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A Sound Needed

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Her eyes were glued to the phone. Clammy hands, heart racing, sweat furrowing at her brow, Yuzu kept her eyes on her phone silently debating to herself whether or not she should call Mei. She picked it up, then put it down. She picked it up again, opening up the many apps on her phone and scrolling through various social media. But it wasn’t enough of a distraction. It wasn’t as if there was anything too important she wanted to ask or say, but the blonde tended to have a habit of calling the other girl even if it wasn’t completely necessary.

To check in, she would call. To ask what groceries she would need, she would call. Even something as mundane as telling her about her day as she rode the train home, Yuzu wouldn’t hesitate to call.

Oftentimes it would be Yuzu who would call Mei in the middle of the day just to hear the sound of her voice. But Yuzu figured her constant chimes and rings would probably annoy the other girl.

She set it down on the dining table of their apartment and attempted to pry her eyes away from it. Hopefully, making dinner would take her mind away from the impulse. Mei never really complained about how often Yuzu called her, but still. She didn’t want to overwhelm the other girl, or worse, have her phone ring in the middle of an important lecture or class discussion. The last time that happened, Yuzu received a long and drawn out scolding that lasted until dawn.

After getting herself together, Yuzu left her phone on the table and proceeded to the refrigerator to see what she could prepare for dinner. She opened it and looked around for any possible ingredients she could use.

“I wonder what Mei would want,” Yuzu pondered.

She looked to the side and found some leftover broth she used for last week’s meal.

“Maybe she’d want soup…” Yuzu picked up the boxed broth, closing the fridge door behind her to find noodles in the cupboards. When she opened them, there was none to be found. Yuzu sighed to herself, “I guess I have to go to the market again today.”

But then a lightbulb flickered in her head. Mei wasn’t home yet. She was most likely still at her school, and Yuzu didn’t exactly feel like leaving the apartment. Turning her head back to the dining table, her eyes focused back towards her phone again.

“This is kind of important…” she began approaching the table and picked up her cellphone. Now, she went back to debating herself.

“No!” she scolded herself as she put her phone back. “Mei’s probably busy again…”

Yuzu sighed as she took a seat in front of the dining table. While Mei had been very dependent on the blonde for the past couple months due to recent emotional stress she was dealing with so far, Yuzu didn’t want to pry into every detail of the other girl’s life. Yes, Mei was growing more open in showing her vulnerability and how much she needed Yuzu, but she still managed to maintain that stoic façade of hers she always had since high school. It was that face that always gave the impression that Mei didn’t need Yuzu.

But a part of her enjoyed how reliant Mei had become towards her. She resented herself for even thinking it, but ever since Mei’s breakdown Yuzu relished in how much time and attention Mei seemed to crave. After seeing how much Mei clung to her, how much Mei wanted reassurance, how much Mei absolutely needed her, it made Yuzu feel like the reliable older step-sister and girlfriend she always wanted to be. But feeling like that at the expense of Mei’s health and well-being brought a heavy guilt on the blonde.

Yuzu sunk her head in her arms down on the dining table.

“I hope she’s okay,” she mumbled to herself. If she could, Yuzu would’ve probably called and whined to Harumin about how much she missed hearing Mei’s voice. Unfortunately, Harumin was probably swamped with assignments and Yuzu didn’t want to bother her either. Yuzu just wanted to know if Mei was doing okay in her classes. She just wanted to know if Mei was coming home safe from school. She just wanted to know if Mei was feeling happy at the moment.

Yuzu’s eyes drifted back to her phone on the table. Subconsciously, her hand reached out to grab it.

“Maybe it won’t hurt to call—”

Her phone chimed in her hand, startling Yuzu and causing her to juggle the device like a hot potato.

As she regained control of her movements, she tapped the ‘accept’ button on her phone. But the line immediately died as soon as she picked up.

“Oh no. No, no, no, nonono!!!” Yuzu frantically began scrolling through her contacts list for Mei’s number, completely forgetting she had her girlfriend on speed dial. For a couple seconds, Yuzu forgot how to breathe. Was Mei okay?

Maybe her battery died? That couldn’t be it. Mei was the kind of person to bring a spare even if she was spending less than half an hour with a full charge. Maybe her phone accidentally called her? Accidents can happen. Though, Mei tends to keep her phone out of her pockets. Maybe the reception was bad? Maybe someone took her phone? That thought only shot up Yuzu’s blood pressure. Maybe she-

“Hello?” hearing Mei’s voice immediately dispelled any anxiety-inducing thoughts.

“H-Hi Mei!” she greeted, failing to be casual. “So…I got a call from you a few seconds ago. Did you need anything?”

“Actually, I…” she heard a pause over the line, “I called you on accident, sorry.”

