(A/N)- For those of you who read my previous story, this be that second Bryce/Keiko idea that I had floating around in my head that I mentioned.
The basic idea was originally just to cover Bryce's viewpoint of the flash coming true. Of course then certain events happened and I tweaked it a little to fit with those events and explain how Bryce and Keiko could still come to be at that restaurant together on April 29. (Being as respectful to all parties and relationships involved as I could, natch.) I'm satisfied with how it came out. Hope you will be too.
Disclaimer: I don't own Flash Forward, sadly, though I am hoping to buy the DVD box set if and when it comes out.
Bryce sat alone in the center booth, staring glumly at the woodwork on the table. It was April 29, 2010 and he was at the sushi restaurant.
He didn't know why. He hadn't planned on it or anything. He hadn't consciously intended to be here. He was just walking, wandering the L.A. streets with his hands in his pockets and it had just sort of... happened. He had just felt a subtle urge to head for Little Tokyo, head for the restaurant, walk in, and sit down. A small push, a gentle nudge from some force inside him. Something he was barely even aware of, but had followed without questioning it, not with any real enthusiasm, but because he just didn't know what else to do. He'd had a lot on his mind. His thoughts had been a thousand miles away when he'd glanced up from his shoes and noted himself outside the sushi place. The gentle urge had encouraged him to enter.
Might as well, he'd thought. It's as good a place to think as any.
He traced a crack on the table with his finger listlessly.
Everything was so confusing. A few weeks ago he'd recieved wonderful news-his cancer was in remission. The deadly disease that he'd thought would surely take his life before today was gone. The newfound freedom to live had been so exhilerating. He'd wanted to do a million things at once, things he'd never gotten the chance to do before. He'd wanted to shout from the rooftops that he was alive to whoever would listen and celebrate with him.
But then, when the high wore off... he didn't know where to go. His hospital duties seemed so ordinary a life to return to. People went about their business, unaware that anything significant had happened to him, that before he had been dying and now he was all right. Aside from Nicole and occasionally Olivia, they spared him no second glance.
Was that it then? Was he that insignificant? Did no one else care that he was still around?
He sighed. Well, someone cared but...
He stopped tracing the crack and picked up his water glass, taking a long sip from it before setting it back down.
Him and Nicole, well... It just hadn't worked out. She'd broken it off before it could even really get started. "You're my best friend, Bryce." she'd told him. "You know that. And you know I'll always be there for you. Maybe I'm being stupid. Maybe... maybe it makes sense for us to be more than friends. God knows how much I'd like to, now that you have the time. But the thing is..." She'd dropped her gaze a moment, avoiding eye contact. If he'd been a more eloquent type he might've interrupted her at that point, reassuring her of his affections or good intentions. As it was, she'd cut him to the quick at the first sentance, rendering him speechless. He could only stand and listen and take in her words somberly. When Nicole had finally raised her eyes back up to his, he could tell her next words weren't going to be the ones he'd hoped to hear.
"I don't think I can be with you that way," she'd said, "when the whole reason you're even standing here, alive and healthy... is because of someone else."
That had surprised him. "What do you-"
"I'm not the one who saved you Bryce." she'd interrupted. She'd taken out a file, something tucked into the papers she'd been carrying, held it out to him so he could see. "She is."
Bryce had jolted with recognition at the photo attached to the file. It was the girl from his flash forward. How-?
"She made you hope." Nicole had told him. "She gave you something to live for. You told me that yourself." She'd looked at him in concern, and her eyes had a slight critical edge. "Have you forgotten?"
That had taken him aback. Hearing his own words echoed back to him from Nicole reminded him of the pictures hanging up in his loft, pictures he'd drawn of the girl in his vision. It reminded him of the Japanese lessons, the spur-of-the-moment trip to Tokyo to go and seek her out.
It reminded him of her wonderful vibrant smile and the feelings of joy and hope he'd had upon awakening from his flash with renewed strength to carry on living.
The truth was... he had forgotten. After the disasterous failure of his excursion in Tokyo, to learn her name and find her house only to discover she wasn't there, had apparently never been there, he had returned home crushed in will and spirit. And then with the rigorous chemo that sapped his energy and how busy he'd been at the hospital... His search for the woman in his vision had just fallen by the wayside. Along with the hope she'd given him. At the time he hadn't noticed but when he stopped thinking about Keiko, stopped trying to find her, he stopped believing he was going to live. Doubt had crept into him. His meager enthusiasm for the experimental treatments dwindled almost entirely. If not for the constant encouragement and reminders from Nicole, he might have skipped out on them completely. (Hence why the news of his remission had come as such a surprise to him.)
