Standard disclaimers apply.
By Cassandra's Destiny
The monotonous sound of the announcer listing schedules and locations, the constant thrumming and tapping of feet against the floor, the incessant chatter of people discussing their flights, the rustling sound of open booklets and passports, the high, imposing ceilings – the airport was like any other airport: bright, spacious, confusing, and had that terrible effect of making one feel so alone.
The air-conditioning was turned on full blast, and the metal seats conducted the cold ferociously. Touya tried to slouch on them for a while, but he felt the cold radiating on his back. One would think people who had gone through so much trouble building a spectacular edifice would have given the slightest consideration for guests who preferred seats that do not hold the promise of pneumonia.
"Hey," he felt a familiar presence next to him and, without so much as a hello, Touya closed his eyes.
"Their flight has landed." His friend stated nonchalantly. "You nervous?"
The question lingered, but it did not make Yukito uncomfortable enough for him to adjust his glasses and laugh nervously. He knew the game he was playing. It was the dangerous blame game that ended months of sanity, years of marriage and decades of friendship. If he says something along the lines of "Why should I be nervous when it's not my fault anyway?", he won't be surprised. Slightly annoyed, yes, but definitely not surprised.
"Why would I be? I'm not a blushing schoolgirl about to play barmaid number one on opening night."
A sigh. Whatever happened to his epiphany two days ago, he doesn't know.
Before he can answer, they almost jumped from their seats as the cell phone in Touya's pocket went off. He gave a dreading whimper and pulled the phone out.
"Who is it?"
"I don't know," he shrugged. "My caller ID's broken." Without sparing him another ring or two, the moment he held it close to his ear, the call got disconnected.
"It must have been a prank caller."
Receiving no response from his companion, Yukito picked up a magazine from a nearby stack. He flopped the pages, casually glancing at the snapshots and short captions. He was not really immersed in its content – fashion tips, celebrity break-ups or whatnot – it only seemed like the perfect way to pass time. After flipping through the magazine from cover to cover, he returned it and got another one. Unexpectedly, this one's cover story got his full attention.
"Look at this, Touya," he nudged him at his side. "Maybe you should really start looking for a girl like her."
Touya shot him a look. "Give me that," snatching it out of his hands, he began surveying the cover. He raised a brow at the overt sexuality in display.
"She is not an actress so she doesn't fit my prediction… yet." A snicker.
Obviously annoyed, Touya shut him up. "I am really tempted to hit you with this." He returned his attention to the supermodel on the cover. There she was, looking provocative, scantily clad in a black lace babydoll and five-inch heels. "Stilettos," he thought. She had the come hither smile that will probably bring men to their knees and beg.
But not him.
It was all too commercial, all too… physical.
To him, a nice girl who'd willingly eat TV dinners with him while watching a soccer game will be his choice over a hot girl who can only think of sex.
He will not, he repeats, he will not end up on the second row of the church seated next to an obsessive possessive, mega diva character whose life revolves around her long blonde hair, well-endowed body, and her love for flirting.
"You really like your new girlfriend, huh?"
"What?" He snapped out of his thoughts, shaking his head a bit.
"You've been staring at that picture for almost five minutes now. Any more and I'd think you have already forgotten Nakuru."
"You've forgotten her already?" The two were surprised with Eriol suddenly standing before them. Behind him was Tomoyo, who had Sakura and Li in tow.
Reflexively, Touya looked around, not bothering to greet or ask about the younger boy's flight.
It was Yukito who broke the silence. "So how was your trip, Eriol?"
"It was fine, thank you for asking. Although we've had our episodes…"
"Suppi-kun," he began in a teasing tone, "decided to indulge in sweets. To add to that, Nakuru threw quite a fit. She wanted to stay behind in England."
That definitely caught Touya's attention. "What do you mean she wanted to stay behind in England?"
The thought of Sakura feeling bad for her brother crossed Tomoyo's mind.
The thought of her eyes watering over whatever it is her brother would be feeling crossed Sakura's mind.
The thought of Touya standing alone and looking stupid in an airport in Europe crossed Li's mind.
