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When Saya leaves, she takes all warmth with her.

They started dating in their last year of high school. They'd always been just two people in the same class, friends but not anything more. Which isn't to say that they were distant, but she had always been aware of something else, laced in between. What that exactly was, she didn't realize until some time later. As they spoke as normally as ever, of nothing in particular but feeling like everything in the world, and Saya sipped the coffee she'd made, she knew butterflies. Nonoka understood: this was more than friendship.

She still works in the same cafe she did then, a little place called Cosmos, but now she runs it. Her grandfather passed it down to her as he grew older, and she took it on without question. If she can do nothing else, she can make good coffee. That's one thing she takes pride in. Saya, who'd run the school newspaper back in those days, now works as a professional journalist. She's very good at what she does, and has an unmatched passion for it, Nonoka thinks. There's probably no one in the world who has a greater curiosity than her, or more precise skill with words. But this comes at a price.

When Saya is home, the air is like bathwater curled up to her chin, even in the winter months. It's not something she can explain; she isn't good with words like her, can't express her feelings and thoughts with such dexterity. It's just that seeing that smile float across her face, she feels at ease. Even when she teases and pries out her feelings, like she knows just what buttons to push, she can't be upset, or feel anything other than frustrated fondness. Because she loves her.

Yet, while her own work keeps her in one place, Saya's can bring her all over. Her traveling isn't uncommon at all; she needs to research and interview and experience in order to write properly, for whatever job it is this time. She knows it's her passion, that it's her dream. And she's happy for her.

So why is it that she's lying awake, bare feet tangled in blankets and sheets, at some unfortunate hour of the morning? Why does that bed feel so cold and empty? She buries herself in pillows to drown it out, but their softness can't replace the person she really needs. Nonoka stares at the wall, lying on her side. Her eyes trace along the curtains that Saya picked out, or the patterned lampshade they both liked.

She thinks about her unworn clothes hanging in the closet, that might still carry her scent if she inhaled. Should she try? Or would it only make her feel worse? The glow of the alarm clock illuminates the early morning darkness, and she wonders vaguely what time it is. She'll have to work in a few hours, and yet she's barely slept a wink. This isn't anything new, but sometimes it just hits her, when she realizes she really isn't there. She always comes back, and she'll stay for some time. It's these days she looks forward to and sets her aim on. If she can tend the shop and make sure the customers are happy for long enough, then she'll be home again.

Her eyes shut tight. She needs to get a hold of herself. With any luck, her phone will ring today at work, and she'll check it on break to find a new message from her. No matter how brief, it always brightens her day, so she just has to hang on a little longer. Just a little…

The bedroom door opens with a gentle creak.

She pulls herself up at the noise, eyes squinting through the dark. It can't be, can it? Is she allowed to hope? Long, straight hair frames the familiar silhouette, and her eyes catching on it, she calls out in a hesitant voice. “Saya…?”

“My, you're still up? Won't that put you in trouble at work tomorrow?” Her voice is smooth, soft in the night, and she knows there's no mistake. This is the person she loves.

“I thought you weren't getting home for a few days...” she says, voice becoming shaky. Have her wishes been answered?

“It worked out so that I could fly back early,” she replies matter-of-factly. Even through the dark, she can see a smile curve her lips. “Unless you didn't want me back so soon?”

Nonoka has always been awkward, and now is no different. This is her breaking point, and the pressure behind her eyes finally overflows, hot tears against cool cheeks. Her mouth twists into some strange shape. She can no longer control her own expression. “Of course I did…! I…I missed you so much.”

Something clicks, and Saya pulls off her jacket and drapes it over a chair. She watches, dimly, as she steps across the room and climbs onto the bed. And embraces her. Her arms wrap around her tight, body warm and pressed against her own. She buries her face in the crook of her shoulder and clings tight, never wanting to let go. It's her own insecurity, she thinks, her own weakness and loneliness.

But Saya says none of this, or anything like it, but instead, “I missed you too. I wanted to get back as soon as I could.” Her voice vibrates in her ear, breath tickling, and the sensation itself is soothing. She always feels at ease in her arms. Inside, she really is a kind person, and Nonoka knows that better than anyone. She pulls back a bit, and at close proximity she can see the shine in her deep red eyes. “How about we get some rest? There's always time to talk in the morning.”

“Okay,” she says.

When Saya is home, she brings warmth with her. And they both share in that, wrapped in the covers of a rumpled bed and in their own embrace.