“Thank you for visiting. That was sweet of you.” Nastya said while we were walking together through the hospital hallway. “Did you find out what you needed to know?” I shook my head. “He doesn’t want to betray his son,” I replied. I felt a bit frustrated that we did not get the answers we needed.
Nastya looked a bit sad at those words. “He refuses to even talk to me about the whole ghost thing anymore. He thinks that I pretend to have changed my mind to have him committed to a psychiatric ward. As if I would ever do something like that to my family.”
While we were talking about Aleksei’s condition and how he might never be able to play again, I felt guilty that my mind kept wandering toward the date Nastya and Tobias should be on right now. Why wasn't she out there?
In the end, the storm in my mind became too much. I could not bear it anymore and might have changed the subject a bit too bluntly, “What happened to your date?”
Nastya looked at me amused and using a teasing voice she said “What date? I never had a date.”
“Didn’t you have your date with Tobias?”
I could see Nastya was messing with me, but she kept pretending. “Like I would ever go out with someone like him. Hmph!”
“But… I was there when you fixed that date!”
Nastya clearly could no longer hold it and started laughing. “I fixed him a date alright.”
My face must have looked completely puzzled. I didn’t understand a thing about what was going on anymore.
“He’s out now with Fabio. Couldn’t you tell Tobi is gay?” Nastya continued with a little giggle in her voice.
“Oh!” Relief washed over me. It seemed that I had really misunderstood that situation.
“Did I have you worried?” Nastya asked again with her teasing voice.
I reluctantly nodded feeling really embarrassed, but for some reason, that seemed to have made Nastya really happy.
I noticed a faint blush on her cheeks and could not help but think that next to her serious and elegant side, she also had a cute side to her. I gave her a little poke and said: “Don’t scare me like that. I really thought you went out with that dangerous guy that almost hit me.”
Nastya started giggling. “Don’t blame me. You were jumping to conclusions.”
I was happy to see Nastya laughing like that. It must not have been easy on her with everything that happened. I decided to do my best to cheer her up as much as I could today.
“Let’s go and have some coffee somewhere to help you relax for a second. You haven’t had many chances to unwind lately with everything that has been happening.”
Not waiting for her answer, I grabbed her hand and led her to the coffee place in front of the hospital. When we sat down at a table, waiting for a waitress to come over, I could see that Nastya looked a bit nervous. I really hoped some sweets would make her feel better.
When the waitress came to take our orders, I ordered us some cake to go with our coffee. Since they had so many kinds, the waitress drove up a cart with different platforms full of all different kinds of cakes, pies, and pastries. When they arrived Nastya looked at them with big childlike eyes. It seemed like coming here had been the right choice to cheer her up.
“Take whichever one you want. It’s on me.” It's not like I ever spent the pocket money Aunt Christina gave me anyway, so I might as well splurge when I got the chance.
Nastya picked out a cute pastry that was packed in pink marzipan and I picked one of the delicious-looking chocolate muffins.
Elegantly, Nastya sliced a piece of her pastry with the little fork and brought it to her mouth. A smile instantly covered her face while she savored the taste. “These are so fantastic.”
What was this? My heart was beating like crazy. To distract me, I also sliced a piece of the chocolate muffin in front of me. Almost instantly a red fluid ran out. I was a bit surprised. I thought I had just ordered a chocolate muffin.
“Those are those famous chocolate muffins with strawberry marmalade on the inside!” Nastya said excitedly. She was looking at me as I brought the fork to my mouth which made me feel a little nervous. If I spilled now, I would make an utter fool of myself.
The bitter taste of the chocolate mixed with the sweet taste of the strawberry marmalade was indeed a sublime combination and it went perfectly with the coffee I was drinking.
“And? Are they as good as they say? I always wanted to try one of those.”
“Oh, if that is the case, here.” I cut off another piece and held it out so she could try it.
A shock seemed to go through Nastya, before she quietly first removed the strands of hair from her face, brought her lips to my fork, and slowly put the piece of cake in her mouth. I noticed some kind of rush go through her before a gentle smile came to her face. It was amazing how whatever she did always came over so elegant.
