Hey! :) Huge thanks again for HaileyAlexandria for reviewing and reading :D Here's the next chapter~ Thanks also to Questionable Taco for subscribing this on Story Alert :) *hugs* Hope you enjoy!^^

Chapter 4: Tickled Heartstrings

Without another word, Nathan entered her room and closed the door behind him, bringing along a solemn aura. He weakly leaned on the wall for support and slowly slid down into a sitting position on the flooring. He looked at her with his sparkling blue eyes which seemed to be glistening. "What's wrong? You wanna talk?" Ginfuko asked him with a sweet and gentle voice as she sat down on the floor right across him while leaning on the foot of her bed. MNM nodded his head with a glum expression. Ginfuko looked at him worriedly and said. "I'll try to understand your situation." Then, suddenly, she was surprised to see tears streaming down his angelic-looking face as soon as he lifted his head to see her. However, his view was blurry due to the wet tears. Until now, Ginfuko still couldn't believe that the handsomest guy she admired was in front of her, in her room-crying! This entire experience still felt like a daydream to her, it felt so surreal.

"You know… thanks a lot, to you… and your family, for helping me even though I've been very selfish. I'm sorry. I just wanted to get away from all that fame… even just for a bit. I'm tired." He said with a hoarse voice while sniffing his tears. "It's no problem, really!" Ginfuko replied while trying to be cheerful but failing miserably after seeing that painful look of his. "It's ok… let it out. If you're sad, just tell me, ok?" Nathan nodded while wiping his tears and responded. "Boy, I must look so pathetic to you guys now. Such a loser… Here I am, a used to be superstar whom you all once admired, but now acting like a coward… hiding in your residence, crying. I must look like the stupidest…" "No." Ginfuko disagreed, cutting him off. "You're just human and you have feelings, too… Everyone has feelings… Don't be sad… don't be sad…" She wanted to tell him more than that; she wished to tell him sensible and helpful words of advice, but, at that time, she was lost for words. She simply consoled him by convincing him that everything will be okay. She just gazed at his handsome countenance which was blemished with streaks of hot tears flowing from the whirlpool of his blue eyes.

"You're so nice to me." Nathan said while sobbing. He bit his lip and released his clenched fists. He motioned himself to move towards Ginfuko on the opposite end. Feeling his hands around her waist, Ginfuko realized that he was in more emotional pain that she thought. She gently rubbed his back and hushed him to stop crying. "Is it okay… if I lean my head on your shoulder?" Nathan asked her shyly. Ginfuko felt embarrassed than ever and simply nodded in response. Nathan lightly laid his head on her shoulder and let out a sigh. "Thanks, Ginfuko… thanks." The awkward silence could no longer be taken by the both of them. Nathan was first to open his mouth to speak. "You know… I had a wonderful childhood." Then, Ginfuko looked at him and responded with a smile. "Yeah? So did I; wonderful childhood…" Their feet shifted from left to right uncomfortably on the floor as the hands of the wall clock in the room continued to go tick-tock. Moments passed by when Nathan spoke yet again. "It was so wonderful that I want it back. I never would've replaced it for any fame or recognition…" "So, why did you…?" When asked, Nathan sighed regretfully and just whispered. "I don't know… I don't really like MNM, not his life." Nathan still rested his head on her shoulders. Ginfuko's eyes started to water as both of them simply stared at the nothingness of the wall.

"So, what's your plan?" Ginfuko asked nervously while still staring at the wall, feeling the weight of his head on her shoulder. There was a long pause, and for a moment there, Ginfuko actually thought that the boy beside her fell fast asleep. But when her eyes glanced at his face, she saw him wide awake, deep in thought. "I'm awake." He exhaled and said. Ginfuko waited patiently. It took him a bit before he spoke again. "You mean about this whole mess? Well, I think I should clean this up. Hey. Isn't there a live show somewhere…?" "Ah, you mean the upcoming summer festival downtown? Yeah. That's tomorrow, Friday, why?" "There's gonna be the reporters for that event, right? There's the local media, right?" "Yeah…" Ginfuko thought for a second and asked. "But… why would you suddenly be interested in going to the summer festival?" Nathan lifted his head from her shoulder and stood up. He looked at her with this confident smile. "Unless, you're…" Nathan quickly responded to her doubt and said. "Yeah, it's time; I've been hiding way too long. And this time, no one can stop me, MNM, from telling the truth."

