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It was time for Yi Zhen to end her shift at the terminal, as she took off her protective gear and put it into the terminal lockers. She had a whole day to impress Calvin, and perhaps talk to him, but today was just like the day before and the day before that; ineffective and wasteful. She just didn’t have the courage. As perfect as he was, why was it just impossible to talk to him? That wasn’t so perfect. Not in her eyes anyways.
Opening the doors to the insides the terminal, Yi Zhen could already see how dark and lonely it was to take the night shift, but thankfully it was over. The restaurants were all closed, the neon lights were off, and not a soul could be spotted except her. She looked over to the terminal gates and wondered if it were possible to have Calvin just appear with open arms, waiting to hold her. Hell, just to have him to stare at would be enough. But no, he always took morning shifts. She looked at the now semi-blank flight information board and thought about how Ariel would always talk about destinies. Was fate so cruel as to make hers so dark without him?
“Why can’t you do something right for a change?” she barked at the board. “Messing up fate like that…”
“I’m sorry,” said a voice. “I didn’t know I was doing it in the first place.”
“C-Calvin?” she jumped suddenly. “What are you doing here?”
“I took the night shift. We had a bit of trouble today and I think I scared off one of my crew members,” he answered with that charming smile plastered in his delicate face. “He couldn’t make it to his shift so I felt bad and did him a favor.”
“Oh I heard about that incident during my first shift,” Yi Zhen nodded anxiously to him. “There was an emergency landing right?”
“I’ve got to hand it to you. You sure have some connections up in the Tower,” Calvin gave a small smirk. “Who was it that told you?”
“Ariel snuck in,” she smiled brightly. “I told you, she’s serious about joining your crew.”
“Well next time, she won’t have to sneak in,” Calvin smiled at her as he put his hands on his hips. “She has my permission if she wants some early experience.”
He gave a shy smile as he looked at his untied laces. These two baggage women were really impressive; whether they were doing their jobs or sneaking around to find the new pilots, they knew how to get the job done. For Yi Zhen however, this new development wasn’t exactly going her way. Yeah, she made it past a real conversation. No, she wasn’t sweating or stuttering in anticipation. But again, conversation went back to Ariel. Will Ariel always be the height of their conversation?
“So what happened to the flight?” Yi Zhen tried to change the subject with a smile.
“Everything is good. Joe made it safely back with the plane still intact,” he laughed.
“He’s one of the new pilots, right?” she asked quickly and quite shrilly.
“You know him?” he asked suspiciously.
“I met him with Ariel when we were looking for Kris,” she replied with a nod. “That little girl’s a hand full.”
“That she is,” Calvin answered politely. “He actually mentioned something about her when he came back…”
Oh no, back to Ariel. Everything seemed to go right back to her friend. Why? Yi Zhen groaned at the thought of her life revolving around someone else. Perhaps this is all she could do; live vicariously through someone who was worth a real life. Oh! So pathetic. She had to change the subject before sometime in the middle of their little chat, she would become Ariel herself.
“Uh…so everything went well, I see,” she smiled nervously.
He gave a sheepish agreeing nod and looked at his watched realizing the lateness of the time. “Whoa it’s getting late. Wait what are you still doing here? I thought you left with Ariel.”
“Oh,” she simply melted. “I had to take on the night shift because I couldn’t pay the bills with just my paycheck alone.”
“I see,” he smirked sympathetically. “Well with the economy the way it is–
“It’s not that, I just spend money like crazy on frivolous things,” she laughed nervously.
“I spoil myself too much I guess.”
“…don’t you already have someone to do that for you?” he quietly asked, as he bowed his head low, trying to cover up his shyness.
“M-me?” she timidly asked. “No I’m still looking for that someone. Until then, I have to work those dreaded double shifts.”
“Oh, I’m glad,” he blurted suddenly. “No, I don’t mean that. I mean I’m glad you’re alone. I mean—
“I get it,” she smiled awkwardly at him. “So I guess I’ll be seeing you around?”
“How about dinner?” he surprisingly managed to actually say, but abruptly started mentally pounding his head in.
“I’m sorry, that was too forward of me.”
“N-no, I—it wasn’t too forward,” she interrupted.
She looked at his jittery hands, as they fidgeted with his clean uniform. She laughed at how nervous he must have been; to think that maybe he was just as scared of her as she was of him. Gently, she took one of his hands into hers to give it a light squeeze to calm him down. The atmosphere was perfect as they stood together in the middle of a dark terminal, just them.
“I’d like it very much,” she meekly said as she looked at him.
“Really?” He shyly asked. “Well if you don’t mind my how forward I am, would you mind going out tonight?”
“Are you serious?” she bluntly asked, with her jaw on the floor. “But it’s so late.”
He gave a small chortle that melted her all over again before he spoke. “I guess I’m a little ahead of myself. How about tomorrow?”
“How about a kiss?” she cheekily asked. Hey, she was already in too deep. She might as well delve deeper.
Slowly, Calvin took his hand and gently grazed the frame of her face, leaving behind shudders down her skin. He brushed a few stray hairs away from her face with his thumb and began to curve his head into the kiss. Yi Zhen stood there, letting him do whatever he felt like because to her, everything he did now was perfect. She closed her eyes tightly as he closed in on her lips and all she could feel was the anticipation…of a blaze of fire rising from the other side of the terminal.
