By Rosemary Greene
Summary: And it was said that on the seventh day of the seventh month, the two lovers would be able to cross the boundary, and be reunited once more…
Author's Note: I'll be focusing on the relationship between Maeda Satoru and Kiyama Akkiko: two minor characters from the series who appeared in the Night Baron murder mystery (Volume 8-2-8-7). This does contain spoilers for the mystery itself, so if you haven't seen/read it, read this one-shot at your own risk.
Thanks again to Pickle, my "grammar beta", who always puts up with me no matter what.
Disclaimer: Only Gosho Aoyama holds rights to Detective Conan series. I am merely borrowing the characters to write this story. Various quotes from the story itself come from 8-7. These will be in italics. The Tanabata legend comes from Japanese and Chinese folklore, and does not belong to me.
The clouds gathered together, barely allowing the sun to poke through, but Satoru paid no attention to them as he walked around a nearby park. Children shouted all around him; however, he paid no attention to these distractions either. Only his thoughts occupied him. Just as they always had for the past seven years. When the wind blew past him however, his thoughts traveled back to that day when the wind cried a low requiem. That miserable, dreadful day when his greatest strife began
"Hurry up and forget about me," she had said to him then, laughing hysterically, as if to fool herself that she was a miserable person. Though no matter how hard she laughed, nothing could shake away the feelings he still had for her. He loved her dearly then, and even after all these years, his feelings did not waver. However, as each day passed by, it felt like God had taken a part of his soul away from him, and an eternal emptiness replaced him. He knew he had to keep moving on though. If not for Akkiko's sake, then for his own; he knew he could not survive letting his darkness consume him.
He reflected back onto the days when he screamed at the Gods; asking them just what he did wrong to lose the only woman he loved. He found a reason as the years went by, and realized that they had done everything wrong. He was graced to meet her and to be with her all the time, but he forgot about the things that had made their relationship so strong to begin with. When she looked out the window after her brother had fallen to his death, he failed to notice the look of vengeance in her eyes. He had failed to communicate with her that revenge wasn't the way to end the painful memories of her brother's suffering. He had failed to listen to her when she talked about the mystery tour she planned. He had failed to consider the lengths she'd go to avenge her brother. He had failed to notice, until it was all too late.
Even when he tried to keep the police from realizing her crime, he failed, and, just as God had torn the two lovers from each other, the police stole his beloved and locked her in a gray, decaying prison, and Satoru could not reunite her until she walked out the doors of hell.
"I'll be waiting, until you come back," he vowed to her as she was taken away, and even though she thought he was stupid for doing so, he continued to go on each day, waiting it out, hoping that she would return.
Here he was now, standing in front of a tree with a strip of paper in his hand, holding onto it as a lifeline, because, according to the legends, those who write their wishes on special rice paper and tie them to a ceremonial bamboo tree will have their wishes granted. He had never been a fan of superstitions before; he had seen them as false hopes given to people who were emotionally weak. But times changed, and the man he was then was no longer the man he was now, and he realized that the beliefs he thought made people weak held him together at his lowest lows.
As he approached the tree, he thought about the tale that started this festival. Legend spoke about a cow-herder and a daughter of a god who loved each other so much that they spent their days and nights together instead of tending to their work like they had used to. So, when the cows died, and the cloth the daughter wove became sparse, the God became angry and separated the two lovers. When he saw, however that the separation made the lovers miserable, he pitied them so much, that on the seventh day of the seventh month, he allowed them to be reunited once more for a day if they worked apart for the rest of the year
When he heard of the tale right after Akkiko went to prison, he always saw himself as the cow-herder, who was separated from the woman he loved. So he motivated himself to work hard in competitions, and hold hope that one day, the Gods would be kind enough to let him see his love once more.
Taking part in the tradition each year, he always wrote the same wish down – to see Akkiko once more – and would tie it to the tree among the wishes and dreams of everyone around him.
This time was no different, and he continued on with his tradition of tying the paper to a branch in the middle of the tree. However, just when he was satisfied that the paper was secure, the clouds opened up, and for a split second, he thought it was a sign that God granted his wish, but only the rain fell in response.
"Aww," a little girl cried to her mother, "the river in the sky is overflowing. Now the man and the woman won't be able to see one another."
"It's all right dear," the mother said, comforting her daughter, "maybe the sky God will allow them to meet next year."
When they walked away, Satoru laughed silently to himself. He knew that he wouldn't see Akkiko again until she was released from prison. He knew somewhere deep inside that a wish on a piece of paper wouldn't automatically release her. Even though he knew this, he never stopped his yearly tradition. As he walked away from that park, a small clearing appeared in the midst of the darkness in his soul. He knew he should feel disappointed, but somehow, amidst everything that happened, he knew he shouldn't give up. There was still a life to live, a job to partake in, a goal to accomplish.
A promise he vowed to keep.