Title: Red String
Characters: Everyone who happens to make for good plot and/or segues.
Pairing(s): Abe/Mihashi, I'm leaning towards Hamada/Izumi but I'm also willing to take requests! :)
Warning: My silly brain. Also the use of Japanese suffix – if anyone doesn't understand the Japanese please let me know and I will write the translations in the next chapter! Manga has made it difficult for me to use words like 'miss.'
Abe is small with his eyes furrowed in the general direction of the dashboard as though he were having a mental conversation with the glove compartment and perhaps—just perhaps if he opens it up the answers will scatter on his lap.
But Abe-san knows better, watching her son and his narrowed brows knit further in frustration. She doesn't know what to say exactly to be of any help so she rubs her growing stomach with one hand and grips the steering wheel harder with the other. Her eyes are darting between the road and her quiet son, lips pursed trying to find just the right words.
What is she supposed to say, on the day of her own father's funeral? The pregnancy has her emotions going haywire (maybe it wasn't such a great idea to drive) and the thought that one of her parents was now buried made her throat too dry to swallow. There were so many things she had wanted to say to him before he left—not all of them nice, by the way—and now she can never say them.
So here she was trapped in the silence of her car with a child on the way and a boy who had been there almost four years already. How does she help him, talk to him even when she wasn't all that certain momentarily how to help herself? How does she begin to tell him that one-day he would be in the exact same position she was in now, sans the pregnancy?
She doesn't have to wait too long until her son starts for her.
"Mom, why is it gone?" She tries not to be thrown off by his poor use of grammar. She would just have to work on her soon-to-be Shun-chan a little earlier.
"It happens, Takaya," as though she were explaining why it snowed in the Winter and rained in the Spring. "Life has a cycle of birth, the present, and death. Your grandfather was needed somewhere else… With Buddha. To do things."
There, was that so hard?
Out of the corner of her eyes she can see her son knit his brows into an impossible scowl, "I didn't mean why Grandpa left. I meant why /it/ left. The string that held Grandma and Grandpa together."
Oh, well, if it was only that… What?
"Uh-huh. The Red String that had them together forevers and evers. After we buried Grandpa it was gone and I don't understand why!"
Abe-san had pictured having a conversation with her son. She didn't know when, or where, or how, but she knew it was going to have to happen since her husband would probably groan from his spot in front of the television and grumble something about it being her problem since, "It's your father after all." Talks about string had never been apart of the equation until now.
"Your grandfather died because it was his time to go, Taka-chan. Even when you love someone a whole lot, it doesn't change that one day you have to leave them—and everyone else—behind. We're not meant to stay in this world forever."
Flawless, Abe-san allows herself a pat on the back. Not literally of course seeing as how she was supposed to be driving.
"Are you talking about… that silly legend? The one where some old guy does matchmaking for a living, and he puts thread of people's ankles? Something, something, 'the thread expands and tangles, but never breaks.'"
'Wrong,' Abe thinks silently to himself. He wants to say it aloud, but his little brother made a crank out of his mother so he tries not to step on her toes too often these days.
Undeterred by her son's internal monologues, Abe-san steers the car into the driveway. When the car is parked she turns to her son in what he knows to be her 'Mother Needs To Lecture' face. "You know, Taka-chan, it's only a story. It just helps people feel better: to know that there is someone out there to complete them. Soul mates, like your father and me. It's not to be taken literally. That is, not word for word as truth."
Abe-san leans over, careful of her protruding stomach, to help her son out of his seat belt. As she waddles around the car to open his side of the door, Abe can only hear her words resound in his head.
'Wrong again, mom,' he thinks somberly, 'the red thread /is/ real, but it isn't on your ankle. It's on your pinky right now and…'
By the time Abe-san has opened her sons door, ready to help lift him from the seat he has already lost to the temptation.
"Your thread isn't attached to daddy's," young Abe looks up to his mother as her disturbed face transforms into one of confusion, before settling into a stern frown.
"Who told you that?!" She lifts the small boy a bit too roughly from his seat before slamming the car door shut.
Abe does not like the glare she's using on him, so he tries to hide by looking the other way. She can still see him, though, so when she grabs his chin sternly with two fingers and asks him to look at her Abe is certain his master plan has failed.
"No one!" He promises his mother, trying not to cry. Girls cried, and Abe was most certainly not a pansy, dress-wearing girl with cooties.
"It was your grandmother, wasn't it? She's putting these ridiculous stories in your head!" Abe-san grouches out, letting go of her son. He tries to protest, but the pregnant woman is already to the front of the house and in the middle of a rant.
"That woman! Everything she does is just so damn perfect, but anyone else…!"
Abe doesn't think it would be all that great to mention now that grandmother didn't even know about her own thread. That Abe-san's little boy had /seen/ the string with his own eyes, and he had seen it just as quickly vanish. Or that he could see his mother's all the same, that every word he said was truth.