“YI ZHEN!” screamed a very high pitched voice.
Breaking a part from one another, both Yi Zhen and Calvin look to the entrance of the terminal to see Ella, along with Rainie, Mike and Jiro, standing still with a stern face.
“Ella?!” she screeched. “It’s not what it looks like!”
“We have to talk to you now!” shouted Ella. Without hesitation, Ella and Rainie began dragging Yi Zhen to the closed baggage department.
“No, ‘buts’,” Rainie answered. “Mike, Jiro? Get as much info as you guys can from him and we’ll stick to the girl.”
“Right-o,” Jiro nodded as Mike and him circled around Calvin.
“So, Calvin,” Mike asked. “How long have you known Ariel Lin and Joe Cheng?”
“Uh…” he was getting a bit more nervous than he already was talking to Yi Zhen. “Funny thing that you mention it, because he was talking to me about her a while ago when he came back…”
Once Rainie and Ella got Yi Zhen into the room, they both didn’t know how to start. Were they supposed to tell her everything? Were they supposed to ask all the questions? What if she knew nothing?
“I didn’t mean it I swear,” Yi Zhen sincerely apologized. “I didn’t mean for your brother and I…”
“Oh please, Yi Zhen,” Ella scoffed. “I knew you liked my brother from the start. This has nothing to do with that.”
“Really?” Yi Zhen asked suspiciously. “You knew? All this time you knew.”
“Yeah,” she nodded back. “It was obvious. He was too.”
“What?” Yi Zhen mouthed to her.
“Yeah,” Ella nodded again.
“Can we please stick to the subject?” Rainie interrupted.
“Who are you?” Yi Zhen interrupted.
“Rainie, Yi Zhen, Yi Zhen, Rainie,” Ella quickly introduced. “Ok, Yi Yi, we need to know all that you know about Ariel and Kris. This is important.”
“Why don’t you just ask her?” Yi Zhen blurted.
“Because this goes beyond Ariel,” Rainie finished. “We need an outsider’s view point.”
“What do you want to know?” she asked.
“Well, you were the first person to befriend her in Caoya,” Ella recalled. “So did she say anything about her past, anything about why she came here?”
“…mmm, not that I remember,” Yi Zhen frowned. “She didn’t like talking about it. Why do you ask? Is there something wrong?”
Ella and Rainie didn’t know what to do. If Yi Zhen didn’t know anything, they were stuck. They decided to tell Yi Zhen the truth and the revelations they had when they found out about Ariel’s past in Ella’s point of view. With the explanation, Ella and Rainie tried to connect information they had recollected but nothing seemed to link together. From the time Ariel was lost, till the time she came to Caoya was all a mystery left in the skies.
“So that pilot we met at the hospital was Kris’ real father?” Yi Zhen asked out loud in disbelief.
“Yes,” Ella sighed.
“If what you both are saying is true,” Yi Zhen abruptly said. “Then I’ll help you guys get it out of her. Joe deserves the right to know what happened to her that night. If not that, she needs to know that her family is there for her. I’m sure Jiro has waited long enough.”
Both Ella and Rainie looked at each other in shock and then stared at Yi Zhen.
“That’s all I needed to hear,” Rainie beamed. “Well, girls, I think we have a mission to complete. Who’s with me?
“I’m in,” Ella nodded seriously.
“Me too,” Yi Zhen agreed.
Suddenly, the guys bust into the room, slamming the door so hard that the noise boomed in echoes. All three had flabbergasted expressions plastered clearly on their faces as they huffed and puffed from running. They were only about 20 feet away from the girls and they were already exhausted from running.
“Mike, where are your manners?” Rainie scolded at Mike with her hands on her hips. “We are talking.”
“Jiro, do you have an explanation?” Ella added. “This is very rude.”
“Joe’s headed to Ariel’s apartment!” Calvin answered for them.
“What?!” Yi Zhen interrupted. “How?”
“I was talking to him a while ago and he said he needed directions for an apartment he was visiting and it just so happens that it’s Ariel’s address,” Calvin explained in one full go. “He said he got a call from a friend of his asking him to come over for dinner.”
“Wait a sec,” Ella butted into the conversation. “What does that mean? Ariel knows who Joe is all this time?”
“No,” Calvin shook his head. “He didn’t say it was Ariel who called him.”
“Then who could it be?” Rainie asked dumbfounded.
It was at that moment all the adults stood silent for a brief second and looked at each other, then gave a shocked expression. They knew exactly who it was. The same person who had the guts to pull a stunt like this at the worse time ever…
“KRIS!!” they all yelped in a deep sigh.
“So what now?” Mike finally spoke. “What’s our game plan?”
Standing there like sticks, all 6 adults stood stiff as a bone with question marks floating above their heads. They didn’t know what Ariel knew. They didn’t know what Joe was planning on doing. Who do they talk to first? Should Ariel know what’s happening? Should Joe? What would happen if everything suddenly came out into the open? Would chaos erupt in their lives or would both parties be happy? What would they say?
“I don’t know what’s going on…” Calvin unexpectedly interrupted the silence. “But I’m EXCITED!”
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