It was a usual day, sun shining, birds singing, waves rolling onto the golden beaches, and the usual group heading from the gym to Gobber’s restaurant.
The weather had started to warm up a bit, but most natives walked around in a hoodie or sweater in order to keep warm, especially in the morning.
Ten months had passed since they lost their friend, and while it was hard at times, they fell into a regular routine again. And every month they would meet up at Stoik’s house, and Tuff would make borscht for all of them, it was a good coping mechanism for him too.
The bell on the door rung as they entered and went to their usual table.
“The usuals?” Gobber asked from the kitchen.
“Yes!” They all called back.
This morning was different from the others, there was another occupant of the dinner. He was sitting at the counter, back to them.
They shrugged it off and talked about this and that, nothing in particular.
Gobber came out of the kitchen with plates of delicious breakfast as the person at the counter was paying.
“Have a good day.” Gobber told the person as he went around the counter to collect the money and dishes.
“You too.” He said and pulled his hood up before exiting the diner.
When the door shut behind him, Gobber turned his attention back to the group of friends.
The group walked down the street towards work, continuing on with mindless conversation. They wait as the cars go by before the cross walk signals for pedestrians to proceed. What the group failed to notice were the red eyes watching them from the wall of the building that was behind them.
She let out her breath from her nostrils seeing them disapear in the crowd. Then her eyes moved to the man standing next to her, the agent that would be looking over her to keep her safe from the mafia.
“Who was that?” He asked her as he pulled out a hand held device and was about to write down their and affiliation incase he needed to be terminated to keep the brunette at his side alive.
“My friends, and boyfriend.” She said softly, “Or at least they were.”
The agent just nodded and put the device away, understanding why she didn’t want to give anymore information after that.
“Let’s go.” She said to the agent, before he could say anything.
The agent just followed her along back to her apartment, as they had already completed the shopping of the day.
“It’s good to be back.” Tuff hummed to himself as he stretched out on the beach before his morning surf. He decided that, Carstella wouldn’t want him to give up what he loved just because he was depressed. So he came back here to maybe get some inspiration.
He turned around to complete the move he was pulling off, when de ja vu happened all over again.
A girl with red eyes and short, dark brown hair came running down the sea path. Ear buds in her ears, t-shirt and sweat pants rippling in the wind as she moved.
Tuff acted on instinct rather than rationality.
He ran forward after the girl and just barely managed to tackle her down onto the soft sand before his lungs were going give out on him.
She attempted to wiggle away as she thrashed. With all of Tuff’s strength he turned the girl over so she was laying on her back and staring up at him.
She instantly stopped her movements and just froze.
Both of them were breathing heavily as they looked at one another.
Tuff reached up hesitantly to pull out her ear buds so she could hear him, but he couldn’t say anything.
The girl’s breath was slightly laboured staring into his blue eyes. Neither could come up with words for the other at the moment.
Her red eyes closed slowly before she said softly, trying to keep her voice steady.
“Don’t.” She said shortly, “He’s not dangerous.”
Tuff looked over his shoulder to see a middle aged man, in a blue polo, khaki shorts, and sandles. What really got his attention was the black heater, with silencer in his hands drawn and was just lowering the gun from pointing it at him.
A pregnant silence fell over the two in the living room as the red eyed girl wiped her eyes.
The blonde just stared at her, the girl’s eyes fixated on the ground.
Tuff’s hands formed into tight fists. He stayed like that for a moment before he lunged forward and pulled the dark haired girl into a tight hug.
Carstella stayed frozen for a moment before wrapping her arms around his torso and burying her face in her chest.
She noticed that Tuff was shaking, his voice on the brink of breaking.
“I don’t care.” He said choking back tears, “When I heard the execution was successful, my heart broke. I never thought I would be able to hold or look at you again. It killed me, Stell. It really did.”
“You deserve so much better than I could ever give you, Tuff.” She said softly.
“No.” He snapped and shook his head furiously, “You deserve better than this idiot who can only hurt you more than you already are.”
“You could never hurt me, Tuff.” Carstella sniffed, “I do it too much to myself.”
“Why?” He asked almost sobbing.
“Because there were too many people I’ve hurt, I thought I deserved all the pain I could get.”
“No.” Tuff told her sternly and pulled back to look at her, he pushed some of her hair out of her face and behind her ear, “Zaidah, has suffered all she needs to, to atone for her sins. Carstella on the other hand, she’s gone through unbelievable pain, and it’s about damn time she became happy.”
“Then may I ask something of you?” Carstella asked hesitantly.
Tuff nodded and ran his fingers through her hair.
“Smile for me.”
Tuff didn’t have to force it, he didn’t even have to try. Her usual innocent and gentle tone asking all too politely, he had missed it oh so much.
His lips turned up, his teeth showed through his lips, happiness filled his eyes and warmth his heart.
Carstella gazed upon his face in awe, she had been afraid she wouldn’t be able to see him again.
Her heart swelled with happiness, and she felt her cheeks push up and a strange pull on her lips.
“I missed you.” They said in usion.
Carstella wrapped her arms around Tuff’s waist, Tuff pulled her into his chest and leaned back so he was on his back and the girls was snuggled up on his stomach.
The usual silent peacefulness covered them as they enjoyed the warmth of each other they had missed for so long.