The thought of hitting Touya on the head crossed Yukito's mind.
"Nakuru, she…" Eriol's reply was interrupted with a mobile phone ringing.
"Excuse me," Touya muttered, pulling out the phone from his pocket. "I just have to take this."
He walked away from the group, leaving one of them mid-sentence and the rest, in suspense.
How sour did their misunderstanding go this time? Sakura noticed it was bad. It was not like the arguments they have had before, but she never would have guessed that it was enough to send Nakuru packing. True, the trip was planned before the whole argument started. Tomoyo even assured her that their time apart would do them good. But Eriol said it himself that she wanted to stay behind in England. Sakura could not believe it, but perhaps Tomoyo was wrong.
Touya could not clear his head of thoughts of Nakuru never coming back to Japan. So, when he pressed the green button to answer, he gave a detached and thoughtless hello.
"Hello, Touya! Bored?"
The cheery voice was all too familiar to him. "Akizuki?"
His mind went blank, but he could hear her clicking her tongue. "Na-ku-ru," she said slowly.
Old habits are hard to break, really, and calling her by her last name was something he was not able to let go off completely, even when they were together.
Were together. "Nakuru, about what happened… it was just–"
"Think nothing of it."
It was paranoia, he supposed, that overcame him. The only reason he could think of, why she tells him to think nothing of it, is that she does not care… at least, not anymore. Yukito was right. It didn't matter what happened, how it happened or whose fault it was. He had to fix this and that was it. But was he too late?
He let out a heavy sigh. If he is – and now he admits the fault is his own – too late, then he might as well work on a post-break up friendship with Nakuru. "How's Europe?" He tried to sound okay, not sullen or dejected.
"I'm checking out this cute guy…"
Even with a disgusted face, he tried not to make it obvious on the other end. "Why are you telling me that?"
He was disgusted and annoyed, but he knew he had no right to be. It hasn't even been a month and she has already moved on. In a matter of days, there is going to be some other guy she would be pestering about the smell of a spring breeze, the air shortly after rain, a brisk winter wind, and all those other things she loves.
Touya was so deep in thought that he did not notice the figure accidentally bumping into him… on purpose.
Still, he didn't pay attention. "Sorry, I'm on the phone and—" He could swear his jaw dropped upon seeing who was right in front of him, flesh and blood, and not in Europe.
"Akizuki," her name escaped his lips without any effort.
She waggled her finger and corrected, "Nakuru."
"You're not," he started, slowly, obviously in disbelief. "You're not in Europe?"
Raising a brow, she shook her head slowly. When he remained dumbfounded still, she bit her lower lip to stifle her giggling. "You're in Japan, I'm not in Europe. I'm standing in front of you, so I really must not be in Europe. Anyway, it's a beautiful day, Touya. Just tell me you're sorry after I tell you I'm sorry and we can have some ice cream after."
"Okay, to prove to you how sorry I am, I'll even eat a TV meal with you tonight… while watching soccer!" When she received no answer still, her chest tightened. Maybe she should have stayed behind after all. "Are you still mad at me?"
The unusual quivering in her voice triggered a loud thud to his consciousness. "Of course not." How he could he possibly hate her, especially now that she's back?
She took a step closer to him, submersing herself to what he would call his personal space. It was a habit of hers – a habit of theirs, actually – that allows her to bury her face in his chest, and him to indulge in her hair that smelled of strawberries. "I'm sorry." Her apology was muffled, but did not go unnoticed.
"I'm sorry too." He made her look up to him as he placed a soft kiss on her forehead.
"Banana split on me; TV dinner on dad."
She smiled, moving even closer to him as if to erase the distance between them.
And it was exactly how Yukito and the others saw them.
"Eriol," Sakura began. "I thought you said Nakuru wanted to stay behind in England?"
The boy only readjusted his glasses. It was Yukito, having had the image of a sentimental Touya slinging an arm over Nakuru burned in his head for future use, who answered her question.
"He said she wanted to stay behind in England, but didn't say she actually did."