Tea and coffee

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Warnings/notes: Subaru, Fuuma, drabble-ish shortie, ooc, after-serie.

(!) Spoilers for the entire TV-serie.

Disclaimer: I don't own X/1999.

written at 4th december 2004, by Misura, for a request made by Sarolynne in the livejournal-community fic-on-demand.

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They met, predictably perhaps, unexpectedly, in one of the many small cafeteria of which there seemed to be hundreds in Tokyo. There was nothing special about this one, nothing to distinguish it from the others.

Maybe, Subaru reflected, that was why he'd chosen it. For its utter normalcy.

Being special, after all, did not in general bring one any kind of luck or happiness. At least he had found it to be so when it concerned persons, and he saw no reason why it would be different with other things.

Rainbow Bridge had been special too. Last thing he heard, the plans to rebuild it were still under consideration, due to a shortness of government funds.

Thus, to relax a little after a job that wasn't quite well done (but merely adequately), Subaru had elected to drink a cup of coffee, to emerge himself into the crowd of normal people who frequented this place, their voices filling the air with their chattering about normal things like school and TV and work.

His own apartment seemed to grow a little quieter every day, while the shadows on the wall grew a bit taller every night.

Until he'd already ordered his coffee -black, without any milk or sugar- and was looking for an empty table, Subaru didn't notice the other, the person whose presence was enough to make this location not so comfortingly normal after all.

Still, his face showed nothing but politeness as he cleared his throat, to all appearances nothing but a soft-spoken and shy young man, to request permission to sit down at the same table.

He was answered with a nod, a not-quite-welcoming smile and a not-quite-hidden tension. Sitting down, he absently noted that there was a cup of tea standing in front of the other man, the lack of steam rising from it seeming to indicate it had been untouched for a considerable amount of time.

"Subaru." Odd, how the use of his first name sent a shiver down his spine, as if a long-closed window had been opened, letting in a cool breeze that danced through the corridors of his mind, raking up the fallen leaves that he'd allowed to gather there. "How are you?"

The coffee tasted deliciously bitter on his tongue.

"I am well, thank you." No other answer was possible, not in the here and now. "And you?"

A faint smile, more honest because of the edge of bitterness that tainted it. "I am alive."

Once, Subaru might have replied to that with lightness, in an attempt to chase the shades he saw in the other's eyes. Today, he took another sip of the coffee that would keep both the peace of sleep and the dreams that haunted him at bay.

The two men studied one another for a moment, each of them searching for words to fill the silence that hung between them. Normally, they might have inquired after the health of relatives and friends, but all names Subaru could think of belonged to the dead.

"How is your ... grandmother?" Fuuma inquired, a hesitant note in his voice.

"She is well, thank you," Subaru replied automatically. His mouth twisted slightly as he noticed that he was using the same phrase to describe the old woman and himself. In truth, he hoped his grandmother felt better than he did.

"I am glad to hear so," Fuuma declared, managing to sound almost sincerely concerned with the health of a person he'd never met. Subaru nodded, in silent thanks for the sentiment. Fuuma reached for his cup of tea, withdrawing his hand as he found the porcelain cold.

"Are you still playing basketball?" Subaru asked, finally having found a memory that had no ghost of darkness attached to it.

"Not really. They wanted me to try for the regional team but ... " Fuuma shook his head. "It all felt too loud, too wrong, to play in the spotlights, with all those people cheering and yelling. I wanted some peace and quiet after ... after."

"I understand," Subaru said.

Fuuma shrugged. "I guess I could try again now. I mean, I should move on, make something of my life."

"Yes," Subaru agreed, softly.

"In fact, there's try-outs this evening. I was thinking about going."

Subaru's gaze followed Fuuma's, landing on the sportsbag that stood half-shoved under the table. It surprised him, strangely, to discover that Fuuma had been sincere in his declaration.

"You should," Subaru offered, finishing his coffee.

Fuuma nodded, rising as Subaru rose, reaching out to grasp his shoulder, too lightly and briefly for Subaru to take offense or object.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome," Subaru answered. And then, to prove to both himself and the other that he could, that he too was alive, he added: "Maybe I'll come and watch you this evening."

This time, the smile almost reached Fuuma's eyes.

OWARI