Saionji is still in shock, staring at Akio as he balances precariously on the front of the car, which, now driverless, is speeding down the road

This Is Eternal

Saionji is still in shock, staring at Akio as he balances precariously on the front of the car, which, now driverless, is speeding down the road. Touga leans into the front of the car, presses a button or two, and then sits back next to him. Music fills the vehicle, loud enough to not be carried away by the wind.

It is not a song Saionji knows, but it has a good beat, an eerily catchy riff, and, over the top, a woman's voice singing meaningless and repetitive lyrics. It is beautiful, and he listens intently. The song builds, rises in a crescendo and bursts into chorus. A man's voice joins the singing, and a shiver runs down Saionji's spine.

Touga misses nothing. He laughs at the involuntary movement, his blue eyes dancing with more merriment than Saionji has seen in them for weeks… perhaps years. He doesn't smile back, and the words of an explanation or an excuse stick in his throat.

Akio swings back over the windshield and into the driver's seat. Saionji marvels at his grace as he slips with ease back into the position of driver, turning a corner at speed and accelerating smoothly down the highway.

The wind tugs at Saionji's hair and carries the words of the beautiful song away from his ears. He strains to hear them – needs to hear them, for reasons he cannot explain – but fails, and is startled out of his reverie by a hand on his. Touga.

His old friend grins at him, unbuckling his seatbelt. Saionji watches as Touga, with perfect poise, rises to his feet. He balances as if the car is not moving at all, bracing himself against the wind that tugs his shirt open and whips his long red hair back from his face. He turns to Saionji, still smiling openly, and the boy wonders who this Akio is to have brought his friend such joy. "Come on," Touga calls, words which Saionji guesses more from the movement of his lips than from anything he can hear over the engine and the music and the wind in his ears.

He shakes his head. Touga holds out a hand to him, eyes wide with boyish happiness and teasing, and the song on the radio rises to another chorus. One bar of those beautiful, haunting, intermingled voices and Saionji nods. He frees himself from his seatbelt and takes the offered hand, using it for balance as he rises to his feet.

The world passes by in a blur. The only solid point is Touga, fingers still gripping his tightly. Saionji reaches out with his other arm as if spreading wings. The wind is making his eyes water; he can barely see the road ahead of them, but he doesn't care. The music is building to one last height, and he feels like he is flying. He glances across at Touga, sees the rapturous look on the other boy's face, and knows he feels the same. This is infinite. They are but specks of dust on the face of the Earth, tiny pinpricks of light in a universe filled with stars. He sees the world spread out around them in all its glory, all its might, and he feels himself grow to fill it. There is nothing else. This in infinite; this is eternal.

The song ends, and Saionji becomes aware that he is cold, his shirt torn open by the wind, that his hair is tangled, his eyes watering, and that he is still holding hands with Touga. He glances across, and the two boys exchange grins. They let go of each other and sit down, but Saionji is aware of the beat of his heart – too fast! – for minutes afterwards.

Touga is saying something to him, but all Saionji can hear is his pulse still racing to the beat of the music, and all he can think about is how it feels to be eternal.