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the water is wide

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The air is silent when they meet again.

She hasn't seen her old love since they were but fourteen years old and just finishing up their battle with Mimi, the only relic of their past friendship being the few photographs they took together and her pet rabbit, Uxekull, who still has his days when he pines for her.

The three years they've been apart have been long and angsty. Yayaka remembers crying a lot at first, then terrible, unbound rage and hurt. Then more crying. Pining. And then simply… moving on. High school has done a number on her: she hasn't thought about Cocona in months, not really, in nearly a year, she realizes.

Her heart is pounding, filling her with that fluttery feeling she hasn't felt in three years, suddenly terrified of her own feelings, feelings she hasn't felt in years surfacing anew with new strength and novelty.

Her old love blinks at her, surprised and seemingly unaware of Yayaka's panic. "…Yayaka?"

No, no, no, no, no; this can't be happening. I'm over. I'm done. I'm not in love with Cocona anymore. "…Yes?" she weakly replies, unable to look her in the eye.

"I haven't seen you in so long. I'm so sorry we lost touch; we haven't been able to find or open an exit in Pure Illusion in three years, and I--"

"Cocona." The girl in question blinks, and Yayaka finds it in herself to give her a steely look her in the eye. "FIGHT ME!"

The challenge echoes in the empty school hallway that they have been reunited in, and Cocona looks at her with surprise. But, composing herself, she can only gently smile and say, "No."

Yayaka short-circuits for a second, having fully convinced herself over the last few years that Cocona would accept her challenge to fight without a shadow of a doubt. But then she realizes she knew all along that her old love wasn't like that, that she'd never accept a fight like that, a fight without proper basis or need.

So she smiles back, a genuine smile. Her heart has calmed down, but she can still feel it pounding in her chest as she says: "That's all right, Cocona." She sticks her hand out to shake hands with her former love, still smiling. "It's just nice to meet you again."

Cocona looks at the offering, then to Yayaka, then back to her hand.

She doesn't get her handshake, but the warm embrace she receives instead feels better anyway.

Cocona weeps softly into Yayaka's shoulder. "I've missed you…" she says.

The blonde smiles again, wrapping her arms around her old friend. "I missed you, too," she replies, letting the tears gather in the corners of her eyes. But she doesn't let them fall, instead closing her eyes and coating her lashes with them.

It feels nice.

"Cocona, Cocona, Coconaaaaa~~~" a familiar-yet-unfamiliar voice sings, and Cocona pulls away from the hug.

Turning around, Yayaka finds herself face-to-face with the same pink-haired annoyance she thought took her love away from her all those years ago. "Papika?"

The pink-haired girl skids to a stop right in front of the other two girls and cocks her head at Yayaka, not unlike a confused dog. "Yak-Yak?"

"Papika, I've told you so many times before! Her name is Yayaka!" Cocona chides, but it seems to go through Papika's head, seeing that she claps her hands together with delight.

"Yak-Yak!" she cheers. "Yak-Yak" hardly even has time to brace herself when the girl whom she had once thought to be a pink-haired annoyance tackles her into a hug.

She's tense for just a second or two, but relaxes after that, returning the hug.

Without words, without realizing it, she has grieved, she has blamed, she has forgiven.

At long last, her one-sided love story with Cocona has concluded.