As expected, it was a long day of vicious weather and constant emergency alerts from the television. Here’s some Muse for coping.
At the airport, she’s collected. Cheerful, even. She reminds him not to blame the flight attendants if there are an odd number of pretzels in his bag. In fact, she says, don’t even count the gosh darn pretzels. The last thing she needs is to get a phone call saying they had to reroute the plane and arrest him for causing an incident.
Scarlet doesn’t say half so much. She’s six; her principle concerns are pouting because she can’t go and asking him to bring her back a souvenir. “Bye Daddy,” she mutters, unable to help smiling when he picks her up and kisses her cheek.
Then he’s off to the security checkpoint, setting his carry-on into a plastic bin, enduring the body scanner, putting his shoes back on, and giving them one last melancholy look before he disappears into the terminal.
Orihime drives them home.
It’s seven o'clock that evening when Scarlet comes out of the bathroom and finds her mother crying quietly at the piano. She joins her on the bench, wide eyed, concerned. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”
Orihime wipes her cheeks. Her make-up smears on the backs of her hands. “I miss your dad,” she says.
Scarlet tilts her head. “He’s only been gone a coupla hours.”
“I know.” Orihime laughs. “This sucks.”
“Sucks,” Scarlet agrees, uncertainly. Orihime pulls Scarlet into her lap, burying her nose in her daughter’s freshly washed hair. They sit in silence broken only by the occasional sniffle, surrounded by the ghosts of compositions past, feeling Ulquiorra’s absence as if it were a physical presence. He isn’t a loud person by nature, but the music in his mind is so plentiful that Orihime imagines she can sense it just by standing beside him. The thought intensifies her longing, and she sighs.
“Someday,” she says wistfully, “you’re going to meet someone who makes you cry when they leave, even if it’s only for a few days.” She can tell by the scrunching of Scarlet’s nose that she doubts that, and Orihime doesn’t blame her. Had it been ten years ago, she wouldn’t have believed it herself. “And when that happens–” here she smiles, “–you’ll know that person has your heart in the palm of their hand.”