Hikaru concealed a yawn. “Good morning,” he returned once she stood before him. “Where’s Takashi?”
She scrunched up her face and looked about the platform. People waited patiently for their trains to appear, groups of teens giggle, families were checking that they had everything they needed, and the handful of solo travellers kept their eyes trained on cell phones. “I thought he’d beat me here. Should I give him a call and see if something happened to him and Yuki?”
Hikaru shrugged. A knot formed in his belly. ‘Takashi, this better have not been a trick. I swear if you had planned to get Ruby and me to spend time alone to induce a romance, I will kill you.’
She quickly dialled the number and held the phone to her ear. “Yuki? Hey, it’s Ruby. Where are you guys?”
There was a pause.
‘Oh crap, I’m right. The bastard has done all this to get us together.’ He felt happy about that, he’d get to spend time with her for the first time since they’d kissed. ‘But damn it Takashi. You can’t go orchestrating all of this like some deranged cupid.’
“Okay. We’ll see you tomorrow then. No it’s alright. I understand.” Ruby bit her lip. “Oh, I’ll keep an eye out for him.”
Hikaru’s knot tightened. ‘He?’
“Bye.” She hung up, and as she sighed her whole body sagged dramatically.
“What’s happening?” He held back the burning question in the back of his throat of who ‘he’ was.
“Takashi and Yuki have some errands to run today and won’t be coming just yet. We’ll see them tomorrow if everything goes well.” Around the edges of her mouth pinched. Then it relaxed as she continued. “And Hokuto-san will be joining us.”
As if on cue, Hokuto yelled out. “Hikaru! Ruby! Good morning!” and came racing along the platform.
Hikaru’s eyes narrowed on the duffle bag on his shoulder. It bulged.
“Good morning,” Ruby turned his way. “You never said you were coming.”
Laughing, Hokuto scratched at his head. “It was last minute last night. I couldn’t have said a thing at lunch.”
Jealousy reared up inside of him and made his lips clamp together.
“Takashi’s sneaky.” Ruby continued.
Hokuto shook his head. “Not Takashi. His wife, Yuki, invited me.”
The next train was announced loudly overhead through the pa system. Bending down, Hikaru snatched up his bag and moved to the yellow line. The other two followed and continued their chatter.
The train came in, slowing down and then stopping with lots of noise that amazingly was louder than the excited screams of the children the families were ushering up to the line to wait for the doors to slide open.
Hikaru stepped on first and took the lead to the middle of the cart, there he paused. Ruby slipped into a set of two seats next to where he stopped. Without hesitation, he dropped into the seat beside her.
Hokuto jerked back and stood in the aisle confused.
Hikaru settled himself in, placing his bag at his feet the same as Ruby. From the corner of his eye he watched Hokuto pout and take the seat in front of them, slouching down.
“Huh?” He was startled by her question.
“You’re quiet, I figured you had a late night.”
“Yeah, still working on my paper.” At the mere mention of the piece his shoulders tensed up and he yawned.
“It sounds exciting,” she smiled and raised an eyebrow.
“Why do you say that?”
“It was a joke. You look even more tired now that you’re talking about it.”
“Well, it has been all that I’ve thought about this week.”
Ruby settled herself in her seat so her back rested partly against the window and she could look at him fully. “No other thoughts passed through your mind?”
‘Yes, of course, I thought about the moon and the town and asking you to go see those things with me on my bike because I’m, like, twelve. But I’m not going to admit to that because I don’t want you to know that I wanted to spend time with you, not when you’ve been spending time with Hokuto and haven’t come near me at all.’
Ruby frowned. “Earth to Hikaru. Are you tired? Do you want to have a nap?”
He blinked, realising he had spaced out. He felt the rising tide of a blush. “Sorry. No, I’m fine. Other than occasionally thinking of food, my thoughts didn’t stray very far from what I had to do.”
‘It would be utterly pathetic if I told her about the bike ride.’
Hokuto turned in his seat and commented over his headrest. “Hikaru, that’s boring as hell.”
“You do the same thing when working on research.” He snapped back quickly.
“But I don’t bore someone with it.” Tilting his head further he added. “Ruby, if he’s about to put you to sleep, there’s a free seat beside me.”
She smirked. “I’ll be fine.”
Hikaru felt triumphant as Hokuto grumbled and sat normally in his seat.
“I was hoping that you’d have your paper finished if you didn’t have any distractions.” She said this in a lowered tone so only Hikaru heard. “That’s why,” her eyes darted away.
‘Is she embarrassed?’
“I’ve missed our conversations.” She finally admitted.
His mind was struggling to keep up. ‘Did she stay away on purpose?’ “Thank you for that. I’m sure I would’ve been terrible company. But I haven’t finished yet. I still have another week’s worth to go, at least.”
She pouted. “But you can do all of that when we get back, right?”
“Good. Takashi was worried you’d bring your work with you.”
‘Of course, because that’s what he would do if he had a paper to finish.’ “I couldn’t fit my research into my bag.” He lamely replied.
“Thank heavens. This is a holiday for relaxing and exploring. No work allowed.” Ruby brushed back strands of hair that slipped forward.