Summary: One-shot – She watches the seasons go by and waits for the day when he'll finally return to her.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters featured in this story. They all belong to the grand Tachibana Higuchi.
The heat is blistering and overbearing for all in the middle of summer. People flock to water and covering like animals in the middle of a drought. No one cares to stay outside where the sun beats down pounding waves of heat after heat.
There is the only one dares to stay outside and face the unmerciful sun for days on end. She sits at the same bus stop for hours with a noticeable glint in her pretty eyes. No one says anything about the strange, daily occurrence but they all wonder: what is she waiting for?
Only the ones who recognize the glint in those eyes for what is know that it is not a matter of what, but of whom.
The leaves change and fall and the children head back to school. She is old enough now to be able to choose whether or not to attend, and she chooses not to. The promise they made binds her to that bus stop for the rest of her days until it is fulfilled.
'I'll be back in a year,' he had whispered in her ear as she clung to him as desperately as a dying man clings to life. 'Spend one year in this little town and then I'll come back for you.'
'But I want to stay with you,' she had whispered back, pale hands gripping his black shirt tightly. 'Please…'
'It's not safe for us to stay together,' he scolded gently, running a soothing hand through her loose hair. 'If you stay here and I leave then I can lure them away from you. They're after me; not you.'
'But…' she tried to protest, to make him see that being away from him with no contact for a year to her is even harder to face than death.
'Stay strong. I'll come back to you,' he whispered, pulling her closer like he was trying to make them into one person. She knows then that the challenge they face is just as difficult to bear for him as it is for her. He didn't want to leave her; it was just that he had to.
'Wait for me here. Just wait for me.'
So she clenches her jaw, ignores the children going to school, and tries to stay strong as she waits for him to return to her.
It is now winter and he is still gone.
The cold is bleak and biting but she refuses to cave to the hopeless depression welling up inside of her. She keeps her memories of him alive in her mind by replaying every moment she ever shared with him over and over again like a never ending ferris wheel.
The people of the town have gotten used to her strange routine and now leave her well enough alone. Occasionally someone will stop to speak with her, and even though she always replies with a pleasant friendliness, they can't help but feel that she is seeing someone else in their place.
Spring comes and brings new life to the small country town. Flowers bloom and animals return as the children start school all over again. She remains in her seat and watches this all with a small, bittersweet smile.
She can remember the days where she welcomed spring and school with him and their friends. Those innocent days where her greatest concern was passing a test, or getting her homework done on time. Lazy days spent in the company of the people she loved so very dearly. They were so very different from the days she faced now: days of endless waiting and only a promise fulfilled to keep her going.
So she smiles on and watches the flowers grow as her own hope grows in her.
It is the middle of a hot day in July and much like the season before, people are trying to avoid it by gathering at pools and air-conditioned rooms. And staying true to this pattern, she sits and waits at the same bus stop for hours at a time.
But there is a difference to this day than the ones previous. This day there is a sudden and (un)expected twist to the story. On this day he returns.
At first she doesn't realize it is him. The bus stops in front of her and a few people get off and walk past her. She stares down at the ground and watches the multiple and varied footwear pass her by. Then one set of feet stop in front of her. A pair of large, black workman's shoes that are stitched together with grime, tears and stains. They are the shoes of a man who has walked far and wide and long.
Her heart picks up speed as she slowly slid her eyes up from the shoes to worn and ripped blue jeans, and then to a white buttoned up shirt that finally led to the face that she had been dreaming of every night for a year.
"Mikan." The voice is the same. That deep, warm voice that had whispered a promise to her a year ago. The voice of the man she waited for everyday through every season.
"Natsume…" The tears blur her vision and she struggles to keep get rid of them without taking her eyes off of him. She is afraid that if she does then he might disappear again, or she may wake up from this bittersweet dream.
"Mikan… I'm back. I came back to you," he says, dropping his bag and opening his arms in clear invitation.
She takes him up on it and throws herself into familiar arms that wrap around her tightly. She is dimly aware that she is crying but her tears are the last thing on her mind. All she can think of is how he kept his promise to her, and how her endless days of waiting paid off in the end.
He has finally returned to her.