[21st of September, 2740 AD; Iiayine Train Station – Main Deck, Rezar, Iiayikohn]
Gavin checked the clock on the wall. The next train to Bel was coming soon and he wanted to make sure that he had everything ready. The next few days were to be some of the most challenging for Gavin and his group and he did not want to be unprepared. He expected the best from Eva and even his brother, but there remained doubt about what Noa could do for them. Still, having a native of Maeitakohn would only help the cause, especially an esteemed sniper of the military. At least, that was what Karim Khadir said to Gavin.
“So what is Bel like, Gavvy?” Kiku asked. “I’ve only heard the stories from other people and I don’t think it’d be possible for me to go visit any time soon.”
Kiku had traveled with Ayame and Igor to see off the four as they waited for the train to arrive. She tried to place her hand in Gavin’s, but he pulled away instead.
“It’s pretty warm,” Gavin replied. “Even at this time of year, it’s a lot hotter than other areas. It gets a little exhausting, even if you wanted to wear a short sleeve shirt.”
“I don’t think it’s that bad, bro,” Law said. “Sure, the weather can either be a humid rain or a beleaguering sunlight, but that’s nothing to me!”
“I would think that you’d be the worst of all in that damn jacket of yours,” Gavin said. “What the hell is your deal, anyway?”
Law put his hands into his pockets. “It’s called fashion,” he said. “I know that that’s something you can’t comprehend, but I like to look nice whenever I go out. Even if I don’t meet a beautiful woman out there, it’s the thought that I could potentially do so that encourages me to try and look my best.”
“Give me a break, Lawrence.”
“Well, I will be the first to say you look dashing, Lala,” Kiku said. “Men should look as good as women do. You could even try and put a little makeup on if it suits your fancy!”
“Don’t encourage him,” Gavin said.
“Oh, you say that, but I bet you’re a little jealous,” Kiku replied.
“As if,” Gavin said.
“Madame, perhaps it’s not the best idea to engage Mr. Power in this line of conversation,” Igor told Kiku. “We’re just here to see them ride that steel horse to their destination, that is all.”
“You honestly didn’t have to do this,” Eva said. “Don’t you have more pressing matters to attend to, anyway?”
“Seeing my friends off is a pressing matter,” Kiku answered. “Then again, seeing you act all stoic is cute, Evie.”
“That’s nice, I guess,” Eva replied as she turned away.
“Seeing you like that only makes me like you more,” Kiku said. “Quirky must be quite happy to be with you!”
“Speaking of which, what did your mother want to say to Kirk?” Eva asked. “I couldn’t really talk to him before we left, so I wanted to ask you.”
Kiku placed a finger on her lips as she looked up. “I wish I could say,” she replied. “She’s always usually so busy, so this must be something important after all. Aya, Iggy, mother didn’t tell you two anything, did she?”
“That she did not, madame,” Ayame said.
“That’s fine,” Eva said. “You’ve told me all I needed to know.”
“I mean, we could just as easily go now and find out,” Igor replied.
Eva put her hand up. “No, you don’t need to do that. Just knowing where Kirk is good enough for me.”
“As so it seems, Evie,” Kiku said. “So, Nona, answer me this: what type of woman do you like?”
“What… What does that have to do with anything?” Noa asked. “Didn’t you already ask me this question before?”
“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t,” Kiku answered. “Two minutes. That’s how much time is left before the train arrives, so you really should answer my question before you leave.”
“That’s a bit too deep into the soul, though,” Noa said. “It’s… it’s not like I don’t have a type or anything, but still…”
“I hear you, Noa,” Law said. “Women are such beautiful beings that a man cannot just say that he has a specific type. You kind of just want to experience it all for yourself, don’t you agree?”
“I feel the exact same way,” Kiku replied. “Of course, I can never really walk in your shoes, Lala, but that’s what makes things so great for me when I meet another girl. It’s hard to turn myself away, especially when I’ve got Aya by my side.”
“Suppose you have a point,” Noa said.
“Then we’ve got something in common,” Kiku said. “Hehe, I can tell that you’ve become captivated my spectacular beauty.”
Law whispered to Noa. “That’s a sign, man,” he said. “She likes you. I’d advise that you tread wisely from here.”
“I can’t just do that!” Noa exclaimed. “What of them?”
“Oh, Nona, you are just adorable,” Kiku said. “You really are just something else!”
“Law… do you think that was a sign, too?” Noa asked.
Law shook his head as he smirked. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Why don’t you ask Eva?”
Eva put her hand to her face. “You’re really going to ask me? Gods, I don’t have time for this.”
“Miss Izumi, we can have this conversation for another time,” Gavin said. “I really gotta keep these guys under check, don’t I? Good grief.”
The bell rung then as everyone could hear the train approaching. Gavin turned to Kiku and nodded as she smiled and waved at him. Law and Eva took their time to shake hands with Kiku, Ayame, and Igor. Meanwhile, Noa could only keep to himself as he just waited for the train to arrive. That was when he felt a hand upon his back, which prompted him to look and see Kiku right next to him. He began to pull himself away, but stopped and took a deep breath.