That night, after dinner, Ginfuko was in her room doing her homework in English. There were some parts that she couldn't quite comprehend. She decided to ask Nathan about it since his mother tongue is English. She walked towards his room and knocked lightly. The door opened and Nathan looked like he just finished his shower. Dripping with wet hair, Nathan wore Mototake's loose blue shirt and colorful pajamas while having a white damp towel hang on his neck. Ginfuko blushed and looked away from his stare for a while. She remembered how their bodies were so close to each other back then. Out of the blue, she wondered how it would feel to be wrapped in his arms and to rest against his wide chest. "He's so handsome... his damp hair clings on his delicate skin... his high-bridged nose... his alluring eyes... looking at me... at me..." "Hey." Nathan spoke up, halting her train of thought. "What's up? You're spacing out." Realizing her awkward actions, Ginfuko skipped a breath and moved backwards. "S...Sorry..." She whispered nervously while staring at the floor. "What's wrong? Are you sick?" Worriedly, Nathan asked with the gentlest voice while tenderly putting his hands on her forehead. Ginfuko swallowed audibly and stuttered; she felt as though she was really having a fever since her heart was beating so fast while she felt her face emitting a great amount of heat.

"Gosh, you're sick." Nathan stated with anxious eyes. "Your face is red and your forehead is quite warm. Come; let's go ask your folks. They might have medicine." He suggested and grabbed her hand to pull her. "N...No! Um, I'm not sick... Uh, I think... it's just because you just finished taking a bath... Your hands are still quite cold from the water." Ginfuko said in a doddering manner. She was glad that she was able to think of a fast reply as to not look stupid in front of him. "Is that so?" Nathan asked while feeling his own forehead with his hand. "Well... yea, I'm quite cold. So, what's up?" He asked again with a friendly smile. Ginfuko calmed herself and replied with a cute smile. "I need help in my English homework. Can you help? None of us are really English experts..." "Oh? Is that it? Haha, yeah, sure! Come in." Nathan said warmly while closing the door after her entrance.

Ginfuko pulled a chair and put her book and notebook on the desk before opening the table lamp. Nathan put his towel on the bed and grabbed a seat beside her with a grin. "Ask away." He said. "Um... ok, so, we're currently studying the different kinds of mistakes in sentence structure." Ginfuko said slowly, hoping not to sound dumb. "Oh... ok?" "So... there's the misplaced modifiers, squinting modifiers, dangling modifiers... um... what's that again?" Nathan smiled and looked at her book. "There, it's faulty parallelism and faulty coordination." "Oh, right! Haha... Sorry, I'm really not good in English." Ginfuko said, sounding apologetic and ashamed at the same time while her heart pounded fast against her chest. "So... I don't get the difference between dangling modifiers and faulty coordination. How does that work?" Nathan gave a thumbs-up and said. "Ok, I'll give you an example. Um, leaving the airport, the suitcases were taken. So, what's that?"

