The familiar air wafted over me as I stepped off the bus. Smog from all the cars and factories, smoke from cigarets, and the sweat of all the bodies mingled in the breeze almost choking me.
I didn’t like this place. I had always prefered the clean air and isolation of the mountains, or the constant change in scenery I went through. Yet I always ended up back here.
I threw my draw string bag over my shoulder and pulled my green trench coat closer to me as I trudged forward. I was in the 15th ward, I had a fair ways to go before I made it to the 20th ward.
I should have made a detour to the 4th ward to see my older brother, but my mind was only in one place.
I flipped the collar of my trench coat up as rain started to fall from the sky. It always seemed to rain here, it almost gave it a peaceful appearance. I knew better.
The only place that was safe anymore was as far away from people as possible. Easiest way to do this was to keep moving. There was never any peace of mind any other way that I found.
I started up the familiar steps into the building. I paused on the small landing and opened the door to my right, stepping in quickly to be out of the rain.
“Welcome!” Everyone there greeted before a pregnant pause took over.
“I’m back.” I said awkwardly, shifting from one foot to another under their gaze.
“Amaya-chan…” Touka said slowly in shock as she stared at me.
“It’s good to see you again, Amaya.” Yoshimura smiled at me.
“Man, it’s been a while, Ama-chan, where on this green planet have you been off too?” Enji laughed.
“Yeah, we’ve missed you.” Kaya grinned.
“I’ve been up in Hokkaido.” I informed as I looked up and down two new workers at Anteiku, “Who are the newbies?”
“Kaneki Ken,” The boy with and eye patch and black hair perked up at his name, “And Nishio Nishiki.” the brunette perked up at his name, “I would like you to meet Amaya. She is a dear friend to us.”
“She’s also Uta’s little sister.” Touka added in.
“Thank you for always bringing that up, Touka-chan.” I rolled my eyes at her.
“Oh come on, Ama-chan.” Enji laughed, “You know your brother will be heart broken if he finds out you’re distancing yourself from him.”
I rolled my eyes at him, “He can live with it.”
“Come have a coffee and warm up.” Yoshimura offered as he gestured to the counter.
The cafe was devoid of all other patrons, so I took a deep breath to relax and dropped my bag on the floor next to a stool and sat down.
“Has business been good for you guys?” I asked absentmindedly.
“About as good as it could be.” The old man informed.
“So what were you doing in Hokkaido, Amaya?” Kaya asked me, leaning over the counter to get closer to me.
“The usual.” I said shortly.
“Anything of great interest?” Enji pried this time.
“That depends on what you would call ‘interesting’.” I countered.
“Amaya-chan, can you please just tell us about it? Those two are going to explode if you don’t tell them soon.” Touka smirked.
I half grinned back but hid it behind my hand as Yoshimura placed a cup of steaming hot coffee in front of me.
“The Doves are making their way up north.” I said shortly, pausing to take a sip from my coffee. A smile spread across my face as the warmth took over me. Very few things I have missed about this place, the coffee was definitely one of them.
“They haven’t quite made shop up in Hokkaido just yet. But in the next year or two the new building will be completed and operations will be under weigh to move and monitor ghouls up there.” I paused and furrowed my brow, “We’re running out of potential safe places.”
A pregnant pause took over the cafe. Yoshimura, Enji, and Kaya all furrowed their brows, their lips pressed tight together.
“We’ll have to deal with it as it comes.” The manager finally relented, “For now you are safe and we have that information. Where do you think you will look next?”
“I’m gonna try for the southern most Islands by Okinawa. If that fails I’m gonna try for Korea. Maybe try more West.” I informed, staring into the brown liquid in my mug, “Before that though, I heard about a ghoul that’s been causing a bunch of trouble in Osaka.”
“Why would you care about?” Nishiki demanded, curiosity bubbling over, “Isn’t that something that should only concern the Doves?”
“You would think that.” I said slowly, pausing again to sip my coffee again, “Until you realize that this ghoul has been cannibalizing other ghouls.”
Silence overtook the younger members of the cafe. They were realizing the truth of this situation.
“Does Yomo-san know that you’re here, Amaya?” Yoshimura asked, cutting through the silence, hoping to bring some light to the space.
