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chapter thirty six; i think he likes you

Luke and Ava broke apart, nearly falling over as Ava made her way to the door.

Her hand was on the doorknob, heart rate increasing rapidly as she started to turn it. She looked over her shoulder at Luke, brows furrowed with worry. He nodded his head at her, a reassuring smile presenting itself onto his lips, encouraging her to go on. Breathing out, she spoke softly to herself, almost in a sing-song tune in order to make light of the situation, words outside of his hearing range. Then, realising that he wasn't with her, she waved him over.

"Come on, get over here," Ava said as though it should've been obvious. Her frustrated face was stupidly adorable, eyebrows furrowed and nose scrunched up, and Luke laughed. "What?"

Luke shook his head defensively and stood next to her as she continued to stare at the door, "Nothing."

"Nothing, my ass," she grumbled, and then she gasped at the curse word leaving her mouth. Turning to him, she pointed a finger in his direction, then jabbed it into his chest as she spoke. "You, since you're here, you need to make sure I don't curse or have any other slip ups. Promise?"

"Okay, I will."

"Luke, you need to say it. Promise?" She gazed up at him expectantly, eyes widening with urgency as she waited. She stuck out her pinky, and he rolled his eyes. She was so persistent.

He feigned annoyance, but she could see right through it, knowing that he had actually wanted to be the one who initiated the pinky promise, not her, and for just a moment, it seemed like everything was alright again. Just for a second. And then reality came crashing down, and he tried to ignore how fast his heart began to race at their proximity.

"Yes, Aves, I promise." He looped his finger around hers, smiling, and he grabbed the doorknob, opening it for her.

He knew that if he hadn't, the doorbell would've been ringing incessantly and Ava would have just continued to drool at it, jaw agape.

Aya Morrison was revealed, and for some reason, Ava felt like the veil had dropped. This was happening. This was actually happening, and she couldn't tell if she was about to faint into Luke's arms or cry, and she did not want to see either of those become the outcome.

Her sister had looked the same since Thanksgiving, except her hair was longer and she was wearing her glasses now. Physically, they didn't seem that far apart, and years seemed to have no effect on them. Yet mentally, they had been living on different nations, and Ava didn't know why, but her older sister had never seemed so old. Or rather, so adult, despite the fact that Aya had only been two years her senior.

Suddenly two years felt more like a million.

Luke observed as two children, their height at least a little above his knees, looked up at Ava, their faces unreadable. His breathing slowed, eyes focusing on Ava's face. He quickly grabbed her hand, on instinct, when Ryuu looked up at her sister with a confused expression, not recognising who she was, at least not yet; and he knew that little kids could sometimes be forgetful, but for her younger siblings to not know who she was, that would break Ava's heart and Luke knew that.

Like a child, part of him wanted to turn his head away so he wouldn't have to watch in anticipation.

"You look different, Oneesan," Ryuu said pensively, taking her time to pronounce the words, and Luke sighed a breath of relief, "But you're still ugly."

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