Ginfuko pondered for a moment and thought hard. "Um... it's dangling?" "Yes!" Nathan said triumphantly. "Glad you got that. So, why is it called dangling?" "It's because the phrasal modifier 'leaving the airport' doesn't modify any noun. It's not in the sentence. If it's in the sentence but it's positioned at the wrong place... it's misplaced!" Nathan clapped his hands merrily. "You're very good! See? You're smart!" Ginfuko felt flattered at his praise as her eyes shone brightly. "So... how will you correct the sentence?" Nathan tested while looking at her with a nice smile. Slowly, Ginfuko said. "Leaving the airport... um..., I took the suitcases?" "Bravo!" Nathan said while excitedly drumming the desk with his palms. "Ginfuko gets a point! Anything else you don't get?" Ginfuko felt wonderful inside. Nathan was such a sweet, humorous, clever and kind guy. She felt like she was smitten by everything about him. Her overflowing emotions for him grew stronger and stronger that evening and soon enough, she would not have a way to control them. "Um... well, there's this profound story by William Faulkner..." Ginfuko said shyly. "Let's read it together, then. I'll explain every bit to you." He said with an enticing smile while opening her book. "You're so nice, Nathan. I am really glad that I got to see the real guy behind MNM." Ginfuko blurted out when her emotions suddenly felt like bursting. Then, she felt all embarrassed when she realized the impact of her words to him. Nathan's smile disappeared and he shifted his eyes from her face to the page of the book. "S...So are you." He whispered while gripping the book tightly. Ginfuko was nervous like mad; she didn't know what to respond after that.

Suddenly, without warning, a cockroach from outside the window suddenly flew pass by the two teens. Coincidentally, that was one of Ginfuko's worst fears. Her other fears are spiders and heights. And so, Ginfuko went into a panic and screamed while closing her eyes tightly. She was moving so much that she almost fell off her chair; however, just like a dashing prince charming, Nathan caught her from behind with his strong arms. "Careful!" He said anxiously. "Tha...thanks..." She replied back coyly. They were in such an awkward condition. Ginfuko's slender body rested on his arms while the two teens' faces were in close proximity with each other. Nathan and Ginfuko stared at each other's eyes nervously. Soon enough, he let go of her and she nervously tried to get her composure back. "Um... ok, let's get back to studying." The blushing Nathan proposed while knowing deep down that his heart skipped a beat just then.

They continued studying together until late night. Ginfuko was glad to learn so much from him. Everything he had was unexplainably attractive. Now, she liked him deeper than how she did before. Back then, it was just a simple crush on a talented and handsome superstar who she did not know personally, but now, after seeing a glimpse of his true self, it became a strong and sincere affection. It was like her feelings for him drastically changed in a whole new level. Nathan appreciated her presence and was drawn by her simple actions. They enjoyed spending time with each other. When it was about midnight, both of them soon fell fast asleep on their chairs with their heads resting on their arms on the table. Due to the quite uncomfortable and strenuous position, Ginfuko's eyes slowly flickered open. She made a soft yawn while stretching her arms. Her eyes scanned the surroundings around her and realized that she was still in seated beside Nathan who was fast asleep. She looked at her watch which read- 1:30 A.M. She was shocked to find out how late it was already.

She quickly stood up and hurriedly collected all her study things from his desk. Before leaving, she stared at Nathan's beautiful and enchanting face for one last time. He had eyelashes which were long and attractive, a nicely-shaped nose, golden and silky blonde hair, perfect flawless skin and gorgeous bright red lips. For a moment, Ginfuko thanked God for creating such a magnificent person. He looked way too perfect to be true. "What's the reason behind this blessing, Oh Lord? Why am I so blessed... so blessed that I have the opportunity to see MNM face to face? No..." Ginfuko thought, shaking her head. "...even if he wasn't MNM... even if he wasn't the famous superstar... even if he was Nathan, the simple boy behind that facade... I'd still..." She stopped her train of thought and took a blanket from his bed. "...protect him. No matter what happens... kimi wa mamoru... With my prayers, I will. Nathan... everything will be fine. I'm here." She whispered with a smile while affectionately covering his body with the blanket. She said 'kimi wa mamoru' which meant 'I will protect you'.

After that, she quietly left the room and entered her own. There was something in her head that was persuading her to steal a kiss from the handsome blonde, but, she didn't, since she didn't want to violate him. She got worried that she might not be able to wake up for school the next morning so she quickly jumped to bed. She made a short prayer before she slept.

