By Max Fauth

Towing her suitcase behind her, Aoi stepped out of the spacious terminal building onto the footpath. The street before her was bustling, almost clogged with buses, taxis and private cars ready to take passengers from their flight into Hong Kong proper. The white clouds above and the massive terminals around her seemed to block out the sky. She stepped out of the doorway and paused to stretch out her injured leg. The mechanical brace underneath her suit pants whirred faintly, taking the strain. Her leg still ached, but it was getting better. As she stretched, she felt the litany of aches, pains and cuts inflicted over the last few days complaining beneath her neatly tailored suit. These too would fade, in time.

A persistent beep caught her attention, and she drew her mobile from her pocket. The name on the screen brought a brief gasp. It was the call she had been anticipating, ever since she had left Theresa on that rooftop, only two days ago. Hands trembling, she keyed the phone and spoke softly to it.


"It's me." Relief washed over her. Just hearing that voice meant that she was alive and recovering. At the same time, it brought a subtle twinge of sadness, both for what had happened, and what she still needed to do. "Where are you?"

"Hong Kong. I'm meeting up with the Boss." She paused and asked "You?" almost fearing the answer.

"Still getting fixed." Eve's voice wavered ever so slightly. "They say it'll take a while to fix the... Damage."

Aoi nodded slowly to herself. "But you'll be okay?"

Silence roared out loud over the line for long seconds. It seemed to drown out the bustle of the airport, absorbing all around it. Finally, Eve intoned "I've been thinking."

"Me too," Aoi replied.

"April told me... You said you wouldn't be back."

She was wondering which of them would broach this subject, dreading and anticipating it at the same time. "I don't think it would be wise, after..." Theresa.

"I agree." Aoi gave a tiny gasp of surprise. In truth, she hadn't known what to expect. But Eve's calm agreement was very reassuring. "I turned on you; even if it was her plan, I did it so easily. After all of that, I don't think we can go back to how we were."

"And I abandoned you too," Aoi replied. "Everything she said about us..."

"It was true." And yet, it was good to see this truth, to admit it to herself and move on, as she had to April. Aoi blinked in surprise, and wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. "Aoi?"

She started, realizing she had been standing in silence for so long. "What now?" She asked.

"Get out there and enjoy yourself." Eve's voice was surprisingly light, and Aoi could imagine her smiling.

"You too, you hear me?" Aoi replied, a smile crossing her own face.

"Sure. Friends?"

"I'd like that. Friends."

Her gaze drifted upwards as they said their goodbyes. The clouds had parted, and gaps of blue sky were peeking through. It looked like it would be clear from here on.

Refreshed, invigorated, limping a little but glad for it, Aoi stepped out towards her new life.

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