Story: coming out of my cage and i've been doing just fine

Summary: And so he steps. / Five times Chiaki rolled back his own timeline because of (it figures) Konno freaking Makoto.

Notes: I honestly cannot let this pairing go, it is like freaking crack on a stick, drizzled in sexy fun. I also cannot write them without them jumping into bed with each other. Theories on this? At any rate, ending vaguely lines up with the events of don't you let them tame you, but not to a substantial degree.

The past is noisy, he discovers, full of hustle and bustle and an annoyingly intense humming noise that jargles in his ears. When he lands, wearing clothes stiff from disuse and the least obvious of all of his things, there are no suspicious glances, no one checks his citizen code or demands to know what he is doing outside of his district.

They are all busy, and their business does not include a teenage boy, he discovers. It is incredibly hard to find a map anywhere, and he has no idea what he is doing in this building, at least until he gets pushed into a central hub and someone (finally) fucking looks at him and goes, "Are you supposed to be here?"

"Yuugi Chiaki," he finally stutters, and her brows lower as she shuffles through stacks of papers on the low ledge running throughout the hub, and all of this—the people, the noise, the confusion, the lack of order—is getting to him, at least until he gets checked in the shoulder by a small girl hurrying in the opposite direction.

"Eh, Kousuke!" she cries, barely gifting Chiaki with a glance. "Stop being so fast! I'm not as tall as you are, you freak."

"Transfer student?" says the woman behind the desk briskly. "All right, we'll need your parents to sign these forms and pay the fee for a uniform." When Chiaki blankly turns to her, she gestures towards a stack of papers that have been separated from their friends and colleagues into a neat pile with his name—Yuugi Chiaki; the characters look so odd, smushed next to each other; he didn't realize that they were still using characters in this century—on a slip of paper on top. "You'll need to send us your test scores," she continues, and her words fade until there is only the faintest buzzing noise running around his head.

Off, down the heavily populated corridor, the girl has caught up to her friend and is standing next to him, the disparity in their height made even more ridiculous by the way she is tugging at his hand and attempting to kick him in the shin, and Chiaki can't help it—he begins to laugh.

When he turns back towards the woman with the unhealthy obsession with paper, she does not look amused. She reaches forward, about to snap up the papers and banish him from her presence, and for all that Chiaki is unfamiliar with these customs, even he knows that he'll need a base of operations until he finds the painting.

And so he steps—

Eventually he manages to get his hands on a passable library and starts reading up. After about three days of solid research, he's pretty sure he can pass as local. He has to wait a few months for the museum to reopen, so he sticks with the school—it's so weird, the idea of having kids go to a building and learn from some decrepit old guy who knows, like, nothing, instead of just finding out themselves—and works it the best he can.

He's lucky on one count, in that the girl from the first day and her friend are somewhat friendly and want a third to play baseball with them. Their stories come almost naturally as they play; "One time, this douche in my neighborhood," and "Oh god, Auntie Majo came for dinner last night and she and my mom got in this giant blow out," and "Do you remember, when you were little?"

He has to consciously restrain himself from adding any of his own. Somehow, he has a feeling that "There was this one time, in Sector Five, when a girl got caught by the Authority," won't go over terribly well. He's their age, but he feels a lot older—for one thing, Makoto relies on her parents for everything, which is something he hasn't done in years, and Kousuke is paralyzed by shyness, which is similarly something that just wouldn't cut it in the future.

Usually his slip-ups go unnoticed, but one day he gets caught up in one of Makoto's diatribes, and in a slippery attempt to be sympathetic, gets tangled. One second he is listening, nodding and humming and tossing the ball towards Kousuke, and the next he is telling Makoto about one of his friends and this mine just lying out in the street, and he realizes that he is telling her, and he stops, terrified that he will be caught.

"What the hell?" Makoto wants to know.

"Are you fucking insane?" Kousuke asks. "Why would you joke about something like that?"

He knows that Kousuke's cousin died from an unlabeled landmine out in the country. He doesn't want to alienate them—in fact, his aim was actually trying to get closer to them, but fat lot of good that grand idea did him—and he shudders, helplessly, as Makoto and Kousuke give him weird looks.

And so he steps—

He is a teenage boy, and Makoto is a girl and she's pretty and bright and she wears tiny little shorts, and, well—can he really be blamed? He tells himself he'll just do it once, but when he grabs her by the back of her neck and reels her in, he already knows that just once will probably not cut it. She is a bit shocked at first, and for a second she is curious and almost gentle, and then she is Makoto again and braining him with her English textbook.

"Ehh!" she screeches, wordlessly, flushed and the skin right under her bottom lip puckered. "Why the hell did you do that?"

He rubs the dent on the back of his head, wincing a bit, as she begins to rail against him, talking about propriety and gender issues, and frankly, all of this coming from Makoto is a fucking joke. She can't even tell that Kousuke is head over heels for her—like, pathetically intoxicated with her. It is so fucking infuriating.