She's still going at it in the house when Abe makes it inside, throwing the occasional comment towards her husband who doesn't bother to even acknowledge they're home. He's too busy watching the baseball game, and both he and Abe have become masters of tuning out the hormonal woman in the kitchen. In the last seven months Abe considers himself a 'professional ignorer.'
Fate had some sort of way to work itself out without Abe's help, so he thinks better than to risk his own peace and slinks numbly into the seat next to his father.
They were everywhere. Especially on the train.
If Abe looked up at given second, any station, all he would be able to see was a vast field of red walls and partial faces. Red through the train widows and metal walls, red on the ground at his feet, red taut and suspended in mid air.
Red, red, red, red, red.
Everyone had a soul mate, Abe knew, so it was only logical that anywhere people happened to be there was also bound to be string. Even now as he starred down he could see the ghostly yarn swaying around his body, sometimes what /looked/ to be through his body, trailing in the direction of the people standing before him and probably connected to someone on the outside beyond.
He had learned long ago that he couldn't actually touch the Red String of Fate. It was a visual haunting, nothing physical. He could walk right between a couple on the street and neither harm their relationship or bring any significant change (except the minor times he walked through a couple holding hands. It changed a lot of things, like their tempers).
Usually it was easier to see people around him, given the wide open space outside, and the fact the string often appeared more translucent—intangible—but the train was filled with people from every walk of life stuffed together so closely until you couldn't tell your neighbors breath from your own.
Abe hated the train, if it were difficult to obtain. And it had very little to do with the clanging noise or unnecessary sharp turns.
There were only two places Abe knew certainly where he couldn't see the vomit of red and that was pretty much every graveyard. Most people had already buried their beloved one and no longer needed anything tied to their short appendage. Funerals were a bit different, considering living people were in attendance and not all of them had dead significant others.
Of course Abe had seen living people walking around without a string. He had learned young that although most people would eventually find their 'true love,' not everyone was lucky. Sometimes people searched their whole lives looking for that special spark not knowing that the other person was no longer on the other end; their soul mate was already far-gone.
One moment had been stuck in his mind as an exceptional eye-opener. Abe remembered an especially sweet clerk who worked in the convenience store two blocks down from his house. After Shun-chan had been born and his mother's rage trickled into cooing, Abe spent most of his time there reading comics and eating stale meat buns the Big Sister* had offered him. They would talk about Abe's school, and she would tell him she had always wanted a son like him, and on Tuesday afternoons Abe would keep quiet as he noticed the string on her finger tug in the general direction of the store entrance where, even if he had been blind folded, Abe could claim it was some well dressed business man.
Mr. Business man would pet Abe on the head and make conversation with the Big Sister, and she would laugh at his stupid jokes and he would blush while running his hand through sleeked back hair. He would leave soon afterwards, and Abe would be fascinated as the string expanded to accommodate the distance.
One day he just came into the shop and met Big Sister who offered him some two day old bread to nibble on, and the whole time Abe couldn't help but think something was just a bit off in the store.
The String of Fate was no longer there. As though her pinky had been bare the whole time, but she just smiled and mentioned nothing amiss.
Abe never saw the man again, and he didn't have to be too much of a genius to understand what had happened. Granted his epiphany hit five years later and the Big Sister had moved off to somewhere in Tokyo to start her singing career. Or something.
It wasn't like he had a How-To-Guide for the Mentally String-a-phobic. Plus he had already tried going up 'ask your mother' aisle several times, but Abe-san would have none of it. Maybe she was just a bit spooked out by her son's ability, or maybe she just begrudged him for his last statement almost twelve years ago. No matter the case, Abe had always been on his own in this not so swell of an adventure.
Abe grimaced thinking about the morbidity of his thoughts. It was really the rocking train that put him on edge, and the constant chatter that pushed him into his own seat and made him squirm. But it also wasn't completely the train's fault, considering the day's events.
Abe felt a jolt of appreciation as the loud speaker above his head announced the next stop would be in the Saitama Prefecture. He was relieved to soon be getting out into wide-open spaces. To sleep in his own room again and be rid of people, and strings, for the next couple of hours.
Or maybe his relief all came down to knowing that the only other place he couldn't see the Red String was on the train, starring down at his own bare finger and knowing it had always been that way. What was the point of being visually assaulted everyday by other people's blinding happiness when his 'other half' didn't even exist. Perhaps worse: had, but no longer lived.
So much for soul mates.
*Big Sister: In Japan older, young adults are usually referred to as Onee-san and Onii-san (Big Sister and Big Brother). Rather than make-up names for purpose-made-only characters I opted to use Japanese culture but translated it instead of throwing in random Japanese here and there. It also just felt like a good fit to me.
A/N: The train bit will be explained in the next chapter!