Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Aria, I'm just borrowing them for awhile. This is based off a episode from Aria: the Origination, and has spoilers not only for that episode but for the end of the series. This is also a yuri fic, so if that is not your thing, I'd suggest skipping it.
Aria: Return to the Traghetto
After Akari Mizunashi graduated to Prima Undine and took over running Aria Company, she found herself busier than she had ever thought possible. The retirement of her mentor Alicia Florence had been a shock, and Akari found herself striving to live up to her legacy. The undine known as 'Snow White' was one of the three legendary 'Water Fairies' and Akari feared that her skills as 'Aquamarine' would fail to measure up.
Bookings dipped the first few weeks, but then rose up again as Akari's reputation began to spread. Like many talented people Akari was largely unaware of her own gifts, and how well she was regarded by others. Already on Aria there was talk of the next generation of 'Water Fairies' made up of 'Orange Princess,' 'Aquamarine' and 'Rosen Queen.' However all three women were largely unaware of this, though their mentors took great pride in it.
One thing that Akari most regretted was how hard it was for her to connect with her closest friends, Aika and Alice. Aika was the head of 'Himeya Rosen,' the first branch office of Himeya Company, and her duties there ate up most of her time. And over at Orange Planet Alice was striving to live up to both being called 'Orange Princess' and jumping right from Pair to Prima Undine. Of the three of them, Akari was the one with the most flexible schedule, as the sole employee of Aria company she could book trips on days she wanted to work, and politely refuse on days she didn't want to.
On her days off Akari proudly wore her Aria Company uniform, or if not that at least clothes in the matching colors. Of course there were days she wanted to go out incognito, and she chose more casual dress, but she was often recognized as 'Aquamarine' anyway. On those days she did her shopping, saw the sights and looked for places to take her customers too, as well as seeing friends.
Frequently tourists was a undine sitting on the piers, talking to the the singles working the Traghetto, the large gondolas that feried people across the Grand Canal. It took two singles to operate, cooperating to guide them across the water. Akari had worked there not long before graduating, and had enjoyed meeting the women working there.
"Yo!" Ayumi K. Jasmine smiled, her scruffy hair a mess as usual under the Himeya Company cap. They had just finished a trip so it was another groups job to take the traghetto, the young woman relaxing on the pier in the afternoon sunlight.
"Hello," Akari smiled as she sat beside her, relaxing in the sun. She gave her a impish look, "Had to train anyone as terrified as I was, lately?"
Ayumi laughed, "No, no one quite that bad."
When Akari had come down to work the traghetto she had been terrified she was going to screw up, somehow. The three girls she had worked with, Ayumi, Atora and Anzu were all kind to her, each offering advice and tips on how to handle the large gondolas. In light of the troubles two of them were having Akari had been startled at how kind they were...
"How are Anzu and Atora doing?" Akari asked a bit nervously, dreading the answer.
Anzu and Atora were singles at Orange Planet, and the Undine they were training under was a harsh taskmaster. She never praised them, it seemed, or offered any help and both girls had flunked the Prima Undine exam several times. Atora had even considered giving up trying to be a Prima, though she had been encouraged b y both Akari and Anzu.
"Better," Ayumi smiled slightly. She gave Akari a thoughtful look, "Did you tell anyone about their situation?"
Akari blinked, "Well, I mentioned it to my friends Aika and Alice...."
Ayumi nodded firmly as she said, "That would explain it, then." As Akari looked at her questioningly she explained, "Well, I'd guess Alice talked to Athena, who then brought it up to someone higher up at Orange Planet. It seems that someone is not happy with their teacher and has reassigned both Atora and Anzu to another Prima."
"That's good, isn't it?" Akari asked.
"Very good," Ayumi grinned,. "both of them are a lot happier." She patted Akari on the shoulder as she said, "Thank you."
"I didn't mean...," Akari started, blushing.
"Maybe," Ayumi told her, "but you made something good happen." Seeing that Akari was uncomfortable she looked out over the water, giving her a chance to calm down. "So, how does it feel to be a Prima Undine?" she asked.
"Not much different than a single," Akari admitted, "except the pay's better and the pressure is higher." Ayumi looked at her in surprise and Akari smiled, "Not that I don't enjoy my work, but it was easier being a single. I could shrug off mistakes more than I can now."
