While Nodoka and an old friend of Rei's had a heart-to-heart conversation about some past wrong doings, Subaru made herself scarce to give them privacy. At first she had holed herself in her bedroom, thinking she'd just wait it out, but it seemed that whatever conversation they were having was going to be a long one. So she grabbed her purse and quickly made as stealthy escape from the apartment as she could. Even though she had walked in front of them the get to the door, they hadn't noticed.
Clicking the door shut, she let out and exhale, feeling as if she had barely dodged being hit by a falling bowling ball. Being a good friend, it took everything she had not to eavesdrop on Nodoka's conversation, but she had to admit she was curious. Even with music playing, Subaru couldn't completely block out some of the more heated portions of their argument.
It seemed their confrontations had experienced highs and lows, and Subaru ducked out when they were being friendly. As she pressed her back to the door, collecting herself, she thought of her own fight with Ren. She knew that they were done being friends, but also felt that both of them regretted this. That shared last look they gave each other back in Osaka still was plastered on forefront of her mind most nights.
"How's everything going in there?" Rei suddenly was standing in front of her, leaning her back against the guardrail.
"Still talking." Subaru raised her eyebrows, trying to ignore just how perfectly those jeans hugged Rei's hips. "When I left they weren't yelling, so that's good."
"I'm glad." Rei looked relieved. "I have a sense that Megumi-chan has been feeling guilty about this all this time. Even if they end up hating each other, it's good that they finally settle things."
Subaru frowned slightly, relating more than she'd like to those words. "In a way, I believe that's what's been going on with everyone the last few months."
"In what way?" Rei tilted her head.
"Well, you and Saki-chan for one thing. You've both rekindled your friendship after everything that's happened. As for me, I've finally sorted out things with Nobu-kun. Now Nodoka-chan is facing her demons. This pretty much feels like an end of a chapter for all of our lives, don't you think?"
"I guess when you word it that way-" Rei nodded in agreement.
Without any invitation, she reached forward and grabbed Subaru's hand. It was slightly sweaty from the humidity in the air, but Subaru's fingers tightened around Rei's. Then the two of them went down the stairs and walked towards the small parking lot. They both leaned against Subaru's car, thinking their own thoughts, but remained holding hands. Then all at once, Rei broke their trance and looked down at her.
"Let's go do something."
"You've got your purse. Where were you planning on going?"
"I don't know. Away." Subaru gestured at the apartment. "I didn't really have a plan."
"Then why don't we go a cafe or something. I mean, it's better than hiding out here, isn't it?"
"I don't know. I like being out in the night sky." Subaru looked up. "Even in Tokyo, I still like looking at the stars. Of course it's much more beautiful in Yumoto, not as many city lights, but Tokyo has it's moments too."
"That's sounds a bit romantic." Rei giggled.
"Oh! I didn't mean it like that." Subaru remembered they were still holding hands while she was talking about stargazing.
Rei watched her silently for a moment, then looked up at the sky herself. "I used to live in Ugo, so I get what you mean about the charm of living in a smaller town. I bet the stars must look beautiful in the mountains."
"They do." Subaru looked up herself. "One day you should travel there. Both Nodoka-chan and Kaede-chan's families own onsen inns, and they're really nice. I've stayed in both more than a few times, even before the Ozawa's wedding. I prefer Kaede's inn, in all honesty. It's much smaller than the touristy spas, so it really reflects that Yumoto hometown feel. And the hot spring is so pretty at night."
"Saki-chan told me about it. I wish I knew everyone back then and was there for the wedding."
"You would have enjoyed it." Subaru turned her gaze away from the stars and looked up at Rei's profile. "Perhaps we should take a trip in time for the Spring Festival."
"The two of us?" Rei turned away from the stars and flashed that fang-like grin.
"I…I meant everyone. You know. I didn't mean just the two of us." Subaru stammered.
"Why are you getting flustered?" Rei gave a small laugh. "Am I intimidating you in some way?"
Subaru shook her head, but in truth did feel a bit frightened. She didn't understand it, but this whole scene felt a bit more lovey-dubey than it should. Perhaps it was because she had opened her heart to the possibility of dating during the Nobuyuki-incident, as it was harder to push those feelings back down.
"What is it?" Rei was still studying her face.
Sighing, Subaru mentally got a grip of herself. She needed to stop acting like this. "Sorry. I've just been feeling lonely these days and have been unfairly been looking at you in an improper way."
"Yes. Tonight I keep mistaking your kindness as flirting. I know you're not, but I guess losing Nobu-kun has left an itch that needs to be scratched."
"So you want a relationship." Rei concluded.
"It's like Nodoka-chan said: I've been looking after other people for so long that I've neglected my own feelings. She wasn't wrong when she said that it was time for me to open my heart. It's just that Nobu-kun wasn't that person I needed, even if I wanted him to be."
"I agree." Rei nodded her head earnestly. "I think you deserve to be happy."
Subaru smiled at her enthusiasm, but still felt her body shiver. "I know that's what I want, but I don't know what to do. I'm so afraid. I've never really sought out someone before."
"You've never had a boyfriend or a girlfriend?"
"Nothing serious." Subaru waved that away. "More like I've had flings. A few girls at school, some drinks with girls at the club. In the end that's all I was looking for: just a quick fix. I saw a relationship as just a burden that got in the way of my studies."
