“Are you sure you’ve got everything?” Ryo asked, his face expressionless but his voice tight with worry and sadness.
“Yes, I’m positive. You’re such a worrywart sometimes.” The other man managed a smile despite his own inner turmoil.
“Clothes? Money? Phone? Plane ticket?”
“Yes, yes, yes, and yes. See?” The ticket was flashed in Ryo’s face before being returned to an inside jacket pocket. “I’m not a complete idiot.”
“I know you’re not, that’s not what… I just…”
“Worry, I know. If there was an Olympic medal in worrying, you’d take gold every time.” It was a poor attempt at humor, but appreciated nonetheless, judging by Ryo’s wan smile.
“I’m not that bad, am I?”
“Yes, but… I guess that’s one of the things I’m going to miss about you. That and your cooking, and other stuff.”
Ryo huffed a small laugh. “You were always there when it was time to eat, like you had some kind of sixth sense.”
“I didn’t need a sixth sense, I could smell dinner cooking, and hear you clattering plates about, a sure sign you were about ready to dish up. No one’s ever fed me better than you have.”
“At least I was good at something.”
“Are you kidding? You were better than good, at everything!”
“I don’t want you to go,” Ryo admitted in a small voice.”
“I know, but I have to. The taxi will be here soon. I don’t want to miss my flight.”
“I’ll help you take your bags downstairs.”
“No need, there isn’t that much; I can manage.” He didn’t want a tearful kerbside goodbye. “You’ll send the rest on?”
“Yeah, as soon as you let me know where.”
“Thanks. You’re the best; you know that, right?” Strong arms enveloped Ryo in a tight hug for a moment, then let go to gather the backpack and two suitcases. “Take care of yourself, Ryo.”
“You too. I love you.”
“I know.” The apartment door closed, and Ryo stood there, bereft. Why did goodbyes hurt so much?
The door opened again and Ryo looked up, cursing himself for being so transparently hopeful, and then so disappointed.
“Not the welcome I was expectin’.” The smile was wry.
“Sorry. Did you…?”
“S’okay. Yeah, I was startin’ to think I wouldn’t be back in time for goodbyes. We literally passed on the stairs. You okay?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know. I miss him already.”
“’Course you do, but things change, and so do people, and sometimes lettin’ go is the only thing you can do. I know you want him to be happy.”
“Doesn’t make it any easier.”
A different pair of strong arms wrapped around Ryo this time. “Look on the bright side.”
“There’s a bright side?”
“Yep! No more unwanted interruptions, no more havin’ to be quiet, and best of all… we’ve got the place to ourselves and the whole weekend to enjoy it!”
Ryo laughed against Dee’s shoulder. “You’re such a horn dog! I’m just really going to miss Bikky.”