"I hadn't thought of it quite that way," Ayumi admitted.
Akari looked away, a slight blush on her face. "I haven't asked Aika because I don't want to embarrass her, but... how are things going for her at Himeya Rosen?" she asked sheepishly.
Ayumi laughed softly, patting her on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Aika is doing fine," she reassured her with a grin. "We're pretty proud of our 'Rosen Queen' actually," she admitted, "she's even developing the sort of fans Akira tends to get."
"Really?" Akari grinned.
"She has fangirls," Ayumi agreed, "not to mention a few singles and pairs who idolize her,." She looked amused, "She's not quite sure what do do about them, yet."
"It's sort of poetic justice," Akari laughed softly as she told her, "Aika had such a crush on Alicia for a long time...."
"And now she's dating Al the Gnome," Ayumi noted dryly before muttering under her breath, "what a waste...."
"Eh?" Akari blinked, but before she could ask what she meant they were interrupted by a loud, continuous cry of joy, coming up the dock towards them.
Looking up they saw the normally dignified Anzu and somewhat calm Atora both screaming their brains out as they pelted up the road at them at top speed. Both their Orange Planet caps had fallen off somewhere on the way, and Atora's hair had slipped free of it's ponytail to stream in the breeze. They were grinning madly, and after a moment Akari realized they weren't wearing gloves.
"We did it!" Atora hollered as they ran along, "We did it! We did it! WE DID IT!"
Panting and breathless though she was Anzu still bodily yanked the stunned Akari to her feet and swung her around. "We did it!" the smaller woman beamed, twirling Akari around and nearly lifting her off the ground.
Ayumi had gotten up before Atora could yank her to her feet, but the other girl still crushed her in a hug and swung her around. "Oh, thank you!" she yelled, grabbing Ayumi by the cheeks and kissing the startled woman. She broke the kiss as she added exuberantly, "If you hadn't convinced me to keep trying to pass...."
A blushing Ayumi hugged her as she said, "We all encouraged each other,. Remember?"
Anzu hugged Akari so hard her ribs creaked, "Thank you, too, Akari." Shje smooched her on the cheek quickly, blushing as she said, "I figured you deserved one too."
Akari laughed as she got free of the other girl, looking at the both happily. "I think this calls for a celebration," she said decisively.
"She's right," Ayumi agreed, "especially after all the trouble you had." She swiftly talked another waiting single into taking her place, then the four women took off together. "So," she asked as they set out, "what do you want to do?"
"An early dinner, first," Akari offered as she added, "I'm buying."
"You don't need to...," Atora said, her glasses gleaming in the evening sun as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail.
"We want to," Ayumi told her.
"Besides, I can afford it," Akari added wryly. Aria Company was making more than a tidy profit, though admittedly that was partially because they only had one employee to pay.
Anzu smiled shyly as she said, "My mother never raised me to say no to free food. Lead on."
The three primas and one single made a odd bunch as they traveled together, but they had fun. First they got a big meal, both Anzu and Atora gushing about their new teacher, Alma. In fact they were so overdone in their praise that Ayumi teased them they had a crush, poor Anzu stuttering and blushing scarlet under the accusation.
"Ayumi," Akari chided, chuckling as thjey finished off their meals, "even if they're in love with her, they're both Primas now. It's perfectly all right."
Atora nearly choked on her drink, she was laughing so hard, and even Ayumi grinned. "Meanie," Anzu pouted cutely.
"Don't tell me you never had a crush on your tteacher," Atora said to Akari.
Akari blushed, "Yeah, a little." She smiled ruefully, "Who wouldn't."
Everyone nodded agreement to that, with Anzu and Atora being a bit more unsteady from the wine they had drank. The four left the resturant and moved onto a cozy bar that Ayumi seemed to know. The staff was friendly, if dressed in odd costumes, and refused to serve Akari because she was still too young to drink.
"Don't worry, we'll drink your share," Ayumi winked and Akari had to laugh.
Actually, Ayumi spaced her drinks out, unlike the giddy Anzu and Atora. They drank and chattered joyfully, Akari trying her best to keep ujp, and when some strange music started up had even joined the crowd in dancing. A crowd, Akari noted, that was completely women.
"Ayumi?" Akari said as they watched their friends dance, "I was wondering something."