"Yep. That sounds just like the Subaru-chan I've come to love." Rei gave a giggle. "Come here, you." She went for a hug, but Subaru stepped away.
"Stop it." Subaru felt her heart race. "I don't want to think about you in an improper way."
"Sorry." Rei apologized again. "I want to help but I just don't know what I can do. The only thing I can think of is to give you some hugs."
"I know." Subaru placed her hands behind her back, understanding the situation she had placed Rei in. "I've come to really care about you, so I don't want to muddy things up."
"Nobu-kun says that you're the type of person who always wants to take care of someone." Rei recalled. "You've certainly looked after me. In return, I'd like to do what I can and take care of you."
"What, you're going to find me a girlfriend?" Subaru almost laughed at the idea.
"Sure, why not?"
"You're straight for one thing, and any lesbian you'd try to set me up with would just hit on you instead." Subaru stated logically. "I can't have someone prettier than me be my wingman."
"I'm not sure if I should be happy at that or insulted." Rei shoved Subaru.
"I'm just stating facts." Subaru told her. "I've always been a realist. I've never saw the need in sugarcoating things. You're hot and I'm no where near your league. Naturally a girl you'd try to set me up with would be more drawn to you over me."
"I don't think that's true." Rei lowered her eyebrows.
Subaru didn't know why, but Rei always seemed to get upset whenever her appearance was brought up. Conversations she had with Makoto were the only bases for Subaru's theories on the matter. Being beautiful herself, Makoto had admitted a few times that she felt the need to prove she was more than just a pretty face. She wanted people to look past all that and see her as she really was. Now that she considered this, she thought Rei might be the same. For women of her level, being that gorgeous was both a blessing and a curse.
"Perhaps I'm being insensitive." Subaru whispered, more to herself than to Rei. She didn't know how to apologize for saying truthful facts.
"Maybe I am as well." Rei sighed, hugging her midsection again. "I just don't like it when you talk yourself down, especially if you're using me as a measuring stick. You've got this cute girl thing going for you. I don't see why that's not enough."
"I didn't say-"
"You've got really great qualities!" Rei turned and faced her again. "You're cute, smart, and compassionate… why isn't that enough? If you were a boy, you'd be the type of guy I'd go after. You don't have to be a super hero to be special to someone, you know."
Subaru's heart skipped a beat again. She was starting to feel it all over again. This girl was making it really hard not to fall for her when she said things like that. As usual, whenever Subaru didn't know how to deal with things, she went completely honest.
"Damn it Reiko, that was too romantic sounding."
"Maybe it is, I don't care." Rei leaned against the car again.
Watching her for a bit, Subaru moaned and leaned against the car next to Rei. "I wish you liked girls. Things would be so much easier if you did."
Rei looked down at her then gave a small laugh. "You don't want to date me. I'm a mess remember?"
"And if you remember, one of my kinks is fixing hard-luck cases." Subaru reminded her.
"So are you saying that you like me?"
This was getting out of hand. Her random fantasy had gotten her into trouble. Of course she didn't like Rei like that, but that didn't mean she hadn't fantasized about it either. Rei was gorgeous, afterall. She was playful, overly cute, and could be funny. But most of all, she was another project. They were all qualities Subaru was attracted too.
Yet she'd never go after Rei, not seriously. Rei was too fragile right now to think straight, for starters. Forcing her own needs on her at this point would be manipulative. Not only that, but there was the small factor of Rei being completely boy-crazy. She might be friends with a bunch of lesbians and live in gay-town, but that didn't mean she felt the same as them.
No, this was just a fleeting thought of fancy.
"I hope it doesn't hurt your feelings when I say this, but I'm only interested in your body." Subaru finally said, letting her voice reveal some truth but also play in a joking manner. "I like you better as a friend."
Rei flashed that gorgeous smile of hers. "You act like you're dumping me."
"Well I am, in a way. Stop bringing this up!" Subaru pointed out, then hit Rei's leg with her hip. "I just got out of a relationship with a close friend. I'm not looking to jump into those dangerous waters again."
"Okay, okay, I get it." Rei looked down on her. "I was only playing around."
There was a beat between them where nothing was said. Both of them were thinking their own thoughts, watching the sky. She didn't know what Rei was thinking about, but they still were holding hands. Her sexual frustrations were gone now, after she had rationalized everything in her mind, but she couldn't deny enjoying feeling happy. It was nice having someone like Rei who wanted to be with her, even in a platonic way.
"Lets save up and take that trip to Yumoto." Rei voice pulled Subaru from her stargazing. "I think you sold me on the idea of soaking in a hot spring."
"Don't you think it's a bit romantic if the two of us went alone-"
"Now you're the one assuming things. I meant for everyone!" Rei laughed. "Don't you think that would be nice?"
"Then it's settled." Rei nodded to herself. "Let's all save up and make a big event of it. Something to look forward too."
Subaru watched her for a while, forgetting her promise to stop admiring Rei's beauty. Then she turned back to the stars and gave a satisfied sigh. Yeah. A hot springs vacation sounded really nice; one that didn't have a bunch of pent up drama from the past plaguing her like the wedding did. Just a trip with friends.
"Yeah… something to look forward too."