we're twisting incognito with no time, can't talk

can't tell if this is fantasy or culture shock

It was Barcelona where it happened the first time, though he'll swear it was Madrid. Just a crowded street I was walking through, in search of a good shop or maybe just a good meal; in search of a good life, or maybe just a normal one. It was dusk and the lights of the city were twinkling orange and yellow, so different from the silvery-blue of France, and so my eyes were not adjusted. And I still knew him. He'd hidden his hair, covered his eyes, grown taller, lost weight. And I still knew him. He was hiding inside a long black coat, with buttons down the front and the collar turned up against his neck, against the wind. And I still knew him

When we collided it was just a brush of shoulders and a soft sound from each of us, no words, no "excuse me." It jostled me sideways and then - then I turned the movement into a spin, a sort of swing around because I had to double-take because I had to know.

I followed his coat through the street with my eyes, walking backward and bumping into countless other people, but none of them meant nearly as much to me, because none of them were the dead come back to life.

It was Sicily next time, down on the coast in a restaurant that had always served the best seafood. The sun shining was a rich gold so I was sitting outside on the deck, overlooking the sea, which roared and crashed and sparkled against the rocks below. I swirled my pasta and lost myself in the sound of it. I nearly fell asleep in my chair, because I'd been losing sleep just a little, ever since Barcelona. Or maybe it was Madrid.

I was startled back into awareness when the voice of the maitre d' pierced the lull of the waves, telling some newcomer that he couldn't get in without a reservation, and the newcomer protested in his voice. It was gravelly, and more worldly, and laced with exhaustion. And I still knew him.

(It may have been the accent.)

I wanted to call out to him; I wanted to call out to the maitre d' that he was with me, and to bring him a cherry daiquiri. But what if I were wrong? Or worse - he'd been hiding himself for so long - what if he didn't want to see any of us? What if he didn't want to see me - ?

I turned away from the door and back out to the Mediterranean, spinning my pasta around my fork but not eating any of it. Maybe I was losing my appetite, too.

It was Buenos Aires then, where it finally happened. I was taking a carriage-ride around the Rosedal, trying to clear my head, trying not to dwell on Sicily or Madr--Barcelona. Trying not to dwell on him. I was just a nothing old Frenchman, wasn't I? Washed up, traveling without a cause, without home or destination. He - miraculously! - he had his life ahead of him yet.

We had only kissed once, after all.

--Twice, if you count...no.

The ride wasn't helping; I was getting more pensive. I dropped my face into my hands and sighed, and waited out the rest of the course, and then I stepped out and stepped right into a green-and-white striped shirt and a pair of dark sunglasses. The motion sent us both spinning around each other, and then the park was spinning, and we were standing still.

"I saw you in Sicily," I whispered.

"I saw you in Madrid," he said, distant.

"It was Barcelona," I insisted.

He embraced me and I cried.

"I thought you were dead," I croaked.

His hand rubbed absently against my back. "I...I thought I was, too."

And I gripped him harder and lifted him up and swung him around in a circle, his gangly legs flying out, and then to make up for crying on his nice shirt I kissed him, for the second time.

--The third, if you count...yeah.

It was Hawaii the next time. And the next time. And the next. Every morning, every sunrise over the Pacific was the next time, as I awoke and he was next to me, or he awoke and I was making omelettes.

Aloha, arigatou and bonsoir.

exploding international; the sun, the sights

the moment you are viewing through a beam of light

((A/N: opening/closing quotes are lyrics © The New Pornographers, from the song with the same title as the fic. I'm not trying to steal that material or profit from it.))