"Yeah?" Ayumi looked over at her curiously.
"When you said that Aika was dating Al, you commented it was a waste," Akari looked at her curiously, "why is that?"
Ayumi made a face, "I was hoping you hadn't heard that."
"Sorry," Akari smiled, "well?"
Ayumi drank a bit of very nice wine, to stall for time. Seeing that Akari wasn't going to relent she sighed, "You know that Aika held Alicia in a very high regard?" She waited till Akari nodded then continued, "Well, I looked at Aika in the same sort of way, and I'm just disapointed she settled for him."
Akari looked at her gently, then reached out and patted her hand, "I'm sorry."
"Nothing to get weepy over," Ayumi admitted as she smiled back at her, "I knew nothing would ever happen."
"Doesn't mean you didn't dream," Akari said quietly. She drank some fruit juice as she admitted, "I suppose you're one up on me, though."
"Oh?" Ayumi asked.
Akari shrugged, "I've never fallen in love."
The serious conversation stopped when Anzu came back with Atora, and both women dragged Akari and Ayumi out on the dance floor. The steps were strange and the music unfamiliar, but they all had a good time dancing among the strangers. They kept at it for several songs then returned to their table, getting more drinks and snacks.
By about one in the morning they left the bar, supporting the two Orange Planet undines as they had drank and partied rather much more than anyone else. Sharing amused looks Akari and Ayumi carried their friends back to their company's dorms, several singles and pairs coming out to help carry the two women in.
"Thank you very much, Aquamarine," one of the singles said, looking up at Akari in awe.
"It's no trouble," Akari answered as she gently shifted Anzu over to two girls, "they're both friends of mine."
Ayumi walked with Akari, having insisted on escorting her home before going back to Himeya. "I think you just raised their status in their co-workers' eyes," she noted with a laugh.
"I hope not too much," Akari sighed, not used to the high regard she was held in.
"Hmm," Ayumi shrugged slightly. "I really enjoyed tonight," she told her as they walked along the canal together.
"Me, too," Akari agreed, noting that without thinking about it she had taken Ayumi's hand. Just to be safe walking in the moonlight, of course.
"Did you mean what you said in the bar," Ayumi looked at her curiously, "about not having fallen in love?"
"Well, there was my crush on Alicia," Akari admitted wryly, "but other than that, no."
Ayumi squeezed her fingers gently, "I'm sorry. Love can be a wonderful, if painful, thing."
"Well, it'll happen to me eventually," Akari said as they reached the pier on which Aria Company was built. She smiled at Ayumi, "I really enjoyed tonight, thank you."
"Thank you," Ayumi corrected, smiling, "you really made Anzu and Atora's day." She grinned, "Not to mention mine." Stepping a bit closer she met Akari's eyes as she said, "I want to give you something, Akari."
"Hmm?" Akari looked questioningly at her.
Slowly Ayumi bent forward, giving Akari time to move away, but the other girl stood her ground as their lips met. It was a gentle but lingering kiss, and both women were slightly breathless as they finally drew apart.
"I thought you deserved a real kiss, rather than Anzu's kiss on the cheek," Ayumi told her quietly in the silence of the night.
"Thank you," Akari was blushing as she added, "If my first kiss is this good, I guess I can only get better with time."
Ayumi blinked, "I took your first kiss?!"
"NYU!" the voice declared, making them both jump as the massive white Mars cat glared disapprovingly.
"President Aria," Akari laughed, "I hope I didn't make you wait up?"
"Nyui," the cat said much more mildly, standing beside Akari. He gave Ayumi a look, "Nyu?"
"This is Ayumi from Himeya Company," Akari introduced her.
"Charmed," Ayumi bowed a bit.
"Nyu," President Aria bowed back, then lead the way to their home.
"Sorry," Akari smiled as she followed him, "Uhm, can we see each other again?"
"I'd like that," Ayumi called back, watching with some bemusement as they headed up the ramp and inside. "Damn," she murmured to herself as she set off for home, "I feel like I met her father."
Notes: I really liked the characters introduced in Episode 4 of Aria, the Origination and wondered what might happen to them. I assumed that Anzu and Atora would make prima undine eventually, and I thought it might be cool that Akari help them celebrate. Ayumi being into girls is something I COMPLETELY MADE UP, however. Sorry. ^_^