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A Tender Gesture

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Both doors opened nearly at the same time, his a beat quicker than hers and they exited dressed the same, in their training gear, ready for lessons.

 

Hayate allowed his gaze to wander to hers and was mildly surprised it already met her warm blue eyes staring at him in return, “Good morning.“ He smirked, a softer version of the usual expression he bestowed her with, before their little adventure in rebel territory.

 

He swore Mei's cheeks coloured brightly before she turned her head, much too quickly to his liking, “Good morning....“ they fell into step beside one another, it was comfortable silence, the kind he relished in and took the opportunity to relax his mind and body and just bask in her radiant presenc- “Lieutenant.“

 

Gold eyes flew open in shock, nearly tripping over his own two feet as he skidded to a halt, his heart racing, his mind a jumbled mess.

 

'Wait, Lieutenant?! Why is she calling me that again? Was I dreaming? Was our adventure a dream? Was my confession-“his mood soured, “-...an illusion?“ his thoughts turned dark, replaying every memorable scene they'd had together just less than a few weeks ago, nearly falling to their deaths at the cliffs, snuggling in the cave for warmth, pretending to be a married couple while in enemy territory, their bath-

 

“Hayate?”

 

He nearly jumped at her close proximity, her questioning but playful eyes staring up at his stunned gold, “Are you alright? You zoned out.”

 

“…Huh?” the fact that she used his first name nearly slipped his mind.

 

Mei crossed her arms, “You know, I was just kidding.” Her smile turned warm and genuine, “It…um…everything really did happen…it…almost feels like a dream, doesn’t it?” her shy eyes briefly moved away from him, but when they looked up to see his reaction, he was already throwing his arms around her.

 

“YOU CALLED ME BY MY NAME!”

 

“OOF!” they both stumbled, Mei unable to support the stupid oaf’s weight as they crashed to the ground, Hayate taking the brunt of the fall as he quickly spun them so his back collided with the floorboards, Mei on top of him, unharmed.

 

Her eyes immediately caught the very subtle wince when his back made painful contact, “You idiot! You’ve gotten-“

 

“You called me by my name.” his lips pulled into a yet to be familiar warm smile, the gold in his eyes looked like molten honey as they stared up at her adoringly, like she was his whole world.

 

Mei felt heat spread to her cheeks quickly, “Y-yes…t-that’s what people do when they try to get their attention.” She huffed, trying to play it off but a playful, warning squeeze on her hips made her head whip around back to him. Since when were his hands there?!

 

“Mei.” Her heart sped up at his serious, soft tone and the way he looked at her so adoringly, especially when he decided to sit up with her still held securely on his lap.

 

What if someone saw them?! It was still early in the morning! What if Shibisaki decided to walk around the corner?! What if Katsu decided to meet them for breakfast and found them in this position?!

 

A chuckle from Hayate ripped Mei from her thoughts, “Relax, dear. If you haven’t noticed, we’re up earlier than usual, not even Katsu is up yet.” A devious smirk curled his lips, one she was more accustomed to, “I doubt he will anytime soon with last night’s developments, anyway.” He chuckled.

 

Mei had to agree, they’d both, accidentally, spied on the white-haired man and the shy Akane heading to his chambers, together.

 

“W-Well, what about-“

 

He cut her off gently, more comfortably wrapping his arms around her waist now, pulling her even closer, “Shibusaki is in the forest at this time, meditating.” Hayate grinned, “I think his blood pressure is getting high again, poor thing.” It wouldn’t surprise Mei, with all the… things the general had been an unfortunate, unwilling witness to.

 

Stupid Hayate pining her to the door of her room after trying a defensive move against him.

Stupid Hayate laying sprawled all over her after tripping over her blanket, trying to reach for a scroll on the opposite side of her futon.

Stupid Hayate stealing a sneaky cheek kiss from her during training, right when she had the upper hand by slamming him against a tree and winning.

 

Mei crossed her arms, flushed from her stupid thoughts, “…You’re horrible.”

 

Boisterous laughter filled the air, Mei’s soon joining in Hayate’s at how happy and carefree he seemed to be now compared to the last few weeks.

 

It had been a difficult time for all of them, thankfully it ended.

 

A gentle, more meaningful squeeze on her waist made her return her attention to him, “Mei…” he looked shy for a change, it amused her slightly, “Um…about the… moment we had on our adventure.”

 

Thoughts of the bath scene in the rebel’s house immediately assaulted her, her face so scarlet she feared for blood loss to the rest of her body as it all pumped into her head. Why was he bringing that up now?! Here?! They were out in the open-

“Uh, Mei?” questioning gold eyes stared up at her, trying to discern the reason for her cherry red face.

 

Recognition immediately settled in a second later, “…Don’t tell me, were you thinking naughty things?” his brow raised suggestively, his grin devilish, especially now so close to her face.

 

She quickly covered her own face, using one hand to attempt to strike at him, “Y-you!” her hand was stopped by his own and her eyes shakily peeked at him from in-between her fingers, finding his gaze to be amused but serious.

 

“As hard as I can forget that very memorable, beautiful, breathtaking moment of us bathing together, your soft, sweet curves pressed against my firmly muscled-“

 

Get to the point.”

 

He cleared his throat, all amusement gone, “I was thinking about what I told you in the forest, at the fire.”

 

“I love y-“ before she’d interrupted him.

 

Her heart sped up for a different reason, but it calmed when she looked into his tender gaze again.

 

Mei smiled, reaching a hand up not to strike, but to gently cup the side of his face, her smile widening when he leaned into her touch, “I think my memory’s a bit foggy…why don’t you remind me Hayate?” she smiled, her eyes telling him the truth.

 

He chuckled, shaking his head, his cheeks reddening slightly, “I love you, Mei.”

 

“I love you too, Hayate.” She’d already beaten him to it and he chuckled in joy.

He leaned down and aimed to kiss her cheek again, but she timed it just right and stole a kiss to his lips.

 

His reflexive jump made her chase after him, cupping his face with both hands to keep him in place, softly kissing him. She smiled into the kiss when he returned it, lovingly supporting her back and running a hand through her raven locks.

 

They stayed like for some time, basking in each-others presence and closeness, until the need to breathe became too much to bear.

 

They parted unwillingly, breaths ragged and cheeks flushed.

 

He was the first to laugh, “Heh, you’re breathless.”

 

Mei giggled, “So are you, lieutenant.

 

A second of silence, before it was filled again with their laughter, their arms wrapped around one another, foreheads touching.

 

Off in the distance, covertly standing behind the cover of a tree, the red-haired general heaved a great sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

Time to return to the forest.