Off to his left, the stairs creaked and people chatted.
‘But how do you speak to someone when you know all of that now? When you’ve already played all of the cards you have? Well…’
He sighed and slumped forward, resting his head on the table, the computer bumping into the crown of his head.
“Hikaru,” Takashi rapped his knuckles across the timbre.
The vibrations rattled his teeth and he sat up to glare. “Takashi?”
“Why are you so sad? You don’t have to leave until tomorrow. Unless,” looking around to see if anyone was listening he dropped his voice low and leaned in. “You’re going to miss Ruby.”
‘You have no idea.’ One voice in his head responded. ‘Oh stop it,’ the other jumped in. ‘You seriously don’t have time for any of this. Even thinking about it all before was stupid and just because of the holiday and hormones. When we get back home, everything will go back to normal and we’ll do things we like to do like work.’
‘Why am I talking plural inside my head?’
“No Takashi, that isn’t it.”
His face fell. “I had hoped that the two of you would work out. I don’t know what went wrong.”
‘And you’ll never find out.’
Hikaru stood up. “Wasn’t meant to be. She’s free-spirited and I’m very conservative.”
“But you’ve changed. We’ve all noticed it.”
It took everything for Hikaru not to strangle his friend. ‘What is the problem? Seriously? But I know the time excuse isn’t always going to work.’ He almost stumbled when he thought that. ‘What?’
Ruby came into his view with a sad little smile. “It was nice meeting you, Hikaru.”
“It was fun. I hope you have a safe trip.” To himself he added, ‘and I can figure out what is going on inside my head. Without you distracting me and making me do things I normally wouldn’t do like ride bikes at night and stare at the moon.’
“I might be back to visit Takashi and Yuki before going home, so I might see you again. If not, have a nice life.” With that, she moved in for a hug.
Hikaru felt his heart clench horribly and had this desire to dip his head and kiss the crown of hers and rub his hands up and down her back in comfort.
Instead he returned the hug like a civil person and released her quickly. “You better hurry or you’ll miss your train.” Sending her on her way was the only thing he could manage.
He knew it was extremely rude, but he turned tail and headed upstairs. Once safely locked up in his room, he sagged against the door and sighed. “I’m such a child.”
Hearing the murmur of voices below and the thud of a door closing was breaking his heart. ‘This is it. This is the last time I could possibly ever see that woman.’
Knowing that he shouldn’t, but unable to resist, his legs carried him to the window, his hands gipped the sill, he poked his head out. ‘There, the last time. Send her on her way and forget about her. Go back to normal.’ Jerking back inside before someone saw, he slammed the window shut and locked it for good measure.
Ruby stared at him from the sketch pad.
Angrily, he flipped it closed and tucked it under the pillow on the bed.
‘This is ridiculous. How can a woman be so… argh. This isn’t what’s meant to happen, I’m not meant to be moved like this by her.’ Hikaru charged out of the room. Downstairs he threw himself at his work, pounding the keys with quick fingers. The words appeared rapidly.
His mind emptied of everything but work.
‘This is it.’
And he lost himself in concentration.
Later, the sun had disappeared, Hikaru came back to himself. He stretched his arms high. ‘That feels good.’ The knot was breaking up in his shoulders. Carefully he positioned his spine so it rolled over the back of his chair and stretched his arms over his head as he went. It was delicious.
Sighing he straightened up.
A scrap piece of paper caught his eye. It sat under a tall glass on the other side of the table.
“I was waiting.”
Hikaru leapt in his seat, his heart racing. “Don’t scare me like that.” He turned to Takashi. “How long have you been sitting there?”
“A while,” he closed the book in his lap and placed it on the lounge beside him. “You have a very intense concentration. Impressive.”
Hikaru stood up, feeling restless now. ‘Shit, I don’t have my bike.’
“Ruby didn’t ask me to, but that there is her number. Use it. Send her a message.”
Hikaru bristled at it. “Takashi, I’m getting tired of you trying to force us together. It isn’t going to happen and I don’t want to talk about it.” Before he heard another word, he calmly walked for the door and left the house, taking his time to cross the sand to the ocean.
At the edge of the water he charged forward without hesitating. Fully clothed. Not caring and not realising that he needed to swim. Far enough out not to be able to stand, he bobbed under the water and screamed.
Gurgles of sound and air came out but were not understandable.
Breaking the surface, he gasped air. “If I went with Ruby, what was I going to do if she decided to just leave? I don’t have the time to mourn someone else.” He gasped, more than salt water ran down his face. “Not again.”