Ducking around a corner, he caught sight of Layla wandering off from the rest of the Winx, looking as if she were headed on a hike by the knapsack slung over her shoulder. The others were off towards the bus to Magix, so Nabu trailed behind his fiancée for a little while, watching as she created Morphix bridges and boulders to help her over rivers and chasms, other times simply launching herself into those odd flips she was so fond of. It was during one of those gymnastic feats that he lost sight of her, the small pack dropping to the ground, and he hurried closer, concern making him reckless despite knowing the power she had at her fingertips.
Nabu probably should have anticipated his surprise visit resulting in Layla sitting on his chest, fist a scant few inches from his jaw, when he decided to wait to announce his presence for a while. “Hi Layla.”
She shook herself, sitting back so her weight rested more comfortably on his stomach, and raised an eyebrow. “What are you doing here Nabu? I thought you were on Tides until the end of the month.” He didn’t bother trying to move despite the rock digging into his shoulder blade, smiling up at her as she rolled her eyes.
“Your father was pleased with the budget suggestions the treasurer and I drafted so he let me go a few days early.”
“You’re getting lucky this week – I could’ve blasted you point blank!” Layla finally got up, helping him to his feet and taking the opportunity to tug lightly on his braid. “That would’ve been an awful way to start your visit.”
“You’d have to catch me first.”
“What are you talking about? I did just catch you!” She retrieved her knapsack, pulling out a couple power bars and tossing one to him. They were a good hour from Alfea on foot, and she had plans for a few hours more before turning back. The foothills of the mountain range were nearly in view, and Layla was eager to see how far up she could get before midday, but a question first. “Why were you tailing me?”
“You were relaxed, and I didn’t wish to intrude.”
“So you’re telling me it’s better to stalk me in the woods so I’d be ‘relaxed’ rather than just saying hi? Ever think it’s really weird to do that? And given my history with Darkar and the Trix and Baltor that maybe following a person isn’t the best idea? That it may be the opposite of relaxing? And didn’t you learn anything from the last time you decided it was a good idea to follow me around?”
Nabu didn’t even look like he was going to argue with that, instead opening the foil of his snack and taking a bite. “Fair point.”
“Well, I’m not changing my plans just cause you decided to ambush me, so you coming or what?”
He nodded, following her farther into the foothills, hiding his grin behind the power bar as she inquired after her family and realm. Nabu was happy to provide what information he could, just enjoying the opportunity to have an additional few days with her.
Of course, the peace couldn’t last, and soon enough that competitive streak of hers was rearing its head. “Bet you can’t get to the top of the outcropping before me.”
“Gotta give you a chance.” Nabu missed her wink, already taking off over the rough terrain before her brain caught up and she scrambled to follow. “Not fair!”
He paused a few jumps from the top, glancing back to find his lead had evaporated and Layla was only a half-step behind, so the moment he stopped she nearly crashed into him, barely shifting to the side to avoid an accidental pileup on the rocks.
She didn’t let the near stumble deter her though, and within seconds she was sitting on the top ledge while Nabu just stared. “I did give you a fair chance, and you even took off before me.”
He pulled himself up, kissing the delight off her face before settling beside her. “I should know better than to indulge you.”
“You love our competitions.”
“Yeah. And I love you.”
“Remind yourself of that in a few decades. You may not be a sore loser now, but even that’s got to take its toll.”
“You remind me every day.” If he hadn’t already proposed, Nabu thought maybe this would have been the best place to do it – no eyes, friendly or otherwise, around to see, and Layla the happiest she’d been in months, slightly out of breath from the race up the rocks. “And you’ll let me win every now and again, right?”
“Don’t count on it!”