“I really would like to learn more about you,” Kiku said. “There’s something so compelling about you that I just can’t let it go. You would at least do me the honor of granting that wish, wouldn’t you, Nona?”
“Well, if the opportunity were to occur, I guess,” Noa replied.
Law slapped his forehead. “Take the hint…”
“It’s not even a hint at this point,” Eva said.
“Ah, you don’t even need to tell me, you fool,” Kiku said. “Your reaction says all that I need to know; after all, I’m psychic!”
“Y-You are!?” Noa asked.
“Wow, if I can get you to believe that, then it’ll be easier than I thought,” Kiku replied. “Oh, I should give you this, then.”
Kiku took off the chrysanthemum hairpin from her hair and handed it over to Noa. He had no choice but to accept the gift as he placed it in his pocket. The train arrived as Gavin and Law looked to each other, and then over to Eva as they made their way onboard.
“The next time you see me, you will hand that hairpin back to me,” Kiku said. “You can think of it as a promise, if you want!”
“Are you sure?” Noa asked. “Those two bodyguards of yours… they have no objection?”
“Neither of us see you as a potential threat,” Ayame said. “Madame Izumi should be fine, though we aren’t going to leave her side.”
Gavin called out to Noa. “Hey you, get the train already!”
“You should go, Mr. Mzade,” Igor said. “You ought to consider yourself lucky, given that madame wishes to see you again.”
“I… I will,” Noa said. “I guarantee that I’ll see you again… Miss Izumi.”
Kiku giggled. “You’re going to be late.”
Noa turned around. “You’re right,” he said. “See you soon!”
With that, Noa rushed off for the train and boarded it as Kiku waved him off. The doors closed behind him as he caught his breath and looked to Gavin, who was already sitting down next to the window. Law sat on the other side next to Eva, which meant that Noa would have to sit next to Gavin on the ride to Bel. With some hesitation, he sat in the empty seat as Gavin crossed his arms and leaned against the side.
“You should look out the window, Noa,” Law said. “I see that Kiku’s blowing you a kiss!”
“She is?” Noa asked.
He looked out the window and to the deck, but Kiku just stood there and waved to him as Ayame and Igor helped lead her out of the station. Noa sighed as he sunk into his seat and placed his bag in between his legs.
“I can’t say I understand what’s going on in your head,” Gavin said, “But I will tell you that you’ll need think forward here. Miss Izumi is in good hands, so you shouldn’t have to worry about her, which I hope won’t bog your mind for when we get to Maeitakohn.”
“I agree with you, Gavin,” Noa said. “I’ll be sure to not be a burden to the rest of you.”
“That much you shouldn’t worry about,” Eva said. “Just try to remember other people’s personal boundaries.”
“Yeah, I can see why you’d say that,” Law said. “Though I bet Noa would view you in a very different light if he were to know some of those details for himself.”
“Quit while you’re ahead, Lawrence,” Gavin said.
“So, Noa, you may not know this just from where you’re sitting,” Law continued, “But Eva here isn’t wearing a bra underneath her shirt at all! It’s the truth!”
“Do you want to die?” Eva asked.
“I think I’d prefer not to,” Law replied. “Still, Noa looked as if he wanted to know, so I told him.”
“Is that true?” Noa asked. “Not… Not that I want to know or anything! That wasn’t my intention at all!”
“You’re fucking kidding me,” Gavin said.
Eva sighed. “It’s not surprising in the least, I guess,” she said. “Since I have a feeling I know what you’ll ask next, no, I’m not wearing any underwear, either. There, now you can stop bugging me.”
“Wow, Noa, you got her to admit that?” Law asked. “I couldn’t have even guessed, even from where I’m sitting.”
“You’re the one who led me down this path!” Noa exclaimed.
“Switch seats with him,” Gavin said to Noa. “Now!”
“But… she’s glaring at me in such a menacing manner,” Noa replied.
“Think I care?” Gavin asked. “I can’t be assured you’ll act appropriately, but I can sure as hell keep that jackass on check before he makes an even bigger fool of himself! For fuck’s sake, man!”
“Okay, okay, I get the message,” Noa said. “God, you’re scary… But not anywhere near as scary as her!”
Gavin shoved Noa out of his seat. “Move it!”
Noa got up to his feet and traded places with Law, who patted him on the back as they switched. Everything changed as Noa attempted to settled himself next to Eva, who looked away from him as she stared out the window. The train started to move as Noa hung his head.
“It’s going to be a while until we get to Bel,” Eva said, “But that doesn’t mean I want to talk to you right now.”
“I understand,” Noa said.
“I mean that,” she replied. “I’m not mad at you, but I just want to get all of this off my mind before we reach the city.”
“Okay, I got it,” Noa said.
Noa sighed as he closed his eyes. The train was rolling and he was already tired. Meanwhile, Gavin kept a close eye on Law to make sure he was not doing something suspicious. It would be some time until they made it to Bel, but Noa knew that he would have to find the right words to say to General Khadir before they met again.
To be continued…