“It’s just as tasty as I imagined it would be,” Nastya said. “Here, let me repay you.” She sliced a piece from her pastry and held it out for me to try. Suddenly a wave of embarrassment went through me. I felt like we were doing something we shouldn’t be doing in public. So, I looked around. Nobody was really minding us, so I brought my face to the piece of pastry and let her feed it to me.
The sweet marzipan and baker’s cream were very nice too. Nastya smiled at me when she saw my reaction.
“Good, isn’t it?” I nodded while savoring the taste. “These are my favorite pastries in this county.”
“But you spilled a little. Here.” She showed a spot on her own face, so I tried to wipe that same spot with a napkin but the more I tried the more she started laughing.
“Stop, stop! This is too much. Please, let me help you. Nastya took her napkin and gently wiped the side of my lips. During this little action, our eyes met, which made me feel very self-conscious all of the sudden. Nastya seemed to have experienced something similar and she instantly turned her eyes away.
“There! All better!” She said, but instead of her usual confident self, she sounded a bit shy now. Afterward, she quickly regained composure and acted as if it was all nothing.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and gossiped a little while enjoying our coffee and cake. Nastya told me the story about how she knew Fabio and Tobias, and how she had slowly set the two up for each other over time. She seemed to have a real passion for coupling people that she shipped together as she called it.
“I only know two gay boys, so I always imagined them getting together. I was really happy when I found out about Tobi’s crush on Fabio. In any case, I hope today’s date goes well.”
“I hope so too. I don’t want an awkward atmosphere in our rehearsals right from the start.”
“Well… It might be awkward either way.” Nastya joked, "You might be right about that..." I said in the gravest tone I could muster before we both burst out laughing.
“But how did you find out they were gay? I mean, it’s not like they wear a sticker “I’m gay” on their face.”
“With Tobi, I could kind of tell since his face is an open book. You can always tell what he is thinking. For Fabio, it was a little different. We were both participating at the same young talent music camp near Turin, and one night I caught him kissing another boy. He owes me for not spilling the beans. It’s why I was certain that I could get him to go on this date.”
“Won’t he resent you for forcing something in return?” I said a bit shocked.
“Oh, that’s fine.” Nastya waved my worries away. “He’s been complaining about how he is single for a while now, so if anything, he should be grateful. Those two would be really cute together don’t you think?”
I closed my eyes to imagine those two together. Cute wasn’t really the image that I was getting.
“You’re crazy!” I said and started laughing. Nastya joined in. I felt like we were sharing some inside joke now. It had been ages since I sat down and have fun over coffee and cake with a friend like this. I hadn’t even done this kind of thing with Sara since she usually just visited my place so we could practice the cello.
When it was time for the evening visiting hour, it was time to say goodbye. I did not want to worry Aunt Christina by staying out too late.
I gave Nastya a goodbye kiss and said “You know you can text me if there is anything. I’m there for you. You shouldn’t try and do everything by yourself.” I was really concerned she would overwork herself. I knew her practice regimen, and it seemed she was taking care of Aleksei on top of that. She seemed genuinely grateful for the sentiment and gave me a hug in return.
“Thank you for this afternoon. The flowers and the surprise date really helped me relax for a bit.”She whispered, before letting me go and going back to Aleksei while I watched her leave standing there completely flabbergasted.
D-d-date?! This was just 2 friends sharing a cup of coffee. This would not be considered a date, would it? Did I just cheat on Lise without realizing it? I kept on fretting about it, and when I found out on the way back, that gardenias mean “Secret love” in the language of flowers, steam must have been coming out of my ears. This could not be interpreted in any other way than a date… Oh no… What had I done?
This is the last chapter of Phantom Adagio this year.
I wanted to end the year with a cute chapter. I hope you all enjoyed it.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May 2023 bring all of you plenty of enjoyable yuri!
Thank you for all the support during the last year, I hope you will keep on supporting me during the coming year too.
Phantom Adagio will be back next Friday like usual! <3