DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters at all. All right's reserved.

TITLE: The Way Things Were

Umi slid her tired feet out of the flat satin shoes. Her mother had insisted she try a different color other than her usual blue for this school event, so there she sat, in sage green and purple of all colors, resting after having danced with just about every young man in the room. Umi's private school had organized the dance with a neighboring boys academy, a sort of mid-semester stress reliever, which so far was turning out to be an overwhelming success. She had tired her hardest to feel excited and anticipated, but the more she danced and talked, the lonelier she became. Everyone was here but in truth no one special to Umi. Neither Fuu nor Hikaru were present, both being students at other Tokyo metro schools, and then there were no boys that really held Umi's attention. All in all the entire evening was more exhausting and annoying than anything else.

She slumped in her chair and turned her gaze out the window. Tokyo Tower was visible from the balcony of the rented ballroom. Though the French doors were probably locked, Umi wagered that standing out on the balcony would be more fun than waiting in the corner for the next stumbling youth to come ask her to dance.

She winced slightly getting to her feet, her last partner had not known how to dance at all, and spirited quickly to the nearest door set. Surprisingly the cool mental handle yielded under her grasp and Umi slipped out into the temperate night. She made for the side of the balcony where she would be less likely to be noticed, and leaned against the stone railing.

The tower's lights twinkled, calling her to them, and Umi's mind drifted to Cepherio. If she were there what would be happening? Would there be a monster to kill, or a visitor from one of the other worlds to entertain her, or would she find herself just surrounded by friends? Perhaps in Clef's presence?

Remembering the miniature Master Mage, Umi's wistful expression turned downcast. She should have told him before she left, should have had the courage like Hikaru to tell him on one of the many occasions when they'd been alone together. She'd had so many chances, so many perfect opportunities, and she'd failed.

Anger at her own inability welled up in Umi and she stepped back from the railing, turning around to look at the happy teenage couples dancing the night away through the balcony doors. Why did they deserve to be happy and her not? Why could all the girls in her class find at least puppy loves while she cast about like a shadow, sulking over her own incompetence in that arena? Why?

The courage she'd thought depleted renewed itself in her heart and looking again at Tokyo tower, Umi spread her arms out, welcoming the night's embrace, and prayed with all the will in her soul to go back. She wanted another chance to tell him, another chance to be happy, another ticket to Cepherio.


More to come in a moment 2:45pm