Story: now we'll parade around without game plans
Summary: They make a life of intersecting roads, verving towards and away in the coming days.
Notes: So, I totally blame fatal_red on LJ for my introduction to this movie, which is criminally wonderful and heart-breaking (in a good way). Note that I kind of majorly stole ideas from not only The Girl Who Leapt Through Time but also The Time-Traveler's Wife. Be proud of me—original ending was angst, but I made it semi-happy!
Disclaimer: No on the Killers or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Facts are facts and—he puts his fingers to the pulse point along her neck and he whispers in her hair that he will see her again and she promises to run (no more leaping) towards the future—he is gone.
She doesn't know where he's from, when it happens, what puts them together, except she is pretty sure about one thing: she's never going to make it to his time by herself.
In this way, she is correct.
Juggling three keys, a bag of peaches, and some magazines pressed on her by Hitomi from Accounting and Public Records, Makoto slams open the door to her (relatively new) apartment and trips over the cat.
"Gah!" she cries, and the cat scatters in the opposite direction. As the door catches her in the shoulder on the back swing and her cell phone starts to buzz in her pocket, Makoto finds herself vehemently wishing that the goddamn future with its decimated cultures would come now, so she can stop trying to pay bills that build up in her mailbox and she doesn't have to call Keita back about their awkward date on Friday that went so badly as to be categorized as freaking terrible, and she and Kousuke can actually play baseball occasionally instead of just talking about it.
"Hello, Konno Makoto," she answers, and in the time that it takes for the bag of peaches to fall to the floor and her eyes to begin to film over, she hears:
"Hey clumsy. How's it hanging?"
The most awkward part is—he's still a teenager and she's in her early twenties and as she hunches over the bar at the ramen shop and wearily orders a miso ramen with a bottle of sake—holy fuck, she's gonna need that—she cuts a glance at him and kind of feels like she's having a meal with her kid brother.
But his eyes are still soft and lazy-looking and his hair lies in spikes criss-crossing his forehead, and as he lifts his drink, the forearms exposed by his sleeves are kind of majorly sexy, in a please take me now sort of way.
Makoto feels a bit disgusted with herself, and takes a swig of her sake because she's isn't disgusted enough.
"How have you been?" she asks carefully, stabbing at her ramen with a splintering chopstick. Beside her, not making eye-contact, Chiaki does the same. He is still absurdly taller than she is, which is so not fair it's not even funny.
"Here and there," he says, which doesn't really answer her question.
"Did you get to see the painting?" she finally asks after a couple moments' silence. It's not like there's much else for them to talk about, as hey Makoto, wanna go out with me does not appear to be an invitation that will be making a repeat appearance.
"Hmm," he says, non-committed, and then pushes away the ramen. "This tastes like ass. Wanna go somewhere else?"
"God, yes," she says, and tips the waiter a little extra because of the insult (hey, just because she grew up doesn't mean she became a bitch or anything).
They end up on the ridge by the river, with ice cream cones in weird flavors. She sits carefully in the work skirt she was too distracted (and nervous and terrified and a million other little things like thank god I washed my hair this morning that don't really qualify as emotions) to change out of, and he's cutting weird looks at her out of the corner of his eye, like she's grown another limb.
"What?" she asks irritably, petting at her bangs and pushing hair behind her ears. "Is there something on my face?"
"No," he says, staring fixedly straight ahead. "You just look different."
"No shit," she says (growls, but who's counting?), taking a hefty bite out of her ice cream. "It's been seven years, asswipe."
He snorts a bit of ice cream up his nose, laughing, and the kids (still skipping rocks, still on rusty old bikes, still immature) make fun of them as she tries to help him wipe it off and he collapses to the side, rolling in the grass and choking.
She reaches for a napkin in her purse, and when she turns around, he's gone.
Even though science has never been her strong point—in fact, one might venture to say that she kind of blatantly sucks at it, but anyone with enough guts to say such a fact will probably end up wearing said organs as garters—she keeps up with advances. When they discover the ability to charge the human body with electrons to speed up biological processes, she throws an impromptu party in her apartment, with balloons and cake, and tells everyone it's the cat's birthday.
