Annie stared out the train window. There was a couple outside, enthusiastically reuniting after a long time apart. The man with curly hair and glasses had swept the dark-haired women off her feet, clutching her to his chest like he never wanted to let go. She smiled at their reunion—the desperate clutching, the whispering in ears, the blinding smiles… It was cute.
“What are you looking at?” Kiyo asked, sitting beside her. He took a peek out the window too. “Oh. Ew.”
She rolled her eyes. “Ew?”
He nodded like she agreed with him. “Exactly. It’s too public; they should at least find somewhere more private.”
Shaking her head, Annie spared a moment to kiss him on the cheek. His jaw dropped, but she ignored him, going back to looking at the couple.
“What was that!?” he asked, scandalized.
“Public affection. Be afraid.”
Kiyo shuffled in his seat, his long black hair hooking on the headrest despite being pulled back in a bun. She could practically hear him curling up and crossing his arms, preparing himself for an extreme pout. “You’re not even going to ask why I’m here?”
“I assumed that you were moving to my hometown to continue our relationship there. Is that wrong?”
“Yes, it is.” He tsked. “I was hoping you’d be more surprised.”
She patted his face consolingly. “You’re very dramatic, dear. I knew something was up when you barely bothered giving a goodbye.”
“Hmm. I didn’t think I’d be that predictable. Perhaps I can make a game of seeing how long it will take your mother to notice we’re dating.”
Annie almost wanted to protest, but… her mother wasn’t exactly the observant sort. “You should add my dad to your game too. They seem to be getting back together and you know he doesn’t like you.”
Kiyo scoffed. “Like I haven’t dealt with your father before. What is he going to do, psychoanalyze me?”
“Please, like there’s anything to analyze. He’ll take one look at you and go ‘daddy issues’ and that will be that.”
“…It’s not that obvious, is it?”
Turning away from watching the couple, who were now vigorously talking and crying with massive smiles on their faces, Annie tugged a strand Kiyo’s hair out of its bun. “Not to everyone. You still look like a put together pretty boy on the surface.”
He sniffed. “Good. I put a lot of effort in this persona, I’m not about to get rid of it now.”
Before Annie could retort—as half their relationship was verbal (and occasionally physical) sparring and it would be wrong of her not to—the train jerked under the feet and slowly began to crawl forward. She spared a look outside to the couple; they hadn’t noticed.
Now that the train had finally started moving, Annie reached down to the animal carrier at the feet and brought out her cat, Dumpster. The fat tuxedo cat mewed in complaint, but settled down with little fuss. “Hello, handsome.”
Kiyo scoffed. “So, he’s handsome, but I’m just pretty boy? I see where your loyalty lies, Sanell.”
“Are you getting jealous of a cat?”
“Of course not!” He jerked his head away, but the back of his neck was growing red.
Annie pouted down at Dumpster. “Aw, poor Dumpy baby,” she cooed down at him in a fake baby-voice. Dumpster yawned. “Kiyoyoyo doesn’t love you. He’s so mean…”
“Don’t put words in my mouth.” He turned back around to glare at her, but spared a hand to scratch Dumpster between the ears. Dumpster pushed back into the hand. “Is your mother okay with you bringing home a cat?”
She shrugged. “If she didn’t notice me carrying Dumpster’s carry-on at the platform, it’s her fault. Besides, she’s been promising for years that she’ll get me a pet and never gone through with it. If I bring home a stray instead of the purebred she probably wanted to pick out, that’s on her.”
“She was pretty distracted on the platform, but I understand.” He kept scratching Dumpster. “Well, if she tries to throw him out, he can stay with me. I already rented an apartment in the area, and I think it allows pets.”
“You’re the best.”
He huffed. “Obviously.”
The world outside the train was blurring as they picked up speed. She enjoyed the flashing colors, leaning her head on Kiyo’s shoulder. He ran a hand through her thick, black curls, pulling a few strands in front of her glasses. “You’ll like my hometown,” she told him. He frowned at the non-sequitur. “It’s near a lake, so we can go fishing or row a boat out onto the water. There’re some good restaurants; my favorite is this hibachi place on the edge of the forest. In the night, fog rolls in off the water and blankets the whole town…”
“The city was so loud. I couldn’t sleep the first few nights because of all the noise. And I’m not just talking about Dad’s snoring.” Speaking of noise, her phone started buzzing rapidly before her ringtone—as sassy jazz rift from their favorite club—echoed in the train car. “Looks like they’ve finally noticed I’m gone.” She canceled the call and checked her texts.
Mom: Annie? Sweetie, where are you?
Dad: Where did you go?
Dad: You were right here a second ago.
Mom: The train is gone!? Anna Rose Sanell, did you get on the train!?
Dad: Did you leave us on the platform?
Mom: Annie, answer your phone right now!
Kiyo peeked at the messages. “They’re worried about you. It seems… nice.”
“It is,” she agreed, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “They’ll start worrying about you too once they get to know you. Here.” She posed them both, Annie facing towards the camera, Kiyo behind her and petting Dumpster. Managing to catch enough of the background to make it clear they were on the train, she took the picture and sent it to them both.
Annie: Serves you two right for getting so caught up in public! 😉
Annie: See you when you get home!
Placing her phone on silent before her parents could blow up her inbox, she snuggled into her boyfriend. “Thanks for being here.”
“There’s no other place I’d rather be.”