The ramp docked to the side of the plane with a barely audible thud. Suddenly too cramped and impatient with the narrow aisles and crowd of chattering families, I released the seat strap and made a quick grab for my bag before anyone else had a chance to get in the way. When the clunky door opened with a surprisingly strong shove from the skinny flight attendant, I was close enough to bath in the rush of fresh, salty air. I sighed with relief.
Disboarding was a frustratingly long process, made more unbearable by the sight and scent of my destination teasing at my mind. Slinging a simple backpack over my shoulder I had to coach myself not to run down the ramp hollering my lungs out. Through all the cheerful directives by the airline crew, and the too-patient courtesies of the equally eager fliers, there was only one person on my mind.
It had been six months since I last saw her and no amount of late-night phone calls, emails, or vivid dreams made up for the absence. Pushed into the gate by the relieved wave of disembarking patrons, I felt like a junkie desperately searching for his stash. San San San San, my brain chanted.
And there she was: an island in the sea of people shifting around us, beckoning to me with a smile that could shatter worlds. She was dressed in a cute white skirt and soft blouse that showed off her beautiful curves. One hand was pressed against the center of her breastbone, betraying a hesitance I found unbearably endearing.
"San-chan!" I called over the crowd, letting her see how happy I was. We ran to each other and I dropped my bag to wrap her in a tight hug, right there in the airport. She happily returned the embrace, saying my name like she had missed doing so.
Everything was perfect. I was a man with a beautiful girlfriend who met me at the airport. This was the way my life should go. I felt like everything was settling into place.
"Welcome back Michishio Nagasumi." A spaceman had appeared behind San and was watching us with a tangible aura of ill will. The voice filtering through his helmet was both comical and obnoxiously smug. "Have you finished tasting all the girls at your American university? Come back to explore the schools in Tokyo now, have you?"
"What is he doing here?" I asked San, releasing her from my death-grip hug. Of all the people to break the mood, I couldn't think of anyone I wanted to see less than the agoraphobic rich boy who stalked my girlfriend and tried to turn her against me.
"Everyone wanted to come welcome you home," San explained without really addressing my concern.
We turned to look over the terminal, and it was easy to spot my group of greeters. San's bodyguards had come, as well as a few extras –including her father who looked to be attempting to escape from his wife, who had clearly come to keep him in check. With ill-concealed weapons under obvious trench coats, faces that just didn't quite fit the category of "human," and a general aura that just screamed Yakuza, it was no wonder the crowds of people in the airport were giving them a wide berth. Even the airport security –which was usually so dedicated to sniffing out anything suspicious- seemed to be cowering in the wings.
Even while a sinking feeling in my stomach told me my life was under imminent threat, I couldn't help smiling at the long-lost sense of homecoming. My crazy, scary family was around me again. I hadn't even realized how much I had missed them.
"Shall we go then, Nagasumi?" San picked up my bag from the floor.
"Of course." I took the backpack from her, since I was a man after all. Slinging the pack over one shoulder, I slung my other arm around San. "Oh, and Kai?" I called over my shoulder to the watching spaceman. "If you imply one more time that I was unfaithful to San, I'll kill you."
Mikawa Kai didn't seem particularly impressed by that threat, but when I looked down at San I was rewarded by the glimpse of a secret smile as she leaned against me.