"You know," says Kousuke conversationally as he sips his beer and avoids her drunk co-workers, "you should probably look into naming your cat."
"Eh," she shrugs, and she's so excited she feels like she's moving faster herself, darting through the crowds towards the peak from which she can take that flying leap. "Why bother? He doesn't care."
"She," corrects Kousuke mildly.
"Really?" Makoto gives the cat winding between her legs a closer look. "Huh. I never noticed."
Kousuke doesn't smile, but there's a curl to his lip, and he tries to mask it by taking another sip from the brown bottle. On a later day, Makoto will wonder a bit philosophically when Kousuke stopped smiling, but she'll give up the question in favor of other important topics (like, doing work so as not to be fired and how to pay 62,900 yen rent with 40,000 yen salary and do I buy groceries or get electricity for the month) before coming to a conclusion.
The only available option is when Makoto said no, which is most definitely not something that bears thinking about.
"Drinks!" cries Makoto, and goes to coerce her already tipsy guests into a further state of disarray. She kind of enjoys the chaos, which is why she doesn't see the letter slipped under her door until the next morning.
Stopped by for a second, saw you were busy and caught a movie. See you on the flip side, Chiaki
For the next seven months, there is a note pinned to the door of Makoto's apartment with the header of To Whom It May Concern (and I Mean You, Chiaki!) You are such an annoying bitch.
When she steps outside of the apartment, wearing a new pair of shoes that Auntie Majo had convinced her to buy, she walks head-long into him, which is (thankfully) not the most mortifying thing she has ever done in his presence.
"Whoa," she says, because he is, if possible, even taller, and also skinnier, and also, if she had to pinpoint it, about forty, maybe a little younger.
"Makoto," he breathes, and kisses her, very firmly. He smells like smoke—not cigarette smoke, or campfire smoke, or teriyaki smoke, but broken buildings and burnt tar and long empty nights smoke—and tastes like C.C. Lemon left out opened for too long. "Oh, thank god."
"Wha?" she ogles, and then because he looks very confused and mussed and she was late for work anyway, she kisses him hard enough that their teeth rattle together and Mrs. Ishiwari across the hall peers through the peephole in her door and harrumphs.
"I thought—" he nicks the key to her door and unlocks it shakily and pushes her inside, past the interested stare of the cat, "I might've been too late."
"For what?" she asks, breaking from him to slip her bag over her head and dump it on the floor. She promptly trips over it, but he maneuvers her around her apartment like he knows it like the back of his hand, and they're in the bedroom before she stops licking him long enough for him to answer.
"Later," he says, and starts to unbutton her shirt.
There is no later, which is rather too convenient, but he leaves her a note scribbled on the bottom of the same paper as the one she'd left on her door.
Don't hate me, it says. There's always a reason. Wait until I meet you in the middle.
She's twenty-seven when the researchers start to report odd activity in the mice exposed to the electrical charges. The newspaper articles start to make a procession across her walls, a countdown to something that she cannot explain to anyone, even Kousuke, who comes over every Friday and watches baseball on the television with her (she said no to his vision of happily ever after, but they're still friends, even if they're occasionally supremely awkward ones).
"You are seriously odd," he tells her as they sit cross-legged on her futon.
"Oi!" she says, knocking him in the shoulder. "Like you're all that normal!"
"At least I have a normal job," he points out, nicking the last of the tempura, which is mostly true but also totally under the belt (nicking the tempura and making fun of her job).
"Being a curator is very important!"
"I would be more impressed if you actually were a curator," he says, cheeks full of crab meat and crunchy tempura.
"Give me time," she sniffs haughtily. There's the temptation to tell him—I know more about the future than you'd realize—but she's kind of gotten over that kind of immaturity. And besides, she so has the cooler job. Who cares about some yucky accounting gig? Yeah, it pays more, but at least she has a soul.
Which she proceeds to tell him.
He's younger than her again when he stops by the museum, probably mid-twenties, and there are scratches down his left arm that she knows will scar because she's seen them, raised and pale against the dark blue of her sheets. He looks surly and annoyed and the security guard trails him from the main exhibits area to her office.
