As she sat on the bench, Chikane realized it was only seven in the evening, but the thoughts that were swimming through her mind felt like they had been sailing for days. She wasn't sure what she should be thinking, or feeling for that matter. Unbeknownst to her, Himeko was only a few feet away, having followed her through the night. Similar thoughts were making their way through Himeko's mind as well. The young girl was biting her lower lip in anticipation as she moved closer to Chikane.
The last thing she wanted to do was to say something that'll cause Chikane to distance herself even more, creating an awkwardness that couldn't be avoided. If anything, Himeko wanted them to become closer but because of Chikane's current thoughts, badgering her mind, she felt that was impossible. With her art, it seems Himeko could entertain anyone, shyness aside. But when it came to everything else, especially Chikane, she felt as if her timidity was an inevitable feat that couldn't be controlled. As Himeko approached the older girl, Chikane's silhouette in the moonlight looked almost surreal as she sensed Himeko's presence, speaking softly.
"I really enjoy looking at moon."
"Why is that?" Himeko questioned, stepping closer to the girl.
"Because it looks so beautiful in the night sky. I always wanted to know what it's like to be over there," Chikane said languidly as she turned her half-lidded eyes to the younger girl.
Himeko replied, fingers idly toying with each other, "From what I read in school and from what I saw on TV, there's nothing on the moon. It's gray, empty and it has no air. Most likely you won't be able to go there, nobody has been there since the Apollo missions." However Chikane shrugged, smiling to herself.
"I know that, but I would like to go to a place where you don't have to worry about people hurting you or you hurting others."
Himeko started to understand where this was going, so she said, "Maybe nobody will hurt you but then how will you live?" The silence loomed, but it wasn't uneasy. Chikane looked up and over at Himeko, who's fingers were still laced as she stood, nervously watching the older girl warily.
Chikane was a bit bewildered at what Himeko just said, "What do you mean?"
"I mean, yes, nobody will hurt you but then you will have nobody to share anything with. That's how we grow, we share our feelings, thoughts, and emotions. We do hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally, but as long as we are alive we will be fine. After all, what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger," Himeko noted, moving closer to the girl.
Chikane felt the corner of her eyes begin to water after she said that. The emotions welling up inside Chikane were beginning to take its effect as stray tears escaped, falling down her pale cheeks under the moonlight. Himeko could see some sort of fear in her watered eyes through the luminescence. Himeko bit her lower lip, speaking softly to an audience of two, "What are you afraid of?"
"The last thing I want to do is to hurt you..." Chikane whispered, looking away somewhat. Now it all makes sense to Himeko as to why she was distancing herself from her. The brisk small talk, how she rarely made eye contact, or how she'd avoid allowing herself to get too close, Himeko knew now why. Chikane was trying to protect her.
The older girl continued, "I've already lost Otoha and it would kill me if I lost you too. I wouldn't know what to do with myself if anything ever happened to you and I was forced to live this life without you," Chikane reached up, grasping Himeko's hands within her own tightly. Waves of sapphire blue crashed against the amethyst sea as they gazed into each others eyes, each now glistening with tears unshed. Himeko moved to sit beside her as Chikane grew lost within her eyes, "You're too good for me, Himeko. You can do so much better..." As she finished, her shoulders began to shake as the tears soon fell at a rate that was unstoppable.
Himeko's eyes soon shed tears at the sheer thought of Chikane being tormented over this, moving to quickly console her grieving friend, "No, Chikane-chan, don't ever think like that! I know deep down you love me too much to ever hurt me," As Himkeo spoke, Chikane looked up at the girl, sniffling. Himeko smiled softly as she continued, "I know you'll always be here to protect me. Losing Otoha wasn't your fault. You two did what you thought was the only way to get out of a terrible situation," Chikane closed her eyes as Himeko's fingers danced against her cheek, thumb slowly brushing away stray tears.
"Nobody's perfect in this world and there will never be a perfect relationship, but I want you to know that you make me feel like I'm on top of the world. I've never felt this way before and I would rather have my life be spent with you than anyone else. My heart is totally and unconditionally committed to you," Himeko said softly. She felt Chikane's hand hold hers against her cheek as Himeko just put her heart and soul on the line as their eyes met once more, pale moonlight, draping over them like a celestial blanket. Chikane's heart skipped a beat as the thought of Himeko confessing her love caused emotions long stored away to come out of the confines of her mind.
"You...you love me. Do you...really mean it?"
"With all my heart," Himeko said as she reached up with her free hand to wipe her eyes. Chikane turned and kissed the palm of Himeko's hand softly. The action caused a small blush to form on her cheeks. Himeko's smile was still radiant in the luminescent moonlight; in fact it took Chikane's breath away.
As Himeko watched Chikane carefully, she cited a quotes the truly touched her heart, "Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you. Where you go, I will go; where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die - there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you," Chikane blinked, Himeko's sudden devotion to being with her no matter what caused her heart to flutter within her chest.
Chikane dried her eyes, smiling lightly, she knew where that quote came from, "That's from the Bible, when Ruth told Naomi how much she loved her. I remember Otoha telling me that after we had a Bible study on Ruth in the orphanage."
Himeko nodded her head in confirmation and said, "Yes, that's exactly where I got it from."
"But Hime-chan, why did you choose that quote? You know that I'm not big on religion," Chikane's eyes travelled curiously along Himeko as the girl shrugged slightly.
"Because I thought it was a beautiful way Ruth showed her commitment to Naomi and how much she loved her. It's the same commitment that I have for you and to show how much I love you." Chikane's eyes widened when she heard that. But the night grew to a stand still the moment Chikane caught on that Himeko was moving closer. They held their breath as they clutched each other's hands, eyes slowly drawing to a close as the moonlight caressed their skin.
The feeling of Himeko's warm lips pressing on her own in a fervent kiss made Chikane feel intoxicated with heavenly delight. It was clear to her that she was meant to be with Himeko, regardless of what other people think. This was more wonderful than the first kiss she got from Otoha. The feeling was overwhelming to the point where Chikane never wanted it to end. It barely lasted over a minute but it felt like a blissful eternity for the both of them.
When they finally broke their kiss, they slowly opened their eyes, staring into each others depths as Chikane pulled Himeko into a loving embrace. She never wanted to let go. The cold night air wasn't enough to deter the lovers as the warmth within their hearts was enough to keep the chill from the night at bay.
For the rest of the night, they sat there looking at the moon, coupled with the small talk they had together. Now Himeko knows what it's like being close to the moon, and she hopes that she'll never have to return.