It was only much later, after she had relaxed into the warmth of her hot tub, that the full impact of seeing Tsubomi again hit Yaya. Seeing Tsubomi again had almost been like seeing Hikari again. Both women were too closely associated in Yaya's memories.
After Hikari had become Etoile along with Amane, Yaya had fallen into a deep depression. It was bad enough having to see the girl she loved carry on openly with someone else; what made it worse was that she couldn't even afford to indulge her grief. Showing her pain would have only detracted from Hikari's happiness.
In the end, the only one who had understood her had been Tsubomi. Tsubomi, who despite having been a loud, obnoxious and unruly child then, had stubbornly stayed by Yaya's side day after day. She hadn't said anything, hadn't asked anything, just sat quietly next to Yaya while Yaya had suffered. Yaya had never acknowledged Tsubomi's presence at the time; had been quite beyond acknowledging anything apart from her grief actually. But some distant, still-functional part of her wounded psyche had derived comfort from the pink-haired girl's quiet companionship.
The comfort hadn't been enough though. By the end of the winter term, Yaya had decided to transfer to another school. Hikari had been extremely distressed, but hardly devastated (she had had Amane to comfort her, after all). And that was all Yaya had needed to see to know that she had made the right decision. She had never bothered to check then how Tsubomi had felt.
And now, after five years of virtually zero contact, the younger girl was back in Yaya's life. Yaya wasn't sure yet how she ultimately felt about that fact. But then again, she mused, what better way to find out if I've really managed to move on after all these years? With a troubled sigh, she sank deeper into the tub's comforting warmth.
Okuwaka Tsubomi lay on her bed, mind too restless to sleep. Seeing Yaya again after five years (on a stage of all things! - as if her mere presence hadn't been overwhelming enough) had knocked the breath out of her. Wild, rebellious Yaya, with her flowing hair and mocking eyes. And, dear God, when she'd opened her mouth - Tsubomi had realized then how inadequate a vehicle a choir had been for that voice - the voice of a fallen angel had come out, singing of love and loss and lust, and Tsubomi had nearly fled from it, hearing the raw emotion still coming through after five long years.
But she'd managed to stay, and maintain her composure, and not look like a total idiot. At least having been the Spica Student Council President in her final year had trained her for some things. That, and having had to fill Yaya's role as Hikari's best friend and protector in the black-haired girl's absence.
Yaya's departure had been a deeply painful time for Tsubomi, for many reasons. Although Hikari had mourned the loss of her best friend for a good while, Tsubomi had discovered that a large part of Hikari's dependence on Yaya had been impersonal - and therefore transferable. In the absence of Yaya, Hikari had simply and automatically turned to Tsubomi. Tsubomi had been greatly depressed by this, had initially felt outraged on Yaya's behalf, but had quickly and sadly resigned herself to the fact that it was simply Hikari's nature. She had accepted her role as co-protector of Hikari after that, although she had only carried out the role in allegiance to Yaya. It was then that she had "grown up" - between herself and Hikari, only one of them could have afforded to remain a child.
And then there was the fact that she had missed Yaya terribly. She couldn't have articulated it at the time, what she'd felt for the older woman, who had acted more like a taunting, bullying older sister towards her. She only knew that hearing Yaya's voice in song opened a floodgate of inchoate yearning in her that was as beautiful as it was terrible, and that seeing the flash in Yaya's eyes made her think of open seas and open skies and everything else that reminded her of freedom. The only reason Tsubomi had ever been able to forgive Yaya for leaving Spica was the memory of those eyes without their sparkle. She had never wanted to see that haunted look on Yaya's face again, and so had let the older woman leave without rebuke, without restraint, without...goodbye.
And now, five years had passed, and although Yaya no longer looked haunted, neither did she appear carefree. The aura of defiance had gone, had been replaced by an air of cautious restraint, like one afraid to touch and afraid of touch. The only time she'd let go of that restraint, Tsubomi had observed, had been when she had been singing. It was only then that she looked free.
Tsubomi sighed. After five years, she had grown more than capable of articulating what she had felt - and still felt - for Yaya. The problem lay in determining what it was that Yaya felt - towards Hikari, towards Tsubomi, or perhaps even towards someone else. Yaya was a magnetic woman after all; Tsubomi couldn't very well assume the older woman was still available.