"Chiaki!" she cries, excited, and waves off the guard. She almost reaches for him, before something about his note—meet me in the middle—stops her, and that he doesn't kiss her tells her that there is something wrong.
"Hey, Makoto," he says in a limp, beaten voice that she hasn't heard in ten years, not since an afternoon in a frozen city. "You look beautiful."
"Are you okay?" she asks hurriedly, rushing forward to pat him on the forehead and check for fever. "Like, seriously?"
"I'm fine," he says, but it lacks irritability.
"No you're not," she says, frowning, and she pushes him into her chair, which, together with her desk and filing cabinets, takes up the majority of her office. "Do you need a doctor? Is leaping bad for your health?"
"I," he says, then swallows twice and starts again. "How's it been going, lately?"
"Fine," she says, frowning slightly at him. "Geez, could you be more spastic? You're, like, a rabid age-changer every time I see you."
"Yeah," he says. "I see that."
"C'mon," she finally says, after he seems unable to do anything but swirl back and forth in her swivel chair. "Let's get some lunch."
He stays longer, this time, and she rubs a disinfectant into his scrapes and puts sheets and a pillow on the futon in her living room. They have fun making up a cover story—the most outlandish gets into the realm of secret agent and covert operations—and then she calls Kousuke over for Friday night baseball and arranges Chiaki on the futon, running around the apartment, borderline hysterical.
Other than dropping the bottle of sake on her new rug, Kousuke takes it pretty well. As the guys size each other up and try not to look emotional, she runs for paper towels from the kitchen and mops up the majority of the alcohol. At some point, she stops and joins them and they end up in a huge, crushing three-way hug that tilts towards Chiaki, who is the tallest, and threatens to suffocate her.
"Welcome back, you lazy moron," is all that Kousuke will say.
"Nice to see you missed me," Chiaki snerks, and Makoto gets glasses and snacks from the kitchen. (She feels appallingly domestic until she sets the microwave on fire making popcorn, and Kousuke has to fix it because she's terrified of fire and Chiaki has only seen the inner workings of a microwave in a book, when he was six.)
"I found out," he eventually says carefully, which is so not Chiaki that it hurts, "what happens. To you. After . . . it all happens."
"Oh," she says, and she wants to ask but she learned the hard way how fucking annoying and heartbreaking the future is, and she'd rather just have the uncertainty of today than the cold knowledge of how she's going to kick it. "Well, that's just too bad. D'you wanna get tempura or yakitori tonight?"
"Sukiyaki," he says, just to be difficult.
When he comes back, she's just turned thirty.
"Happy birthday," he says, slinging an arm around her shoulder as she walks towards home.
"Oh my god!" she bellows, automatically kicking out in defense. "Oh, it's you."
"Yeah, it's me," he says, and asks, almost too casually, "so how ancient are you today?"
"Thirty," she says, trying not to sound glum.
"Oh," he says. "What a coincidence. So am I."
It's kind of awkward, because she remembers how he works—her lips behind his ear, hands in his hair, that he's got a nest of permanent scar tissue on his left hip that hurts with too much pressure—and he's just getting the hang of things as they tumble into her apartment. He bangs his shin against a couple pieces of furniture and steps on the cat's tail, and she almost beans him in the head with a light fixture, but for once they're meeting in the middle and it's almost perfect and normal enough that she laughs into his mouth as she slides her hands across his stomach.
By the time she's thirty-five, she stops changing the layout of her apartment because it confuses him, and he's come back a total of twelve times, for clusters of hours or days or even more than a week, twice. They're sitting together in the kitchen, eating breakfast and she's eyeing the tie on his robe when he pauses and lifts his head. "Go turn up the television," he orders, and he sounds like something she's never heard before and so she listens.
"Early reports just coming in estimate that at least 70% of Kyoto's population has been wounded or killed by the as-of-yet unidentified explosion that rocked the city this morning . . ."
Makoto calls in to work and they pull the television and the wheeled cart it's on into the kitchen so they can watch as they finish breakfast. Kousuke shows up at some point, and that he doesn't make fun of them for still being in their pajamas, that he doesn't reference that Chiaki has a new scar cutting from his neck down his collarbone, worries Makoto.