Immediately after remembering he felt horrible for forgetting. What kind of person did that make him, to just let his inspiration to survive fall by the wayside?
But still... he wasn't sure. He wasn't certain he could find her if he went looking again. He was so afraid the universe was playing some horrible joke on him, teasing him with glimpses of Keiko only to snatch her out of his reach as though she never truly existed. Even with the file in his hands, looking at her picture, he'd hesitated.
Nicole had encouraged him though. She urged him to seek resolution to things between him and Keiko before he thought about moving on. "You need to at least talk to her. Thank her for giving you the will to live again." she pressed.
So the two of them had gone out in search of her.
But they'd been given a similar run-around. No there was no one named Keiko in their custody. No they couldn't see her. No. At the end Bryce had felt more discouraged than ever. He left the hospital early, needing time to sort through his conflicting emotions, needing a moment away from the agony of defeat. Nicole promised to cover for him, but she didn't drop the subject.
"Keiko is out there." she insisted. "And you have to find her."
Ironic that the one who was drowning in her flash forward was the more optimistic of the two. (Speaking of though, before he'd left, Bryce had made sure to leave Nicole in safe hands at the hospital. He'd talked to her supervisor, made her promise to watch Nicole like a hawk, and passed Nicole a can of Mace to use in case of emergencies. Once he was finished here he would probably rush right back to make sure she was okay. He didn't know what he'd do if he lost his best friend along with everything else.)
The waitress walking by interrupted his inner musings. He ordered some tea, absent-mindedly using the Japanese he'd been practicing in the past months.
Anything to eat? she asked in return.
He opened up his menu and pointed out his order. The waitress smiled, took his menu, and headed off. Bryce folded his hands and stared down soberly at the table.
The universe really liked yanking him around. First he was dying of cancer, then he found something to live for. First he was ready to embrace destiny, then it spat in his face and withheld even a brief glimpse of the woman who gave him hope, just so he could know she really existed, just so he could know she was real. First he had a reason to live, then he despaired of ever surviving long enough to see it. And then when he might have found somebody else to care for, she backpedaled.
He'd never been much of one to believe in fate-things beyond the universe controlling the future and all that-but he was beginning to think whatever fate or destiny did exist either sorely had it in for him or took pleasure in making him miserable. If Destiny exists, he thought with a sigh, she must really hate me.
Soft footsteps sounded quietly behind him. They paused by his table. He didn't notice at first, but then something tugged at his attention and he slowly glanced up.
And the breath caught in his throat.
It was her.
She was just as he'd seen her in his flash forward. The pink shirt with the double-wheel logo. The straight ebony hair falling around her shoulders and framing her beautiful face. The hesitant, uncertain expression, as if she didn't know what to think about him being there, being real.
His mind was reeling at how perfectly timed her arrival had been. Looking at her in person at long last filled his heart with happiness.
Apparently Destiny had heard his grousing and sent her in apology.
Bryce made a small, breathy chuckle to himself. "You're really here." he said, awed.
Keiko's expression was anxious, adorably nervous. He quickly stood up. Please, sit with me, he invited her in Japanese, waving a hand at the seat opposite him. Keiko unshouldered the guitar she was carrying and awkwardly slid into the booth. Bryce followed suit. For a moment, he could only stare at her, study her, take in the fact that she was there. The joy of her presence now almost made up for the waiting and false leads of before. He couldn't help but crack a smile.
That single gesture made the anxiety melt off Keiko's face, made her eyes brighten and her mouth spread with her own vibrant smile... the one he'd fallen in love with.
He could die happy right now having finally seen that smile.
He laughed. All his angst and troubles slid forgotten out of his mind. He raised his eyes to hers again. He knew it was there, knew he'd experienced taking this course of action before, but he had to see. He gestured at her wrist.
May I? he asked.
She glanced down at it, realizing what he wanted, and allowed him to take her hand and turn it palm-up so he could see the kanji tattooed there.
Bryce felt his doubts evaporate. "Shinjiru." he read aloud. Believe. Overwhelmed, he clasped her hand, squeezed her slender fingers in his own. She giggled, her beautiful smile growing wider than ever.
It was like everything in the past few months had been leading up to this moment.
She was here. She was real.
And he loved her.
He knew it now. This woman who had saved him, who made him hope... His heart was almost bursting. Taking Nicole's advice in mind, he leaned forward to thank her for giving him the will to live. Drawing close to her overwhelmed him, the flood of gratitude and joy carried him straight forward and he kissed her. She made a surprised noise against his mouth but soon relaxed into it. Her eyes slipped closed.
They had found each other at last.
All they had to do was believe.