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Missing You

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There was nothing else quite like sharing a bubble tea with a stranger at the park. The two sat far apart from each other on the same bench, sipping their drinks from colourful, striped straws.

For Suna Rintarou, it was a little embarrassing—having forgotten his wallet today, it certainly did not escape him that he now owed a stranger money.

Sitting away from him with her back straight and her dark blonde hair tied into a long ponytail was Lim Yuna—she stared flatly into the distance as she drank slowly.

“You know,” Suna said suddenly, eyeing her. “People don’t normally get pearls with passionfruit.”

Yuna turned her head to look at him, seemingly unimpressed. “What’s your point?”

He shrugged. “It goes better with fruit jelly, that’s all.”

Her fox-like gaze slid down to bore holes into the bottom of his drink cup, where slivers of jelly were piled up. The server had put too much of the topping into his beverage, but he didn’t seem to mind. Maybe she was being a little hasty, but it looked suspiciously like a break-up drink. Or maybe something her best friend, Oh Nari, would have indulged in back home after a particularly stressful day of dealing with Kim Bin’s antics.

No, wait, she corrected herself. That’s banana milk… Hmm… Banana milk tea, then? Is that a thing?

Yuna had never seen such a thing in Korea, but it very well might have existed in Japan. Pulling her phone out, she searched it, clicking her tongue in disappointment when her search yielded no results.

“Something wrong?” Suna said. He didn’t really sound like he cared.

Truly, Yuna didn’t either. “Not really.”

To Suna, everything about Lim Yuna screamed rich. He didn’t know her name yet, but he was sure it would be elegant and stately too. She just seemed like that kind of person.

From an outsider’s perspective, they supposed they would’ve appeared lonely. Or like a couple in the middle of a fight.

“Thanks,” Suna said eventually. “For paying for my drink, that is.”

“It’s no problem.”

“You rich?”

Yuna frowned. “Who’s asking?”

“Suna Rintarou,” he introduced himself. “From Inarizaki High. Maybe you’ve heard of it.”

“Lim Yuna,” she returned, “And I’ve been in Japan for two weeks now.”

“Ah. You’re…” His brow creased a little in concentration. “Korean, right?”

“Yeah.” Yuna crossed one leg over the other, never slouching like him. “Do you know where they sell banana milk around here?”

“Maybe at a store somewhere?” Suna ventured. “I’m not from around here either. I saw a Lawson’s on the way here, though.”

“Can you point me?”

He stood. “I’ll walk you there.”

Yuna made a face. “You don’t have to.”

“I’ve got nothing better to do,” he admitted. “Don’t worry—I’m not a creep.”

She gazed at him, her eyes unreadable. “Fine,” she allowed in the end. “Let’s go.”

On the way, they made little small talk.

At first, Yuna thought they were going to pass the trip in silence, which was perfectly fine with her. But then—

“Why banana milk?”

Yuna arched an eyebrow at him. “Why not?”

Suna copied the gesture. “You don’t seem like a banana milk person.”

“You’re right. I’m not.” The smallest smile appeared on her lips. “But it can’t be so bad. One of the best people I know…” She paused, and then amended, “The best person I know likes it. It’s her favourite drink.”

Suna considered this. Heard the slightest longing in her voice, and deduced that whoever she was speaking of was still in Korea. “Do you miss her?”

“It’s only been two weeks,” she reiterated, “But yes. She… She’s my best friend. I miss her every day. What about you? You said you weren’t from around here.”

“My team and I are here for nationals,” Suna explained. Her expression never changed, but he could tell that she wasn’t following too well. “The volleyball Spring Tournament. We just arrived today—my teammates are back at the hotel.”

“Right.” Yuna picked up the pace somewhat, but he kept up easily. “So you’re not missing any of them, are you?”

Maybe it was just him, but she sounded rather bitter about it. “That’s not true. I do miss them. Some more than others.”

“Then why don’t you go back to them? I see the Lawson’s up ahead—you don’t have to stay, you know.”

“It’s not that easy,” Suna told her as the automatic double doors slid open for them. “Sometimes you still miss someone even when they’re there. Especially when you know that—in a year—we won’t have much time left for each other. We’re gonna go to college,” they entered the fridge aisle, “Get jobs. Maybe some of us will go pro. Point is—we’re gonna live our own lives, and friendships are gonna fade and disappear.”

Yuna, having been facing the fridge and searching for the familiar shape of Nari’s favourite banana milk bottle, stopped and turned around to peer at the taller boy who had accompanied her to the store. “I used to think that, too. That friendship wouldn’t last forever. And maybe there’s truth in that, but… We don’t know for sure. So that doesn’t mean we can’t put in the effort to try and keep it afloat. It can be scary, but it’s just something we have to face head-on. Honestly,” she sighed, “it’s something that I’ve learned pretty recently, so I don’t have any room to judge.”

She paid for the banana milk, Suna hovering over her, his lips pursed as he mulled over her words.

“Hey, Yuna-san, right?” he spoke once they were outside, slowing to a stop under a street light. “Thanks.”

Yuna smiled—it was wide or beaming, but some more like gentle sunshine. “Don’t worry about the money, Suna-san.”

Maybe they would see each other again one day, but it was goodbye for now. They parted ways—Suna to his hotel, and Yuna to her new home—a lavish, spacious apartment.

And if they turned back once, it was only when they knew they were too far away to see each other.