She's too tired to bluff her way through the day, and when she looks at Chiaki she knows that—but she doesn't want to voice it (she's always kind of been a coward like that).
Kousuke gets the message and clicks off the television as he leaves. Chiaki makes love to her in the kitchen, the cold tile of the floor leaving square criss-crossed imprints on her back, and between the time that she kisses him and the explosion of concentrated electrical charge rips through the bottom three floors of the high-rise next door, he is gone.
She goes to the museum for the last time, and locks the painting, along with a handful of other pieces, in the safe and prays that the conditions will let them last until Chiaki's time—whenever that is, but she has an inkling she won't be around to see it—before she closes up her office for the last time.
When she steps onto the street, wrapping her coat tight around herself, she is watching the pavement—stupid, stupid heels that Auntie Majo made her buy, and she likes how her legs look in them—rather than the street, which is why she doesn't see the truck.
At the last moment, she sees Chiaki, looking impossibly young, at least ten years younger than her, running full-throttal down the street towards her. He is yelling something, but her ears have started to buzz, and she frowns and slaps her left ear a couple times, trying to make out his words, but she only reads his lips as far as get out of the and only gets within touching distance and only reaches for his fingers but doesn't connect when
the bomb goes off.
At age seven, Makoto is the best player on her neighborhood's baseball team. She pitches like no other, which is why she is sulking about being stuck playing outfield.
"Hey," says a man—old, way old, with crinkles around his eyes and a bit of a limp. "Do you know the date, sweetheart?"
"Why, don't you?" asks Makoto rudely.
"I asked first," he says, which is infallible logic, so she answers his question, just to be nice.
"Thanks," he says absently, and starts to make off down the street before turning around abruptly and staring at her. She flips the ends of her hair, and stares back at him.
"What?" she demands.
"You should cut your hair," he finally says.
"Nobody asked you!" she replies, insulted beyond belief.
"It'll help with your game," he says.
"Hmph!" says Makoto, and turns on her heel. "I don't need help with my game! My game is fine! It's better than yours!"
"That's what you think," he murmurs. "Still, keep it in mind." Makoto turns back to stick out her tongue, and she notices that he has a package under his arm.
"What's that?" she asks, gesturing towards the thick wrapping with her glove.
"A present," he says.
"For who?" she asks, inching closer.
"The museum," he replies. "It's a painting that was hurt badly, and I need to find someone who can fix it."
"My Auntie Majo fixes paintings," she finally says, as a peace offering. "She makes all of them better."
"Is that what you're going to do?" he asks her, and she puts aside all attempts at being difficult, because he's really tall and kind of interesting and way more fun than the stupid game with the stupid boys who won't even let her pitch.
"I'm gonna play baseball," she says. "Or be a pirate. Or time travel."
"Time travel," he says, scoffing. "There's no such thing."
"Of course there is!" cries Makoto. "If you don't belive in it then you're silly and I don't want to be friends with you."
"Well, I guess it could be possible," he allows.
"I'm going to jump," explains Makoto, jumping clear of the space between her and him, skidding over the curb to the sidewalk and planting herself at his feet, "to the future. I'm gonna see everything. The whole world. In a second. I'm gonna come back and play baseball with myself."
When she looks up from her shoes, the man with the painting is gone.
The second that the bomb goes off, Makoto sees double. There is the Chiaki of before, the one who ran screaming down the street towards her, terrified and his heart in his eyes and then there is another Chiaki who steps—she has a moment to be seethingly jealous that he's so goddman graceful about it—into her side as the smoke masks the first Chiaki, and presses the little shell-like charger against her elbow and yells LEAP, and she does.
The force of the explosion pushes both their feet off the ground, and although Makoto has no idea where she's going, she holds onto Chiaki as tightly as she can as she swirls through red and white and blue and blinking lights, and she ends up—
Okay, she has no friggin idea where she ends up, except she's pretty sure there used to be a city along that coastline.
But after about twenty heart-breaking seconds, Chiaki steps out of space (there's something that looks like a hickey on the side of his neck, and Makoto can't help smirking a bit at the thought of I did that) next to her.
"Hi," he says. "Sorry I'm late."
So, first time with this fandom. Thoughts?