"Dear God, who is all good and mighty, forgive me if ever I have offended You. Thank you for giving me a warm home, lovely friends, and magical experiences. Thank you for blessing me with Nathan... I never would've imagined I could ever see him this close... thank you for this miracle. Forgive me if I'm still not yet of age... but, I think... I've fallen for him. I can't control it... I know that I shouldn't ask for more, but, please protect him tomorrow. Tomorrow... he will face his problems... and go back to the life where he belongs. Please give him the wisdom and courage to do the right thing. Please guide him... please protect him from evil... and please, Oh God... help me to be strong... help me to cope with the pain and longing after he leaves. I ask nothing more... This I ask, in Your name, Amen."

After the prayer, Ginfuko's face was filled with tears. She pulled her blanket closer while sniffing. She knew that she wished for the right thing. However, she didn't want him to leave her side. Not now, not after her heart was helplessly stolen by him. She closed her wet eyes and cried herself to sleep. Little did she know that there was someone just outside the door who was listening to her soft prayer... along with tears?

"Is the rumor true? Did you really barge in Ashley Muston's house? That's so SHAMEFUL." Reporters keep coming... Flashing photos... The sound of people mocking me...I hear. Paparazzi stalking me everywhere I go... I run... I run as fast as I can. "Just one second... can we get your side of the story? What can you say about this whole mess? Aren't you ASHAMED of yourself? We need to write your comment for our newspaper article... It's FRONT PAGE... Your SCANDAL is the TALK OF THE TOWN now."

Fat journalists smiling maliciously with huge ugly teeth drooling with saliva keep following me... following me... Leave me alone! I can't take this anymore... "Leave me ALONE!" I scream... I moan a pleading cry... "It's a lie! I don't even know where her house is!" "What a bastard..." "You're even telling a lie now? That's not how I raised you." Dad...dad, not you too... please, don't believe these lies! "What a dirty boy..." "I hate you..." "What a pervert..." "Eww... MNM is a disgusting freak!" People still jeer... Wait... I see...Mom? Mom...?"Son... you've stained the name of your family!" Mom, no! No! Tears still keep flowing... "Don't believe... none of them... is true." I try to defend myself... but everyone thinks I'm a liar. "What lies? It's the truth, you freak! There were witnesses!" ...Witnesses? That's impossible... "I told you boy, showbiz is all about LYING. You have to learn that..." Mr. Carlson keeps brainwashing me with these thoughts... I have principles that I strongly believe in... I can't give in... I can't...

I'm hurt... I'm backstabbed... I run... people throw tomatoes at me... what is this, have I become an unwanted clown now? "Sam! Sam, help me!" I try to reach out my hand to him... I hold him tight... He shrugs his shoulder. "What's your problem? You're old enough now, Nathan... handle your own PROBLEMS." "Wha...What? But I thought we will always be there for each other?" "That was THEN..." I see Ashley... she is giving me that sickening smile... This is your entire doing! "Someone... anyone... help... help..."

I'm tired but I still keep running... I cover my ears but I still hear their voices... Am I in hell? Am I gonna run for the rest of my life? Everyone hates me now... HATES me... Why must it be so hard to do what is right? Why am I always the one HURT? Why is there no one by my side? I hear a gentle voice... a girl's voice. I recognize...that tone. "Nathan... everything will be fine. I'm here" I know her... yes... It's Ginfuko! Ginfuko? Ginfuko! I run towards her but I see nothing... only a bright light... Ginfuko? Ginfuko, save me! Ginfuko! I shiver with fear... and I slowly open my eyes.

Nathan opened his eyes. The table lamp was right in front of his eyes. That was the light he saw after all. He let out a sigh after realizing that it was just a nightmare. He closed the lamp and immediately turned to his side to see the girl inside his dreams... She wasn't there anymore. But, there was one thing that made the boy smile. It was the blanket he felt wrapping around his back. Suddenly, he heard sniffs from outside.

Thanks for reading! :) I'm so inspired to write like Nicholas Sparks :)