The rush of nonsensical chatter filled her ears as she moved forward, her body trying to adjust to squeezing into the bustling crowds. She couldn't believe how strange it was to be back in such a high populated area. She had become accustomed to calm old streets, and the soft murmur of voices, and gentle thrum of distant music. But here was different, with everything new and shiny like silver bobbles, and voices drummed in a cacophony, and music settled into her brain as if it were naturally wired there. She'd taken to riding a scooter while away, but now that she looked upon the tightly compacted streets, she wondered if she'd ever be able to ride here. Of course it had been incredibly dangerous, even in Europe, and it had taken nearly three months of pestering from her daring roommate to get her onto the rental motor scooter. It had been terrifying. She recalled comparing it to being on a sharply turning rollercoaster without a safety belt.

She never told Beat that she rode a scooter around Europe, though. It was against her better judgment to get into riding the thing, so she couldn't imagine how Beat would react. She decided she'd tuck that little fact into the secret Europe notes filed in her head. No one would know about them but her and her foreign friends. She smiled to herself as she stepped onto the Scramble, her heart jerking at the familiar sights and sounds of Shibuya. She'd been dreadfully homesick, though some days she forgot what it was like to walk through the packed streets of Tokyo.

She pulled her phone out of her pocket and frowned at the lack of buzzing. It was noon. Beat should have texted her by now. She quickly flushed and tucked her phone back into her pocket. Of course Beat hadn't tried to message her. It was five in the morning, her time. He stopped texting her at that hour back in the early days when she had been traveling Germany.

Rhyme adjusted her duffle bag and hugged her suit case close to her. She realized she must've looked like such a tourist with the surplus of baggage (though she knew she traveled quite light, considering how long she'd been gone). She sighed and glanced around her. Kids were all around, babbling on cell phones, chatting amiably about summer. Rhyme smiled and recalled the last time she'd done something similar. It felt like so long ago, and she suddenly felt awful that she'd left Shibuya.

But it wasn't like there had been anyone else to meet her at Hachiko. Everyone was gone by the time she graduated, which made her curse over and over being the youngest of the group.

Now she stood by the statue, memories flooding back with every breath she took of Shibuya air. It was exactly as she remembered it, gorgeous dark stone carved into the gentle features of the old dog. She took a few steps forward and stopped directly in front of it. She set her suitcase down and looked up at the statue that she had always adored, even before the incidents leading to Hachiko becoming the meeting spot. It was not like the statues she'd seen on her trips, like, for instance, the vestal virgins' statues in Rome. The dog was not old and crumbling, like most of the wonders she saw were. It was strong, and steady, and so wonderful…

Rhyme stepped forward, raising her hand and gently patting Hachiko's snout. A rush of warmth spread throughout her body, and she felt herself smiling. Memories flooded back to her, tickling her senses with lasting impressions. How crisp the air smelled one particular fall day, and the taste of a storm buzzing inside her mouth, and the dreadful cold of winter days when she had to wait at Hachiko without a jacket in her old school uniform. Rhyme sucked in the thick, acrid summer air, tasting the tang of rain on the way, and smelling the moisture around her. It wasn't like it had been in Europe, of course. In Europe the bitter smell of dampness tended to overpower everything else.

Unless, of course, Rhyme mused, she happened to be passing by pizza shop.

Rhyme stood back and snapped herself back into reality. The bustle of humans around her made her a little self conscious, but no one seemed to care about the tiny blonde petting Hachiko. Rhyme quickly grabbed her suitcase and looked up at Hachiko. She needed to figure out where Beat was. She hoped he was at his apartment, because trying to find him elsewhere in the massive city was a disaster waiting to happen.

As Rhyme examined Hachiko closer, she noticed a pile of buttons lying beside Hachiko's paw. She leaned closer, and noted that the ones at the bottom of the pile were much dirtier than those at the top, as if they'd been there for weeks.

Rhyme shook her head and turned around. She was getting herself too distracted! She needed to find Beat. She started forward into the street, glancing up at the sky. She smiled a little as she caught sight of the long expanse of tumbling gray flitting over the sunlight. It was indeed going to rain soon. Best off, then, to find Beat, and celebrate her being home for the first time in three years. She smiled and thought of all the dishes she'd learned to make while living in her apartment in Florence, her stomach growling at the thought of eggplant rollatini stuffed with ricotta cheese—

"Hey, over here!"

Rhyme spun around, her ponytail whipping around and slapping her in the face as her eyes darted around the crowds, her heart beat increasing as her mind tried to figure out why she was getting so excited. She stood beside Hachiko, her eyes wide and wondering as she tried to pick out where the voice had shouted from.

She slumped and turned around. There was no one there. She must have imagined hearing that voice.


Okay. So, no idea if this story will ever be finished, Angie-la, but first thing's first. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I love you, my dear~!

Okay, next! Info! That's why this is in bold.

Basically? Rhyme has been in Florence, Italy for around two years, and she travelled most of Europe the year before. She just decided to stay in Florence and study. Wanna know why? Cause I remember Florence the most, and that's where my sister studied in 2009, so I kinda just... felt obligated to. Anyway, pizza usually overpowers every smell like... ever. Unless it's totally nasty. But I can smell my pizza place from a block away, so it happens.

Also, the end... I haven't written an explanation yet, but I plan to. Eventually. Anyway, continue reading. Be warned, the chapters are not in order with the timeline. There are chapters that happen in the past, five years before this chapter, and in the future, a month or two after this. *Shrug* Good luck trying to get it.