“Oh…” Yuzu replied, hiding the disappointment in her tone.

“Um…”

She expected Mei to hang up afterwards, but the slight hesitation in saying anything further said otherwise. The line was still on.

Mei wanted to call her.

Grasping for another way to continue the conversation, Yuzu asked, “hey so...where are you?”

“I’m at the train station, about to head home,” Mei responded with more confidence in her tone this time.

Heart pounding, a smile began growing on Yuzu’s face. “U-um, I actually wanted call you earlier about groceries – if you’re willing to get them.”

“I wouldn’t mind,” Mei replied, “I just got inside the train right now, so I should be on my way to the market soon.” She faintly heard her getting settled.

Yuzu began twiddling and tapping her fingers on the table, unable to keep the wide grin on her face. If Mei was in front of her right now, she would probably make a comment about it being rather ridiculous for her to get excited over something so mundane.

A brief moment of silence followed, leaving a rather awkward atmosphere for both girls on the line. Yuzu couldn’t tell if Mei wanted to say something or didn’t know what to say. So she continued.

“Mei?”

“Yes?” she heard. As much as Mei had been disoriented with herself lately, Yuzu knew the other girl wouldn’t slip up so easily over something as minor as an ‘accidental phone call’.

“Why did you call me? And I want the real answer,” she asked with a softness in her tone. She heard a sigh over the phone and another brief pause.

“I…” Mei hesitantly began before lowering her voice, “…your voice. It’s ridiculous, I’m sorry.” Even though Yuzu wasn’t physically there, she could somehow sense the other girl’s cheeks burning with embarrassment. Yuzu grinned at the thought.

“Mei, you don’t need to apologize. Didn’t I say you don’t have to hesitate to call me anytime? I mean, I already do more than necessary,” she said as she scratched the back of her head.

“I know, but…”

“What kind of girlfriend would I be if I couldn’t be there for you all the time?” she reassuringly added.

Another brief silence followed before Mei continued, “What did you want me to get before I come home?”

“I have a list of things, actually. I could even stay on the phone and tell you if you’re getting the right ingredients I need!”

“Actually,” Mei countered.

“Hmm?”

“Is it okay if you meet me over there?”

Yuzu smiled at her request, immediately got up and headed towards their bedroom to change, “sure! Did you want me to stay in the call until I get there?”

“I’d like that.”

As soon as Yuzu finished changing, she grabbed all her necessary belongings right before heading out, closing the door behind her as she continued the conversation. She talked about the things she saw outside, the weather, what her day was like in her classes that morning, and many other things Mei could simply comment on. Mei didn’t say much, except for the few responses she gave whenever Yuzu asked her how close she was to home. Despite Yuzu directing the conversation, the blonde could tell how relaxed the younger girl felt over the line the longer she continued talking.

During her walk to the market, Yuzu had another thought. The train station was right by their apartment. She turned to face it and began heading in that direction. After all, it would probably be better if she picked Mei up at the station and walked together.

“The train just arrived, I should be on my way soon,” Mei said, completely unaware.

“Okay!” Yuzu happily replied, “I’ll be waiting.”

After arriving, the blonde turned her head, hoping to find dark hair within sight. Once the doors opened, people began pouring out and Yuzu waited. She waited, and waited, until suddenly she felt her shoulder tapped from behind.

“Mei!” as soon as she turned her head, Yuzu put her phone away and greeted the younger girl with a smile and a hug. Mei didn’t hesitate to quickly return the favor and buried her face in Yuzu’s neck.

“What are you doing here?” the younger girl asked after pulling her head up on the blonde’s shoulder.

“I thought it’d be easier if we walked together,” she suddenly felt Mei’s arms slightly tighten around her. Yuzu brought her hand up to soothingly stroke the younger girl’s hair, fingers lacing with dark locks. “How are you feeling today?”

Mei grumbled a bit, thinking about her classes before answering, “a little tired, as always. But I’m okay.”

Yuzu gave a light laugh, and then kissed the top of Mei’s forehead. She was about to pull herself away from the hug so they could start walking together, she but couldn’t move.

“Mei? Hey, what’s going on?” Yuzu asked with concern.

Mei only tightened her grip on the other girl, as if afraid that Yuzu would disappear once the younger girl loosened her hold. It probably would have been best to continue their moment elsewhere -- away from obstructing the people, away from the crowd, away from everyone else. But Mei didn’t seem to care.

“Just a little longer,” Mei murmured after burying her face in the blonde’s shoulder.

Yuzu didn’t know why she doubted herself earlier. For awhile, she always felt more dependent on Mei and relied on her for almost everything. It made her wonder if Mei needed her as much she needed Mei. She wondered if the younger girl felt the same way whenever they were apart.

But in this moment, she asked herself why she ever worried? Mei would always need her no matter what.