... Oh, nevermind! You're such a tease!" She could definitely hear Hanako laughing softly from beside her. Her frown slowly morphed into a smile. She couldn't stay mad for Hanako too long.
"Hanako-kun," Nene began when Hanako finished laughing. "So you were keeping me cool since the nurse went out?" She regretted asking that after it left her mouth. She's such a dummy! Hanako would definitely tease her again.
"Of course not," Hanako answered.
"Oh," Nene shouldn't feel disappointed, but she couldn't stop herself from feeling the way she did. Hanako was already helping her right then and there.
"I was hugging you before the nurse even closed the curtain, which was way beyond when she'd gone out~" He said while placing his face on the crook of her neck.
"Hanako-kun, you're teasing me again!" She thumped his back with each word, not seeming to notice that she was already hugging him back.
They stayed at that position for a moment, comfortable with each other's company. She would've drifted off again if not for Hanako holding her tighter, his shoulders suddenly tense.
"I saw you fall," he began. His voice too soft and muffled by her uniform, she almost didn't hear it. "I was there and I thought I was too late."
So Hanako was really there at that time. She thought that it was only her imagination conjuring his image.
"I rushed to your side and I would've carried you here myself if not for No.1 stopping me. I forgot that you were surrounded by people who can't see me. Imagine the look on their faces if they suddenly saw you float in mid-air." He laughed humorlessly.
Tears unbiddenly fell from her eyes. She hated the sound of that laugh, it was full of self-loathing. She didn't want Hanako to ever feel that way. And to hear that coming from him because of her... It made her heart hurt.
"I thought you were.." Hanako didn't finish his sentence but the implication was there. He only held her tighter if that was even possible. "I've never felt so helpless."
There was no more space between them, her face leaning on his chest, their legs entangled underneath the covers, his arms around her waist, her hands clutching the front of his gakuran.
"Please don't do that again, Yashiro." Hanako rubbed his face at the top of her head, nuzzling her. "You need to take better care of yourself."
Nene only nodded, bobbing her head up and down many times. If she spoke right then, she might've begun to sob. And Hanako was already feeling hurt, she didn't want to add more to what he was enduring.
"Hanako-kun," she murmured after a while, finally trusting her voice not to falter. "I'm sorry I was selfish, but I'm alright now. You don't have to worry about me anymore."
"Yashiro, I'm only going to stop worrying about you when the sun stops shining, which is 7.5 billion years away from now, so don't ask me that," Hanako softly countered with a chuckle.
Nene could only smile tenderly at what he said. Leave it to Hanako for having that kind of knowledge about the sun. "I'll take you up on that."
They stayed together like that until the sky visible on the window was a purplish-orange. Feeling more comfortable than usual, Nene's eyes started to feel heavy and she unconsciously snuggled her face to Hanako's chest. She felt a cold pressure on her forehead and she wasn't exactly certain if that was Hanako's lips. She'll make sure to ask him again when she wakes up. But right now, she'll take a nap while the boy she likes was holding her in his arms.