“Not yet.” I said quietly, lifting my coffee cup and drinking from it for a prolonged period.
He just smiled at me.
“You should see him as soon you can.”
“I was planning on it.” I informed after finishing off my coffee, “I just kinda thought that he would have been here.”
A light click came to my ears as I turned the key in the lock. I took a deep breath before I turned the knob. It had been so long since I had been here. Almost one year and almost no contact. Would he be mad? Would he still love me? Would he kick me out? Would there be another girl in his life?
I decided to bite the bullet and just turn the knob and enter.
The apartment was silent and empty. I took a pause after closing the door to pull off my boots, leaving my bag by the door.
I padded down the short hallway, coming out at the small kitchen, dinning, living room area. The apartment was still empty and silent. I went to the left and opened the sliding door to his bedroom. Empty.
I sighed deeply. He wasn’t here. I had hoped he would have been home so we could talk and I could even explain myself.
I stepped into his bedroom and shrugged off my jacket, hanging it on a hook on the wall. I pulled my belt and cargo pants off, tossing them to the corner of the room. I tugged my long, black hair out of its pony tail and started combing it through with my fingers to get some of the tangles out.
I then flopped down on the double bed and wound myself up in his blankets. It smelled of him. He hadn’t changed his sheets yet.
I nestled down into the warmth and relaxed. It wasn’t too long before I drifted off to sleep.
My eyes fluttered open at the gentle touch of someone caressing my face.
I looked up to the sharp face of Renji. He had a soft smile on his normally stern face.
“Renji.” I moaned with tiredness and rubbed my eyes to be able to look at him better, “You’re here finally.”
He was laying on his side, head propped up on his left hand. His right hand was lazily running through my dark hair.
“I missed you.” I smiled and wrapped my arms around his torso.
He hadn’t said anything yet, so I was slightly afraid that he was upset with me.
“I’ve missed you too.” He said finally. His deep, smooth voice sending shivers down my spine.
“I’m glad to see you’re alright.” He then leaned down and kissed my forehead.
“I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long.” I admitted into his neck, “I didn’t mean for it be that way, but then information just kept coming. And the Doves came across my trail briefly, so I couldn’t do anything. I-
I was cut off by Renji placing a soft kiss on my lips. Fire smoldered in my belly as I clung to him.
“You’re here now.” He breathed when he pulled back, “You’re alive. That’s all that matters.”
He kissed my forehead again and held me close.
“Let’s just focus on right now.”
“You know you don’t have to keep waiting on me.” I almost whispered. I didn’t want him to leave me, but I didn’t want him to be unhappy with me, “I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted someone else.”
He didn’t reply verbally at first, his hands found their way into my cocoon and groped my bare thighs and hardly covered ass.
I yelped at the contact of his warm hands, only prompting a chuckle from him.
“You are worth waiting for, Amaya.” He said lowly, “You happen to be one of the best information sources we have. We need you for that. Because of that, and the dedication that you have for your work, I can’t let any of it bother me. We’ll be together permanently eventually. Until then, I’ll hang on as long as you’ll hang on.”
“I never want to let go of you, Renji.” I told him, burying my face into the crook of his neck, “I just don’t want you to waste your life waiting on me.”
“Some people are worth waiting for, Amaya.” He kissed my forehead again.
“I guess we’ll have to keep up the long distance thing then?” I sighed before I squealed as he groped by butt again.
“There’s no distance here now, Amaya. Let’s enjoy it.” Renji grinned at me.
A loud bang echoed through the apartment that caused both of us to shoot up in a jolt. Then the door to the bedroom all but flew off the track.
“Uta.” I growled seeing my older brother standing in the doorway with a giant grin on his face.
“Oh come on, you see everybody else but me! You can at least act happy to see me, Aya-chan~.” The black haired man sang.
Renji and I gave each other a sideways look before my brother propelled himself between the two of us.
Renji and I both grumbled as we made room for the giddy man. I readjusted the blankets around me to cover my lower half so Ulta wouldn’t say anything about it.
It wasn’t quite long distance right now, but there was definitely a more annoying space between us now.