She recognized him instantly, of course, even from halfway across the park.

No matter that they’d moved apart four years ago, in the tumultuous midst of adolescence; one didn’t soon forget his like, with the brilliant, fiery plumage and a body that had only become more fit and athletic over the years, and that wasn’t counting what they’d had together. If she hesitated a little before changing course to cut across the park, it was because she almost thought she might be imagining him, not because there was any doubt about the face in her mind.

He turned toward her, and paused, looking right at her and apparently going through much the same mental double-check; then he grinned, lifting a hand up high and waving. “Naomi! Hey, Naomi!” He started towards her at a dash, weaving around a few indignant passersby in the process.

He knew her – that clinched it. It really was him. She lunged forward, colliding with the bird a half-dozen steps later in a tangle of limbs.

His arms wrapped tight around her, the strength in them palpable even through her thick jacket. “Mmm, Naomi,” he murmured over her ear. “God, I missed you…”

“What the hell are you doing here, Damien?” she laughed, sliding a hand over his crest and down his back. Despite the early-spring chill, he had only a thin, if long-sleeved shirt on his upper half; he felt as good through it as he looked in it, solid and warm.

“School, naturally.” He disentangled somewhat, but kept an arm about her shoulders, walking her towards the pathway through the pines. “Just started here for the spring semester. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?”

“Well, yeah, but I only live two hours away, not across the country! Why move this far, in winter of all times?”

He shrugged, suddenly sober. “Let’s… just leave it at boyfriend trouble.”

Her mind skittered to a halt. “Wait, what?”

“I wasn’t false with you or anything like that.” He leaned in to nuzzle at an ear. “I just… found out I like the other side okay, too. I’d have told you, thought you might like the image, but that email you gave me doesn’t seem to work.”

Oh, hell, how had that gone wrong? No wonder she’d never heard from him all this time… She took his hand, gave it a squeeze. “We’ll sort that out. But if it was bad enough to send you all the way out here…”

“It’s not that dramatic. For history, this was my second-choice school,” he chuckled. “Anyway, what about you? Any jealous boyfriends or girlfriends to object to this?”

“Neither one,” she  assured him. If he wanted to stay upbeat and positive, she wouldn’t push the issue. “Maybe we can catch up, huh?”

He stiffened – in more ways than one – as her fingers drifted lower. “I always did like the way you think, Naomi,” he sighed. “My apartment’s just a few blocks away – a single, at that…”

“Sounds like a great way to ring in the spring,” she purred, grinning up at him.

He grinned back. “Sure beats what some poor sods like me have been put through in history. C’mon, let’s get warm… properly.

Said the guy who’d dressed for looks rather than warmth… but Naomi wasn’t about to complain.