At Tsubomi's insistence, Hikari had agreed to stay at a table located somewhere in the shadows, away from the exit. "It's easier to surprise her this way," the pink-haired girl had argued. Hikari had finally relented.
When Yaya finally stepped onto the stage, the entire bar quieted. No one had ever seen her dress up for a performance before (not that she had needed to) and the sight of her in Tsubomi's ensemble was...breathtaking to say the least.
Tsubomi felt her jaw drop. Yaya's appearance in the shirt and dress had exceeded even her most private fantasies. The material clung to every swell and curve. Through the sheer fabric of the shirt, she could glimpse the shadows under Yaya's delicate collarbone. Tsubomi looked at Hikari, and was gratified (and agonized) to find a similarly entranced expression.
And then, as if all that hadn't been provocation enough, Yaya began to sing.
Hours (days, weeks?) later, a dazed Tsubomi noted that the night's performance had ended and that Yaya was signing the last few autographs of the evening. Earlier, she had told Hikari to wait until Yaya had finished this nightly ritual before approaching her. ("Her fans can get pretty...hard-core. So you should just wait until they're all gone.") Unfortunately, the seat next to her was already vacant.
With a sense of impending doom, she watched the blonde woman make her way towards the unsuspecting brunette. When she saw Yaya turn around, eyes widening in stunned surprise at the sight of Hikari, Tsubomi stood up and fled. Even her capacity for emotional seppuku had its limits.
That voice, played and re-played in countless dreams, entered Yaya's ears like a bullet and exploded somewhere in the back of her mind. Turning around, she caught sight of a long unseen but never forgotten angel.
They talked, they walked, they held hands as if in a dream. It was as if a lifetime had passed; it was as if nothing had ever changed. Hikari smiled, laughed, frowned and cried in turns, gliding through the waves of five years. Yaya responded in a daze; it was all too...surreal. All too soon, they were at Yaya's apartment, and Yaya had locked the door, and turned around to find Hikari drawing close, putting her angelic little hands on Yaya's collar, and it was as if nothing had ever changed, although a lifetime had passed. And Hikari was looking at her with a faintly pleading, begging expression, wanting her love, wanting her affirmation. And Yaya had realized then that everything had changed, that a lifetime had passed, that although this (their standing close together, one begging, one retreating) had happened before, the roles had been reversed. And Yaya had realized then that it was Tsubomi she wanted - slender, pink-haired Tsubomi with the smart, sensuous mouth, who had given Yaya her Christmas present early so that she could defeat princes and their white horses; Tsubomi, who had acted so odd lately; Tsubomi, who had gone home earlier on her scooter, alone, without restraint, without rebuke, without...goodbye. And then Yaya had realized what a fool she had been, had looked at Hikari with a look of infinite tenderness, had kissed her on the cheek, had breathed "I'm sorry" - and then had fled into the cold scooter-less night to look for an elfin figure with dusky pink hair.
Yaya walked into the darkened apartment and found Tsubomi's moonlit silhouette nestled against the window. Pain-filled eyes looked at Yaya as she approached, but there was only quiet dignity in Tsubomi's voice when she asked, "Where's Hikari-senpai?"
Yaya ignored the question, and knelt in front of the younger woman. "Why did you send her to me, Tsubomi?"
Tsubomi hung her head in response; in her hand, she held out a sketchbook towards Yaya.
It was the first time Yaya had seen the drafts of Tsubomi's work. They weren't the finished faceless sketches Tsubomi always showed her, but page upon page of full-bodied drawings; the lines of the clothes rough and endlessly revised, but the lines of her face and body - Yaya's face and body - always lovingly and flawlessly penciled in.
"I didn't want to scare you away." Tsubomi spoke softly. "I knew you'd been alone so long...I thought it was a miracle that I even managed to get so close. I didn't want to risk what we already had."
"Tsubomi." Yaya gently tipped the younger woman's chin up. "What gave you the idea that I still wanted Hikari after all this time?"
Confusion filled Tsubomi's face. "That afternoon by the tree...And the way you looked at her earlier tonight...Didn't you...Don't you want her?"
Yaya laughed softly, tenderness in her voice. "That afternoon by the tree was just a random thought, Tsubomi. And earlier tonight I was just so...shocked to see her after all this time. And even if, by some miracle, she really did want me tonight, the way I wanted her so many years ago, I would have said no. Because you're the one that I want, Tsubomi. And if I've held back from saying it or showing it for so long, it's because I was afraid too. You're the only one who's meant anything to me in such a long time...I didn't want to risk ruining what we had either."
Tears were running openly on Tsubomi's cheeks by then, but her eyes were smiling. "You...You blockhead," she whispered, throwing herself into Yaya's arms. "No wonder a stupid white horse with a prince on top beat you."
Yaya laughed. "One of these days, that mouth of yours is really going to get you into trouble."
"Then make it stop." Tsubomi said simply. Yaya obliged.