The orange of dusk melted into dark greys and purples as he watched. His work schedule was taxing, and he considered himself lucky to have found some time to come up to the terrace and watch the sunset.
Disconnected thoughts roamed about in his head, interrupted by small flashes of memory. They were all blurred, close enough to feel their presence, yet far enough to remain undistinguished. In blacks and whites and greys…like an old reel of film.
The sun had disappeared into the horizon by now, and he knew he should go back. Not wanting to leave, he continued to gaze at the night sky. The wind had got chillier, and a sudden gust of it brought him back to his senses.
Wrapping his arms around himself for that little extra heat, he turned to leave, squinting in the half-darkness of the moonless night.
The banging of the door alerted him to someone else’s presence, and he froze in his step. A delicious perfume wafted his way, its flowery smell filling his senses as he closed his eyes, taking deep breaths.
He knew in a moment who accompanied him in his solitude. He knew the scent well…he had somehow latched on to it during his work hours. The person to whom it belonged happened to be the sole interesting aspect in the monotony.
He heard a light sob, and knew that this visit wasn’t one to be intruded upon. His mind urged him to leave, but his treacherous heart filled with concern for her. His legs appeared to have glued themselves to the spot, and he couldn’t have run away even if he had wished to do so.
Quietly, he stood there against the parapet, letting the darkness overlap his form, hoping not to be seen. He saw her silhouette draw closer to him and wished he were invisible.
He knew she had been crying over her unrequited love for her best friend the other day. He had seen the pain in her eyes. And right now, as she walked closer and closer to him, he suspected she was crying for him once again.
As much as he would have rolled his eyes had it been someone else, he couldn’t do so with her. Something tugged at his heart with her every sob, and he eyed her warily when she froze in front of him, her red eyes widening shock on seeing him.
Flustered, he looked elsewhere, his cheeks burning lightly in embarrassment. He knew he shouldn’t be standing there. But he couldn’t move away, not while knowing the reason behind those tears.
“You?” she questioned softly, her voice sounding strained.
He met her eyes again, and nodded, not knowing what else to do. Instinctively he raised his hand and wiped a glistening tear off her cheek. A small part of his mind wondered how he had seen the tear in spite of the darkness surrounding them.
The wind swept through her hair, blowing long strands over her face, which she pushed back. Wrapping her arms around herself, she shivered slightly. He noticed with a frown that she wasn’t wearing a jacket. Not even a sweater.
He hesitated, thinking whether to take off his jacket and drape it around her. But other thoughts overtook his mind, and he blurted out unthinkingly.
“Why are you crying?”
Mentally reprimanding himself for asking that, he opened his mouth to say something more, but ended up closing it again for lack of words. He really did want to know.
“Oh, nothing…just…just caught a cold, that’s why I was sniffing”, she tried to cover it up.
“I wiped a tear off your face, if you remember”, he pointed out flatly.
The lights of the terrace were turned on as her words finished, and they both turned to look at it. Nikki wondered what to reply, and Abhi glanced at her from the corner of his eye.
She turned to him once again, and deliberated, biting her lip slightly.
“Don’t do that”, he said sharply, and she looked at him, confused.
“Don’t…don’t bite your lip.” A light blush crept up his cheeks.
How could he explain the sudden urge to kiss her that he had felt when she had been softly biting those bee-stung pink lips? His mind scolded him thoroughly for thinking along those lines.
“Yeah, ummm…” he started, wanting to break the silence between them. She was bewildered and he was embarrassed. “So why were you crying?” he asked her again.
“You don’t need to know”, she replied haughtily.
He could see through her strong face, he knew why she had been shedding those precious tears. She chose not to tell him now. But the problem was he already knew much more than she had ever intended for him to.
“Oh”, he said sarcastically, raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah”, she confirmed uncomfortably, wrapping her arms more tightly around herself. Her tears had dried up by now, though her eyes and nose were still red.
“Suit yourself”, he remarked, and pushing his hands deep into his pockets, started to leave.
Something struck him when she didn’t move an inch, and he turned around and walked back to her.
She stared up at him defiantly, trying gallantly not to show still how close to tears she was and, perhaps, to show him how she was not at all feeling cold.
He took off his jacket as she continued to watch, and draped it over her. He sucked in a sharp breath when the cold wind hit him, and the hairs on his arms stood up. It was an unusually cold chilly night.
The jacket was too large for her, and she had to fold the arms a few times before she could use her hands. Watching her fumble with his jacket, his lips puckered up in an amused smile.
When she finally mumbled thanks to him, he nodded to acknowledge it. Gripped with a stupid thought, he tweaked her small red nose slightly, and she looked at him in utter confusion and shock.
“It’s cute”, he shrugged, and her eyes widened further as she gaped at him.
Wanting to get back to the warmth of his cabin, he started towards the door again. Stopping as a thought crossed his mind, he turned back and called her, “Nikita!”
She turned around and looked at him, wondering what he had to say now.
“You know something”, he grinned wryly. “If you tried to appreciate the friendship you share with him rather than pine for the love you never got from him, you’d be much happier.”
She gaped at him, turning pink and the truth of his words sinking in.
“Also, crying never really helps”, he remarked as an afterthought before turning around and walking through the door, leaving her clutching his jacket around her and pondering over his words.