And so he steps—

"Makoto," he says in the middle of the bus, as she leans against him and she's tired from running so her eyelashes are fluttering shut as they are jostled. "Do you think—you want to go out? With me? Some time?"

"Eh?" Makoto is completely out of it from their sprint across town; she has a limp grip on the papers they need for their project, and she looks like at any second she is going to collapse into a little tired puddle. "Wha?"

Even though her eyes are lidded and her body is curved against his—as much of it aligns, at any rate, because she is so fucking tiny, next to him, and for all of her vibrancy and warmth, he is reminded every day how small and crazy and kind of stupid, when it comes to street smarts, she is—she looks focused as she presses her lips into a thin line and tries to make eye contact with him through the thick fringe of his hair.

"You what?"

Her voice has cleared considerably, and now has gained a timbered squeak to it, like she is a startled mouse. Chiaki used to keep mice in his apartment, until they began to eat at his canvases, and so he is filled with familiar warmth and misses the warning signs, the tightening of her fists and her body straightening itself away from him.

"You know, out, dumbass," he says, avoiding her gaze and peering through his fringe out the window, ostensibly looking for their stop. "For, like, ramen or something."

"With…Kousoke. This afternoon."

She is being deliberately stupid, he knows that, and he knows what it means, but he can't help himself, he presses her, and physically he shuffles a little closer. "No, the two of us. To-together. Alone."

"A-aah." Her sigh of comprehension warbles, confused, and she draws her shoulders into her neck, a parody of a normal modest school girl—and the day he calls Makoto a normal modest school girl is the day she stops threatening to punch him in the fucking face for missing her stupid wide throws—in the face of his attention. "I don't—er, I mean. Chiaki."

He hears the question she is not asking, the refusal she hasn't managed to form on her tongue, and obligingly moves towards the front of the bus. At her louder, a little bit angrier, "Chiaki?" he steps—

In a fit of abject stupidity, he doesn't even ask why she's there—it's been years, like fucking torture only infinitely worse because sometimes it was tempered by happiness, finishing a new painting or finding double rations, and then he would feel doubly terrible for being happy when she was off, somewhere, some place, some unknown—he just grips her shoulders and slams against her immediately, his lips drawn to the corner of hers. It is the least gentle thing he's ever done to Makoto, excluding the time he accidentially punched her, and he expects, amongst the various possible responses, a fist to his left eye or her knee buried in his groin.

Instead she sighs and fists her hands in his shirt hard enough to permanently stretch the weave of the fabric and rather indelicately climbs up him like a cat to wrap her legs around his waist. "Hey," she says, in a brief burst of static noise, "it's not like I died or anything, moron."

He swallows the immediate bitter laughter at that and instead buries his head in the curve of her collarbone, his hands fitting under her thighs to keep her aloft. She's tiny but she certainly isn't made out of freaking air, and if she keeps twitching like that, he's going to drop her. "Stop wriggling, I'm gonna drop you," he says into her ear, and bites it for good measure to get his point across.

"Drop me and I will end you," she promises, and she gives him an accusing look when he finally gathers himself enough to pull back a bit. "Why is your hair so short?"

"What are you talking about?" he asks irritably. "It's always been this short."

"No, I mean—it was longer—" She looks over his shoulder at the remains of his apartment and appears, if possible, even more horrified. "When the fuck did this get so clean?"

"I have no idea," he begins, and then he gently dislodges her legs from his hips and sets her with a loud thud on the concrete floor of his studio. He does, actually, have an idea, and it terrifies him that she has been here, seen this space, realized something about his future—her future, now, he guesses, and as pleased as he is by the concept of their futures intertwining, he cannot in good faith allow her to stay here, in this hell.

"Makoto, how many leaps do you have left?" he asks, and she gives him an odd look.

"One," she says slowly, like he is an idiot, "that I used to get here."

Fuck. He closes his eyes, sees the streets outside, streets they walked together, hundreds of years ago, and he imagines Makoto—she is not delicate or modest or even a passable representation of a normal school girl (normal—how old is she now, here? Twenty-five?)—on these streets, now, and he is filled with a horrifying, choking dread. She has no idea, and as much as he missed her, as much as he wants to sink into her and run his fingers through her hair and piss her off with the stupid things he says, he cannot afford to let her stay.

He knows what she would say, if he told her this. He's heard it so many times, how he is a selfish bigot and she deserves to make her own choices. But—he cannot let her make this choice.

So he kisses her, thoroughly (like he's wanted to in his dreams for the last eight years, since he came back, and probably three more before that), as he fumbles for the seed in his pocket and cups it in his the palm of his left hand. When she pulls away, bleary and mussed and her cheeks flushed, he allows himself a full ten seconds of staring, runs his right thumb against her bottom lip, and then claps the seed against the back of her head, where she will never see the 00 on her skin.

And so he steps, and throws her away from him. She disappears before she can hit the wall.